The main philosophies behind yoga exercises are:1. That Divinity is present within everyone, and that experiencing oneness with the Divine is a cardinal goal of life.2. That Divinity, the soul and the body are intimately connected and holding the body in certain postures can enhance or block awareness of ones innate spirituality.3. All our actions have consequences and these consequences are stored as karma. Such karmas are stored as seed potentials, depending on their quality, in different organs or parts of the body. Holding the body in certain postures has the ability to dissolve some of these karmas or lessen their intensity before they manifest in physical form.Thus for yogis who are actively seeking God Realization hatha yoga is primarily a means of stimulating spiritual awareness as a preparation for meditation and also a tool for relieving negative karmic burdens while being a secondary tool to stay fit and physically healthy.For those who are doing hatha yoga ‘just as an exercise,’ they too will get the benefits of stimulation of spiritual awareness and relief from negative karmic burdens though they may not recognize these as such and instead call it ‘wellness’ or ‘being at peace with oneself’ or just feeling stress free. One does not have to believe in the theories behind yoga for it to be effective.Just like one doesn’t have to understand why medicine works to cure an ailment, yoga is an universal practice that doesn’t descriminate one’s beliefs for it to be effective.Thus anyone may take yoga out of its Hindu or Indian heritage (power yoga, yogalatese, hot yoga etc. are all modern innovations based on yoga exercises that are different from classical hatha yoga) but one can never separate yoga from the spirituality that is inherently built into the postures.
Yoga exercise is first and foremost a spiritual exercise. No matter whether one accepts this fact or not, does not erase the basic spiritual benefits as well as the physical well being one gets out of practicing Hatha Yoga.