10 Hatha Yoga Advantages For Bodily And Psychological Well being
Originally developed as a system of spiritual practices, hatha yoga is now a mind-body exercise. It not only improves strength, flexibility, and balance. The effects of Hatha Yoga are even deeper! It has been seen in scientific studies that hatha yoga reduces symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
The benefits and popularity of hatha yoga are very different from other classical styles for one simple reason. Hatha Yoga is a more practical style that emphasizes the body system with great detail in the beginning. And we know better, the body is an easy tool to work with compared to the mind. Hence, even for novice yoga practitioners, the hatha style is an easy-to-follow and results-oriented exercise.
Before we get into the benefits, let's take a look at the mechanism of Hatha Yoga, how it affects the mind and body!
How does hatha yoga benefit from the body?
When performing hatha yoga, the focus is on holding a pose for an extended period of time. In this way, a pose results in an isometric contraction of the affected muscles. Simply put, hatha yoga poses can be thought of as a type of static isometric exercise in which muscles are engaged without movement.
Holding a hatha pose keeps the muscles under contraction, which gives strength to the affected areas of the body. It's great for physical strength, flexibility, and muscle tension.
Another reason that hatha yoga works effectively is that it sustains that Body homeostasis. This means that when you practice hatha yoga, your body does not generate any additional heat, so the internal body system continues to work in its natural cycle. It is obvious that certain enzymes only work optimally when the body temperature is around 37 degrees.
When practicing Hatha Yoga, the body's need for food does not directly affect it. In contrast to other aerobic exercises such as swimming, running, or cycling, Hatha Yoga does not increase the physical strain the more exercise you do. It keeps the physical energy in balance and at the same time maintains the structural formation of the body. In addition, the demand for food does not increase during Hatha training, which can lead to weight gain.
Hatha Yoga & The Mind
However, the poses can be viewed as an act that takes place on a physical plane, but when you go deep into the depth you can see that it is connected to the mind.
In hatha yoga poses, when different muscles are contracted, they are stretched simultaneously. The action of contraction and expansion in the muscle fibers activates appropriate nerve impulses in the cortex and hypothalamus of the brain. In this way it trains the autonomic nervous system; keep the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in balance.
Hatha yoga, however, is said to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which usually dominates in a calming state of mind. In the state of PNS dominance, we are able to balance the heart and breathing rates, and eventually the mind lowers blood pressure and metabolism.
Physical Health Benefits
Hatha Yoga mainly includes 5 types of physical exercises; Asana (poses), Shatkarma (cleansing techniques), Pranayama (breathing exercises), Mudras & Bandhas (gestures & physical curls).
According to scientific studies, these physical practices of hatha yoga benefit your health in many ways. Let's take a closer look at seven of these benefits.
1. Improves balance and posture
Some balancing hatha yoga poses like side board and warrior I straighten your wrist while strengthening the muscles of your arms, abdomen and legs. This stretch improves posture by balancing the alignment of the spine along the neutral axis.
In balancing the hatha posture, our entire body must work together so that stable knees, ankles, hips and shoulders can be built. It also helps improve reaction time while you have a tendency to slide or fall, thereby strengthening overall body balance.
Improper posture can lead to serious health problems such as back pain, cardiovascular problems, and digestive problems. Sitting in a passive posture can lead to weaker and tighter muscles.
Assessment of the effect of hatha yoga asanas on improving posture and balance;
A 2013 study shows that hatha yoga enables a range of significant joint angles and muscle activities in the ankles, knees, and hips. In addition, all hatha attitudes are revealed Rectus abdominis activity– an activity that requires continuous dynamic control of the trunk. It helps improve posture and balance.
Some hatha yoga poses used in this study to improve posture and balance are chair pose, tree pose, down dog pose, warrior I, II, III,
2. Strengthen the core muscles
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Performing some hatha yoga poses like boat pose and chair pose will help build core muscle strength. Core muscles for daily routine activities such as bending forward, sitting upright, running and sports activities.
While performing the Boat Pose, your legs will remain in an elevated straight position, which will strengthen your stomach and hip muscles. Practicing this pose regularly will also keep your spine straight and strong. The internal core organs such as the kidneys and intestines are stimulated by this posture.
Judgment on the effectiveness of Hatha Yoga in strengthening core muscles; A 2016 study of training in Isha Hatha Yoga showed significant improvements in core strength and balance.
The training consisted of Isha Hatha Yoga, including Upa Yoga, Surya Kriya, Angamardhana, Bhuta Suddhi, and Asanas. Significant increases in core stability and standing balance occurred when subjects were tested with the one-legged stork test and the plank test at the end of the 21-day training period.
3. Helps improve immunity
Yoga poses such as Tadasana (mountain pose) and Chaturanga Dandasana (low plank pose) help improve the strong immune system.
A person with a strong immune system can protect themselves from external virus attacks and other contagious diseases. A strong immune system also helps people get rid of gastrointestinal problems, thereby relieving stress and anxiety.
When we feel stressed, the deep tissues that surround our organs, muscles, bones, and ligaments are affected. A ligament is made up of nerves; Hence, we need to move and stretch our body to keep it active. Whatever we eat is absorbed by the body. Through certain yoga poses, we can release the stagnant energy in our cells so that the harmful toxins in our body are removed.
Some hatha yoga asanas and pranayama increase the flow of oxygen into our blood, which facilitates fresh blood circulation. This circulatory process helps to build stronger immunity in our body that protects us from all diseases and stress.
To evaluate the effectiveness of hatha yoga in boosting the immune system, a study was conducted on 18 teenage children affected by HIV. In this study, they were allowed to perform certain yoga asanas such as Padmasana, Vajrasana, Sarvangasana, Bhujangasana, Ardhakati Chakrasana, Ustrasana, Ardha Chakrasana, Paschimottanasana and Shavasana. Also some pranayama like Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, Nadishodhana and Bhramari.
The results suggest that a six-month yoga program increased these children’s immunity levels and also reduced the components of stress. The study also found that it mentally prepared these children to think more positively.
4. Maintain a healthy heart
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You can be blessed with a healthy heart if you regularly practice certain hatha yoga poses such as setu bandhasana (bridge pose) and trikonasana (triangle pose).
The heart is the central organ in your circulatory system that pumps blood around your body. This blood carries all of the nutrients and oxygen to all parts of your body and carries the toxic carbon dioxide out of your body when you exhale. A healthy heart leads to a healthy life.
Performing hatha yoga poses and breathing exercises (pranayama) help lower blood sugar levels and increase lung capacity, which helps maintain a healthy heart. Doing yoga poses regularly will improve the heart rate and promote blood circulation in a great way. Our metabolism is also improved, which helps get rid of excess fat stored under our skin.
To evaluate the usefulness of hatha yoga asanas for improving heart health, a survey of the population of Kaiser Permanente, Northern California (KPNC) was conducted. The researcher took 14 patients (7 men and 7 women) who had undergone a cognitive heart diagnosis as subjects. The participants received 8-hour hatha yoga classes for 8 weeks, twice a week (16 classes in total).
The study shows that it is possible for heart failure patients to incorporate hatha yoga into their lifestyle. Yoga can help with the routine management of illness, preventing fluid retention, and improving depression and quality of life. Patients reported being more relaxed and calm with every yoga session they attended.
5. Builds strong bones
In hatha yoga you hold yourself in a specific yoga pose for a few moments. Poses like warrior pose, crescent moon pose, plank pose, and mountain pose help build stronger bones.
In fact, when you hold yourself to a particular yoga pose, you are restricting one group of muscles against another; This opposition creates a force that stimulates what are called bone-forming cells Osteoblasts. They turn into osteocytes that become embedded in your bones. Plus, yoga can reverse the hormonal effects of age and lead to healthy bone structure.
In a 2009 study, 10 minutes of yoga daily showed an increased percentage of bone density in the spine and hip in osteoporosis patients. In fact, the hip bone density increased 54% more than the spinal column density.
Some hatha yoga poses for increasing bone density (used in this study) are: triangle pose, downward dog pose, bridge pose, marichyasana, matsyendrasana, and jathara parivartanasana.
Mental health benefits
A simple type of pranayama in Hatha yoga called alternative nostril breathing has a very profound impact on mental health. Practicing Hatha Yoga regularly treats and prevents mental health problems such as mood swings, depression, frustrations, and depression.
Here we have discussed some of the mental benefits of hatha yoga that can be achieved through regular practice.
6. Improves memory and concentration
Meditation is an essential part of Hatha Yoga. It helps improve memory and concentration as regular meditation encourages neuron growth. The related practices are explained in the last chapter of Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
To determine whether meditation had a positive effect on memory and concentration enhancement, a study was carried out on randomized subjects (ages 18–45) who were not experienced meditators. They were asked to conduct a 13-minute daily guided meditation session or a 13-minute daily podcast listening session (control group) for a total of 8 weeks.
The results showed that daily meditation decreased negative mood and decreased attention, working and recognition memory, and anxiety.
7. Create a positive outlook
Hatha yoga balances the body's positive and negative energies. This allows us to think more balanced. This relieves our suffering and restores the calm of the mind. You seem to develop positive attitudes when you feel good and happy about yourself.
8. Heals psychological trauma
Yoga can help us overcome traumatic experiences that hinder our spiritual growth and progress. You can do some yoga poses such as balasana (child's pose) and adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose), which help increase blood flow to our cells, calm our nerves, and relieve tension and stress. Breathing exercises also teach you to gain control over your emotions by triggering many of your body's psychological mechanisms. This paves the way to get out of mental trauma.
A community psychotherapy program for female survivors of intimate partner violence was conducted to investigate the effects of yoga on mental health. A 12-week program consisting of 90 minutes of group psychotherapy followed by 30 minutes to 40 minutes of yoga was conducted.
The results showed that yoga is an add-on treatment to group psychotherapy for survivors of intimate partner violence. They have had few positive experiences that have included spiritual healing, increased self-confidence, and improved mind-body connection.
9. Cultivate emotional balance
Hatha Yoga is not limited to physical exercises, but also emphasizes meditation and pranayama. Regularly practicing all of these things has been proven to help you achieve a healthy body. When you stay healthy, you become physically strong to absorb the emotional pressures that arise in daily life. Hence, with all of these practices, our emotions remain in balance.
Spiritual Benefits of Hatha Yoga
The original and traditional purpose of Hatha Yoga was the spiritual cleansing of the body and mind, which later expanded its benefits in healing physical and mental illnesses.
Practicing Hatha Yoga with various asanas, bandhas, pranayama and dhyana (meditation) purifies our mind and soul. It awakens the energy channels and energy centers in our body, which is called Kundalini awakening. Kundalini is the force energy that remains wrapped around the spine after awakening.
In addition, practicing deep meditations develops a spiritual awakening and a sense of completeness in us. We feel close to the divine while sitting in a meditative pose with certain mudras.