Another perspective…(long post)

SO im getting a bit text- orientated this week. I am very excited by the Hatha yoga Pradipika which gives a different slant on yoga philosophy and practices, and Im personally finding this quite liberating and inspiring.
So bear with me as we dive into this dimension of the science behind hatha yoga.

"The authors of the Hatha Yoga texts were very much aware of the difficulty in controlling the fluctuations of the mind. You may manage it for some time, but still you will not be able to succeed al the time. So they adopted another method. The Hatha yoga texts state very clearly that by controlling the pranas, the mind is automatically controlled. It seems, that prana and mind exert an influence on each other. When the pranas are restless, it affects the mind and vice versa.... Practice pranayama. By practicing pranayama correctly the mind is automatically conquered. However the effects of pranayama are not so simple to manage, it creates extra heat in the body, awakens some of the dormant centres of the brain.. it lowers respiratory rate and changes brain wave patterns. When these changes take place it may be difficult to handle, therefore Hatha yoga says that the shatkarmas must be practiced first."

Hatha yoga pradipika p 16-17 swami Muktibodhananda.

Shatkarmas are a system of purification practices, of which there are many, but mercifully Asana is the first of the stages of Hatha yoga, which is what we know of as our sessions in the studio, focusing on our bodies becoming more agile, stronger and more flexible helps to unblock stagnancies from the physical body, therefore creating more of a flow for the energy of life (prana) to run through us unhindered.
From that point of flexibility of body we then move through different cleansing techniques in order to unblock physically and mentally for the practice of meditation.
This is the vital practice that I want to bring to you. unblock mentally, unblock physically.

Im reluctant to go any deeper into this this week, but perhaps a little translation from yogapedia of some of these words might be a help, feel free to skip this part if you like surprises.

Hatha- The term is derived from the Sanskrit ha, meaning "sun," and tha, meaning "moon," leading to the common interpretation that Hatha practices are designed to unite and balance these two energies. However, the literal translation of Hatha is "force," alluding to the physical techniques used within this tradition.

Prana- "life force," "energy" and "vital principle." The term is used in Hindu and yogic philosophy to refer to all the manifest energy in the universe, present in both living beings and inanimate objects.

Pranayama - expanding the dimensions of prana within you. ( usually with awareness and control of the breath)

Shatkarma -the Sanskrit term for one of the six yogic purification techniques (kriyas) as outlined in the "Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

There are six shatkarmas, each a different purifying technique:

  1. Neti: a nasal cleansing process intended to purify the nasal passages and bathe the sinuses. It can be performed in two ways: either using a neti pot to cleanse the passages with saline solution, or using a thread passed through the nostrils and out the mouth. These are called jala neti and sutra neti, respectively.
  2. Dhauti: a cleansing process for the alimentary canal, including the oesophagus, the mouth, the stomach, intestines and rectum. There are 11 types of dhauti to cleanse different parts of the gut. One popular way is to swallow a length of cloth in order to remove phlegm, bile and impurities from the esophagus and stomach.
  3. Nauli: a cleansing practice for the abdomen which uses the abdominal muscles to massage and stimulate the digestive organs. The muscles of the abdomen are projected forward then contracted in a wave-like movement that increases “bodily fire.” This practice can take a lot of practice to perform effectively, as it requires a lot of abdominal control.
  4. Basti: a method for purifying the large intestine either with or without water. In the method with water, jala basti, the yogi sits in a tub of water and draws up water into the rectum by practicing uddiyana bandha and using the nauli kriya. Then the water is expelled.
  5. Kapalabhati: a breathing technique which means “shining skull.” In this practice, the breath is forcefully exhaled through the nostrils by strongly drawing in the abdominal muscles after which the inhalation happens naturally. This is repeated 20 times in quick, rhythmic succession.
  6. Trataka: also called the blinkless stare, is a technique for cleansing the eyes and improving mental focus. One method involves gazing at the flame of a candle. This is thought to increase blood circulation to the eyes and help strengthen them.

Asana- The term is now commonly used to refer to any physical Hatha yoga posture, found in all styles of yoga practice. Literal translation is "seat".

I hope this isn't too overwhealming, it took me years to digest, so please feel free to roll your eyes and ignore if its all a bit much!

If you ever need me;
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Looking forward to seeing you.

Om Shanti


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