The literal translation of the Sanskrit word hatha means “to force or to strike.” Hatha Yoga utilizes a force of effort to strike at the habitual pattern of thought and energetic constrictions interfering with the direct knowledge of who we most truly are. Ha means the Sun, tha means the Moon. It refers to the union or integration of the polarity; the opposites such as:

masculine and the feminine
inhalation and the exhalation
sunrise and sunset
soft and hard
left and right
stillness and the movement
being and doing
the Known and the Unknown
light and dark
expansion and contraction
day and night
Shiva and Shakti

In Hatha Yoga, one integrates the breath while holding poses for a long period of time. Practicing hatha yoga requires tremendous willpower, determination and tenacity because of its postures, breathing techniques and kriyas. The class includes sun salutations, standing postures, hip openers, twists, forward folds, backbends, arm balance, inversions and supine.

Each category works with different spectrum of the body – e.g., in standing poses, one foundational action that are necessary for the proper practice. They offer mobility in the legs, hips and spine. Forward folds bring strength and flexibility to the spine and hamstrings and used to calm the nervous system.

Hatha is a yang (masculine) practice, which means it requires muscular engagement of the physical body. Why? Because the muscular engagement helps to initiates strength of the muscles of the body as to support the joints such as the ankle and the knee. A good example in this case would be to experiment spreading the toes, especially the 4th and 5th toes. You can feel your ankle becomes strong and aligned. Activating the muscular engagement also attracts focus. In asana practice, this is called the “actions,” this awareness is forms of attention.