Hatha Yoga : hata illustrated anatomy of hatha yoga pradipika

hathayoga

Hatha Yoga is the path of Physical Yoga is the most popular branch of Yoga. Hatha Yoga considered body as a  vehicle for the soul. Hatha represents opposing energies: hot and cold, male and female, positive and negative, similar but not completely analogous to yin yang.

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Hatha comes from “ha” – solar (+) and “tha” – lunar (-), the harmonious union of the two opposite aspects in  the human body. The practice of yoga postures (Asana) aims to

open and purify the energy centers (Chakras) and energy channels (Nadis).

“Ha” means Ida nadi, or left nostril and “tha” means Pingala Nadi or right nostril. Nadi means psychic passage of energy which can be compared with nerves in physical body. Hatha means balance of Ida and Pingala Nadis, or balancing of mental energy of Ida and Vital energy of Pingala Nadi. Ida Nadi can be compared with Parasympathetic Nervous system and Pingala nadi can be compared with Sympathetic Nervous System. So Hatha Yoga practices results in balancing the entire nervous system. The basic purpose of Hatha Yoga is to purify the Ida and Pingala Nadis. When the channels are clear and the last block at the base of the spine has been opened, Kundalini rises through the spine, through the central channel (sushumna-nadi), and joins the crown chakra. According to the tradition, the release of Kundalini leads to enlightenment and union.

Hatha Yoga is comprised of asnas, Pranayama, bandhas and mudras. In hatha yoga asnas and Pranayama help purify the mind, body and spirit so the yogi can attain union. Pranayama breathing exercises help clear the nadis, or channels, that carry prana the universal life force, allowing prana to flow freely.

 

History Of Hatha Yoga

Origin: Some traditions associate the origins of Hatha Yoga with Gorakhnāth, a yogin of the 10th/11th century CE but the oldest surviving comprehensive text of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama. This work is nonetheless derived from older Sanskrit texts on Yoga besides Yogi Swatmarama’s own yogic experiences. It includes information about shatkarma, asana, pranayama, chakras, kundalini, bandhas, kriyas, shakti, nadis, and mudras among other topics.

 

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 

Hatha Yoga is a particular system of Yoga described by Yogi Swatmarama, a yogic sage of the 15th century in India, and compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Hatha Yoga is a development of — but also differs substantially from — the Raja Yoga of Patanjali, in that it focuses on shatkarma, the purification of the physical as leading to the purification of the mind (ha) and prana, or vital energy (tha). In contrast, the Raja Yoga posited by Patanjali begins with a purification of the mind (yamas) and spirit (niyamas), then comes to the body via asana (body postures) and pranayama (breath). Hatha yoga contains substantial tantric influence, and marks the first point at which chakras and kundalini were introduced into the yogic canon. Compared to the seated asanas of Patanjali’s Raja yoga which were seen largely as a means of preparing for meditation, it also marks the development of asanas as full body ‘postures’ in the modern sense.

 Hatha Yoga in its many modern variations is the style that most people actually associate with the word “Yoga” today. Because its emphasis is on the body through asana and pranayama practice, many western students are satisfied with the physical health and vitality it develops and are not interested in the other six limbs of the complete Hatha yoga teaching, or with the even older Raja Yoga tradition it is based on.

The impact of modified Hatha yoga on chronic low back pain

 Altern Ther Health Med.

2004 Mar-Apr;10(2):56-9.

 Galantino ML, Bzdewka TM, Eissler-Russo JL, Holbrook ML, Mogck EP, Geigle P, Farrar JT.

Program in Physical Therapy, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA.

 

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PURPOSE:

The purpose of this randomized pilot study was to evaluate a possible design for a 6-week modified hatha yoga protocol to study the effects on participants with chronic low back pain.

 

PARTICIPANTS:

Twenty-two participants (M = 4; F = 17), between the ages of 30 and 65, with chronic low back pain (CLBP) were randomized to either an immediate yoga based intervention, or to a control group with no treatment during the observation period but received later yoga training.

 

METHODS:

A specific CLBP yoga protocol designed and modified for this population by a certified yoga instructor was administered for one hour, twice a week for 6 weeks. Primary functional outcome measures included the forward reach (FR) and sit and reach (SR) tests. All participants completed Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) questionnaires. Guiding questions were used for qualitative data analysis to ascertain how yoga participants perceived the instructor, group dynamics, and the impact of yoga on their life.

 

ANALYSIS:

To account for drop outs, the data were divided into better or not categories, and analyzed using chi-square to examine differences between the groups. Qualitative data were analyzed through frequency of positive responses.

 

RESULTS:

 Potentially important trends in the functional measurement scores showed improved balance and flexibility and decreased disability and depression for the yoga group but this pilot was not powered to reach statistical significance. Significant limitations included a high dropout rate in the control group and large baseline differences in the secondary measures. In addition, analysis of the qualitative data revealed the following frequency of responses (1) group intervention motivated the participants and (2) yoga fostered relaxation and new awareness/learning.

 

CONCLUSION:

A modified yoga-based intervention may benefit individuals with CLB, but a larger study is necessary to provide definitive evidence. Also, the impact on depression and disability could be considered as important outcomes for further study. Additional functional outcome measures should be explored. This pilot study supports the need for more research investigating the effect of yoga for this population.

 

 

Kundalini and Tantrik Sadhana Vedanta Hatha Raja Yoga

The word Kundalini is a familiar one to all students of Yoga, as it is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Svadhishthana, Manipuraka, Anahata, Visuddhi, Ajna and Sahasrara, in order.

All Sadhanas in the form of Japa, meditation, Kirtan and prayer as well as all development of virtues, and observance of austerities like truth, non-violence and continence are at best calculated only to awaken this serpent-power and make it to pass through all the succeeding Chakras beginning from Svadhishthana to Sahasrara, the latter otherwise called as the thousand-petalled lotus, the seat of Sadasiva or the Parabrahman or the Absolute separated from whom the Kundalini or the Shakti lies at the Muladhara, and to unite with whom the Kundalini passes through all the Chakras, as explained above, conferring liberation on the aspirant who assiduously practises Yoga or the technique of uniting her with her Lord and gets success also in his effort.

In worldly-minded people, given to enjoyment of sensual and sexual pleasures, this Kundalini power is sleeping because of the absence of any stimulus in the form of spiritual practices, as the power generated through such practices alone awakens that serpent-power, and not any other power derived through the possession of worldly riches and affluence. When the aspirant seriously practises all the disciplines as enjoined in the Shastras, and as instructed by the preceptor, in whom the Kundalini would have already been awakened and reached its abode or Sadasiva, acquiring which blessed achievement alone a person becomes entitled to act as a Guru or spiritual preceptor, guiding and helping others also to achieve the same end, the veils or layers enmeshing Kundalini begin to be cleared and finally are torn asunder and the serpent-power is pushed or driven, as it were upwards.

Supersensual visions appear before the mental eye of the aspirant, new worlds with indescribable wonders and charms unfold themselves before the Yogi, planes after planes reveal their existence and grandeur to the practitioner and the Yogi gets divine knowledge, power and bliss, in increasing degrees, when Kundalini passes through Chakra after Chakra, making them to bloom in all their glory which before the touch of Kundalini, do not give out their powers, emanating their divine light and fragrance and reveal the divine secrets and phenomena, which lie concealed from the eyes of worldly-minded people who would refuse to believe of their existence even.

When the Kundalini ascends one Chakra or Yogic centre, the Yogi also ascends one step or rung upward in the Yogic ladder; one more page, the next page, he reads in the divine book; the more the Kundalini travels upwards, the Yogi also advances towards the goal or spiritual perfection in relation to it. When the Kundalini reaches the sixth centre or the Ajna Chakra, the Yogi gets the vision of Personal God or Saguna Brahman, and when the serpent-power reaches the last, the top centre, or Sahasrara Chakra, or the Thousand-petalled lotus, the Yogi loses his individuality in the ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda or the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and becomes one with the Lord or Supreme Soul. He is no longer an ordinary man, not even a simple Yogi, but a fully illumined sage, having conquered the eternal and unlimited divine kingdom, a hero having won the battle against illusion, a Mukta or liberated one having crossed the ocean of ignorance or the transmigratory existence, and a superman having the authority and capacity to save the other struggling souls of the relative world. Scriptures hail him most, in the maximum possible glorifying way, and his achievement. Celestial beings envy him, not excluding the Trinity even, viz., Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

Kundalini And Tantrik Sadhana

Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantrik Sadhana, which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras, as mentioned above. Mother Divine, the active aspect of the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, resides in the body of men and women in the form of Kundalini, and the entire Tantrik Sadhana aims at awakening Her, and making Her to unite with the Lord, Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara, as described in the beginning in detail. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantrik Sadhana are Japa of the name of the Mother, prayer and various rituals.

Kundalini And Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga also builds up its philosophy around this Kundalini and the methods adopted in it are different from Tantrik Sadhana. Hatha Yoga seeks to awaken this Kundalini through the discipline of the physical body, purification of Nadis and controlling the Prana. Through a number of physical poses called Yoga Asanas it tones up the entire nervous system, and brings it under the conscious control of the Yogi, through Bandhas and Mudras it controls the Prana, regulates its movements and even blocks and seals it without allowing it to move, through Kriyas it purifies the inner organs of physical body and, finally, through Pranayama it brings the mind itself under the control of the Yogi. Kundalini is made to go upwards towards Sahasrara through these combined methods.

Kundalini And Raja Yoga

But Raja Yoga mentions nothing about this Kundalini, but propounds a still subtle, higher path, philosophical and rational, and asks the aspirant to control the mind, to withdraw all the senses and to plunge in meditation. Unlike Hatha Yoga which is mechanical and mystical, Raja Yoga teaches a technique with eight limbs, appealing to the heart and intellect of aspirants. It advocates moral and ethical development through its Yama and Niyama, helps the intellectual and cultural development through Svadhyaya or study of holy Scriptures, satisfies the emotional and devotional aspect of human nature by enjoining to surrender oneself to the will of the Creator, has an element of mysticism by including Pranayama also as one of the eight limbs and finally, prepares the aspirant for unbroken meditation on the Absolute through a penultimate step of concentration. Neither in philosophy nor in its prescription of methods of Raja Yoga mentions about Kundalini, but sets the human mind and Chitta as its targets to be destroyed as they alone make the individual soul to forget its real nature and brings on it birth and death and all the woes of phenomenal existence.

Kundalini And Vedanta

But when we come to Vedanta, there is no question about Kundalini or any type of mystical and mechanical methods. It is all enquiry and philosophical speculation. According to Vedanta the only thing to be destroyed is ignorance about one’s real nature, and this ignorance cannot be destroyed either by study, or by Pranayama, or by work, or by any amount of physical twisting and torturing, but only by knowing one’s real nature, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda or Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Man is divine, free and one with the Supreme Spirit always, which he forgets and identifies himself with matter, which itself is an illusory appearance and a superimposition on the spirit. Liberation is freedom from ignorance and the aspirant is advised to constantly dissociate himself from all limitations and identify himself with the all-pervading, non-dual, blissful, peaceful, homogeneous spirit or Brahman. When meditation becomes intensified, in the ocean of Existence or rather the individuality is blotted or blown out completely. Just as a drop of water let on a frying pan is immediately sucked and vanishes from cognition, the individual consciousness is sucked in by the Universal Consciousness and is absorbed in it. According to Vedanta there cannot be real liberation in a state of multiplicity, and the state of complete Oneness is the goal to be aspired for, towards which alone the entire creation is slowly moving on. – SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA A DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY

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