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Hatha Yoga, 14 Basic Hatha Yoga Asanas and Their Health Benefits

written by Vidya Sury July 23, 2021
Hatha Yoga Basic Hatha Yoga Asanas and Their Benefits

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The ancient practice of yoga is a holistic approach that aims to connect the mind, body and spirit. While there are several branches of yoga, hatha yoga is the most popular. For those who want to get started with yoga, hatha yoga is the ideal starting point. Besides helping with stress relief, improve strength and flexibility and pain relief, it also helps manage anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

The practice of Hatha yoga dates back centuries. To at least 1200 A.D. and gets its name from “hatha”, meaning sun and moon, and yoga means union, thus implying a yoga practice balancing the sun and moon energy. And you can accomplish this through asanas or postures and breathing techniques.

Hatha yoga benefits

There is plenty of research to endorse the health benefits of yoga. For example, the results of one study show that:

…yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality life.

When you start a hatha yoga practice, besides a total body stretch, the benefits are many. For example, another small study states that practicing Hatha yoga thrice a week for six weeks radically improves middle-aged women’s muscular strength and flexibility.

Besides this, a study published in the Journal of Nursing Research found just one Hatha yoga session of 90 minutes lowers stress levels in middle-aged women, while another showed that Hatha yoga could improve self-esteem and quality of life and reduce fatigue.

This study explores hatha yoga as a promising method for treating anxiety.

A hatha yoga session typically includes three elements, namely, breathwork, yoga poses and meditation. Breathwork involves focusing on the breath to warm up the body through gentle asanas followed by a series of yoga poses. Finally, the session concludes with a short, guided meditation.

Let’s look at some basic hatha yoga asanas and their health benefits. These stretch the body and activate the chakras or pranic energy channels in the body, besides increasing the spine’s flexibility, strengthening the immune system and the body as a whole.

These asanas also help manage health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, stress-related ailments and other disorders. In addition, practicing these asanas regularly can bring you closer to mental, physical and spiritual balance.

Hatha yoga asanas

Photo source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135902/

The various yoga postures as practiced by the subjects during a full yoga session. (1) Yoga mudra asana, (2) Yoga mudra asana,(3) Paschimottanasana, (4) Supta pavan muktasana, (5) Pavan muktasana, (6) Dhanurasana, (7) Matsyasana, (8) Vajrasana, (9) Supta Vajrasana, (10) Gomukhasana, (11) Gomukhasana, (12) Sarvangasana, (13) Halasana, (14) Halasana, (15) Karnapeedasana, (16) Bhujangasana, (17) Utthanpadasana, (18) Shavasana, (19) Kapalbhati, (20) Bhastrika, (21) Kaki mudra (22) Yoni mudra, (23) Bhramari pranayama, (24) Sukhasana, (25) Omkar meditation, (26) Meditation, (27) Sukhasana, (28) Shavasana.

14 basic hatha yoga asanas and their benefits

Before beginning any exercise regimen, please consult your doctor, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

1. Sirsasana or the headstand

This asana enhances the skin by bringing nutrients and oxygen to the face. The increased blood flow nourishes the scalp, reducing hair fall. In addition, the adrenal glands are detoxified, leading to positive thoughts that help manage and reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. Sirsasana also builds strong core muscles and lowers the risk of stroke.

2. Sarvangasana or shoulder stand

Here the whole body is balanced on the shoulders. It helps to cure sinusitis, asthma, infertility and helps manage menopause symptoms. It also stimulates the thyroid glands, parathyroid glands, and abdominal organs. In addition, it helps with stress relief and depression and also calms the brain.

3. Halasana or Plough Pose

Halasana is an inverted backstretch that makes the back muscles and spine more robust and flexible. This hatha yoga post stimulates the reproductive organs, thyroid glands and strengthens the immune system besides being beneficial for women undergoing menopause. It also helps with weight loss.

4. Matsyasana or Fish Pose

This is a reclining backward bending yoga pose that opens the chest, throat, abdomen. It helps balance the neck and spine and makes them flexible. This asana can cure thyroid disorders and relieve constipation and menstrual pain.  

5. Paschimottanasana or Sitting Forward Bend Pose

This is a sitting pose after warm up in a sequence. It calms the mind and relieves stress. It is also effective for diabetes and high blood pressure.  

6. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

This is a back-bending yoga pose that stretches and strengthens muscles in the shoulders, chest, abdominals and, opens up the neck, and tones the abdomen and buttocks. It increases the spine’s strength and flexibility, stimulates abdominal organs, and thus improves digestion and energizes and calms the nervous system. In addition, this pose awakens the Kundalini or divine cosmic energy that brings self-realization.

7. Shalabhasana or Locust Pose

This is an intermediate backbend pose to increase flexibility and strength to your back. It stretches and energizes the spine and chest. In addition, it stimulates internal organs and enhances blood circulation in the body.

14 hatha yoga asanas and their health benefits

8. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose

This back-stretching pose stimulates the reproductive organs and relieves the menstrual discomfort. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles, tones legs, arms and muscles, and helps to open up the neck, chest, and shoulders. It also improves liver, pancreatic and intestinal function, helping those with diabetes.

9. Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Spinal Twist Pose

This powerful seated twist pose benefits the entire body, increasing the spine’s flexibility, relaxing the nervous system and calming the nervous system. It also tones the abdominal organs and improves digestion.   

10. Kakasana or Crow Pose

This pose involves arm balance, strengthening and toning the upper arm, forearm, abdominal muscles and wrists. It also promotes core strengthening and improves posture.

11. Mayurasana or Peacock Pose

This balancing pose strengthens arms, abdominal muscles, and concentration. In addition, it detoxifies the body, tones the digestive organs and relieves constipation.  

12. Pada Hasthasana or Standing Forward Bend

This intense forward stretch pose stretches the entire back and makes it flexible and robust. It relieves menopause and menstruation issues. It also cures asthma, osteoporosis, sinusitis, infertility, and high blood pressure.  

13. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

This standing pose tones and strengthens the legs, knees, ankles, arms, and chest.

It also opens the hips, hamstrings, groin, calves, shoulders and spine. As a result, it reduces stress and increases mental and physical balance.

The hatha yoga asanas listed above are designed to move every part of the body systematically to promote a stress-free and disease-free life.

Just like the warmup at the beginning of the hatha yoga session, your instructor will also advise you to pause between postures and, finally, at the end of the session, relax the body with “savasana” or the corpse pose.

14. Savasana or Corpse pose

This involves simply lying on your back and completely relaxing the body and mind and also improves concentration and memory while releasing stress, tension, and fatigue. It relaxes the whole body, calms your mind and improves mental health.

In addition to the above benefits, hatha yoga also prepares the body for meditation.

Join a hatha yoga class today!

Further reading: 7 Fun and Easy Yoga Poses for Kids To Do At Home

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