In its most basic usage, hatha means yoga. The word hatha describes any kind of yoga in which poses are done.
Hatha Yoga was first propagated by Swami Swatamarama, a yogic sage of the 15th century in India. Hatha (pronounced “ha-tuh”) yoga is also known as hatha vidya or the “science of hatha” yoga; this word comes from combining the two sanskrit terms hat meaning “sun” and ha meaning “moon“. The former refers to the solar nadi (pingala) in the subtle body and the latter to the lunar channel (ida).
Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical postures and exercises (asanas), controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. Asanas teach poise, balance & strength and were originally (and still) practiced to improve the body’s physical health and clear the mind in preparation for meditation in the pursuit of enlightenment.
By balancing two streams, often known as ida (mental) and pingala (bodily) currents, the sushumna nadi (current of the Self) is said to rise, opening various chakras (cosmic powerpoints within the body, starting from the base of the spine and ending right above the head) until samadhi is attained.
It is through the forging a powerful depth of concentration and mastery of the body and mind, Hatha Yoga practices seek to still the mental waters and allow for apprehension of oneself as that which one always was, Brahman.
So Hatha Yoga is about creating a body which is not a hurdle in one’s life. The body becomes a stepping stone -not a hurdle, not a roadblock- in one’s progress of blossoming into his ultimate possibility.