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What Moves When Prana Moves According To Hatha Yoga

Viniyoga: Creating A Personalized Practice

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In the Viniyoga approach, pioneered by T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, breathing is the foundation upon which all other practices are built. For us, even at the level of asana the focus is on the relationship between the flow of the breath and the movement of the spine, says Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute and author of the forthcoming Yoga for Transformation . Even within asana itself our emphasis is to understand very technically, even biomechanically, how to control the flow of the inhalation and the exhalation, and how and when to progressively deepen the flow of the breath.

During asana practice students are instructed to breathe in a way that supports the movement of the spine: usually inhaling during backbending movements, for example, and exhaling during forwardbending and twisting movements. Students are sometimes asked to change the length of the exhalation relative to the inhalation in a particular posture, or even to briefly hold their breath. At other times they are asked to alter their breathing pattern progressively as they repeat a movement. Lets say we do an asana six times, Kraftsow says. We can make the exhalation four seconds the first two times, six seconds the second two times, and eight seconds the last two times.

History Of Hatha Yoga

Around the early 15th century, some yogis from the;Natha lineage did not want to wait so long and began practicing asanas before mastering Yama and Niyamas. As the mind was not ready for further practice they had to work harder. They called it their stubborn practice of Yoga. These Natha Yogis kept practicing the asanas until they mastered them. This way of practicing Raja Yoga, not following the strict order of first mastering Yamas and Niyamas, was named Hatha Yoga.

Swami Swatmarama, a 15th-century sage compiled;Hatha Yoga Pradipika and briefly described six limbs of yoga to achieve Samadhi without the long process of the first two steps of the Yamas and Niyamas. Hatha Yoga is also known as Shatanga Yoga;.


Swami Swatmarama advised starting with the physical practices at first because most people will find it easier to master the mind through the body, than purifying their character, habits, and mind directly through the observance of the Yamas and Niyamas.

Hatha Yoga, therefore, focuses primarily on the purification of the body as a path that leads to purification of the mind. The purification of the body and mind is essential also to be healthy. Being and staying healthy is a central goal in yoga because only then will you possess the best vehicle for your further spiritual development.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a medieval scripture written in 1350. The Nath Yogi Swatmarama is the author. The meaning of the title is interesting to consider if one wishes to begin to understand the books content.

Pradipika means light or to illuminate, ha means sun, tha means moon and yoga or yug means to join. So the title suggests: light on how to join the sun and the moon, or another way we could say this would be: The low-down on how to go beyond all limitations posed by living in a mundane reality where Nature and Spirit are kept separate. When viewed from this perspective, hatha yoga is a tantric practice as it attempts to bring about a harmony between the two energies of life: the pranic and the mental. This pair can also be described as the shakti, or female, cool current which travels through the ida nadi, and the mind, or male, hot current which travels through the pingala nadi. When their union takes place in the central channel it is the union of body and mind, and this is the awakening of higher consciousness.

To truly hear is to truly know.


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Ashtanga: Unifying Action Breath And Attention

Join a workshop with students from different yoga traditions and you can pick out Ashtanga practitioners with your eyes closed. Theyre the ones who sound like Star Warss Darth Vader even when theyre standing in Tadasana. Thats because theyre practicing Ujjayi breathing, which is carried all the way through the vigorous series of postures in this tradition.

Ashtanga teachers say the deep and rhythmic breath fuels the inner energetic flames, heating and healing the body. Just as importantly, Ujjayi breathing keeps the mind focused. By returning again and again to the subtle sound of this breath, the mind is forced to concentrate and become quiet. Since the Ashtanga practice is very breath-oriented, in a sense youre doing a kind of pranayama from the moment you begin the practice, says Tim Miller, who has been teaching this approach to yoga for more than two decades.

In the Ashtanga tradition Ujjayi breathing is taught in concert with both Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha . This means that while breathing, the pelvic floor and the belly are gently drawn inward and upward so that the breath is directed into the upper chest. When inhaling, students are instructed to expand the lower chest first, then the middle rib cage, and finally the upper chest.

Iyengar: Developing Precision Power And Subtlety

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Like Ashtanga yoga, the Iyengar tradition takes seriously Patanjalis counsel that pranayama should be introduced only after a student is firmly grounded in asana. In this approach, formal breathing practices are separated from asana and are introduced in a slow and methodical fashion. Mary Dunn, a teacher in the Iyengar tradition who passed away in 2008, said students are ready to begin pranayama when they can practice deep relaxation in Savasana with a calm and attentive mind. They have to really be able to go inward and not just drop off into sleep, she said. And they have to have a refined place where they can stop and simply benot in an action or in the imagination, but in recognition of their internal state.


Pranayama is introduced in a reclining position, with the chest and head supported, so students can focus on the breath without the distraction of needing to maintain proper posture. Precise directions are offered to ensure that basic aspects of yogic breathing are well understood before students move on to more strenuous practices. True to Iyengars Come watch approach, its not uncommon to see 40 students fervently gazing at their teachers rib cage, watching the instructor point to the precise area of the chest that should be engaged in any given phase of the breath.

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How Hatha Yoga Is Different From Other Styles

Hatha Yoga is an ancient yoga practice, there are many differences with other modern yoga styles:

  • In Hatha, asanas are held steady for a duration of 1-5 minutes. Most of the modern styles are dynamic and hold poses only briefly.
  • In Hatha, the metabolism decreases compared to other yoga styles.
  • In Hatha, asanas focus is on internal organs and the spine whereas in other styles focus is on muscle groups and joints.
  • In Hatha, the body goes through less wear and tear compared to other styles.
  • In Hatha, less oxygen is required as compared to other styles.
  • In Hatha , stillness of body and mind is given more importance than movement.
  • How Many Asanas In Hatha Yoga

    The hatha yoga we know today came through the lineage of many great teachers and their disciples. Different ancient texts on Hatha yoga can help us know how many poses are there in yoga.

    • The first and most authoritative text Hatha Pradipika mentioned there are 84 asanas in hatha yoga taught by Adiyogi Lord Shiva. But out of 84 asanas, the book describes only 15 poses.
    • Gheranda Samhita 1, a later text of hatha yoga mention and describe 32 asanas of hatha yoga.
    • Hatharatnavali 2 is the first hatha yoga book to name 84 asanas of hatha yoga but described only 36 out of it.

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    The Five Commonly Used Bandhas

    In a typical yoga practice we emphasise five bandhas, the Hasta ; Pada ; Mula ; Jalandhara ; and Uddiyana bandhas. Svtmrma had this to say about the the Mula, Jalandhara and Uddiyana bandhas: These three Bandhas are the best of all and have been practised by the masters. Of all the means of success in the Haha Yoga, they are known to the Yogîs as the chief ones from the 1914 English translation of Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Pancham Sinh.

    The Definition Of Hatha Yoga

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    What exactly Hatha yoga actually is hasnt changed for thousands of years. However our thinking and perception of it certainly has. Language is a powerful thing, and in different cultures the same word can have a variety of definitions. Throughout the evolution of yoga practice, the same word Hatha has come to mean different things too.;;

    Popular thinking in the West , is that Hatha yoga is about balancing the body and mind. Ha represents the esoteric sun, and tha the moon. The practice of Hatha yoga aims to join, yoke, or balance these two energies.;

    A yoga class described as Hatha will typically involve a set of physical postures and breathing techniques. These are typically practised more slowly and with more static posture holds than a Vinyasa flow or Ashtanga class. And indeed, that is how we describe our Hatha yoga classes on EkhartYoga.;

    Literally however, Hatha means force and is more traditionally defined as the yoga of force, or the means of attaining a state of yoga through force. So Hatha yoga can be considered as anything you might do with the body, including:;


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    Types Of Bandhas And How To Use Them

    Your Shades of Yoga RYT 200 or RYT 300 hour yoga teacher training course will take you beyond the basic principles of Hatha Yoga; teaching you how to take your own yoga practice to the next level by, among other things, engaging the bandhas to improve your physical form while simultaneously controlling the flow of prana in your body.

    The Popularity Of Hatha Yoga

    In ancient times, Hatha Yoga was considered a secret and sacred practice. Only the monks and the male children of the priest cast could learn and practice it. Therefore, common people thought of it as some secret magical practice. Many mystical stories were told about yoga practices. Hatha Yoga gained popularity in India in the 15th century when monks began to demonstrate asanas in public events. But it came into the limelight when the British photographers published photos of monks performing dangerous postures in Western magazines at end of the 18th century.

    This made the spiritual seekers of the West curious and ignited a fascination with mystical eastern practices. Many people visited India to learn yoga and meditation. But the popularity of yoga got a boost when some masters visited the West and taught these yoga asanas to their Western students.

    In the mid-20th century teachers like Indra Devi, B.K.S Iyengar published books that sold in millions, bringing the popularity of Hatha Yoga to the masses.


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    Risks And Side Effects

    Many types of yoga are relatively mild and therefore safe for people when a well-trained instructor is guiding the practice.

    It is rare to incur a serious injury when doing yoga. The most common injuries among people practicing yoga are sprains and strains.

    However, people may wish to consider a few risk factors before starting a yoga practice.

    A person who is pregnant or has an ongoing medical condition, such as bone loss, glaucoma, or sciatica, should consult a healthcare professional, if possible, before taking up yoga.


    Some people may need to modify or avoid some yoga poses that could be risky given their specific condition.

    Beginners should avoid advanced poses and difficult techniques, such as Headstand, Lotus Pose, and forceful breathing.

    When managing a condition, people should not replace conventional medical care with yoga or postpone seeing a healthcare professional about pain or any other medical problem.

    Day 200hr Hatha/vinyasa Ytt In Rishikesh India

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    Location:Path of Yoga, 159, Badrinath Rd, Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 249137, India

    Rishikesh is known as the birthplace of yoga and you will fall in love with the holy Mother Ganges river flowing through this spiritual mountain town.

    Dive into the tradition and culture of India as you participate in asana, pranayama, meditation, yogic philosophy and more.

    You will be staying in a nurturing nature home as you embark on a journey of transformation and self-growth.

    Location:Akasha Yoga Academy, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

    Theres just something so magical about this training in Bali.

    Maybe its the essence of classical Hatha yoga infused with Spiritual Heart Meditations and Balinese ceremonies.

    Either way, by the end of this training you will have a true understanding of Hatha yoga and become a part of a healing community of like-minded souls from all over the world.

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    Integral: Connecting Movement With Meditation

    In the integral yoga tradition propounded by Swami Satchidananda, pranayama is incorporated into every yoga class. A typical session starts with asana, moves on to pranayama, and ends with seated meditation. A hatha yoga class in the Integral Yoga system systematically takes the person deeper, says Swami Karunananda, a senior Integral Yoga teacher. Asana is meditation on the body, pranayama is meditation on the breath and subtle energy currents within us, and then we work with the mind directly, with the ultimate aim of transcending body and mind and experiencing the higher Self.

    While practicing asana, students are advised when to inhale and exhale, but no additional manipulation of the breath is introduced. Within the pranayama portion of the classwhich may comprise 15 minutes of a 90-minute sessionstudents sit in a comfortable cross-legged posture with their eyes closed.

    Three basic pranayama techniques are routinely taught to beginners: Deergha Swasam; Kapalabhati, or rapid diaphragmatic breathing; and Nadi Suddhi, Integral Yogas name for alternate nostril breathing. In Deergha Swasam, students are instructed to breathe slowly and deeply while envisioning that they are filling their lungs from bottom to topfirst by expanding the abdomen, then the middle rib cage, and finally the upper chest. When exhaling, students envision the breath emptying in reverse, from top to bottom, pulling in the abdomen slightly at the end to empty the lungs completely.

    What To Expect In A Hatha Yoga Class

    Generally, a Hatha class lasts 90 minutes. The class is divided into four sections.

  • Breathing: First part of the class is about breathing exercises. You will do the two most important breathing exercises; Kapalabhati .
  • Warm-up: Second part covers warm-up exercises for the whole body. You will start with Surya Namaskar and then dolphin and leg raise. Surya Namaskar provides a full warm up to the spine as well as all the large muscle groups.
  • Asanas: The third part will cover from 12 15 yoga asanas in the traditional sequence. You will hold the poses from the duration of 1 minute to 3 minutes depending on your capability. Every now and then there will be short relaxations in between the poses.
  • Final Relaxation: This is the most calming part of the class. Here you will get 15 minutes deep relaxation which may put you to sleep.
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    What Is The Goal Of Hatha Yoga

    The purpose is to be completely comfortable in a yoga pose, without mental or physical tension. By forceful practice and repetition the body and the mind adjust to the poses and accept the tension. Only then the asana can have its maximum effect. Pranayama means Expansion of Life force or Prana.

    Origins Of The Hatha Yogis

    Hatha yoga pradipika 2

    At the same London lecture, Jim Mallinson author of the title Roots of Yoga opened with the observation; Yoga has been turned into something you can fit in to a busy modern lifestyle. But it came from something that was the complete opposite, and was viewed very differently to how we view yoga now.;

    Whilst the majority of us fit in a morning practice, or pause to switch on a five minute meditation app, the ancient Hatha Yogis were renunciates. That is, they renounced their lives, families, jobs and worldly responsibilities in favour of a life as an ascetic.;;

    The ascetic tradition emerged on the borders of India and Nepal. Aspects that came to be a part of Hindu tradition, like reincarnation and karma, were central to their thinking. These were the original Hatha yogis and Tapas, translated as heat, glow, austerity or discipline and referring to a sense of burning off past karma and refining the body and mind was their practice.;

    In order to perfect the body and senses, these Hatha yogis would perform extraordinary feats such as holding their arms in the air for hours on end. They would submerge themselves in cold water, never sitting down . Theyd stand on one leg, or carry out the bat penance .;

    We may think these are part of an obscure and long-lost tradition. However, these practices are still happening today, and theres no sign of them becoming extinct any time soon.;;

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    Contemplation On The Vayus

    As we practice yoga, the subtle aspects of the vayus begin to awaken and we become aware of a wider spectrum of their functions and effects. We may feel new expanses of energy , great peace , a sense of lightness or levitation , deep groundedness and stability , or heightened vitality and sensitivity . Although becoming aware of the five vayus can aid our understanding of the physical and subtle realms, it is wise not to forget that what we are seeking is beyond these levels. As the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad says, That which breathes through the prana is your self that is within all. That which moves downward through the apana is your self that is within all. That which pervades through the vyana is your self that is within all. That which goes out with the udana is your self that is within all. This is your self that is within all.

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