Hatha Yoga, also called ‘forceful yoga’, is a physically demanding path of yoga based on body-bending yoga poses (asanas), cleansing techniques (shat karmas), breath control (pranayama), locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras). It is thought that by perfecting the body, creating a healthy physical condition, and raising Kundalini energy upwards along the spine, the body becomes better prepared for yogic awakening (Samadhi, nirvana, union with God).
Hatha Yoga also includes higher spiritual practices such as meditation. However, many yoga manuals have attributed these higher spiritual practices to ‘Raja Yoga’, declaring Hatha Yoga only as a ‘stairway to Raja Yoga’.
Traditional Hatha Yoga consists of:
1. Asanas (postures);
2. Shat Karmas (six cleansing techniques, also known as Shat Kriyas);
3. Pranayama (control of breathing with retention);
4. Bandhas (locks) and Mudras (seals) for the regulation of Prana (life-force) and Kundalini (dormant energy); and
5. Samadhi (Union with God, realization of the Self, ecstasy, nirvana).
Applies to most Schools & Styles of Yoga.
See also: “Raja / Classical / Ashta-anga”