The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written by Swami Svatmarama in the 15th century AD, emphasis on the importance of asana practice in order to increase physical and mental health. Swami Svatmarama also lectures about how we monitor the solar (yang) and lunar (yin) energies in the body in Hatha Yoga, balancing them for better health and spiritual development.
Hatha Yoga offers many benefits:
1. Balance Our Autonomic Nervous System
Our nervous system needs both states of activation, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. A stressful nervous system is very common in our modern society as lots of us spend most of the time in the excited sympathetic state, or get “trapped” in the listless, depressed parasympathetic state. By practice Hatha Yoga, we go through a cycle of exercises and postures that nurture the healthy nervous system and then brake the nervous system again, giving it a healthy workout.
Through replacing challenging asanas with relaxation postures such as Savasana, we change our bodies to easily shift from one state of the nervous system to the other which results in more inner balance and harmony and improved overall well-being.
2. Keeps the Spine Young
“You are as young as long as your spine is flexible” is a common statement in the yoga world. And medical studies are starting to prove this old wisdom.
In Hatha Yoga, we put great focus on moving the spine in a variety of directions. The postures between twists, forward bends and backbends, and lateral stretches massages the intervertebral discs and develop their capacity to absorb nutrients from surrounding tissues.
As a result, long-term practitioners of Hatha Yoga will have significantly healthier and less-degenerated discs than the control group.
3. Increases Overall Stamina and Strength
A traditional Hatha Yoga practice is difficult because it moves your boundaries in terms of stamina, flexibility, strength, and coordination.
In Hatha Yoga, even though there are relaxation postures at regular intervals, many postures including Sun Salutations, inversions, strength-building exercises, and arm balances greatly increase overall stamina and strength.