Yoga is over 5000 years old. Literally translated, it means “yoke” or “unite,” and represents the union of mind and body. Hatha is Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language that forms the basis of yogic literature, and means “union of the opposites” (ha literally translates to mean “sun” while tha means “moon”).
It can also be described as “determined effort,” which is helpful not only when holding a pose but whenever determination and perseverance are required in other areas of our lives. A typical hatha yoga practice combines physical poses (asanas in Sanskrit), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditations (dhyana) as the pathway to balancing body, mind, and spirit.
Hatha yoga originally developed as a way for ancient yogis to prepare body and mind for the stillness, strength, and control required for a meditation practice. However, anyone can practice yoga. It is a system of personal growth and development achieved through postures, breathing, and concentration. It promotes and helps maintain physical health, flexibility, and youthfulness as well as mental and emotional well-being.
~ from Essential Yoga by Olivia H. Miller