Hatha Yoga Asanas And Their Benefits

Reviewed by Anirudh Gupta, Certified Yoga Instructor
Written by Shirin Mehdi

Exercise prepares you for greater purposes. Wondering what that means?  Well, let me tell you. Weakness, pain, and low stamina reduce the capabilities of your body, stopping you from reaching your full potential. Exercise opens you up and creates a means to garner mental clarity and calmness. Hatha Yoga is one such exercise. Here, we discuss the best of its asanas. Check them out.

What Is Hatha Yoga?

‘Ha’ means the sun and ‘tha’ means moon. Hatha Yoga means to bring balance to the sun and the moon in you. It is designed to calm your body, mind, and spirit and prepare you for meditation. It is the physical branch of the ancient Indian yogic science that strives to build a sound body and mind and help you attain inner peace and happiness. Hatha Yoga also balances the masculine and feminine in you to deepen your consciousness. To be able to reach your fullest potential, a balance between the masculine and feminine energies is necessary, and Hatha Yoga is the first step towards attaining that.

The name ‘Hatha Yoga’ appeared way back in the 11th century in Sanskrit texts. A sage named Kapila developed the earliest techniques of this yoga that had no religious connection or rituals, which made it popular among the common man. It entails a list of yoga asanas or postures that are divided into five categories – standing poses, sitting poses, resting poses, backbends, and balancing poses. These poses manipulate the energy of your body and channelize it in a manner that will help you experience the limitless.

What Does Hatha Yoga Do To Your Body?

Hatha Yoga is capable of taking you beyond limitations through yogic postures. If you train your body to form individual poses, you can do the same to increase your consciousness. It is a process where you start with your body, move to the breath, work on the mind, and finally dwell on your inner self. Hatha Yoga purifies your body and disciplines it to be able to receive higher levels of energy.

In the broader concept of yoga, Hatha Yoga is a physical technique that is a necessary preparation to achieve a higher goal. It is readily available to the common man and has been practiced by regular people since time immemorial, irrespective of caste and religion. The yoga regimen involves proper intake of nutritious food and breathing well apart from a routine of practicing asanas.

The physical postures of Hatha Yoga, in particular, became very popular from the 20th century onwards and spread across India and abroad. Let’s take a look at some of them now.

Hatha Yoga Asanas

  1. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
  2. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  4. Baddha Konasana (Cobbler Pose)
  5. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)
  6. Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
  7. Balasana (Child Pose)

1. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)


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Vrikshasana or the Tree Pose derives its name due to its similarity with the tree, representing its quiet and stable nature. The Tree Pose is one of the few asanas in Hatha Yoga that require you to keep your eyes open while in the pose to maintain balance. It is a beginner level asana that you need to practice in the morning on an empty stomach when you are not affected by external forces. Hold the pose for at least a minute.

Benefits: Vrikshasana stabilizes your legs and not only brings balance to the body but also helps one get a grip over the nervous system. It strengthens the ligaments and tendons of your feet. It also tones your buttocks and strengthens your hip bones. This pose builds your self-confidence and esteem, improves your concentration, strengthens the vestibular nervous system, and leaves you rejuvenated.

To know more about the pose, click here: Vrikshasana

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2. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)


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Tadasana or the Mountain Pose is the mother of all asanas as it forms the base for any asana. You can practice Tadasana at any time in the day. But, if you are preceding or following it up with other asanas, make sure your stomach is empty. It is a basic level Hatha Yoga asana. Hold it for 10 to 20 seconds to get best results.

Benefits: Tadasana strengthens your knees, ankles, and thighs. It steadies your breath and improves posture. It induces power into your feet and legs, improves blood circulation, and removes tension from the body. It eliminates depression and keeps you refreshed. It also improves your lung capacity and keeps you energetic.

To know more about the pose, click here: Tadasana

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3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)


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Adho Mukha Svanasana or the Downward Facing Dog Pose looks similar to a dog when it bends forward. It is a simple and easy pose that a beginner can easily do, which will motivate her to learn the remaining. Practice the asana on an empty stomach and clean bowels in the morning as it works best then. Once you get into the pose, try and hold it for 1 to 3 minutes.

Benefits: Adho Mukha Svanasana lengthens your spine and tones your muscles. It increases blood circulation to your brain and calms the mind. It relieves headaches, insomnia, and fatigue and reduces anxiety and depression. The pose strengthens and tones your arms and legs.

To know more about the pose, click here: Adho Mukha Svanasana

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4. Baddha Konasana (Cobbler Pose)


Image: iStock

Baddha Konasana or the Cobbler Pose is an asana that looks like a cobbler at work when assumed. It is also known as the Butterfly Pose as it looks like a butterfly flapping its wings. Practice the asana either in the morning or evening on an empty stomach. In the evening, make sure that you practice 3-4 hours after a meal. The Cobbler Pose is a basic level Hatha Yoga pose, and you need to hold it for 1 to 5 minutes once you assume it.

Benefits: The Cobbler Pose stimulates your heart, kidneys, bladder, and abdominal organs and improves blood circulation. It stretches your inner thighs and knees and relieves fatigue. It soothes menstrual pain, eases childbirth, and relieves the symptoms of menopause.

To know more about the pose, click here: Baddha Konasana

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5. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)


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Paschimottanasana or the Seated Forward Bend Pose is a classic stretching Hatha Yoga pose that concentrates on the back of your body. It is also called the Intense Dorsal Stretch. Do the pose in the mornings on an empty stomach. If you practice it in the evenings, make sure you had your meal 3-4 hours ago. After assuming the pose, try to hold it for 30 to 60 seconds.

Benefits: The Seated Forward Bend Pose is a good stress reliever. It reduces fat in your abdomen, tones your shoulders, and stretches your hips. It calms your mind and reduces anger and irritability. It improves your flexibility and can increase height. The pose regulates blood pressure and enhances the functioning of the kidneys.

To know more about the pose, click here: Paschimottanasana

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6. Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)


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Sethu Bandhasana or the Bridge Pose is named so as it resembles a bridge. It is a rejuvenating backbend that is safe for beginners to practice. Do the asana in the morning on an empty stomach and clean bowels. If you practice it in the evening, make sure you eat at least before 3-4 hours before practice. Once you assume the pose, hold it for at least 30 to 60 seconds.

Benefits: Sethu Bandhasana stretches your neck and chest and strengthens your back. It reduces stress, improves digestion, and relieves headache and backache. It energizes tired legs and acts as a balm for hypertension. The pose reduces insomnia, calms your nerves, and fights mild depression. Make sure, however, that you do not overuse your lumbar during the lift into the posture.

To know more about the pose, click here: Sethu Bandhasana

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7. Balasana (Child Pose)


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Balasana or the Child Pose resembles a child in the fetal position. It is a relaxing pose that either precedes or follows challenging poses. It is among the first poses taught to beginners. You can practice Balasana anytime and anywhere, but make sure your stomach is empty when you do so, or there is a gap of 3-4 hours from your last meal. After you assume the pose, hold it for 1 to 3 minutes.

Benefits: Balasana releases tension in the back and shoulders. It keeps your internal organs supple and stretches your thighs and ankles. It improves your breathing and calms your mind and body. It calms down your nervous system and relieves constipation. The pose relaxes your back.

To know more about the pose, click here: Balasana

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Overall Benefits Of Hatha Yoga

  • Hatha Yoga increases your immunity
  • It relaxes your mind and body and keeps tension at bay
  • It keeps your nerves healthy and spine supple
  • Hatha Yoga strengthens and tones your entire body
  • It keeps you from binge eating and oversleeping

Now that we know of some Hatha Yoga poses and their benefits, let’s find out the answers to some common queries regarding Hatha Yoga.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be vegetarian to practice Hatha Yoga?

Yoga propagates Ahimsa or the non-harming of animals. It is a personal choice of the practitioner to eat or not eat meat.

How many times a week do I practice Hatha Yoga?

Initially, it is best to start with one-hour sessions, 2 to 3 times a week.

How is Hatha Yoga different from other physical exercises?

Hatha Yoga goes beyond the physical and even affects the mind for the better.

Why do we have to stop eating 2 to 3 hours before practicing Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga involves stretching, twisting, and bending forward and backward. If your stomach is not empty or food not digested, it can lead to troubles like vomiting, nausea, etc.

With a plethora of physical exercises available, be smart and choose Hatha Yoga as it benefits your physical well-being, prepares you for mental stability, and helps you attain inner peace. Take it up and practice it wholeheartedly, and you are bound to feel your soul.

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A jack of many trades and a master of some, Shirin is a writer, a fashion designer, and a chef by her own acclaim. She loves food, and though she might want to call herself a great cook, she just falls short of seasoning. She also loves Yoga, and has extensive knowledge about the postures of the asanas. Always muddled up between traditions and modernism, she thinks she would have been a better fit in the vintage era. She loves life and believes in living it up to the fullest.