By Bhavan Kumar
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is regarded as one of the three classic Yogic texts along with the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita. This 15th century text was written by Swami Svatmarama, and is said to be the oldest surviving text about Hatha Yoga. This text has been translated into many languages, including English.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is derived from older Sanskrit works, as well as Swami Svatmarama’s personal experiences with Yoga. Some scholars believe that there is an influence in the work, which came from certain schools of Buddhist mysticism as well.
The four chapters of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika deal with a variety of topics, including kundalini, chakras, and shakti. The entirety of the work is dedicated to a form of the god Shiva, known as Lord Adinatha, who is believed to have given secret techniques to Parvati, his celestial companion. In the first chapter of the work, there is a salutation to previous masters of Yoga, and several Yogic postures are described. Additionally, there is a section detailing how a Yogi should eat, including amounts, and which foods to avoid.
Foods to be denied include meat, onion, garlic, and intoxicating liquors. Cautions are also issued that one cannot be successful with Yogic methodology simply by dressing a certain way or affecting certain phrases. Many of these issues are still relevant to modern practitioners. As a species, many people have learned much about dietary health over the past few centuries, but we have not always made the leap to living in moderation or healthy lifestyle a priority.
In chapter two, more asanas are described, and various techniques for ridding the body of certain ailments are discussed. Breathing exercises (pranayama) are afforded a particular importance in this chapter, and are urged not only to provide clarity of mind, but also bodily health, as well.
Chapter three discusses various mudras which affect various parts of the body, and are meant to prevent disease and delay old age. Many of these exercises have symbolic as well as physical importance, and so can be seen as a way of focusing the mind and body.
Finally, in chapter four, attention is given to the spiritual nature of Kundalini techniques, and the divine origin of Yoga training is mentioned. More breathing exercises are described in great detail, which are meant to lend health to the Yogi. Salutations are also given to divinities and previous Yogis.
This text, given its great detail as to the Yogic techniques it discusses, as well as its mythological and theoretical aspects, has rightfully remained an enduring classic of the Hatha style for centuries.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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