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Hatha yoga, also known as hatha vidya, is a yoga system first introduced in the 15th century in India. Yoga is the Sanskrit word for "union" and hatha is actually crafted from two words: ha meaning "sun" and tha meaning "moon". Hatha yoga is commonly translated as the yoga that brings union "of the pairs of opposites." According to the Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary, the word "hatha" means forceful. Hatha yoga involves a practice of different postures and breathing techniques aimed to induce relaxation and improve strength. Yoga is an extremely popular physical and relaxation technique, that is practiced even in the western world. Most people use it to relax, stretch, breathe, meditate or simply because it's fashionable. Yoga has shown to have various preventive and therapeutic benefits.

Physical benefits of hatha yoga

Physical benefits of yoga are primarily focused on keeping the body strong by strengthening the feet, hands, abdominals, lower back, legs and shoulders. Yoga is excellent to improve one's flexibility and help the joints, tendons and muscles against stiffing. Patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis will especially benefit from yoga by experiencing relief from stiffness, pain and other symptoms of their condition. Yoga can also help to relieve chronic back and neck pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles. It is also beneficial in healing various injuries such as repetitive strain injuries, knee and back injuries, pulled hamstrings and even minor skin burns. Hatha yoga is also known to improve the bone density. It is especially recommended for women approaching menopause, who are at higher risk from osteoporosis.

Hatha yoga is also beneficial for the cardiovascular system as it lowers the blood pressure and improves the circulation. Hatha yoga also lowers the heart rate while improving the oxygen circulation throughout the body.

Mental benefits of hatha yoga

Hatha yoga classes feature slow-paced stretching with some simple breathing exercises and seated meditation. These classes are especially good for beginners and people willing to get the maximum mental benefits from yoga. Classes are slow and very meditative, which contributes to the relaxed feelings. Yoga is known to reduce anxiety and stress and positively affects overall wellbeing, mood and concentration. Anxiety, depression and mood swings are commonly treated with yoga classes. Breathing exercises are especially good for those who are willing to relax and experience the sense of inner piece. Yoga can also help to cure insomnia, as it leads to better and deeper sleep.

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