Hatha Yoga

~swami mounamurti saraswati

History

The Human body is like a vehicle or temple which houses the mind and spirit. The ancient Seers and Rishis of Yoga realised through their expanded awareness, inner vision and intuition which was developed through the awakening of the Kundalini that the human body contained many interesting mysteries.

Some yogis who were undergoing an inner awakening “ either in their Central Nervous System or the Pranic system, or both” unconsciously developed bodily movements known as Kriyas and assumed classical Yoga postures. Also some even began breathing in peculiar and not previously known ways. Yogic Adepts like Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati and others believe that these Kriyas that are a phenomena are initiated as a result of natural evolution “biological, Psychic, Spiritual” and heralds the last evolutionary step as a homosapien human being.

Some yogis who were undergoing an inner awakening “ either in their Central Nervous System or the Pranic system, or both” unconsciously developed bodily movements known as Kriyas and assumed classical Yoga postures. Also some even began breathing in peculiar and not previously known ways. Yogic Adepts like Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati and others believe that these Kriyas that are a phenomena are initiated as a result of natural evolution “biological, Psychic, Spiritual” and heralds the last evolutionary step as a homosapien human being.

Meaning and Development

The traditional meaning of the words, Hatha Yoga are a combination of Bija mantras meaning:

Ha (or Ham - vital life force)

Tha (or Tham, Ksham - mental force)

Yoga (Union)

Therefore the meaning of Hatha Yoga may be interpreted as Yoga through the union of prana and mind.

Mind and prana in yogic terminology can be understood as Ida and Pingala Nadis. Their purification and balance results in an awakening which when sustained perfectly for long periods of time leads to an awakening of Ajna Chakra, which triggers an awakening of Mooladhara Chakra. At this time if all conditions are auspicious Sushumna Nadi opens and Kundalini makes her ascent through all the major Chakras illumining them fully, as she passes along inside the Brahma Nadi of Sushumna (the spinal cord). This Shakti force conquers the mind at Ajna Chakra.

Dhyana (Meditation) rapidly ensues as Shiva (higher consciousness) descends to meet Shakti (Individual consciousness). Their meeting removes the duality and once more they unite in samadhi at Sahasrara and realize the ecstasy of divinity that we are truly meant to experience (the real purpose of evolution). This, to put it briefly is the theory and philosophy of Hatha Yoga and Tantra in general. But to get to this lofty realization first it is said by the masters of Kundalini Yoga that we must take to Hatha Yoga and utilize the six classical Hatha yoga shatkarmas.

Classically shatkarmas are practiced whilst one is mastering Asanas, or after reaching some degree of perfection in Asanas, but before Pranayama (always) , Mudra, Bandha and Kriya Yoga. Asanas being but one stage in a progression of Techniques ending in Yoga (Union of the individual soul or consciousness with the supreme consciousness).

Real Yogi’s of old like Goraknath, Matsyendranath etc. must be rolling around in Satyaloka (The dimension of Truth), in laughter. They would be seeing this period of the Kaliyuga (the twenty-first century A.D) how their sublime philosophies and systems of yoga have been diluted and doctored to accommodate our so-called modern society.

Hatha yoga deals with conquering and transcending the limitations of the mind, and experiencing meditation through prana. Instead of going through the front door and trying to control or tackle the mind directly, these yogis who systematized Hatha Yoga knew that the key to transcendence lied in Prana and Kundalini. Their route was the backdoor via the elevator of Sushumna. The undeniable goal of Samadhi that Rishi Patanjali expounds in the Yoga Sutras can be reached by Kundalini Shakti awakening directly.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is one of the most respected authentic texts on Hatha Yoga, is divided into four chapters leading to the goal of life- Samadhi. A brief summary of this famous Yogic Text follows.

Chapter 1

Deals with perfecting various asanas and explains the signs and symptoms of perfection in asana.

Chapter 2

Shatkatma and Pranayama. The six shatkarmas are essential before attempting advanced Pranayama techniques. They are neti, basti, dhauti, kapalbhati, trataka and nauli. These six shatkarmas are a complete yoga in themselves and are indispensable for any sadhaka (sincere yoga aspirant) contemplating the awakening of Kundalini. Kundalini is a purifying force in itself but the body, pranas and mind must be purified and harmonized first to have the ability to sustain the force of awakening. After shatkarmas have been performed the body is fit for Pranayama. Prana Nigraha (The various breathing techniques of Yoga) first of all deals with the techniques of manipulating and strengthening the breath and prana. Until one arrives at the stage of Kevala Kumbhaka real Pranayama and expansion of prana has not yet been achieved. When Kevala kumbhaka arrives the Kundalini can ascend.

Chapter 3

Mudra and Bandha describes the practices needed to raise the Kundalini and open all the Chakras, but the most important sutras describe seeking instruction from a guru or master who is an adept or expert in Kundalini Yoga. Not just in theory but they must have the ability to perceive and guide the aspirant through the unchartered waters of mind and consciousness. Mudras and Bandhas are the keys given to a deserving disciple by their guru and it is said in v128 and v129 that "the ten Mudras told by Adinath Shiva brings perfection, and one who instructs Mudra in the tradition of guru is like Ishwara.

Chapter 4

How the culmination is reached through concentration of nada (sound vibrations of consciousness). After Sushumna Nadi (the nucleus of our being) awakens, and the Kundalini has arisen within the Sushumna, the concentration becomes intense and awareness spontaneous focuses on the many inner sounds that begin to manifest. Many visions and experiences confront the sadhaka in this region, and nada (inner sound) carries the aspirant through the experience of Laya (absorption) to Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This is said to be the culmination of human experience and the true purpose of our existence. Yogis that have reached this far like Paramahamsa Satyananda say that this level of Samadhi is the doorway into another realm of total experience. This system and philosophy of Hatha Yoga have their origin in the ancient teachings of Tantra the "Tantra Shastras", which are the ancient teachings of yoga. The original guru of this lineage was Shiva. Shiva first imparted the techniques of yoga to Parvati his wife and disciple. There is reference of these techniques of Hatha yoga in these ancient texts.

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

Swami Mounamurti Saraswati

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