Hatha Yoga - Glory of The Nath Tradition
By Rishi Dharmachandra (Gandhar Mandlik) - Gandhar is a Electrical
engineer, and currently he is the course coordinator at Yoga Vidya Gurukul, he is
teaching and practicing yoga for the last 12 years. He was initiated in to Rishi
Sannayasa by his Guru Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.
Hatha Yoga - Glory of The Nath Tradition - II
Ashtanga yoga starts with Yama (social discipline - non-violence, truth, celibacy, non stealing, non possessiveness) and Niyama (self discipline - purity, contentment, austerity, self study, faith). Patanjali (founder of Ashtanga Yoga) was contemporary to Buddha and his teachings show influence of Buddhist philosophy so ethics and morality along is a starting point.
Interestingly Hatha Yoga do not start with Yama and Niyama. If you look at the ethics and morality, they are nothing but higher values in life. These values should come from within as transformations, but if you try to force yourself to follow these then it creates more inner conflict than helping you on the higher path. Those who try to follow them religiously and forcefully may find themselves in trouble creating imbalance in their personality and losing peace of mind. Many religions have preached these same values but how many people follow these guidelines? So if you want to follow these self discipline and self control, you must prepare yourself.
Hatha Yoga approach is simple and logical. You must purify your body first, there are 3 types of waste products in the body, mucus (kafa), gas (vata) and acidity (pitta). Ayurveda says if these 3 types are balanced then perfect health can be maintained. So Hatha Yoga recommends 6 cleansing techniques to balance this secretions of the body. Neti (nasal cleansing), Dhauti (Internal cleansing), Basti (Yogic enema), Nouli (Abdominal massage), Kapalbhati (Frontal brain cleansing), trataka (cleansing of eyes) are 6 types recommended. When these 3 energies are balanced, all the systems of the body like, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous system and other systems work in prefect balance. As per Hatha Yoga, the cleansing techniques remove the blockages in the nadis, these blockages create obstruction to the flow of prana (vital force) and results in various physical and mental problems.
After the cleansing techniques, asanas are the first step in Hatha Yoga. The purified body is then subjected to discipline of asanas. Asana is a steady and comfortable posture which is essential for meditation and higher practices. The sanskrit word asana comes from the verb "asa" which means "to be established in". So a body posture which is maintained for a long time can only be termed as "Asana". These longer practice of postures balances prana (vital force) in the nadis.
In asanas you subject your body to different stretches and strains and then try to maintain the posture in a relaxed manner. This practice builds the strength and stamina in all parts of the body. Healthy and peaceful body is the starting point for advance practices. This is the purpose of Asanas.
The next step is pranayama, which literally means control of prana (vital force). Prana is the main force in the universe, all the actions is a result of prana. This same energy also moves through body and mind. If one can control the prana then all the functions of the body and mind can be controlled. So the purpose of pranayama is to control this prana. With the practices of pranayama, all the chakras (psychic energy centers) are purified and awakened. The sushumna nadi is awakened which is the pathway for kundalini energy.
Rishi Dharmachandra (Gandhar Mandlik)