Hatha yoga is a branch of yoga primarily concerned with mastery of the body, and it is arguably the tradition most familiar to Western culture. The term is derived from the Sanskrit ha, meaning “sun,” and tha, meaning “moon,” leading to the common interpretation that Hatha practices are designed to unite and balance these two energies. However, the literal translation of Hatha is “force,” alluding to the physical techniques used within this tradition.
Traditionally, Hatha yoga offered a total life philosophy, incorporating how we relate to external and internal experience as a path to inner peace. One of the most prominent ancient texts on Hatha yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a series of 196 aphorisms written in Sanskrit around 400 AD.
Patanjali describes Hatha yoga as an eightfold path, consisting of eight mind-body disciplines to be mastered. All other physical practices of yoga such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Iyengar stemmed from the Hatha yoga tradition.
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