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Hatha literally means Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha), while the literal translation of yoga means yoke or union. Hatha Yoga therefore is the union of the sun and the moon, or more completely, the union of opposites. The meeting of male and female, yin, and yang, day and night, taking place inside of the human body, is one goal of Hatha Yoga.
The practice of Hatha Yoga includes four main concepts:
Asana—the physical postures most people think of when they think of yoga. This practice conditions and strengthens all the main aspects of the physical body. Flexibility and core integration are natural results of asana practice. Also, through this practice, a greater awareness emerges of both the voluntary and involuntary processes of the physical body.
Pranayama—literally, control (yama) of breath/energy (Prana). Pranayama exercises the energy body of the practitioner. It is the breath that is the vehicle, or means, of unifying the opposing forces with in us, as well as the way of experiencing the higher self that is beyond duality, beyond causality. Pranayama is practiced both during the asana practice as well as a way to deepen the experience of the next two concepts.
Systematic Relaxation—learning to relax all aspects of the physical body, we can come to a greater sense of health and peace. Stress is a huge problem in our modern world; practicing how to let go of physical, mental, and emotional tension, is one of the greatest ways to combat stress related dysfunctions and health concerns. All classes include a systematic relaxation to rejuvenate and recharge practitioners.
Meditation—after working the body, controlling the breath, and releasing tension, we come to the training of the mind. Meditation practice allows one to begin to understand how to control the seemingly endless waves of destructive thought, uncontrollable emotions, aversions and attachments, which keep us from realizing our true selves.