We discussed the meaning and goal of Hatha Yoga in the earlier post. Let us continue our exploration of this adventurous path further.
Mudras (Body Gestures)
In this yoga, various body gestures are also practiced. For example, in khechari(literally means, that flies in the sky or bird) gesture, we need to turn our tongue to touch the esophagus. It is crazy! Is it possible? Yes! We can do it if we practice. Do not be surprised! All these techniques have to be practiced under the supervision of a Guru(master). Our great master Shri Swatmarama warns and admonishes:
Guroopadishtamargena yogameva samabhyaset | – Hatha Pradipika 1.14
Hatha Yoga must be practiced in the way shown by the master.
Shat Karmas( Six Processes)
Shat karmas (six processes) are unique to this path of yoga. These are prescribed to cleanse our body-mind machinery. Great master Shri Gheranda lists them as:
Dhautirvasthi thatha netihlauliki tratakam thatha |Kapalabhatishaitani shatkarmani samacharet || – Gheranda Samhita 1.12
Dhauti, vasthi, neti, lauliki(nauli), trataka and kapalabhati – these six processes have to be practiced.
Caution: These practices are very powerful and potentially dangerous. Do not try these at home! They must be practiced under the supervision of a Guru(master).
Let us understand these in detail:
- Dhauti(stomach cleaning): There are many versions of this practice. In one of them, a strip of cloth is swallowed until it goes to stomach. It is taken out after cleaning the stomach. Entire stomach is cleansed by this practice.
- Vasti (Colon cleansing): A half an inch rubber pipe is introduced into the anus and water is drawn up by contracting and expelled back. This process cleanses the colon and lower intestine.
- Neti(Nasal cleansing): Nasal passages can be cleaned by either water or a thread. Nasal cleaning by water is called Jala Neti. See the picture here. Lukewarm saline water is introduced into one nostril by a special vessel called neti pot and the water comes out from the other nostril after cleaning the passage. In sutra neti, a waxed thread or rubber catheter is introduced into a nostril. Once it comes from the mouth, the thread is carefully moved so as to massage the nasal passage. Here is the picture of demonstration. Nasal passage is cleansed so that breathing is improved. So, it results in improving the energy level by good synchronized breathing using both the nostrils efficiently. Here is the good news! : Anybody can easily do jala neti with little practice. It is very safe. You have to invest in a good neti pot. One can start with a cheap neti pot made out of plastic and move on to a stainless one later. Jala Neti is a boon to eliminate nasal allergies without any medication.
- Lauliki /Nauli(contracting abdomen): The name nauli comes from Sanskrit word nala meaning tube. In this process, abdomen is contracted like a tube and moved from left to right and vice versa. You can see a picture here. The abdominal region gets strengthened by this practice.
- Trataka(gazing): Trataka means gazing steadily at a fixed point. The point can be external like a candle light or internal like midpoint between the eyebrows. This practice strengthens eyes and improves the concentration of the mind.
- Kapalabhati(Breathing like bellows): This is involves rapid inhalation and exhalation like bellows of a blacksmith. This practice invigorates entire brain and psychic chakras.
By now, you would have understood well that the Hatha Yoga practices are very challenging and not for everybody! They may “thrill” the adventurous people and that is why may be appealing to them. Now the question arises:
What is the overall benefit of these challenging Hatha Yoga practices?
As mentioned earlier, cleansing of our body and mind to get qualified for Raja Yoga! If practiced properly, as promised by this path, these yoga techniques are sure to bestow us the focused mind in a strong and healthy body.
How do we achieve the real goal of yoga by Hatha Yoga?
Good question. Remember, Hatha Yoga is a ladder to Raja Yoga. After preparing our body and mind by Hatha Yoga practices, we can progress into higher stages of Raja Yoga such as pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and finally samadhi.
Advanced stages of Hatha Yoga involves awakening the Kundalini power by practices such as shakti chalana(moving the power, i.e. Kundalini). After Kundalini is awakened, one can take the path of Kundalini Yoga.
Thus, Hatha Yoga is an entry point into other forms of yoga to achieve the real goal of all yoga paths! With this we conclude our series on Hatha Yoga.
In this blog, we discussed the basics of many yoga systems so far. Now the real question is:
Which yoga path is the best for me?
Please hold on! Let us discuss it in the next post.
Next post: Many paths of yoga: which one is the best for me? Stay around with me!
Om Namah Shivaya |