About Hatha Yoga

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About Hatha Yoga


About Hatha Yoga

The word Hatha means ‘FORCE’. In India hatha yoga is associated in popular tradition with the Yogis of the “Natha Sampradaye”. According to Mallinson some Hatha Yoga techniques can be track back at least to the 1st Century CE, the Hatha Yoga represented a trend towards the democratization of yoga insight and religion similar to the Bhakti Movement. It eliminated the need for "ascetic renunciation or priestly intermediaries, ritual paraphernalia and sectarian initiations". This led to its broad historic popularity in India. Later in the 20th-century, states Mallinson, this disconnect of Hatha yoga from religious aspects and the democratic access of Hatha yoga enabled it to spread worldwide. There are some fundamentals of Hatha Yoga.

- Practice

Hatha yoga practice has many elements, both behavioral and of practice. The Hatha Yoga characteristics to be dhairya (patience), sahasa (courage), jnana tattva (essence for knowledge), nishcaya (resolve, determination), utsaha (enthusiasm, fortitude) and tyaga (solitude, renunciation). In the Western culture, Hatha yoga is typically understood as Asanas and it can be practiced as such In the Indian traditions, Hatha yoga is much more. It extends well beyond being a sophisticated physical exercise system and integrates ideas of ethics, diet, cleansing, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and a system for spiritual development of the yogi.

- Proper body cleansing

Hatha yoga teaches various steps of inner body cleansing with consultations of one's yoga teacher. Its texts vary in specifics and number of cleansing methods, ranging from simple hygiene practices to the peculiar exercises such as reversing seminal fluid flow.The most common list is called shat-karmani, or six cleansing actions: dhauti (cleanse teeth and body), vasti (cleanse bladder), neti (cleanse nasal passages), trataka (cleanse eyes), nauli (abdominal massage) and kapala-bhati (cleanse phlegm). The actual procedure for cleansing varies by the Hatha yoga text, with some suggesting water wash and others describing the use of cleansing aids such as cloth

- Proper breathing

Some Hatha yoga texts teach breath exercises but do not refer to it as Pranayama. For example, Gheranda samhita in section calls it Ghatavastha (state of being the pot). In others, the term Kumbhaka or Prana-samrodha replaces Pranayama. Regardless of the nomenclature, proper breathing and the use of breathing techniques during a posture is a mainstay of Hatha yoga. Its texts state that proper breathing exercises cleanses and balances the body. Pranayama is one of the core practices of Hatha yoga, found in its major texts as one of the limbs regardless of whether the total number of limbs taught is four or more.It is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation), a concept shared with all schools of yoga.

- Proper postures

Before starting yoga practice, state the Hatha yoga texts, the yogi must establish a suitable place for the yoga practice. This place is away from all distractions, preferably a mathika (hermitage) that is distant from falling rocks, fire and a damp shifting surface. The posture exercises called Asanas. These Hatha yoga postures come in numerous forms. For a beginner yogi, states Mircea Eliade, these Asanas are uncomfortable, typically difficult, cause the body shakes and typically unbearable to hold for extended periods of time. However, with repetition and persistence, as the muscle tone improves, the effort reduces and posture improves. According to the Hatha Yoga texts, each posture becomes perfect when the "effort disappears", one no longer thinks about the posture and one's body position, breathes normally per Pranayama, and is able to dwell in one's meditation (Anantasamapattibhyam). The Asanas discussed in different Hatha Yoga texts vary significantly. Unlike ancient yoga texts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it is the Hatha yoga texts that provide step by step methodology on how to enter into an Asana. The Hindu text Gheranda Samhita, for example, in section 2.8 describes the Padmasana for meditation. Most Asanas are inspired by nature, such as a form of union with symmetric, harmonious flowing shapes of animals, birds or plants.

- Meditation

The Hatha yoga pradipika text dedicates almost a third of its verses to meditation. Similarly, other major texts of Hatha Yoga such as Shiva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita discuss meditation. In all three texts, meditation is the ultimate goal of all the preparatory cleansing, Asanas, Pranayama and other steps. The aim of this meditation is to realize Nada-Brahaman, or the complete absorption and union with the Brahman through inner mystic sound. According to Guy-Beck – a professor of Religious Studies known for his studies on Yoga and music, a Hatha yogi in this stage of practice seeks "inner union of physical opposites", into an inner state of Samadhi that is described by Hatha Yoga texts in terms of divine sounds, and as a union with Nada-Brahman in musical literature of ancient India  

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