How Old is Hatha Yoga?

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Yoga, or Hatha yoga, is one of the most famous ancient practices. As time passes, multiple variations of yoga have been created, but the core of it is still preserved.

Hatha yoga is known to be the first practice of yoga. Hatha in Sanscrit means “force” which emphasizes that the mastery of physical practices is a way of liberating yourself. Such a practice can raise your energy and awaken your body.

But what do we actually know about this ode to good well-being?

Manduka

In our article down below, we have arranged some exciting facts about yoga. We discuss whether it’s challenging or suitable for you and where its roots lie. And we answer the question: how old is Hatha yoga?

Keep on reading and Namaste!

Where did Hatha yoga originate?

Historians trace the yoga development back up to 5,000 years. Some say that yoga originates as back as 10,000 years ago. 

However, much of what is known about yoga was shared orally, and the mystery of where Hatha yoga originated remains to this day. So, asking how old Hatha yoga is can not be answered straightforwardly. 

What we know about Hatha yoga history is that it’s broken down into four eras. They go from the first Vedic era and end at the Modern one.

Let’s break them down.

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Photo: Amauri Mejía / Unsplash

Vedic

This era is about the Upanishads and Vedas. It provided a massive amount of scripture that documents the core beliefs of mystic seers like Rishis and Brahmans.

Pre-classical

Pre-classical or Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are next in line. Patanjali is the man who developed the yoga concept aligned in an 8-limbed path (read here about the 8 limbs of yoga). They go from Yama (how we relate to others), Niyama (how we relate to ourselves), Asana (how we relate to our body), Pranayama (how we relate to our breath or spirit), Pratyahara (how we relate to our sense organs), Dharana (how we relate to our mind), Dhyana (moving beyond the mind), and Samadhi (profound realization and inner union).

Classical

Regarding the classical yoga era, yogis are said to have rejected the teaching of the Vedas and embraced their physical bodies to achieve enlightenment.

This era developed Tantra yoga with its techniques to cleanse the mind and body by breaking the knots that tie us to our physical presence.

These body-centered practices and spiritual connections are the parents of what we now call Hatha yoga.

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Photo: Louise Vildmark / Unsplash

Modern

Modern yoga, or the Krishnamacharya era, is the main father of the contemporary yoga we know. Krishnamacharya has three students who continued the legacy of hatha yoga: Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and T.K.V. Desikachar.

For example, Pattabhi Jois was the creator of Astanga Yoga, Iyengar was the founder of Iyengar yoga, and Desikachar (the son of Krishnamacharya) created Viniyoga. 

An interesting read when it comes to exploring modern yoga and why it’s the way it is is the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, a Sanskrit manual on Hatha yoga from the 15th century. It’s written by Svātmārāma, showing how to do the physical practice and its outlines and basics. Pradipika in Sanskrit means to light or illuminate; this is all yogis’ foundation and primary goal – finding the light within.

Some people describe that learning about Pradipika if you are practicing Hatha yoga is like a modern musician revisiting the art and life of Queen or the Beatles.

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How is Hatha yoga viewed in the 21st century?

Nowadays, Hatha yoga is widely popular, and many people use it for its physical or mental health benefits. They often combine it with meditation to elevate its effect on bringing the physical and spiritual together. The perfect match.

Many newbies ask themselves the question of what Hatha yoga is good for.

Yoga is known to lessen the symptoms and help with depression and anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia and arthritis, back pain, emotional health, and menopause.

It can make insomnia disappear with time, cure neck pain from all the hours spent on a computer, and more.

Generally, mindfulness and motivation are deeply affected by regular yoga and eating better. 

Below, we elaborate more on modern-day yoga and why modern-day folks love it.

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Photo: krakenimages / Unsplash

Is Hatha yoga suitable for beginners?

Hatha yoga is one of the essential practices in most yoga studios. Yoga studios recommend beginners start with Hatha yoga since it has the most basic asanas. They strengthen the core and provide balance and discipline that can be later incorporated into more advanced practices.

We advise anyone that starts practicing yoga to be open-minded toward the instructions given by their yoga instructor. Don’t dismiss anything; balance as much as you can without straining yourself. If you have underlying health issues, you should communicate them to your teacher. Some yoga poses can be nasty for low blood pressure, and some are even advised against women on their period.

The point is to feel well and calm after leaving the yoga mat. Never overwork yourself when it comes to yoga since the result is to find balance. It’s not a workout with calculated results.

FAQ

Is Hatha yoga for beginners?

Yes, Hatha yoga is great for beginners and teaches them all of the basics of yoga as a whole. It gives them the foundation to expand their yoga skills and mindfulness. 

Is Hatha yoga hard?

No, Hatha yoga has simple asanas and breathwork that anyone with and without experience can do for brief periods.

Do I have to bring a mat to a yoga practice?

You don’t have to since most yoga studios are equipped but if you feel more comfortable using your own, feel free to take it.

How long should I practice yoga?

You should practice daily for around 6 months before you can confidently do basic poses with good balance, posture, and proper breathwork. Don’t rush the process, and enjoy it every step of the way. Just don’t give up – that’s the most important thing!

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Nelly Gutsalska

Hi! My name's Nelly. I've been writing my entire life and you can catch me writing about lifestyle alongside writing user guides for software products. I am a huge yoga fan and coincidentally a copywriter, so I decided to combine my love for both of them right here.
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