Classical Hatha Yoga

~swami mounamurti saraswati

In today’s society the word Hatha Yoga has come to mean to the uninitiated many things. Yoga has always been about awakening, enlightenment of the spirit. By systematically following a classical system of Hatha Yoga you will eventually “experience” Yoga.

Introduction

Originally Classical Hatha Yoga only consisted of six techniques; Neti, Dhauti, Basti, Nauli, Kapalbhati & Trataka. However the scope of the Hatha Yoga techniques evolved over many centuries to encompass Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha. All are progressive Yogic techniques to be learned by a proficient guide over many years of dedicated practice. Classical Hatha Yoga is a tried and proven path to self-realization that has been finely honed and developed by Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan Yoga Masters for millennia.
It not only confers a healthy and purified mind and body but also leads the sincere and dedicated aspirant to psychic and spiritual awakening and to the discovery of their inherent creative potential. This is the path of Yoga most suited to the Yoga aspirant of today’s world as it works systematically from the grosser physical body that we are already familiar with through to the most subtle aspects of our total personality. Thus making classical Hatha Yoga the ideal foundation for the most advanced Yoga’s.

Asana:

Foremost important Asanas are: Siddhasana or Siddha Yoni Asana (Adepts pose) and Padmasana (Lotus pose) which all classical Hatha yoga texts recommend as the most important to master. Additional asanas up to 82 are also recommended until one is ready for higher Yoga’s such as Raja Yoga or Kriya Yoga, which is an advanced form of Kundalini Yoga. The Classical Ancient Hatha Yoga Texts are: Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gherand Samhita, Hathratnavali, Shiva Satarka

Pranayama:

Is the next limb of classical Hatha Yoga following Shatkarmas and Asana. Classically Pranayama is commenced after ones body has been prepared through Asana and one has commenced to moderate and purify the diet and is practicing some shatkarmas according to the instructions of the teacher.
The word “Prana” is a combination of two syllables, pra and na. Prana denotes constancy, a force in constant motion. Prana is the vital life force and pranayama is the process by which the internal pranic store is increased or expanded. Pranayama is comprised by the words prana and ayama, which means” pranic capacity or length”. It is a technique through which the quantity of prana in the body is activated to a higher frequency.

Through Pranayama mind and breath can become calm and in this calmness when the nadis are purified the mystical chakras and deep meditation can be awakened. Many different branches of Yoga utilize the effectiveness of Pranayama. As one becomes more advanced in the pranayamas of Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Kriya Yoga can become more achievable Sadhanas other wise not. Pranayama is a supremely valuable Jewel in the Yogic repertoire.

Bandha:

Is the next limb of classical Hatha Yoga following the Shatkarmas, Asana and Pranayama. A Bandha is a Psychomuscular energy lock, which redirects the flow of psychic energy “Prana”in the body. There is mainly three Bandhas, but the combination of all three Bandhas is sometimes used to make a fourth very important lock or Bandha. The Bandhas are:1) Moola Bandha6 triggered by the contraction of the Perineum in the male and the Cervix in the female body. 2) Uddiyana Bandha : Abdominal retraction lock 3) Jalandhara Bandha : Throat lock.

Maha Bandha:

the Great lock is the coordinated combination of the previous three Bandhas. Universal Prana life force in the physical body is subdivided into five prana vayus. These Prana Vayus are operating in different locations, they flow in different directions and perform different functions. The Prana Yayus are Apana, Samama,Prana,Vyana,Udana. The three most important are Prana,Apana and Samana. The natural movement of Prana is upwards, Apana downwards and Samana is sideways. Through the practice of Maha Bandha the direction of Apana and Prana is reversed and made to flow towards Samana. The force of Samana is strengthened and redirected backwards to help awaken the transcendental Nadi of Sushumna.

Mudra:

In classical Hatha Yoga after practicing Shatkarma, Asana, Pranayama, Bandha the student of Hatha Yoga begins the practice of Mudra.
Mudra literally means “gesture” a physical, mental and psychic attitude which expresses and channels the cosmic energy of Prana.

The most famous Mudras are: 2Khechari Mudra, Maha Mudra, Maha Bheda Mudra, Vipareeta Karani Mudra,Vajroli and Sahajoli Mudra, Naumukhi Mudra and Yoni Mudra, Shambhavi Mudra, Manduki Mudra, Shakti Chalini Mudra.

Mudra’s channel the refined and subtle pranic energy that is produced through the preceding Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, and arouses or induces a particular state of mind. When this state arises Deep Meditation can become spontaneous. Cultivation of this state of high energy opens the doors of perception through which a Yogi explores their consciousness

Nadis:

Nadis are Psychic channels through which flows the distribution of prana in the Astral body or Pranamaya Kosha.

According to Ancient Yogic Texts there are 72,000 or more nadis through which prana and consciousness are distributed throughout the body. There are Ten main nadis out of which, three are the most important. These Nadis are Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Ida is the channel of mental energy, Pingala the channel for vital energy and Sushumna Nadi is the channel for spiritual energy. When the left nostril is flowing Ida is active, and when the right nostril is flowing Pingala is active.

But when both are made to flow perfectly equal for an extended period of time through Sadhana (“Spiritual Practice ie:Yoga”) or other means, this is said to herald the auspicious moment when the transcendental Nadi of Sushumna begins to open and flow. The Physiological correlate for Sushumna is the Canal Centralis of the spinal cord. Perfection of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama and many other techniques begins the awakening of Pranas in the Pranamaya Kosha3 and eventually through much effort Sushumna. Through Sushumna you can experience deep transcendental experiences related to the mystical Chakras and Kundalini.

Chakras:

A Chakra is a Psychophysical reality or entity4, a vortex of light or psychic energy existing multidimensionally at the interface between body and mind. At the grosser level the Chakras have associated links in the physical body through various Endocrine Glands, Nerve Plexuses, Organs and the (CNS) Brain and Spinal Cord. On a more subtle level Chakras operate like transducers stepping down the cosmic energy like a top down hierarchy of energy and consciousness filtering down through the depths of the Unconscious Mind to permeate the physical Body. Chakras can be understood as part of the here and now mortal body and part of the complex and immortal collective super conscious state of the divine, which is inherent in all beings.

Kundalini:

The Goal of Yoga is to awaken your dormant potential, which is the evolutionary spiritual force known in Tantra as Kundalini. Stabilizing the awakened state of Kundalini in Samadhi is the Goal of all Yogas.eg Hatha, Raja, Kriya, Kundalini. Few ever achieve the highest goal which is said to be a transcendental state of supreme bliss at one with all of creation. It is only reached through diligent Sadhana for many years under the tuition of a capable Master of this Science. This is our evolutionary destiny to have a firm grip of the experience of Kundalini and have permanent access to the wisdom that it reveals.

By Pranayama and other yogic processes the static Shakti is affected and becomes dynamic. When completely dynamic, when Kundalini unites with Siva “Divine Consciousness” in the Sahasrara, the polarization of the body gives way. The two poles are united in one and there is the state of consciousness called Samadhi. “Quote by Swami Sivananda Saraswati” No duality exists and you experience oneness with the ultimate experience beyond mind and body.

Some Verses of Wisdom

From the

Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Circa 6th Century AD

C1Ver43: There is no asana like Siddhasana, no Kumbhaka like Kevala, no Mudra like Kechari and no Laya or dissolution of the mind like Nada, the inner sound

C2Ver75: There is no doubt; the state of Raja Yoga is also attained through Kevala Kumbhaka. By retention Kundalini is aroused, Sushumna becomes unobstructed and perfection of Hatha Yoga takes place

C2Ver76: There can be no perfection if Hatha Yoga is without Raja Yoga or Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga. Therefore, through practice of both, perfection is obtained

C4Ver114: While the prana does not flow in the middle passage (Sushumna), while the Bindu is not steadied by restraining the Prana, while the mind does not reflect spontaneous Meditation, then those who speak of Spiritual knowledge are only indulging in boastful and false tales

References

Saraswati, Swami Muktibodhananda & Swami Satyananda
Hatha Yoga Pradipika1
Bihar School of Yoga
Munger, Bihar, India
1985

Saraswati, Swami Satyananda
Kundalini Tantra2
Bihar School of Yoga
Munger, Bihar, India
1984

Saraswati, Swami Niranjanananda
Prana Pranayama Pranavidya3
Bihar School of Yoga
Munger, Bihar, India
1994

Saraswati, Swami Anandakapila (Dr.Jonn Mumford)
A Chakra & Kundalini Workbook4
Llewellyn Publications
St. Paul, MN
USA

Saraswati, Swami Sivananda
Kundalini Yoga -Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, Tenth Ed5
Divine Life Society
Rishikesh, UP
India

Saraswati, Swami Buddhananda
Moola Bandha the Master Key6
Bihar School of Yoga
Munger, Bihar, India
1978

KRP The Brain

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