Hatha Yoga - Practices Of Hatha Yoga
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Different Styles of Yoga

Hatha Yoga

Practices Of Hatha Yoga - Yoga positions and Poses

The practices of Hatha yoga are mainly the most well known practices of yoga. These are the practice of asanas and pranayama. Most of the practices of yoga are all inter-related with each other and different styles make usage of these practices. The practice of Hatha yoga mainly deals with the preparation of the body for the ultimate experience of salvation and merger with the divine. But Hatha yoga also forms just a small part of the ultimate methodology of yoga. It is also a means to the eventual end of amalgamation with the divine and not an end in itself.

The Sanskrit word or 'asana' means stable seating or comfortable sitting posture. The asanas should therefore not be confused with mere exercising of the body. They have taken the present form after years and years of observation and assimilation of knowledge. They are designed to give the body maximum benefit of enhancing the human capabilities by incorporating the acute abilities of various other creatures. These asanas are designed to exert pressure on the human body in such a way that the endocrine system gets stimulated along with the other bodily systems. The people who practice yoga asanas feel instant benefits as compared to those practicing other forms of exercises and those indulging in sporting activities. This is because of the pressure exerted by yoga asanas on the endocrine system, which is rather a difficult and complicated bodily system to stimulate. The hormones released due to the stimulation of the endocrinal system produce almost instantaneous benefits. Similarly the other systems also get stimulated in a rather efficient manner producing better results, and even curative effects.

The practice of pranayama teaches the art of good breathing and promotes the flow of the rejuvenating vital prana in the system. Pranayama is like creating a furnace inside the body that burns up all that is not needed and is negative and gives rise to pure vital energy. It gives the practitioner control over the various body parts that comes in handy at the time of arousal of kundalini. It is believed that the practice of kundalini yoga should proceed only after at least two years of Hatha yoga.

The practice of yoga asanas and pranayama does not have only physical impact over the body. It also affects the emotional system of the body. These practices relieve the stress levels of the human body and are found to be curative for many disorders. In fact this near miraculous approach of Hatha yoga has also cast an air of mystery about it. It is seen many times that people come across so-called gurus and other people who claim to cure many otherwise difficult to cure ailments. Also there are numerous evidences of people who are seen performing miracles. This is attained because continuous and rigorous practice of Hatha yoga makes the human body become immune to extreme cold, pain and other discomforts. There is no miracle involved here. Anyone devoting his time to regular practice can achieve this. But the very fact that a person starts exhibiting his expertise of Hatha yoga as a miracle defeats the ultimate purpose of all yogic practices that is attainment of salvation.

The practice of Hatha yoga begins with the cleansing process of the nadis. This is called Shatkarmas. These cleansing processes are of many types and their main aim is to cleanse the nadis of all that believed to be the basis of diseases in Ayurveda. These causes are wind, phlegm and biliousness. Shatkarmas are exercises done to cleanse the system of these impurities so that the nadis can promote unobstructed flow of vital prana. The next step is to do yogic asanas and the third step is to do pranayama. The asanas and pranayama are done simultaneously after Shatkarmas for maximum benefit. The next stage is to do meditation sitting in the postures of asanas. The whole methodology signifies considerable increase in the resistance and strengthening of the body.

'Yoga Sutras of Patanjali' is the ancient text that speaks about the eight limbed practice of yoga also called the Ashtang Yoga. It is considered to be a wholesome guide for all yogic practices involving bodily exercises. Hatha yoga forms a part of this eight limbed practice. Some consider it essential for the Hatha yogis to master all these eight practices. These eight limbed practices are as follows:

  1. Yama or the moral code of ethics:
    • Ahimsa or non violence.
    • Satya or honesty.
    • Asteya or not stealing.
    • Brahmacharya or celibacy.
    • Aparigaha or not hoarding the material things.
  2. Niyama or the practice of personal disciplines:
    • Shoucha or cleanliness or purity.
    • Santosh or contentment.
    • Tapas or endurance.
    • Swadhyaya or self study.
    • Eshwar Pranidhan or dedication towards God.
  3. Asana or the yogic postures of attainment of mental harmony.
  4. Pranayama or the practice of yogic breathing so as to control the flow of vital prana in the system.
  5. Pratyahara a preparatory practice of increasing the power of the mind.
  6. Dharana or concentration of the entire mind on one object and its related field.
  7. Dhyana or meditation by withdrawing the senses from all external distractions to focus them on one thought.
  8. Samadhi or the experience of ultimate bliss produced by the merger of the self with the divine

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