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Healthy Women's World

Yoga Introduction

the full bow pose

Goal & Benefits of Hatha Yoga

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the most authoritative scripture of hatha yoga, opens by telling us that for those who cannot practice yoga (means raja yoga and implies those who cannot meditate successfully and therefore cannot control their mind) should practice hatha yoga. The "raison d'etre" for this practice is to enable the practitioner to control his mind through techniques aimed at controlling the physical body and the prana or vital force.
It is noteworthy that the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other hatha yoga scriptures go to great lengths to enumerate the health benefits of the different practices. This indicates the therapeutic nature of this system as well.
Hatha yoga can therefore been practiced as a wholistic spiritual lifestyle as well as a specific healing method. Of the two we believe that the former is more important but the best is to combine both approaches.

So Many Styles, So Little Time

It is very confusing to the beginner to discover that there are so many yogas (see the four paths to understand how they fit together) but that one given yoga such as hatha yoga can have many different flavors or styles. All techniques can be divided into two categories: the traditional (very old) and modern.

You may have heard of Sivananda yoga, Integral yoga, Kundalini yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, Power yoga and many more.

In the Advaita Yoga Ashrama we practice yoga according to the tradition of Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and Sri Swami Vishnu-devananda who was one of the great hatha yoga masters of the 20th century.

Theory of Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is a tantric discipline that aims at awakening and raising the kundalini sakti. Kundalini sakti is that infinite divine power that dwells at the bottom of the spine. This awakening is done by uniting (yoga) ha (the sun, active, heating energy, prana) with tha (the moon, passive, cooling energy, apana).
The main mistake is to try to awaken the kundalini sakti prematuraly which could be dangerous. There are two phases in the process: purification and awakening. Of the two, purification should be the main object of focus for the majority of aspirants.

More than just Asanas

Hatha yoga is a full spiritual development system and it is a common mistake to just isolate one or two techniques out of this system.
To learn about the different practices of hatha yoga please go to the practices of hatha yoga page.

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