Hatha Yoga, So misunderstood! Part 1

A part of a talk exploring the ground of asana, which is Hatha Yoga, which is a system which sprang forth from Tantra. Sadly, even many Hatha Yoga teachers sometimes say, ‘Hatha Yoga is a preparation for Raja yoga’, or ‘it is the physical yoga’. This is purely because of looking at Hatha yoga through the philosophy of sutras and vedanta. Know that we are students totally dedicated to understanding and living the teachings of Patanjali and Shankaracharya.Sage Patanjali’s teachings in fact form the structure of our practice, with each of Manasa principles-‘atha’, ‘tanukaranam’ etc being Patanjali’s teachings. However the vision of our practice is aligned with the tantras when we say our theme is ‘shakti madhye mana krtva’ (pour mind into energy, and energy will eventually pour into your awareness, which when understood, we recognize the true nature of energy, which is consciousness/ spirit itself). This then provides the rich context of asana practice, as in asana we are really connecting to shakti/ energy through the lines of asanas.

And asana itself, in the context of tantra becomes Mandalas (geometric patterns) for concentration and realization, whereas in the context of other philosophies, asanas are seen as things you do so that you can finally sit for a long time in seated meditation. And liberation in most philosophies is liberation from body, mind, ego and samsara. Whereas through the Tantric teachings we follow, we see each of these as gifts of life, and its more about celebration of life rather than liberation from life. The main issue we are talking about is, we teach asana to recognize what the body is. That it is shakti, energy. Transcending the body, for us it is only a transcending of ‘our current limited understanding’ of what the body is. So with the right teachings, engagement in the asana is as spiritual as sitting down with eyes closed, as the body or any of 36 tattwas of the tantras is a continuum of the singular. But then, we have to see asana in the context of the tantra. Otherwise it is always seen in an inferior light, such as when people say, ‘i have finished the level of asana. Now i am in pranayama’. This is people confusing the 8 steps of ashtanga as a vertical model of hierarchy. Then asana seems inferior. In our school we dont see it that way. Each limb is equally important and serve each other, just like all of us too are equally important in our own unique ways.