“Prostrating first to the guru, Yogi Swatmarama instructs the knowledge
of hatha yoga only for the highest state of yoga.”
In ancient times hatha yoga was practised for many years for higher states of consciousness. Today, though, the real purpose of this great science has been forgotten altogether. The Hatha yoga practices, which were designed by the great rishis and sages of old for the evolution of mankind. Hatha yoga is a very important science for humanity today.
Aim Of Hatha Yoga
In order to purify the mind, it is necessary for the body as a complete to undergo a process of perfect purification. Hatha yoga is also known as the science of purification of six types. The body has to be cleaned in six ways for six different impurities. If you clear the body of these impurities, the Nadis function and the energy blocks are cleared. Then the energies move like wave frequencies during the channels within the physical structure, moving right up to the brain.
Therefore, we consider hatha yoga as the practice of
- Raja yoga
- Kundalini yoga
- and Kriya yoga.
When the rishis found the science of hatha yoga, they did not have yoga therapy in mind. Although yoga has shown to be very effective in the treatment of many impossible and incurable diseases. The main objective of hatha yoga is to create a perfect balance of the interacting activities and methods of the physical body, mind and energy.
When this balance is built, the vibrations generated give a call of awakening to the central force (sushumna nadi) which is responsible for the evolution of human consciousness. If hatha yoga is not used for the purpose, its objective is lost.
Harmony between the positive/negative forces
In hatha yoga, there is the concept of harmonizing the twofold energies in person, because they normally remain in an unbalanced and unharmonized form. Either the prana shakti is predominant and the mental shakti is submissive, or vice-versa. Due to this imbalance, either physical or mental diseases manifest. The concept in hatha yoga is, therefore, to bring about a harmony between these two great forces ida and pingala. In Hatha yoga, first of all, the cleaning of the whole bodily mechanism, the physical system, takes place.
Hatha Yoga Asana No. 1
SWASTIKASANA (Auspicious Pose)
Sit cross-legged and bring the feet up between the thighs and calf muscles. Place the hands in Jnana Mudra (Chin)
This is a steady sitting position, it affects the whole body. Prana shakti is directed in a particular manner suitable for meditation. Nadis at the back of the legs are stimulated. The specific points of stimulation can be found by pressing along the acupuncture meridians. These nadis carry energy to centres in the spinal column and the energy is dispersed from there. When you sit in a meditative pose you are stimulating the main nadis.
The sciatic nerve is gently massaged in this posture, thereby influencing the lumbar region. The abdominal muscles are also influenced and the inner body temperature is affected. Swatmarama does not neglect to state that the body should be straight, i.e. in alignment. This is of top importance in any asana practice. For meditation, it is essential that the spinal column is straight so that nervous impulses can pass easily to the brain. The symbol of the swastika designates fertility, creativity and auspiciousness.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.2
GOMUKHASANA (Cow’s Face Pose)
Bend the right knee and put the right foot so that the left heel touches the side of the left buttock. Then bend the left leg up on the right thigh so that the heel is placed close to the right buttock. This gives the form of a cow’s face. Then connect the hands behind the back. Stretch the left arm up and bring it down behind the head and back. Stretch the right arm downward and take it up the back. Clasp the two hands together.
In this position, the back is itself straightened. After practising for some time, alter the position so that the right leg is underneath, the left leg is on top, the left elbow is pointing up and right elbow pointing down. Alternatively, the hands rest on the upper knee, one on top of the other. In this position the eyes can be open or closed, or shambhavi mudra
Although gomukhasana is not a meditative posture, longer the position is held the better. Gomukhasana tones the muscles and nerves around the shoulders and the cardiac plexus. The nadis in the legs are pressed and the nadis connected with the reproductive organs and glands are also affected, thus regulating the hormonal secretions.
On a pranic level, Gomukhasana affects the vajra nadi and stops prana from flowing outward. Instead, prana is directed to and accumulated in Mooladhara chakra.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.3
VEERASANA (Hero’s Pose)
Sit on the left heel, bend the right knee and place the foot beside the left knee. Put the right elbow on the right knee and the palm against the right cheek. The left hand should be put on the left knee. Close the eyes and concentrate on the breath. Hold the position for a minute or two.
Sit with the left foot behind the left buttock, big toe under the buttock as in Vajrayana.
Veerasana maintains the energy flow to the reproductive organs and enables control of the sexual energy. It strengthens willpower and strengthens the body. As in the other sitting positions, particular nadis in the legs which are attached to the sex glands, sex organs and associated brain centres are incited.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.4
KOORMASANA (Tortoise Pose)
Sit in vajrasana with the knees together and the feet under the buttocks. Then place the feet in such a way that the heels touch the anus and the toes point outwards. The weight is on the heels and the sides of the feet. In this way, the body must be well-balanced, straight and comfortable. If this is too difficult on the feet, the heels may be kept further apart. Press the anus tightly with the ankles in the opposite direction and sit well- poised.
- This asana is very good for straightening a curved spine.
- The heels press the anus close to the vajra nadi and prevent energy from escaping.
- It channelizes the sexual energy to higher centres in the body and regulates the sex glands, reproductive and excretory organs.
- Important nadis in the sides of the feet, which connect to the kidneys and other visceral organs, are pressed and thereby receive gentle stimulation
This asana is extremely helpful for those who have a slipped disc. It also stimulates the kidneys and the digestive tract. Blood flow is directed to the spine and back muscles, neck and head.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.5
KUKKUTASANA (Cockerel Pose)
Sit in padmasana. Insert the right arm between the right thigh and calf muscle, and the left arm between the left thigh and calf muscle. Place the palms of the hands firmly on the ground with the fingers pointing forward. Balance the weight of the body on the hands and raise the body off the ground.
The arms and wrists will have to be strong to support the body. Inhale slowly as you raise the body. Assuming padmasana, insert the hands between the thighs and calves, planting them (the hands) firmly on the ground, raise the body in the air.
Hold the breath in the final position or breathe normally. Remain in the final pose for as long as is comfortable, keeping the head straight and the eyes fixed on a point in front. Exhale while lowering the body to the ground. People with a lot of hair on the legs may find it difficult and painful to insert the arms between the thighs and calves. Shaving the legs or applying oil to them will ease the problem. Those with a lot of fat or muscle on the legs will also have difficulty.
- This asana is said to be useful in the process of awakening kundalini.
- It strengthens the arm and shoulder muscles and gives the sensation of levitation.
Normally the body weight is on the legs and feet, but in this asana, it is altered and, therefore, the energies of the body flow in a different direction.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.6
(Stretching Tortoise Pose)
Make the body ready as for kukkutasana, but instead of raising the body, slowly roll back onto the floor. Bring the arms right through between the legs and clasp the shoulders with the hands or join the hands behind the neck.
- Uttankoormasana tones the nervous system and induces relaxation
- It is particularly recommended for people who suffer from nervous disorders and for those who become angry easily, as it regulates the adrenal glands.
- Uttankoormasana also stimulates digestion and appetite.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.7
DHANURASANA (Bow Pose)
Lie low on the stomach with the forehead resting on the floor. Bend the knees and hold both ankles. Separate the knees. Inhale while slightly raising the knees, head and chest, at the same time pull the feet away from the hands and upwards. The whole body should move simultaneously into the posture. Exhale while lowering the body and relaxing on the floor.
- It regulates the digestive, eliminatory and reproductive organs.
- It massages the liver and pancreas.
- The kidneys are incited and the whole alimentary canal is toned.
- By lying on the diaphragm with the arms stretched back, the heart is given a gentle massage and, because the chest is fully extended in this posture, Dhanurasana is useful in the treatment of many chest ailments.
- It stimulates and improves the endocrine glands, particularly the thyroid and adrenal glands, and it induces production of cortisone.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.8
MATSYENDRASANA (Spinal Twist Pose)
Keep the right foot by the side of the left buttock, the left leg on top, with the foot in front of the right knee and the left knee raised upward.
Inhale while raising the arms shoulder high, keeping the elbows straight. Place the right foot at the base of the left thigh, the left foot at the side of the right knee. Take hold of the left foot with the right hand, pass the left arm behind the waist and remain with the body turned.
Exhaling, twist to the left, place the right arm by the outer side of the left knee and hold the left ankle with the right hand. Take the left arm behind the back and rest the back of the left hand against the right side of the waist.
Matsyendrasana helps to channelize the prana in a particular direction so that awakening takes place in the dormant energy centres. It specifically stimulates the navel centre or Manipura chakra. Under normal circumstances the rate of pranic vibration is slow. Performing those asanas which direct the prana to the navel centre is very important for the awakening of kundalini.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.9
MATSYENDRASANA (Spinal Twist Pose)
Sit with the legs stretched out in front of the body, hands on the knees. Inhale while raising the hands and keeping the back straight. Exhale while bending from the hips and keep the head between the shoulders so that the spinal column is stretched. Clasp the big toes or ankles with the hands and bring the head on the knees. If this is not possible, hold the calf muscles. The back should not curve or hunch. In the final position, you can hold the breath or breathe normally. When releasing the position inhale and raise the arms above the head. Exhale while bringing the hands down to the knees.
- which in turn strengthens the digestive organs and tract.
- Paschimottanasana stretches the whole spinal column and central nervous system through which Sushumna runs, thus enabling nervous and pranic impulses to pass directly up to the higher centres.
- The back, shoulder, arm and leg muscles are toned by stretching them in a relaxed manner without straining.
- The visceral organs are massaged, in particular the pancreas, spleen, kidney, liver, reproductive organs, the adrenal glands and abdominal muscles.
- Therefore, it is very useful in the yogic management of digestive disorders, especially diabetes, constipation, flatulence, and loss of appetite.
- The reproductive organs are toned and sexual disorders can be relieved. Women can utilize this asana to regulate the menstrual cycle.
- Paschimottanasana, particularly the dynamic form, helps remove excess fat deposits from the abdomen and thighs.
- When there is a lot of tension in the body and mind, paschimottanasana helps remove it by regulating the adrenal glands and the whole system.
- In fact, numerous effects promote health and harmony.
Hatha Yoga Asana No.10
MAYURASANA (Peacock Pose)
The wrists and forearms must be strong to support the body in this asana. Start by assuming marjariasana with the palms of the hands on the ground and the fingers pointing backwards. Place the elbows at each side of the navel and waist. Stretch the legs backwards. Exhale and inhale while raising the legs up off the ground. Try not to jerk the body into the position. Hold the position for as long as is comfortable and breathe normally. Concentrate either on Manipura chakra or on maintaining a balance of the body. Exhale while coming down. Lie in Shavasana and relax the whole body.
- Mayurasana purifies the blood, alleviates constipation, flatulence, indigestion, dyspepsia and chronic gastritis.
- It stimulates the liver, kidneys and gallbladder.
- Diabetic patients who are able to perform it can quickly improve their condition.
- The heart is massaged, the circulation is improved and metabolism is stimulated.
- The endocrine glands are regulated and their secretions are harmonized.
- The back muscles and spinal column are strengthened and in fact, muscles all over the body are strengthened.
- Mayurasana invigorates the entire system.
We hope, we have thoroughly understood few Hatha Yoga Asana. We expect you to perform these asanas for good health and happy living.