Hatha Yoga – What is it ???
Something I wrote on the bigger picture of Hatha Yoga . As usual I wrote it without intention of sharing so disregard any typo, grammatical errors .etc…Thought some of you may like to see my viewpoint on the bigger picture of the practice of Hatha Yoga.
Hatha yoga = Physical yoga – Covers all things about our physical life – prepares our bodies and mind for life .
We have built many conveniences in life . These things allow us to live with more physical ease . These are good to have , but attachment to them is not . We have warm water , warm homes, air conditioning, cars, convenient stores, big comfortable beds , etc.. We use these to make life easier and more comfortable , but need to be able to be content without them . Without intention and practice in doing so , we leave our peace and contentment in the power of outside circumstances . Hatha yoga makes our bodies strong, our breath controlled, our minds focused and always aware of the truth. In our practice we condition our bodies and minds for life without suffering . In our asana practice ( physical postures ) we strengthen our bodies and make them more flexible with better mobility . When we practice asana we strive to take our bodies to our edge . Taking as much discomfort as we can handle is where we want to be in our practice to prime our bodies and minds for life without suffering . The mind is weaker than the body . With the practice of handling the physical discomforts in our asana practice we condition the mind as well as the body . Then when life becomes uncomfortable we are prepared and can mentally and physically peacefully experience whatever comes our way . We instinctually know what to do to soothe ourselves and are most often times unaffected . We soon begin ” playing” with the situation and peacefully see it all as a test and challenge of our desire to remain content or even peaceful in adversity . This comes through constant and absolute awareness of our higher self ( soul) and absolute devotion of connecting our soul to God (as we relate to “him”) ( Bhakti Yoga) . Many people cannot find contentment unless things are a “certain way” . The home , the food , the bed , the temperature or the entire situation itself etc… must be a certain way or suffering occurs . Yoga assists in removing this attachment from our lives . Only when these attachments are gone can we experience true peace and contentment . Until then our peace, happiness and contentment are very circumstantial, which is not peace at all . In Hatha yoga we are provided the tools to live peacefully with or without our earthly desires being met . Through asana we make our bodies strong , through pranayama we can control the temperature of the body, the energy in the body and irritations of the mind , through concentration and meditation we can overcome all mental disturbances and learn to be focused and completely present in all that we do . When on this path we will naturally begin to self monitor our behavior to keep our bodies and mind well . For example we will not eat heavily because it will cause us physical and emotional suffering which will in turn affect our ” good work ” meaning our commitments to others , our ability to do our paying job , we will be unwell and cannot care for our children , we cannot walk as needed , etc… This will negatively affect our practice of Karma Yoga ( karma yoga = Yoga of action , I’ll get into that a different time ) Meaning we cannot physically perform the actions and deeds we are here to do Hatha yoga is 85% asana and 15 % pranayama and mediation . With these 3 things we can handle any physical situation . Hatha yoga is all things physical in life . Suppose we have to walk 5 miles to the market , we would prepare for the trip . We are mindful and do not take this trip unprepared. Our minds focus on what we need to buy, we make one trip with intention . Our bodies and our minds are prepared for it . We take care of our bodies properly knowing that if we do not we cannot walk the 5 miles to the market and therefore cannot provide for ourselves and others. When we only have to travel 2 miles in a car we are careless with both condition of the body and mind. Unfocused not acting with intention. Our minds jump around and are unfocused due to the fact that the consequences of such mental fluttering , fluctuations and lack of focus are very small. Or are they ??? Attachment to the luxuries in life make for weakness of the mind, carelessness in our care for our bodies and carelessness in our actions . Physical discomfort makes our minds stronger. In most cases our bodies can already handle the discomfort , especially if we keep our bodies strong and otherwise healthy. It is our minds that cannot . Spending time in physical discomfort will make a mind controlled and focused . We learn to acknowledge the discomfort , analyze whether a change must happen and then either change it or use our breath and meditation to detach from said discomfort . This practice will naturally create the desire and discipline needed to live life without suffering . Our perceived needs and desires will naturally begin to lessen due to our successes in new life experiences and our ongoing practice of non attachment (One of the Yamas = I’ll get into that another time ) . We will develop the disciple to avoid the things that cause our bodies to suffer. A simple example would be overeating and eating heavy foods. A heavy body causes us to sleep more , we lack the energy and the strength to move ourselves around with ease. This then leads to depression , joint pain , irritability , anger , etc… . A controlled, experienced , focused mind will do the ” work” to avoid such suffering in life . Our deep desire to do “good work” ( karma yoga) will make us choose not to do the things that cause us pain , therefore becoming a burden to our families, etc. and can no longer do our work for them , ourselves and others. The practice of Hatha yoga is all encompassing . Though it must follow the steps of understanding Bhakti ( the yoga of devotion ) Jnana Yoga ( yoga of known) and Karma Yoga ( the yoga of action ) to be complete .