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THE BIG BOOK OF YOGA: THE END OF YOGA

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Lastly, keep in mind that Hatha Yoga wasn't designed as a system that takes lifetimes upon lifetimes to get results from - it is an imminent, practical system that can be practiced in its fullness right here, and right now! It's such a beautifully integrated way of taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirits - the early Yogis really knew what they were doing when they put it all together.

Whether you're just looking to be in better shape (physically, mentally, and emotionally), or whether you've got your sights firmly set on spiritual awakening, the rich teachings of Hatha Yoga have something to offer everyone. So...that's our pitch for the advantages of learning and practicing Hatha Yoga as completely and correctly as possible.

Why do Hatha Yoga?

There are two main ways to approach this question. One is from the perspective that Hatha Yoga is primarily a form of physical exercise. From this point of view, Hatha Yoga is just one of many hobbies or fitness routines available to choose from - so why chose this one in particular? Another is from the perspective of a spiritual seeker - someone who has already decided to commit to developing spiritually, but who is not sure whether to practice Hatha Yoga or something else. How to know if Hatha Yoga is right for you? We'll look at each of these questions in turn.

Hatha Yoga as physical exercise

There have been plenty of studies done by this point, showing the physical health benefits of Hatha Yoga3. Check out this chapter's heading under the References section for links to more research. Hatha Yoga has proven to be helpful not only at the physical level, but also in dealing with regulating stress, emotions, and states of mind. Many people report not only feeling more physically fit, but feeling calmer, more centered, and balanced, after practicing. Point being, there's no shortage of great reasons for why you should choose Hatha Yoga as your physical fitness routine!

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Physical Hatha Yoga

One thing to keep in mind if you're considering Hatha Yoga for these reasons, is that there are many, many variations on Hatha Yoga available today. Any form of Yoga which incorporates physical practices, such as Asana and Pranayama, is technically working within the umbrella term Hatha Yoga, but it gets pretty varied once you get past the basics! There is fast-moving Yoga, slow-moving Yoga, Yoga done outdoors, Yoga done indoors, hot Yoga, air conditioned Yoga, Yoga for Strength, Flexibility, Restoration, Relaxation, and Physical Therapy. There is Hatha Yoga for Couples, and then there are Yoga DVDs that you can do at home, all on your own. The list goes on and on!

When trying to find a style that works for you, try to be aware of your body's limits, just as you would with any other physical undertaking. Just because there's soft music playing and the room smells like lavender essential oils, it doesn't mean that you aren't in for a workout! Check with a medical doctor if you're unsure whether your physical condition is suitable for practicing Hatha Yoga. In general, there is something for everyone in Yoga and with a little shopping around, you will find the style that best suits you.

Hatha Yoga as a spiritual path

As we've discussed, there are many paths to achieving Yoga. Some Buddhist monasteries reflect this idea by hanging a sign over their entrance: "As many monks, so are there paths." So how do you know if Hatha Yoga is your path? Well, for starters, you won't know until you give it a try - and by "try" we don't mean walking into a local fitness gym and taking a 60-minute class. Take the time to ask around, find the teachers in your area (if there are any) who are making an effort to transmit authentic Hatha Yoga to their students. Find out who their teachers were as well, and maybe even look at some of the

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