Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 14, 2016 Reading time: 6 minutes
Recap – The word yoga has its roots in the word yuj, meaning “to yoke”, meaning yoking of any two entities into a bond.
In the practice of Yoga, at the material level, this signifies weaving of conditioning (svadharma) with behaviour (svabhāva) with the intention of projecting a cohesive personality (svatantra). At a sublimal level, it means transcending materiality and merging with the Brahman.
|External system of preparation, also called kaula-mārga (noble path).
|Internal system of preparation, also called samaya-mārga (time path).
|Coerces kundalini from mūl̄adhāra to sahasrāra.
|Coaxes kundalini from mūl̄adhāra to sahasrāra.
|Kaula-mārga considers Śiva static, emphasis more on Śakti, the creative energy.
|Samaya-mārga advocates the sameness of Śiva and Śakti.
|Individual’s preparation consists of shatkriya, mudra, yantra, bījākṣara-mantra.
|Individual’s preparation consists of yama and niyama.
|Based on 64 tantras.
|Based on 8 steps or aṣṭāṅga.
A deep-dive into hatha-yoga.
Hatha-yoga (hatha = coercing + yoga). is a form of yoga practice where the kundalini is coerced to move from the mūl̄adhāra to the sahasrāra.
This is a metaphysical system of achieving salvation. Firstly, in hatha-yoga, the body, cognitive apparatus (manas), endocrine, circulatory and nervous systems (nāḍi) are first optimised. Thereafter, the kundalini energy is forced through the central channel or suṣumṇa-nāḍi to the sahasrāra. Importantly, this is different other forms of yoga practices where the identity is isolated through simpler and more conventional methods.
Incidentally, there is no western equivalent or logic which can explain the subtle energy movement of motility (prāṇa) and kundalini in hatha-yoga.
|Ingestion and life
It is important to recognise that hatha-yoga is a complete system and consists of a preparatory stage as well as an advanced stage.
Shatkarma (shat = 6 + kriya/ karma = action) are 6 cleansing actions which are used to prepare the body. They are neti, dhauti, nauli, trātaka and kapālabhāti. Additionally, to understand why these 6 exercises are considered important hatha-yoga cleansing exercises, one should understand flow of prāṇa or vāyu. Vāyu are forces or energies which control certain bodily functions. Finally, the table above shows the correlation between the vāyus and the shatkriya.
This aspect of hatha-yoga is used to control the flow of motility (prāṇa). Additionally, it’s important to recognize that prāṇa, like any flow (vāyu), operates in a circuit. When it reaches the ends of the body, it has to either flow out or back into the body. Consequently, when it flows out, it is lost. However, when it is directed into the body, it acts like a capacitor, increasing prāṇa levels in the system. This is the logic behind the mudra system. The intent is to touch parts of the body which activate specific channels to induce specific outcomes.
The major locations from where prāṇa can be redirected are hands, feet, tongue and tip of the nose. Also, the hands have many types of mudras to redirect prāṇa, depending on where the phalanges meet or are joined. Additionally, the legs are used in asana position to redirect the flow of prāṇa. For the tongue, kechari-mudra is used, and for the nose, nasikāgra-mudra or nasikāgra-drishti, which means gazing at the tip of the nose is used. Another worthwhile mudra for the nose is the positioning of the fingers in nadi-śuddhi prāṇāyāma, where the flow of prāṇa is facilitated by the mudra.
Unfortunately, the use of yantra is more difficult to explain. However, yantra can be approximated as diagrams/ charts which have specific meanings for delivery of specific results.
Mantras are very relevant to development in hatha-yoga. Mantras are used to isolate the visual and kinaesthetic elements of consciousness by use of repetitive audio stimuli. Importantly, the basis for this is the Saṁskṛt language itself which uses alphabets (akṣara) and meter (chandas) to produce specific vibrations which are meant for certain outcomes.
Additionally, there are certain syllables and sounds which activate certain cakras. These are called bījākṣara-mantras and are learned under a Guru.
External Tags: Consciousness