The true essence of Hatha Yoga lies within understanding the two main components; ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’. According to yogic science, Hatha Yoga has been derived by combining two words ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’; where ‘Ha’ refers to the Sun and ‘Tha’ refers to the moon.
The terms ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ possess completely opposite energies as solar energy is regarded as masculine and lunar energy is regarded as feminine. So the word ‘Hatha’ represents the dual and balanced nature of the universe where both strong and weak or positive and negative energies stay side by side.
If you want to understand the meaning of Hatha Yoga in terms of ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’, then at first you need to assess your own being.
Human life is comprised of two forces; one is the active force and the other is the passive force. Active forces encourage us to take difficult challenges in life and successfully overcome those with a lot of effort, whereas passive forces demand us to be calm and composed in certain situations. In such situations, we need to stay humble and grounded. So ultimately you need to balance those fierce and gentle forces to lead a healthy and successful life.
Similarly ‘Ha’ is the active energy that is almost equal to the dynamic energy of the Sun. Without Sun the universe will definitely collapse as Sun is the entire source of energy. But imagine a world where the sun never sets. How will living beings exist if such things ever happen?
So in order to keep a balance, the feminine energy is needed to calm down the hotness of the Sun; this energy is defined as ‘Tha’, the Moon.
Moonlight relaxes and cools down the earth in a balanced manner. So ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ represent the polarity of our life, where we don’t just understand the existence of two opposite forces in our life but we accept the union of these forces for complete manifestation of a healthy life.
So Hatha Yoga is a practice of balancing and uniting the opposite forces inside a human body. By balancing opposite energies, we can get control over the fluctuations of our mind (Chitta vritti in yogic language) and build stability in a manifested world.
Other forms of ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’
‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ doesn’t exactly mean Sun and Moon rather it’s the representation of opposite energies. In other tradition, these energies known as;
- Yang and Yin – In Taoism (Chinese philosophy)
- Purusha and Prakruti – In Samkhya philosophy
- Shiva and Shakti – In Tantra
- Energy and matter – In physics
- Pingala and Ida Nadi – In hatha yoga
Lord Shiva – True Representative of ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’
Lord Shiva, the Adiyogi himself is a true representative of ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’, where he carries the two extreme opposite forces in a well-balanced manner. We can understand it better if we truly analyse what Lord Shiva carries on his body.
- At the top of Shiva’s head, he carries the River Ganga, which flows calmly representing the serenity of nature. But at the same time, he has his fierce third eye on his forehead which represents the fiery energy within him.
- So here Shiva carries both ‘Ha and ‘Tha’ in the form of calmness & impetuosity, which signifies the union of two opposite energies.
- Similarly, he has poison in his throat for why its colour seems to be blue and at the same time, he holds the moon on his head. Moon again represents the feminine energy and, in Sanskrit, moon has the symmetry with the nectar.
- Hence both poison and nectar (representing Ha and Tha) reside side by side to sustain harmony in the universe.
- As we all know Lord Shiva is devoid of all worldly pleasures; but at the same time, he also represents a family person with his wife Parvati and two sons Ganesh and Kartikeya. So the two opposite energies always reside along with each other to create harmony between a renouncer (yogi) and a householder.
- Also, he holds a snake which is again the prey of peacock, the chariot of his son Kartikeya.
But everything goes with each other with the greatest harmony; this is the true substance of ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ that operates inside a human life and in the whole universe.
Two Components of Hatha Yoga
Yoga is not just about doing different body postures in a controlled manner, but it is a practice that helps us accepting and balancing the diversity and duality in our ideas and thoughts. So by practicing Hatha Yoga, a person can have control over the opposing forces that function inside the human body at the same time.
Every human life possesses two different energies and if we do not harmonize the forces then it may lead to the destruction of life by disturbing inner peace and happiness. So a balance between the two components ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ can be successfully achieved with the practice of Hatha Yoga.
Sometimes the physical energies (prana Shakti) are high inside a human being and the mental energies (manas Shakti) are low inside the same person. Similarly, another person can be strongest at the mental level but he does not possess ample physical strength to perform all activities in daily life. But with the practice of Hatha Yoga, these two energies (active and passive energy) can be harmonized. This is the true essence of two integrants ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ in one of the most effective yoga practices, i.e. Hatha Yoga.
Balancing Opposites Through Hatha Yoga
Hatha yogis from the very beginning understand the nature of the mind and know how difficult it’s to control thought patterns of the mind. Hatha yoga ultimately leads to Raja yoga, though, it’s comparatively easy for a yogi because it starts with something gross with which we can identify ourselves i.e. our body.
Word ‘Hatha’ is derived from the root term ‘Hat‘ which means ‘force’. It is therefore a “forceful” form of yoga, whose dynamic techniques have powerful effects.
Because physical stillness is in the core of human beings, firstly Hatha Yoga practices aim to bring a motion in the body i.e. removing the tamas quality. By bringing motion into the body, only one can know the real nature of the body. Hence all the practices of hatha yoga are to attain a state of balance between stillness and motion.
Hatha Yoga Practices
Hatha yoga comprises mainly four practices;
- Asana – The physical postures
- Shatkarma and Pranayama – Purification and Breathing techniques
- Mudra and Bandha – Gestures and Body locks
Imagine a person having body pain like a spine problem or backache; he
definitely cannot concentrate on anything beyond his body pain. All his
aspirations just vanish till he dwells inside his painful physical being. Similarly, when you are going through depression, nothing seems worthy; not even the life itself. During the depression, a person doesn’t seem to have that motivation or physical strength to perform all the daily activities. So, in order to balance the body and the mind Hatha Yoga comes to the rescue.
Body Postures (Asanas) help cure certain types of spine problems or body aches with regular practice. For example, a person practicing the ‘Dhanurasana’ (bow pose) allows himself to build stronger and flexible back muscles. At the same time, blood circulation improves with this posture. The bow pose relieves stress, cures constipation, and aids in improving the functions of the liver, pancreas, small intestine, and big intestine. So this particular Hatha Yoga practice balances both the physical and mental harmony of the body.
When a person does deep meditation, the energy level goes in an upward
direction. Meditation heals a person mentally and spiritually; it clears the
mind, calming down the anxiety and stress levels up to a huge extent.
With controlled breathing techniques or Pranayam like ‘Nadi
Shodhana’, a person is able to bring back his mind to the present. Regular
practice of this breathing technique can help in keeping the mind calm and
peaceful. It also helps release tensions and body fatigue.
Hence by practicing all aspects of Hatha Yoga you can attain that balanced approach in your physical and mental well-being.
The universe is formed in such a manner that, both the positive and negative forces have to run side by side. Both fierce and gentle forces are needed for the proper functioning of the universe. One is incomplete without the other; hence ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ are complementary to each other. Sun is as much needed as the moon to establish that equilibrium in the universe. When they together function in a properly balanced way then only human life can flourish on earth.
Hatha Yoga is the most essential part of yoga practice that demonstrates the importance of harmony in a person’s life. If one type of energy predominantly rules over a certain person then he may be driven towards the path of destruction. So the well-balanced approach of Hatha Yoga unites both ‘Ha and ‘Tha’ and converts the energy into the proper functioning of the whole mass.