Hatha Yoga focuses on the physical body. Through gentle bending and stretching postures, deep breathing, techniques for deep relaxation, and cleansing practices, the physical body is made strong and supple. Anyone of any age or physical condition can practice Hatha Yoga, although those with disabilities or who are frail, will need to practice variations of some of the practices.

Hatha Yoga helps purify the body of toxins - waste products and other harmful chemicals that lie in the body and cause fatigue, disease, and restlessness. The subtle nervous system, similar to the meridians of acupuncture, is also toned and brought into balance. 

There are important differences between Hatha Yoga and other forms of physical exercise. There should never be any strain when performing the stretches or breathing practices. In the postures, students move into whatever is the maximum position for them at that time. There is effort, but no shaking of the body, or grunting and groaning to attain a supposedly advanced pretzel-like shape. Progress is made gradually and naturally. Strain is also avoided 
while practicing the breathing practices: there is no strenuous holding of the breath, sweating or shaking of the body. Even if the student feels light-headed or dizzy, the practice is paused until the feeling passes. Practicing Hatha Yoga in this way brings rapid progress, while insuring that you remain injury free.

Hatha Yoga is a powerful way to attain good health. It revitalizes the body, inside and out, and increases suppleness, balance, and strength. Every bodily system is benefited: digestive, respiratory, immune, urinary, cardiovascular, and more. Hatha Yoga achieves these goals in many ways, but let's consider two of the most important: the spine and the endocrine system. 

The organs and systems of the body are like members of an orchestra where each musician plays his or her part in order to create harmony. To experience optimum health, all aspects of the body need to communicate with the others. This communication is achieved through two major communication systems, the nervous system and the endocrine system. 

There is an old saying in Yoga: you are only as old as your spine. The spinal cord and brain form the axis of the nervous system, the body's electrical communication network. By keeping the spine flexible and well nourished with blood and oxygen, the nerves that exit from the spinal column can function at their optimum efficiency. 

The endocrine system forms the body's chemical communication system. One of the great advantages of Hatha Yoga compared to many other forms of physical activity is that it has many practices that directly benefit the endocrine system. 

By the end of a good Hatha Yoga session, the organs are toned, the mind calmed, cleared, and more focused, and the body and mind in harmony. 

To read about any of the six major branches of Yoga, please visit:  
Hatha YogaJnana YogaBhakti YogaKarma YogaJapa YogaRaja Yoga.
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