Hatha yoga focuses on a physical practice.
Hatha yoga focuses on a physical practice. In this practice, we use our pranayama (deep, rhythmic breathing), as we perform physical poses, or asanas. These poses strengthen our bones, muscles, internal organs, nervous system, boost our immune systems, improve our posture, enhance our mood and help us to realize the connection of our self with universal energy. Research studies have investigated the effects of asana practice on people living with cancer, and the results show the benefits of yoga for these individuals.
Asanas are grouped into categories. Each category of asana has a specific purpose:
Seated poses: improve posture, stretch muscles
Quadruped (hands and knees): promote bone strength and core strength
Two-legged standing poses: promote bone strength and balance
One-legged standing poses: promote bone strength, balance and focus
Hip opening poses: promote joint health
Spinal extension poses: promote spinal health
Twisting poses: cleanse internal organs and promote spinal health
Inversions: promote spinal and nervous system health
Relaxation poses: integrate the asana practice into our bodies, minds, and spirits
The asana poses range from simple to complex. We begin with poses that are right for us, and as we learn, we incorporate our deep breathing (pranayama), and learn to practice the remaining limbs of yoga—withdrawing of the senses (pratyahara), focus (dhrana), and meditation (dhyana) to obtain bliss (samadhi).
In our next blog, we will begin our asana practice with an easy pose that we can practice safely. Take time to learn about asanas through a qualified instructor who is experienced in teaching yoga to people living with cancer.