Hatha yoga is generally defined as either willful, forceful yoga or as yoga that brings inner balance. Hatha translates to mean sun (ha) and moon (tha).
Hatha yoga is the yoga form most well known in Western countries. It includes Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and power yoga techniques. One main focus of Hatha yoga is to prepare the body and mind for meditation. This is done by performing a series of poses, or asanas, while maintaining consistent breath control. Hatha technique calms the mind, body and spirit while balancing the body's inner masculine and feminine qualities.
Hatha yoga's objective is to clear the mind and body of obstacles that prevent an individual from mastering sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and balance. Practicing this yoga form generates posture endurance and allows the nadis to open. Nadis are the body's inner channels of mind and body energy. Keeping these channels open has positive health benefits and aids spiritual growth and understanding, according to traditional beliefs.
Traditionally, Hatha yoga is one of the four main branches of Tantra yoga. Tantra technique focuses on studying the microcosm of an individual as a way to understand the macrocosm of the universe. Its goal is to expand an individual's awareness in all forms of consciousness.