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Books > Yoga > Hatha Yoga > Hatha Yoga - Its Context ,Theory and Practice
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Hatha Yoga - Its Context ,Theory and Practice
Hatha Yoga - Its Context ,Theory and Practice
Description
About the Book

Mikel Burley presents a work that is both scholarly and reflects the understanding of a practitioner in the field. His approach is not merely academic but experiential... He is sensitive to the deeper basis of the yoga tradition but at the same time free of the fantasy, · illusion and wishful thinking that often characterizes new age explorations ....

Hatha-Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice is important reading for all serious practitioners of yoga, as well as all real scholars in the field, both traditional and modern.

 

Foreword

by Dr David Frawley, O.M.D.

(Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies. Author of Ayurveda and the Mind; Yoga and Ayurveda; Gods, Sages and Kings; etc.)

Hatha Yoga is probably the most commonly known of the dif- ferment branches of Yoga, but it is also, for the same reason, per- haps the most misunderstood. Yoga practice in the west is now defined mainly in terms of asanas or physical postures, which are the easiest aspect of yoga for the outward-looking western mind to grasp. As these are. most elaborately described in Hatha Yoga texts, this modern western asana-based yoga often calls itself Hatha Yoga as well.

However, Hatha Yoga is much more than asana. It is a complete and integral system of spiritual development for body, mind and soul. It is not only a sophisticated physical system but contains in-depth knowledge about the subtle body, its nadls and cakras, as well. It goes into great detail not only regarding asana, but also pranayama, mantra and meditation.

The goal of asana practice in traditional Hatha Yoga also differs from that of most modern groups. Hatha Yoga does not aim merely at making us feel better on a physical level, it contains intense ascetic practices for physical and psychic purification, which require specific instruction from a teacher on an individual basis. It is a path to full enlightenment or Self- realization, not a preliminary or bodily-based system only. Classical Hatha Yoga therefore contains but goes far beyond the usual idea of modern yoga approaches and their exercise/therapy orientation.

If we look at Hatha Yoga in its original and broader sense we see that few people are really practicing it today and few really understand what it is, including many professional yoga teachers. A greater examination of the subject is therefore essential in order to understand what yoga was originally meant to be and what its greater parameters have always been.

Another misconception is that Hatha Yoga is something relatively new in the Indian tradition. This is because most Hatha Yoga texts that describe asanas in detail appear to be only about a thousand years old. However, we can find many seals of figures in yoga postures from the Harappan (or, as it is now called, the lndus-Sarasvati) culture going back to 2500 B.C.E. This shows that classical Hatha Yoga practices rest upon much older traditions. Indeed, disciplines of asana, pranayama and meditation can be found in all aspects of the Indic tradition and all layers of its literature, Tantric, Puranic and Vedic. One could call classical Indic culture 'yogic,' extending a yogic approach even to literature, music and dance.

 

Introduction

What is hatha-yoga?'

Hatha-yoga=-which may also be referred to as hatha-vidya/or simply hash is a branch of Indian soteriology;" that is, a technical system whose purpose is to achieve 'freedom', 'release', or 'salvation' for its practitioners. There are many Sanskrit terms for this goal, and several of these will be discussed during the course of this work. The English term that I most frequently use to denote the goal of hatha-yoga, and of yoga in a broader sense, is 'Self-realization', which is really an abbreviated way of saying 'the realization of one's true identity as the Self, the Self (with a capital initial) being the paramatman (the 'highest' or 'supreme' Self), who, according to yoga philosophy, is identical to Brahman ('the Absolute').

Outside of India, and especially in the West, the term hatha- yoga has come to be most closely associated with physical posture work and relaxation techniques, but it should be made clear right away that, in its traditional form, hatha-yoga offers far more than a fitness regime and a method of stress-relief management. The use of hatha practices to build stamina and agility, and to sooth the nervous system after a stressful day at work, are perfectly valid on their own level, but a gross injustice is done to a noble tradition when such narrow uses are equated with hatha-yoga per se. While not wishing to under- value the importance of postural training and relaxation, it should be stressed that, in the opulent palace of hatha-yoga, these aspects constitute merely the gates at the entrance. It should also be noted that the degree of dedication required of a traditional Indian hatha initiate is likely to far exceed that of a typical practitioner of westernized 'postural' yoga. While the latter may be content to attend a weekly class, and perhaps to incorporate a short routine into daily life, the former will be expected to make a serious life commitment-involving sustained, rigorous and devoted practice-and to orient his or her whole being towards the spiritual goal.

The popular identification of hatha-yoga with 'postural' yoga has often led to hatha's being falsely contrasted with what are perceived to be more 'mental' or 'meditative' forms of yoga. It is true that there have traditionally existed different approaches to yoga, and that one of the defining features of the hatha approach is the emphasis that it gives to postural work, but to draw rigid distinctions on this point is misleading. In this study I shall Endeavour to draw attention to the integrity of hatha-yoga and to its comprehensiveness as a stereological .discipline. I shall show that what distinguishes it from other systems is not so much its underlying philosophy-for this has elements in common with many other Indian traditions-but, as intimated already, the emphasis it gives to a particular set of techniques. These include postural techniques, but also, and perhaps more importantly, techniques concerned with the alteration of breathing rhythms, the retention of 'vital force' (see below), and the training of the mind.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages




Sample Pages







Hatha Yoga - Its Context ,Theory and Practice

Item Code:
NAY251
Cover:
PAPERBACK
Edition:
2000
ISBN:
8120817060
Language:
English
Size:
8.50 X 5.50 inch
Pages:
336
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 0.37 Kg
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$28.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

Mikel Burley presents a work that is both scholarly and reflects the understanding of a practitioner in the field. His approach is not merely academic but experiential... He is sensitive to the deeper basis of the yoga tradition but at the same time free of the fantasy, · illusion and wishful thinking that often characterizes new age explorations ....

Hatha-Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice is important reading for all serious practitioners of yoga, as well as all real scholars in the field, both traditional and modern.

 

Foreword

by Dr David Frawley, O.M.D.

(Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies. Author of Ayurveda and the Mind; Yoga and Ayurveda; Gods, Sages and Kings; etc.)

Hatha Yoga is probably the most commonly known of the dif- ferment branches of Yoga, but it is also, for the same reason, per- haps the most misunderstood. Yoga practice in the west is now defined mainly in terms of asanas or physical postures, which are the easiest aspect of yoga for the outward-looking western mind to grasp. As these are. most elaborately described in Hatha Yoga texts, this modern western asana-based yoga often calls itself Hatha Yoga as well.

However, Hatha Yoga is much more than asana. It is a complete and integral system of spiritual development for body, mind and soul. It is not only a sophisticated physical system but contains in-depth knowledge about the subtle body, its nadls and cakras, as well. It goes into great detail not only regarding asana, but also pranayama, mantra and meditation.

The goal of asana practice in traditional Hatha Yoga also differs from that of most modern groups. Hatha Yoga does not aim merely at making us feel better on a physical level, it contains intense ascetic practices for physical and psychic purification, which require specific instruction from a teacher on an individual basis. It is a path to full enlightenment or Self- realization, not a preliminary or bodily-based system only. Classical Hatha Yoga therefore contains but goes far beyond the usual idea of modern yoga approaches and their exercise/therapy orientation.

If we look at Hatha Yoga in its original and broader sense we see that few people are really practicing it today and few really understand what it is, including many professional yoga teachers. A greater examination of the subject is therefore essential in order to understand what yoga was originally meant to be and what its greater parameters have always been.

Another misconception is that Hatha Yoga is something relatively new in the Indian tradition. This is because most Hatha Yoga texts that describe asanas in detail appear to be only about a thousand years old. However, we can find many seals of figures in yoga postures from the Harappan (or, as it is now called, the lndus-Sarasvati) culture going back to 2500 B.C.E. This shows that classical Hatha Yoga practices rest upon much older traditions. Indeed, disciplines of asana, pranayama and meditation can be found in all aspects of the Indic tradition and all layers of its literature, Tantric, Puranic and Vedic. One could call classical Indic culture 'yogic,' extending a yogic approach even to literature, music and dance.

 

Introduction

What is hatha-yoga?'

Hatha-yoga=-which may also be referred to as hatha-vidya/or simply hash is a branch of Indian soteriology;" that is, a technical system whose purpose is to achieve 'freedom', 'release', or 'salvation' for its practitioners. There are many Sanskrit terms for this goal, and several of these will be discussed during the course of this work. The English term that I most frequently use to denote the goal of hatha-yoga, and of yoga in a broader sense, is 'Self-realization', which is really an abbreviated way of saying 'the realization of one's true identity as the Self, the Self (with a capital initial) being the paramatman (the 'highest' or 'supreme' Self), who, according to yoga philosophy, is identical to Brahman ('the Absolute').

Outside of India, and especially in the West, the term hatha- yoga has come to be most closely associated with physical posture work and relaxation techniques, but it should be made clear right away that, in its traditional form, hatha-yoga offers far more than a fitness regime and a method of stress-relief management. The use of hatha practices to build stamina and agility, and to sooth the nervous system after a stressful day at work, are perfectly valid on their own level, but a gross injustice is done to a noble tradition when such narrow uses are equated with hatha-yoga per se. While not wishing to under- value the importance of postural training and relaxation, it should be stressed that, in the opulent palace of hatha-yoga, these aspects constitute merely the gates at the entrance. It should also be noted that the degree of dedication required of a traditional Indian hatha initiate is likely to far exceed that of a typical practitioner of westernized 'postural' yoga. While the latter may be content to attend a weekly class, and perhaps to incorporate a short routine into daily life, the former will be expected to make a serious life commitment-involving sustained, rigorous and devoted practice-and to orient his or her whole being towards the spiritual goal.

The popular identification of hatha-yoga with 'postural' yoga has often led to hatha's being falsely contrasted with what are perceived to be more 'mental' or 'meditative' forms of yoga. It is true that there have traditionally existed different approaches to yoga, and that one of the defining features of the hatha approach is the emphasis that it gives to postural work, but to draw rigid distinctions on this point is misleading. In this study I shall Endeavour to draw attention to the integrity of hatha-yoga and to its comprehensiveness as a stereological .discipline. I shall show that what distinguishes it from other systems is not so much its underlying philosophy-for this has elements in common with many other Indian traditions-but, as intimated already, the emphasis it gives to a particular set of techniques. These include postural techniques, but also, and perhaps more importantly, techniques concerned with the alteration of breathing rhythms, the retention of 'vital force' (see below), and the training of the mind.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages




Sample Pages







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