The word हठ haṭha is a Sanskrit word which literally means “force”. It is a very meaningful word. “Hatha Yoga” is one of the traditional branches of Yoga and came into existence during the times of Natha Sampradaya/ Sect.
Hatha is a union of two words – “ha” and “tha”, the combination of two great forces, wherein “Ha” means the sun energy and “tha” the moon energy. This means Hatha yoga is the blending of Sun and Moon energy, two of the greatest forces of the Universe and both of them exist in each one of us. And the primary objective of Hatha Yoga is to make harmony and balance between these two energies. Once the energies are balanced and unite in agya chakra the activation of “Kundalini Shakti” take place.
The Moon and Sun energy are also popularly known as “feminine energy” and “masculine energy” respectively. There are different names for them in different traditions like Pursha and Prakarti, Consciousness and Life, Yin and yang, Shiva and Shakti . As we see in hindu mythology that Ardhanarishvara, the statue of shiva is the union of two bodies, Shiv and Parvati. The science terms these forces as “matter” and “energy” and in Yoga, these energies are called “Pingla (sun)” and “Ida (moon)” Nadis.
The main characteristic of Moon energy is that it is a passive energy and is associated with emotions, Love and compassion, it fosters Sensitivity, Creativity, sense of Imagination, passion for Art, Poetry, etc.
On the other hand, the “Sun” energy is an active energy; associated with characteristics like Intellect, Aggression, Logical Reasoning, Argumentation, Analytical Thinking, Discipline, Punctuality, Organised and systematic procedures, perfectionism, Interest in Maths, science, etc.
In ancient times, Hatha yoga originally used to consist six main Kriyas (Neti, Dhauti, Basti, Nauli, Kapalbhati and Trataka). These six kriyas were called “Purification Techniques” and were performed to purify the whole body and make the body ready for “Raja Yoga”. Later, more techniques were included in Hatha Yoga like Asana, Pranayama, Mudras and Bandhas.
Hatha yoga helps to purify the whole body through performance of Kriyas and balance the two nadis “Ida”and “Pingla”. The moment the two nadis are balanced, the energy starts flowing from Ida and Pingla along with “Sushma” which is a neutral force and they all combine together in between the two eyes i.e. at “Ajna Chakra”. In the event of such union, an instant activation of “Kundalini Shakti” takes place at root chakra and the process of Hatha Yoga is concluded.
It is to be noted that Hatha yoga is the initial process to be completed before undertaking the transcendental voyage of Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga prepares the individual to experience the next higher spiritual dimensions of Raja Yoga. In other words, “Hatha Yoga” is the mean and “Raja Yoga” is the goal.