The main objective of hatha yoga is to create an absolute balance of the interacting activities and processes of the physical body, mind and energy. When this balance is created, the impulses generated give a call of awakening to the central force, sushumna nadi, which is responsible for the evolution of human consciousness. If hatha yoga is not used for this purpose, its true objective is lost.
– From Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda
BENEFITS OF HATHA YOGA
- Reduces stress and tension in the physical body by activating the para-sympathetic nervous system
- Self-healing: freeing the mind from negative blocks and removing toxins from the body
- Increased personal power and self-awareness
- Increased attention, focus and concentration
- Improves your fitness level by building strength, balance and joints mobility
- Improves flexibility in body as its poses help in stretching out tight hips, back, shoulders and thighs
- Practising yoga daily helps reducing the anxiety and stress to minimal level which leads to better sleep and better health
A TRADITIONAL HATHA YOGA CLASS WITH MIRIAM
I teach traditional Hatha Yoga as learnt during my studies in India, with the intention to bring back the balance between mind, body and energy, and for that, my classes are between 75 to 90 minutes including the following essential aspects of Hatha yoga:
- Mantra Chanting: Sanskrit mantras are energy-based sounds that have the power to vibrate and resonate throughout the entire body.
- Asanas: specific positions of the body which channels prana, opens the chakras and removes energy blocks.
- Pranayama: controlled breathing techniques to influence and expand (`ayama´) the flow of prana (`vital energy´ or `life force´) to go beyond one´s normal boundaries or limitations and attain a higher state of vibratory energy and awareness.
- Mudras: a combination of subtle physical movements or gestures which alter mood, attitude and perception, and which deepen awareness and concentration.
- Yoga Nidra (Deep Relaxation Technique): yogic sleep (`nidra´) in which the conscious mind is asleep but awareness remains active.
Yoga literally means union.
What about hatha yoga? – ha and tha yoga is a combination of two bija mantras, where ha (`sun´) represents prana, the vital force, and tha (`moon´) represents mind, the mental energy. So hatha yoga means the union of the pranic and mental forces. When union between the pranic and mental forces takes place, then a great event occurs in man. This is the awakening of higher consciousness.
Hatha yoga is not only the union of prana and mind. In fact, it means the union of prana and mind with the Self. In the spine there are three major nadis known as ida, pingala and sushumna. Nadi is not a physical channel, Nadi means flow, like the flow of electricity within a cable. One wire carries the negative force and another carries the positive force of electricity. So, in hatha yoga, ida nadi represents the negative force, the flow of consciousness, pingala represents the positive force, the flow of vital energy, and shushumna nadi represents the neutral force, the flow of spiritual energy.
The union, the connection between these three flows, occurs in ajna chakra at the eyebrow centre. When this union takes place there is an instant awakening in mooladhara chakra at the base of the spine. This is the seat of primal energy or kundalini shakti. The awakening of kundalini is the subject matter of hatha yoga. Through the practices of hatha yoga, union is brought about. As a result of that union, the awakening of kundalini takes place. When awakening occurs, then kundalini ascends to higher realms of consciousness, and finally it is established in sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.
When kundalini is established in sahasrara chakra, that is called yoga, not hatha yoga. This is the difference between yoga and hatha yoga. Yoga means union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (energy). Shakti is kundalini energy; Shiva is the Supreme Consciousness seated in sahasrara chakra. When awakening takes place in mooladhara at the base of the spine, then kundalini starts ascending.
Kundalini ascends through sushumna, not through ida and pingala. Sushumna is the highway for kundalini. It passes through various chakras, sometimes all of a sudden and sometimes very slowly. When it unites with ida and pingala in ajna chakra, that is called hatha yoga. Then, after this first union, it forges ahead to sahasrara chakra. There it unites with the Supreme Consciousness, Shiva. That is called yoga, which means ultimate union. Therefore, the ultimate object of hatha yoga is to experience yoga.