In Sanskrit, Hatha means force. Hatha yoga breathing techniques can be traced back to the 1st Century in both Buddhist and Hindu texts, but it was another 1,000 years before the use of yoga postures, or asanas, and breath control was recorded as a way to enhance vital energy.
Classical Hatha yoga was developed in the 15th century and included guidance for the proper setting of yoga, asanas, pranayama or breathing exercises, mudras or hand gestures, and meditation for personal spiritual growth.
Hatha yoga was brought to America by Swami Vivekananda in 1893 as a spiritual practice. In the 1920s, yogis combined asanas with other popular exercises of the day to create a flowing style of yoga that was more physical than spiritual.
By the 1950s, hatha yoga was introduced to millions of households across America with Richard Hittleman’s popular TV program “Yoga For Health.”
A few years later, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the spiritual advisor to The Beatles, brought a new dimension of yoga to the mainstream with a combination of transcendental meditation and yoga and its popularity soared. Today, hatha yoga is well-known for both as a physical and spiritual practice for mind-body health.