Interested in starting a Hatha yoga practice? 10 tips to get started!

Namrata Khandelwal

#yogaposes

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Are you new to yoga? Looking to develop a practice but don’t know what style or where to begin? Hatha yoga is a great choice for beginners looking to build a routine or veterans looking to deepen their practice of breathing and flexibility.

First things first, What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha yoga is a form of gentle yoga made up of poses and breath work and often starts or ends with a meditation. This type of practice can be challenging because in most traditional Hatha classes, poses are held for 30 seconds to a minute. 

Styles of Hatha Yoga that we offer at MyYogaTeacher:

  • Hatha Yoga - This practice focuses separately on each asana. Focusing on connecting each asana with the breath and deepening each pose. This practice allows for breaks between poses and is more gentle and slow paced. 
  • Hatha Vinyasa - Known as a flow class, adding in the vinyasa makes the practice a little more fast paced. The poses are more linked together and the movement is connected to your breath work. 

What are the benefits of a Hatha Yoga Practice?

There are many benefits to building a hatha yoga practice. On the surface, for your physical health, hatha can increase flexibility, strength and balance!  Hatha is proven to fight signs of aging and  help with joint or muscle pain and improve blood flow!

When you turn your practice inward, it can also deepen your sleep and with the addition of the breathwork, your practice can also help you cope with anxiety or depression symptoms. 

Hatha is a great place to start your yoga journey because you can take your time to get familiar with the poses and learn to connect them to your breath.  It’s good for the body and the mind!

Here are 10 tips to get you started with a Hatha Yoga Practice:

  1. Know your why - Before you start to build your practice, it’s important to establish why you’re coming to your mat. Is your reason for physical health, mental health or maybe just to press pause on your day and breathe? Each flow can be personalized for whatever brings you to your mat each day.

  2. Be a student! - Take a class with us so you can learn how to flow on your own. Sometimes before you fly solo, you need a co-captain. And if you never decide to fly on your own, we're happy to have you here with us! Our teachers are the best and we think you'll love their classes!

    Check out these three Hatha classes we love!
    Hatha for Beginners
    Hatha Yoga Intermediate
    Hatha Vinyasa

  3. Learn to breath - In this practice, you'll be holding in poses and breathing into the space you create. The traditional breath practice for a hatha yoga class is Ujjayi breathing otherwise known as victorious breath. This breathing practice is often used in yoga because it forces you to slow down and focus on your breathing and its connection to your movement. 

  4. Choose your asasas - While Hatha is usually a gentle practice, there is no right or wrong way to build your Hatha flow. The goal is just to focus and move your body! All you need is a minimum of three to five poses to get started! Start by reviewing the poses you know and then when you’re ready, add more as you grow.

  5. Practice your pause - once you know what asanas you’d like to practice, grab a stopwatch! Work on holding each pose for 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, then a minute. Don’t forget to breathe into it. And if you can, try to find space and deepen into each pose as you practice more. 

  6. Find a way to beat the mental fatigue - Don’t give in to the voice in your head that says you can’t do this.  Holding the poses can be difficult at first. Have a little grace and try your best not to give up. Practice your mantras to keep you going. Our favorite? Your stronger than you think!

  7. Build a meditation practice - When building a meditation practice, it’s important to figure out what you need from it. Do you need mantras to help you keep going? Do you need to visual what's coming? Or do you need to focus inward on your breath and the current moment. Remember, there’s no wrong answer. Play with this practice. Add it to the beginning, then the end and see where it serves you. Can’t settle in for quiet reflection? Try journaling instead. 

  8. Be benevolent to yourself - In Hatha yoga, one of the most important practices is the principle of non-violence (ahimsa) this means do no harm to yourself or to others Try to go through your life being kind to yourself on and off your mat. For more on this practice, check out this article by Yogauonline

  9. Read the text- Like a lot of Yoga, hatha isn’t just based on a movement practice. In fact, there are two connected texts to teach you the foundations of this practice. Hatha Yoga Pradipika - a 15th century Sanskrit manual on the practice and style. Siva Samhita - from the hindu perspective breaking “yoga” the practice, down into five parts.

  10. Track the progress of your practice - Once you’ve developed your practice, there is no ‘ end' in yoga, we can only keep coming back to deepen or extend our practice. That’s why it’s a “practice” because there is no perfect. You can always adjust. Some days you’ll need more, some days less. But all the days…you'll need yoga. 

Five poses to get started with Hatha Yoga:

1. Childs Pose

Focus on your third eye here. Move your head from right to left to massage your forehead.

Childs Pose


2. Cat Pose

Breath into your spine as you arch your back away from the floor. Relax your neck.

Cat Pose

3. Down Dog

Focus on lengthening your heels into the floor and pushing your hips towards the back of the room. 

Down Dog Pose

4. Forward Fold

Surrender into this pose. Reach your palms towards the floor and deepen your stretch with every exhale.

Forward Fold

5. Savasana

Relax your entire body into the ground. Release all the tension and slow your breath. 

Savasana


Now that you have the tools you need, you’re ready to go! Find where your practice fits best and get ready to feel relaxed and enlightened! If you’re doing hatha for physical health, try adding the practice in after another workout or at the end of your day. 

Looking  to build a practice for relaxation or to wind down from your anxiety? Try starting your day with practice and a cup of green tea! MyYogaTeacher has tons of options available to you! See you on your mat! 

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