What is Hatha Yoga?
To help explain this, here are passages of a book that Ravi regularly uses in his yoga teachings.
‘Anatomy and Physiology of Yogic Practices’ by Dr. Makarand Madhukar Gore.
“More than two thousand years ago Patanjali, who is considered the father of yoga, compiled 195 Sutras (Hindu teachings) which still serve as the guidelines for using yoga in daily life to attain health and gain freedom from diseases. Yoga can also help to achieve spiritual, mental and physical health and is the main reason why it now has become an international phenomenon.
Yoga is part of the Indian lifestyle. Real comfort lies in good health. Disease-free condition and contentment at the level of mind are essential components of happiness. Those who practice yoga as a daily ritual would experience a great deal of peace of mind and joy.
Today’s competitive world with people striving for material success is producing enormous levels of anxiety and stress leading to diseases. Although the system of yoga is not developed for the purpose of treatment, it has been observed through the applied research that the regular practice of yoga not only controls these diseases but also a promoter and maintains the healthy condition of body and mind and prevents the disease process.”
Hatha Yoga practice includes:
- Asana – yoga postures (practised in any style of ‘yoga’)
- Pranayama – breathing techniques
- Mantra – chanting or reciting
- Mudra – hand gestures
- Shatkriyas and Shatkarmas – cleansing techniques
Prāṇāyāma (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma)
“Pranayama occupies second place in Hatha Yoga. The word Pranayama is formed by two words; prana and ayama.
Prana means a subtle life force, which provides energy to different organs (including mind) and also controls many vital life processes. (e.g. circulations, respiration, etc.)
Ayama signifies the voluntary effort to control and direct this prana.
For our understanding, prana is simply a ‘breath’ and ayama means a control over it. Many people refer to it as a breath exercise. Various breathing exercises have been developed with the purpose of providing more oxygen to the system.
In pranayama, on the contrary, the emphasis seems to be given on the practice of kumbhaka, a controlled phase of holding the breath.
From a yogic point of view it is a door between our physical existence and the spiritual path.”