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
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
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
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.