Hatha Yoga: The physical path

Jun 01, 2011

Hatha Yoga is the discipline that, in general, in the West is simply called Yoga. Hatha Yoga (ha = "sun", Tha = "moon") achieves the union of mind, body and spirit through a practice of asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (yoga breathing), mudra (body gestures) and shatkarma (internal cleaning). These practices are used to purify the body, cultivate prana, and activate kundalini, the body's subtle energies.

In the history of yoga, Hatha Yoga developed from Tantra Yoga. The tantrics used the physical body as a means to attain enlightenment and develop physical-spiritual connections, centering the practices that lead to Hatha Yoga on the body. However, Hatha Yoga focuses exclusively on the transformation of the physical body through the purification and cultivation of the vital energy of prana. And all Hatha Yoga techniques are seen as the first steps to attaining the deeper states of meditation and enlightenment found on the path of Raja Yoga (meditation).

The oldest widely used text on the ancient physical practices of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This book was composed in the XNUMXth century by Swami Swatamarama and is derived from ancient Sanskrit texts and Swatamarama's own yoga experiences.
The main objective of this text is to illuminate the physical disciplines and practices of Hatha Yoga and the integration of these with the higher spiritual goals of Raja Yoga. Swatamarama begins with the explanation of the relationship between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, informing us that Hatha is a preliminary practice to Raja Yoga. He tells us that gaining self-control and self-discipline is much easier when we start with the physical and energetic body, contrary to Raja Yoga, which tries to directly control the mind.

It was not until the 1920s that Hatha Yoga became popular and spread in India thanks to the work of T. Krishnamacharya and some other brave and determined yogis. Krishnamacharya traveled around India demonstrating yoga poses with other pioneering yogis (his closest disciples include Sri Patabi Jois and Sri Iyengar) promoting Hatha Yoga as good medicine and a possible cure for ailments. Since then, many Western and Indian teachers have become pioneers in popularizing Hatha Yoga and gaining millions of followers.

Connect with the wisdom of yoga, knowing that there is a style for you and that you choose the path you choose, everything leads to the same thing, to delve into your being and connect with your essence, to live a life full of love and harmony.

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