Hatha Yoga describes any of the physical practices of yoga. (Remember that yoga has eight limbs, only one of which, asana, involves doing yoga poses.) When you do Iyengar, this is hatha yoga; when you do Ashtanga, as different as this may seem, it is hatha yoga too. Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit, according to Ellen Stansell, PhD, RYT, a scholar of yogic literature and Sanskrit. The physical yoga postures must have seemed forceful compared to the other more subtle practices that were in use at the time that hatha emerged, explains Stansell.
Practicing hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks improved sedentary older adults' performance on cognitive tasks that are relevant to everyday life, researchers report.
The findings involved 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79 years of age, 61 of whom attended hatha yoga classes. The others met for the same number and length of sessions and engaged in stretching and toning exercises instead of yoga.
At the end of the eight weeks, the yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention. The stretching-and-toning group saw no significant change in cognitive performance over time. The differences seen between the groups were not the result of differences in age, gender, social status or other demographic factors, the research team reported.
Previous studies have found that yoga can have immediate positive psychological effects by decreasing anxiety, …
Many people try a hatha class and love the relaxed feeling, others decide that yoga is too slow and meditative for them. If you fall in the later category, try vinyasa next time for a completely different experience.
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