Hatha yoga is a science with practical application in all our lives. It was designed to pave the way for Raja Yoga.
Ha meaning the Sun and Tha the Moon, Hatha Yoga means Light on Yoga. It is explained in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the copy I have is by Swami Muktibodhananda and is published by the Bihar School of Yoga, and also details some of the key practices, history and science of Hatha Yoga. There are many types of yoga, Hatha Yoga is one, for more information on different types of yoga please visit www.mandalayoga.net/
Yoga has been around for several thousand years. Modern scientific studies have been conducted on this ancient and time-tested form of yoga proving that it works, although the best way to prove yoga works is to try it for yourself. We are lucky that books like Yoga Nidra include the results of contemporary scientific research, while Yoga – How and Why it Works refers to research (see book section). Yoga is best taught from teacher to student, not books or videos. In this way the student is guided to explore and prove the effectiveness of the practices for themselves, without missing subtle and important points which can make the difference between success and failure.
Hatha yoga deals with the following areas of practice;
- Asana (physical postures and exercise methods)
- Shatkarmas (cleansing practices)
- Pranayama (breathing, as practise in its own right or to augment other practises)
- Mudra (positions – hands and other positions)
- Bandha (locks/energy management – musculature – as a practise or augmentation)
- Meditation (working with the mind and relaxation, including higher states of experience)
As with most forms of yoga, philosophy underpins and ties together whole of the tradition, whilst mythology helps one understand the practice and philosophy. With yoga we see even the philosophy and mythology are practical elements. I like to think of the word hologram – as defined “the intermediate photograph (or photographic record) that contains information for reproducing a three-dimensional image by holography” (see definition, [accessed on 7th March at 1032] ) – because looking at the yoga tradition as the intermediate photograph and the student as the vehicle for reproducing the three-dimensional image,we can apply a process to transform ourselves and reproduce within our lives the three-dimensional image of yoga as a living entity manifest in our lives.
Further areas of reading on this subject can be found at;
- The Yoga Tradition section 2.III by Georg Feuerstein (Pub. Hohm Press)
- Hatha Yoga section starting on page 65 of Dynamics of Yoga by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Pub. Bihar School of Yoga)
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda (Pub. Bihar School of Yoga)
- Yoga and Kriya by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Pub. Bihar School of Yoga)
- Yoga Darshan starting on page 87 by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (Pub. Bihar School of Yoga)