Monday, July 21, 2014

Hatha Yoga Pradipika: a quick summary

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is regarded as one of the three classic Yogic texts along with the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita. This 15th century text was written by Swami Svatmarama, and is said to be the oldest surviving text about Hatha Yoga. This text has been translated into many languages, including English.

Chapter 1 In the first chapter  he talks about previous yoga masters and lists names and descriptions of yoga postures. He describes how a yogi should eat, how much, and what foods. He also gives cautions that should be avoided if one wants to have a successful yoga practice. And lists what will bring success to a yoga practice (I love this) including: enthusiasm, courage, perseverance, proper understanding, determination and avoiding excessive contact with people. He says anyone can practice yoga and that everyone needs to work on eliminating laziness! “Success in Yoga is not merely achieved by reading authentic texts, wearing particular clothing, nor engaging in endless debate. Practice alone is what brings success culminating in the final goal of Raja Yoga” (1.66-1.69).

Chapter 2 In this chapter more asanas are described and as are techniques for ridding the body of certain injures and illness. He focuses a ton of pranayama (breathing exercises) and the effect breath has on the mind and the nadis. He explains how disturbances in the mind may be related to disturbances in the breath and learning to control the breath will bring steadiness to the mind as well as heal the body. He says the main reasons to practice pranayama 1. Get rid of the fear of death. 2. Purify the nadis. 3. Open the sushumna. He also talks about the six karmas, khumbhakasa and bandhas. “By proper practice of Pranayama, all disease are eradicated, but an improper practice gives rise to all sorts of disease." (2.15-16)

Chapter 3 Here he discusses various mudras which affect various parts of the body, and are meant to prevent disease and delay old age. Many of these exercises have symbolic as well as physical importance. These mudras are a way of focusing the mind and body. He talks a lot about kundalini and says that the main purpose for practicing the 10 mudras is to awaken the kundalini.

Chapter 4, This chapter discusses Samadhi and he gives us three definitions of Samadhi: 1) "When the Atma and mind become one"; 2) "when the prana becomes dissolved and the mind becomes absorbed"; and finally 3) "when al impulses to be anything just cease and there is the equality and oneness of self and super-self". (4.5 - 4.7).  He continues to talk about kundali, gives more pranayama exercises, and explains the four stages of greater integration.


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