term Hath Yog has been commonly used to describe the practice of asan
(postures). The syllable 'ha' denotes the pranic (vital) force governing
the physical body and 'tha' denotes the chitta (mental) force thus making
Hath Yog a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies that govern
our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hath Yog harmonise
and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more
advanced chakra and kundalini practices.
The Hath Yog system includes asan along with the six shatkarm (physical
and mental detox techniques), mudra's and bandh's (psycho-physiological
energy release techniques) and Pranayam (pranic awakening practices).
Fine tuning of the human personality at increasingly subtle levels leads
to higher states of awareness and meditation.
Yog Pradipik is one of the most authentic text books on Hath Yog, written
in 1200 AD by Swami Swatmaram, a great Yog Guru who formulated the principles
of Hath Yog and systematically explained various techniques, its effects
on body, mind and states of consciousness. This is a comprehensive text
on asans, Pranayam, Cleansing techniques, Mudra's (Mental attitude or
gestures), Bandh's (Energy locks), Nad (Sound) Meditation and many more
guidelines for following the path of Yog.
Swatmaram was the follower of Nath Tradition, (followers of Adi Nath
or Lord Shiv), taught by great Gurus like Gorakshanath and then Matsyendranath.
This is the tradition of sages who live in caves or Himalay's and renounce
material life adopting sanyas.
us see the meaning of word Hath, it is made up of Ha + Tha. "Ha"
means Pingala Nadi (sun principle) or right nostril and "tha"
means Ida nadi, (moon principle) or left nostril. Nadi means psychic
passage of energy which can be compared with nerves in physical body.
Hath means balance of Ida and Pingala Nadis, or balancing of mental
energy of Ida and Vital / physical energy of Pingala Nadi. Ida Nadi
can be compared with Parasympathetic Nervous system and Pingala nadi
can be compared with Sympathetic Nervous System. So Hath Yog practices
results in balancing the entire nervous system resulting in balance
of Body and Mind, physical energy and mental energy. The basic purpose
of Hath Yog is to purify the Ida and Pingala Nadis and then uniting
these 2 forces with the third Psychic Nadi Sushumna, which carries Kundalini
at Ajna Chakra (eyebrow center).
Yog Pradipik starts with the Satkarm or cleansing processes, these processes
are to remove the blockages in Nadis (psychic / pranic energy channels).
A particular disorder or disease is due to blockage in pranic channel
supplying vital / bio energy to the particular organ related to disorder.
Cleansing techniques removes this energy blocks and the pranic energy
starts flowing without hurdles, thus balancing the entire body and mind.
The purification is the first in Hath Yog, once the body is free of
disease, the next step is recommended and that is asans.
Yog Pradipik outlines the purpose of asan's, which says that "One
can achieve Sound Health, Stability, Lightness of Body and Mind with
asan". asan result in disciplining the Body and Mind.
the asans comes Pranayam, it is made up of Prana + Ayam, which means
the control and extension of the Pran or vital energy or bio energy.
Pranayam, if practiced correctly can cure all types of physical and
mental disorders, also increase in pranic energy can increase functioning
of brain and may result in Siddhi's or perfections or extra sensory
perceptions, Pranayam is used to control the mental energy and mind.
But if pranayam is not done properly, it invites all the diseases. So
it must be done under the guidance of Guru.
is considered as a fast way to awaken the kundalini. But if one is not
prepared to take on this high level energy awakening then this may have
negative effects on mind and body. So Pranayam is always practiced under
the guidance of Guru.
are necessary for practice of Pranayam, Bandh means energy lock. There
are main 3 types of locks, first is Jalandhar Bandh or Chin lock, second
is Moolabandh or anus lock and third is Uddiyan Bandh or abdominal lock.
These locks are essential while doing the Kumbhak that is retaining
the air inside or outside of the lungs. If Kumbhak or retention is done
without Bandhas, it may have a very negative effect.on digestive system,
excreatory system, nervous system, brain, etc.
Yog also describes Mudra's or gestures or Mental attitude, which induce
the state of Pratyahar (Sense withdrawal) and results in spontaneous
state of meditation. Several mudras are mentioned in the Hath Yog which
include, Vajroli Mudra, Sahajoli Mudra, Khechari Mudra, Shambhavi Mudra,
Viprit Karani, etc.