Importance of Hatha yoga
Hatha yoga is the third step on the eight-fold path of yogic development. It precedes pranayama and aims to open the energy channels, preparing the body to sit comfortably, strengthening mental as well as physical stamina. The physical postures, or asanas, mobilize the body and open restrictions, increasing mobility, flexibility, and strength.
However, the sought-after benefits touted in the West such as weight loss, improved health and overall conditioning are simply the side effects that accompany the much more profound aspects of a hatha yoga practice. Unlike everyday forms of exercise, hatha yoga helps to quiet the mind and turn it inward.
It is here, in the inner space, that the potential of hatha yoga can truly manifest. In the midst of the spine are three vital energy pathways. On the left side is the Ida, which conducts the energy of the Moon (THA) within. To its right is the Pingala, the essence of the solar energy (HA).
The central channel is called the Sushumna and is known as the fire, the seat of knowledge. When the energies of the right and left channels, HA and THA, are united and brought together into the Sushumna the doors of divine perception open, allowing the prana to flow in the most correct and essential path of true knowledge, absolute bliss and infinite peace. By the union of HA and THA, the mind naturally settles into a deep state of meditation, directly experiencing the divine eternal attributes.