The name of this marga, Hatha Yoga is made up of Ha = the sun and Tha = the moon, symbolic of the two celestial bodies and energies that maintain our planet. These energies are represented in the electro-magnetic energies of our bodies, in the two branches of our nervous systems and the need for balance between them.
Health of body and control of it is demonstrated by many physical skills and demonstrations of mind mastery over the body. The Hatha Yogi sees the human body as a temple for the soul and as a schoolroom for his learning – seeking to understand as much as possible about it and its function, as well as developing the potential for utilizing and controlling its energies.
This is the path for practical people who are interested in building their health, and in undertaking physical exercises of movement, learning static asanas or postures, and in studying breath control. Balance and health are considered synonymous and one important technique for helping to achieve balance of our energies is through the technique of the Alternating Breath detailed under Pranayama.
The physical health practices dominate in early studies of Hatha Yoga in order to acquire both muscular strength and flexibility. Exercises are rhythmic with equal attention to both right and left body movements and maintaining freedom in spinal movement. More advanced exercises are executed in slower motion, which demands more control. Breath control is used with each exercise. Men are encouraged to develop natural physical strength and the associated qualities of personality as women develop the flexibility and softness of natural feminine traits. This is seen as important for proper glandular function corresponding to our sex at birth. Whether we are born male or female is understood as an indication of the nature of personal self culture required in our Sadhana.
In their aim for physical control, Hatha Yoga exponents work in order to perfect the physical instrument of the body to a degree of excellence. This is seen as a spiritual tribute to honour our Maker.
The principle of non-violence should be adhered to in yoga discipline and self discipline. Kindness, when applied in any training, is always more successful.
After attending to and correcting any minor physical health symptoms or problems so that a degree of personal comfort is possible, most students choose to attend group classes where they are guided as to the appropriate exercises and techniques best suited to their individual needs and aims.