There are a number of different kinds of yoga, some ancient, some modern. Hatha yoga is the first yoga, developed more than 5,000 years ago, and the source of all other yogas.
The word yoga means union, and refers to the union of mind, body and spirit. The best yogas will help heal all three of these aspects. This is done through asanas, poses, meditation, and chanting or reciting mantras such as OM.
Most people think of the postures when they think of yoga. They also believe that they have to be as bendy as a rubber band to do yoga, but this isn’t the case. There are thousands of postures in Hatha yoga, so people of any age and physical ability should find dozens of asanas that they can do, and above all, will enjoy.
The meditations can also be fun. Think of them as a mini-vacation from all the stress of your day. You need to concentrate to do the poses, and the breath work that is an essential part of practicing yoga. Breathing according to different patterns, and through the nose and mouth in various ways, all require focus and effort.
So too does the chanting, which helps with the breath work and with focusing the mind. Think of it as easy detox of the entire body. The movement from pose to pose and the breathing stimulate the lymph glands, to improve the immune system. The breath work and movement clear toxins from the body. None of us are at our best when we’re sick. A strong body means a strong mind, and vice versa.
If you’ve been struggling with health issues, Hatha yoga can help provided you start slowly and sensibly, and don’t push too hard. The only person you are competing with is yourself. A daily practice for as few as 15 minutes a day can help with flexibility, joint pain, the aches of osteoarthritis, and muscle pain. The breath work has been scientifically proven to help with allergies, asthma, and even Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, or COPD.
Hatha yoga classes are usually organized by level, so you can start slowly with the basics and gradually learn more and more poses. Since it is the most popular and common form of yoga, there are bound to be several studios in your area to choose from. Take an introductory class (usually free for first time students), and see how much fitter you will feel adding Hatha yoga to your life.