stillpoint yoga

yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn Fraser
in the Himalayan Tradition of H.H. Sri Swami Rama


Himalayan Tradition

Swami Rama

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Asana as Meditation

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Notes from Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, Swami Veda

 Watching the Mind Watching the Body

 In yoga philosophy, there are 5 sheaths (layers) around the spiritual self of a person – the outermost first sheath (layer) is known as annamaya, made up of the food we eat.  The second is the finer essence of the food, the pranamaya sheath made of the vital force.  The third is manomaya, a further essence of prana, the mental essence.  The fourth, vijnanamaya is made of limited consciousness. The fifth is the anandamaya, the sheath made of limited pleasure.

 The average individual is more conscious of their outermost layer, the annamaya kosha, the food sheath or physical body.  We speak of ourselves and we put our hand to our chest.  We say, “I am hungry”.  We are not speaking of the mind’s hunger but of the hunger of the body.  So there is this physical identification.  Where does control of the physical body fit in the entire philosophy of yoga?  Its purpose is to gradually draw the attention from the grosser parts of us to the finer ones.  Ordinarily we use our body and we are not even conscious that the body is being used.  …The primary consideration therefore in the practice of hatha yoga philosophically is the practice of mindfulness, self observation, the habit of being a witness to one’s own physical functions, aware of whatever it is that we are doing with our bodies, whether it be the external surfaces of the body or internal things like muscle tension, heart rate, blood flow and breathing.  …

 This mindfulness in daily life is … the starting point of being a witness, of being aware of the body from head to toe.  … The process of hatha is from the external levels gradually to the internal levels.  What does that mean?  It means first of all to become more and more conscious of the different levels and slowly shift the mind’s identification from one level to a finer one.  Therefore, you progressively remove the control that the grosser has over the finer parts of your being and establish control of the finer over the relatively grosser parts of your being.

 One’s identification has to change: an awareness of prana and then the awareness of the mind as functioning in the physical body must develop.  Some of this deeper awareness can be felt in the relaxation exercises that are done in the corpse posture which enhances one’s awareness of the mind in the body; relax the mind that is in the forehead, and the muscle of your forehead relaxes; relax the mind that is in your cheeks, and your cheeks relax; relax the portion of your mind that is in your shoulders and your shoulders relax.


Yoga as Bridge from Body to Mind

 Yoga is unlike any other system of exercise.  The movements are done slowly.  There is constant self-observation.  If we do not have constant self-observation then we are not doing hatha properly.  It is not absolutely necessary to have only slow movements but to have full observation in fast movements too.

 The muscles, the skeleton, the nerves, the breath and the mind are all coordinated and function together at the same time.  Unless a student of hatha bears those five things in mind during a given exercise, they will not be able to do the exercise correctly.  When you are practicing a hatha yoga position, practice it first in your mind. The more you relax, the easier your visualization is: you can perfect a posture without ever moving the body.  From your standpoint it would seem as if we were thinking of the body and then transferring that thought to the mind in a mental state.  But actually, where the functioning of human consciousness is concerned, consciousness comes first, the body comes second.  If you had no consciousness, what would you be?  A corpse. 

 So it is the mind that trains the body. (Another way it is done) in hatha yoga classes is training the mind by first training the body.  When a person actually places their body in a certain position, what they are doing is making the mind experience that position.  The mind that is in the body experiences that shape in thought. If we place our arm in a particular position, we are doing two things.  One we are giving it that shape and, two, we are having our mind experience that geometrical formation. 

 Do the same exercises done purely mentally give the same benefits as doing them physically?  In the long run it could but there are some very basic physiological benefits that cannot wait.  (Mental and physical working together are the most powerful.)  Whenever a student has difficulty mastering a posture it is well for them to go over the posture in the mind, over and over.

 Hatha yoga builds a bridge from the body to the deepest recesses of the mind which deal with geometry, with form, with memory and which send forth the commands to control the entire autonomic system.  That is only one step.

 Tense the forehead. Remain aware of the breath and how the mind is aware of the breath.  Know that “I am aware of the breath” and that “I am aware of the tension that is taking place in the muscles”.  Try to see which of the finer muscles and tissues that you are not normally aware of, you now become aware of, and try to isolate them in your mind.  Release. Let it be a lesson in self anatomy.  Let this be an exercise in thinking, not in doing.  How is the mind thinking this movement?  Observe each movement. 


Visualizing the Movement

 “At each level of the practice, there is something of the mind, of body and of prana (energy).  Some people try to do the exercises by moving the body alone.  The principle is that the movement of the body is nothing and the movement of the mind is everything.  The mind governs the movement of the body.  It is the mind that moves; then the body follows.  You watch that movement of the body which is from the movement of the mind.  So every physical exercise is, first, a mental exercise.  Here is an example of the kind of awareness you can cultivate during your actual practice: 

‘Close the eyes and relax your forehead.  Relax your facial muscles. Relax the shoulders.  Prepare to lift the hand and send the order only to the point where movement is felt all the way down in the fingertips.  The fingers are ready to rise but do not rise. Observe! Now relax all the way from the shoulders to the fingertips.  Keep your eyes closed.  Send an order to the arm to move.  Feel the order going down.  Feel tension building from the shoulders to the fingertips. Let your hand rise ever so slightly.  Put the hand back again and relax.  Relax all the way from the brain to the fingertips.  Now observe the order to move going down from the brain to the shoulders, to the fingertips, and lift your hand ever so slightly.  Lift it up.  Watch it moving. Very slowly straighten your hand, watch it straightening. Feel every tissue in the hand.  Now feel every tissue relaxing slowly and the hand going down, back again.  Let all the muscles relax again.  Open your eyes.’ 

You can see what can be learned by observing the movement. When you are practicing hatha, do it as a thought process.  The body will much more easily obey you.  Whenever you are practicing hatha accomplish it first in your mind as a thought process.  It is with a thought that a movement begins, and it is then that your anatomy moves. Master it as a thought process and then you will know exactly what you are supposed to do with your body.”


 Tapas means a concentrated practice, to go toward something with the utmost concentration.  To undertake something with a little bit of sweat and effort is tapas.  The word tapas actually comes from heat or heating up and any practice should have a little of tapas in it.  The word hatha is not used by the ancient author, master, Patanjali of the Yoga Sutras. He uses the word tapas, heating oneself up, sweating a little with intense concentration, putting as much of oneself into it as possible.

 The word tapas also occurs as the third of the five niyamas (2nd step of the 8 rungs of raja yoga).  It means exertion of your total personality, intense concentration with a definite goal, with a certain something in front of you and pushing yourself just a little – one step more than you did yesterday. Without tapas, there is no purification.  Doing asanas requires intense concentration so that one is aware of every minor, fine tissue of the part of the body that is being exercised.  The purpose and goal of tapas is to attain an intense one-pointed state of mind.  Until the mind is fixed on something, until that something has gone into the depths of your subconscious, that act remains separate from the body, separate from life.  It is not natural, like a student driver who is very conscious of shifting the gear, holding the steering wheel, pushing the brakes, pushing the accelerator, removing the foot, watching here, looking there – there are just so many things to do.  Very confusing.  But by doing it over and over and over again, what happens?  You are hardly conscious of what you are doing when driving.

So tapas is that attitude in life through which, by doing something repeatedly and exerting oneself repeatedly, one makes something a definite part of one’s inner mind.  Sometimes an act of tapas may be undertaken just to strengthen the mind by doing something that is slightly unpleasant and learning to conquer the distinctions our minds have between pain and pleasure.  It is like waking up at 6 am tomorrow and 6 am the day after tomorrow and for four days and four months and four years and discovering that your mind has the strength to do such things.   After a time of doing it, it is no longer an exertion.  It has now become a purification.  The mind no longer has the sloth, the negligent attitude.  By doing it over and over, by pushing yourself just a little, you change the habit of your mind.  When you have conquered that part of slothfulness, that impurity, you can set yourself another little goal.

Hatha Yoga is Conquest of the Body 

Everyone goes out conquering the rest of the world.  The greatest conquest is self conquest and for an average person, that begins with conquest of the body.  There are very few people who first conquer the mind and thereby conquer the body.  The body should not be your enemy, it should not be the one who dictates to you; you are the one who dictates to your body, breaking some of its habits.  All of this comes under the category of tapas, heating up, exertion, changing the habit by doing something over and over again.

 In ancient and medieval times there were certain undesirable schools of teaching among whom tapas or asceticism was so extreme that it was unpleasant both to the doer and the viewer.  On the other hand, in the 19th and 20th centuries, extreme asceticism has given way to extreme comfort.  Hatha yoga is comfortable asceticism.  Do not make yourself too uncomfortable, and yet exert a little.  If you do it harmoniously and gently, your purpose will be accomplished.

 Why this conquest of the body?  We are not talking merely of mastering one desire as against another but of mastering all the functions of the entire body as a whole.  While you are practicing postures there is no other desire.  Why?  Because the mind can desire only one thing at a time.  For the duration of time you have set your mind to watch the body developing, becoming relaxed, releasing tensions, removing its pain and so on that is its focus until the body is so trained that it learns to obey the mind.  A person who practices hatha yoga regularly, daily, will have an easier time mastering desires of the senses than a person who does not.  We are not speaking of a puritanical ideal.  As another example, take the desire to overeat: when you are sensitive to the body, it is much easier to conquer such a desire.  You learn how to absorb your energies into your system and reuse them. 

This conquest by the mind of the body then is the first philosophical goal of hatha yoga: that the body should be under the direction of the mind.  The mind says, move, the body moves.  The body does not say ‘oh, I feel so lazy, I think I’ll just lie here in this comfortable bed surrounded with these comfortable cushions. I am so comfortable’.  That kind of powerless power that the body has over the mind has to be broken.  Otherwise you can neither sit in meditation for a long time, nor can you stay healthy, nor can your run your digestive system in any kind of proper order.

 If the body is not purified, it will have adverse effects on the processes of mental purification.  Sooner or later, one place or another, the body will become a hindrance to the mind in its own practice or worship, prayer or meditation.  This tapas, this gentle exertion, is where the entire practice of hatha yoga fits in with the teaching of the great master, Patanjali.

Sthira-sukham asanam

 A posture should be not only steady, not only comfortable, but steady and comfortable.   When one becomes steady without feeling discomfort, then the asana is perfected.  The posture is made steady and comfortable through relaxing (not forcing) the effort.  One the one hand hatha is called force, but the sooner the force is abandoned and relaxation is used to perfect the asana, the better.  The effort and the movement should be natural.  The breath rhythm employed together with the relaxation of the body and of the mind will help in making the posture steady and comfortable.  The mind should be completely relaxed and the effort should be a relaxed effort with very natural rhythmical movement – with relaxed limbs and mind. 

 For this reason, one of the secrets of perfecting an asana is to do it over and over again mentally.  Go through each asana in your mind as if you were doing it, and observe the entire mental process.   The teacher describes and demonstrates the asana while the students relax their bodies and minds completely.  They first observe and then visualize themselves going through the movements from leading in gracefully to holding and from the held position.  Beginners should mentally experience the easy, natural, beautiful flow of movements that will lead them effectively and gracefully through the asana.  Let them do that mentally, meditatively and then tell them to do with the body what their minds already did.  Eventually, in the process of doing asana mentally, they will recognize the obstacles that are present and begin to soothe and smooth them out in the mental process.  Gradually the physical resistance, which is tension, will be removed and the asana will become steady, without discomfort. 

 Concentration on empty space perfects the asana.  If you send your mind out to the entire expanse of space, you can imagine and find that very space passing through you.  This will help you attain lightness of body without too much effort.  What are you?  Your whole framework is made up of perhaps 90% space from head to toe.  So what is it you are trying to twist when you do the asana?  Is it not empty space?  What is the problem when you are trying to twist space? 

The perfection of the posture, remember, should not be perfection of the yoga postures at the time of doing hatha.  It is the perfection of a posture throughout life and that is an indication of where one’s mind is.  The more steadiness we have in our minds, the more grace we will derive from there, and the more controlled and graceful our movement will become.


It is difficult to determine how many people practicing hatha yoga are devotionally minded.  To me, hatha yoga is worship. I am not inventing something or making up a new interpretation.  It is only in the modern context, both in India and the West, that hatha has become separated from worship.  Modern man knows only worship with speech: sing a hymn, recite a prayer, utter inspiring words and so on.  Worship with the body and worship with the mind have been almost completely forgotten.

 A truth-seeker is one in whom mind, speech and body all act together, in unison.  In ancient traditions, one definition of personal truth in terms of truthful speech and truthful acts, is that ‘what one thinks with the mind, that one utters with the speech; what one utters with the speech, that one puts into action; what one thus puts into action is accomplished and fulfilled’.  The entire personality is involved.

Some of the acts in the hatha exercises are symbolic.  The movement of the arm is an offering of your arm to the Divine; it is not simply to build a muscle, but ‘here, I give to you my arm; I receive from you strength and movement’.  A forward movement with an exhalation going down is a gesture of humility, modesty, bending down towards Mother Earth; and a movement upward, backwards, is looking upward at the sky, filling myself with the sun, with the light, thinking of that light which is in me here and coming into contact with that cosmic magnificence; and again, coming back to earth and exhaling.  Holding a posture, holding still, means maintaining there what you have filled yourself with.

 So there is this awareness in each posture; in each posture there could be this interpretation from the heart; a prayer, a worship, an awareness.  When I place my body in that position, what mood naturally evolves?  Or what mood would make me place myself in such a position?  It can be looked at both ways.  You can experiment; you know your body, you know its language, you know what it means when you are ‘like this’ and ‘like that’.  Observe it, analyze it, conquer it.

The conquest of mood means that in your life you are never subject to the tyranny of moods, that your moods are subject to your pleasure.  Do you know the tyranny of moods?  “I can’t do this because I’m not in the mood.  I’m down and depressed.”  How can we be down and depressed when we woke up in the morning and looked at the sun and raised our eyes to the galaxies, took that light into our bodies and brought it down to the very  earth?  And from that earth, we rose again and looked up and resurrected ourselves.  How can we be down and depressed for the rest of the day.? It is not enough for us to just sit there with our shoulders down and say we are like the light of the sun, but rather we must go through the postures and cultivate the attitude of strength and conquest.  Not only conquest of the body but conquest of moods is what hatha yoga will accomplish for you.

Karma Purification 

One of the purposes of hatha yoga is the burning of karma.  Yoga philosophy believes that nothing happens in the body without first happening in the mind.  You sow certain seeds in your mental personality. You drop a seed in the soil of your mind where it grows; it becomes either a mango tree or a mulberry bush, poison ivy or a rose, whichever one you wish to sow.  If you sow a rose, it is a rose that grows from you.  You have placed in your mind the raw material of your thought.  Each thought once placed in the mind becomes the raw material for further thought.  Some other thoughts will arise out of it, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, depending on how much this seed-thought is watered, how much you contemplate it, how much your strengthen it. Every act you perform with your body is a thought.  Every act you perform with your speech too is a thought planted in your mind.

 This is where hatha yoga and meditation connect.  A person plants lazy thoughts in his mind every time he slouches.  That lazy thought becomes the seed for a further thought and so it becomes a habit.  He lies comfortably on a pillow and does not want to get up for the next morning’s asanas.  When he finally does get up it is too late.

 This process of wrong decision making eventually becomes the cause of disease.  Disease is a ripening of the poison ivy plant from the seed planted in the original lazy thought which then leads to the decision to remain lazy, to not use the body correctly, not use food properly, not use sleep in the right way.  That suffering becomes the fruition of his karma and he later complains of having so much suffering.  The instrument of discrimination, the buddhi, becomes occluded by cloudy thoughts and gets into the wrong process of decision making and thereby one makes choices to use the body wrongfully.  The natural karmic result of these poor decisions is suffering, which is really only a purging of accumulated toxins. 

What the hatha yogis do is follow a very wise principle which has been spoken of by all the schools of wisdom and philosophy and which is one of the many secrets of a happy life.  This principle is that whatever you dislike, do voluntarily and willingly, if you do not want it to come to you by force.  Whatever you are running away from, turn and face it squarely and say ‘what is it that I am afraid of?  Let me examine you.” 

We usually run away from physical discomfort.  Tapas is when we turn around and say ‘let’s see what is this discomfort that I run away from?’  Do that at every step in your life if you want to attain perfection- in health, mind, speech, action, spirituality.  Whatever you are running away from, find out what it is and turn around and look it straight in the eyes and examine it.  As soon as you turn around, this thing you have feared so long will try to run away from you.

In hatha yoga, we turn around and where in the body we have deposited fat and blubber and many other unnecessary things, we remove them as a voluntary act of karmic purification.  We can take 15 minutes of daily discomfort or fifteen days later in a hospital.  The choice is ours.  If we do not pay the karma voluntarily, it will be paid involuntarily.  If we will not put ourselves on a diet, the doctor will put us on one.  If we will not do it today, we will have to do it 15 years from now and come face to face with the whole accumulation and we will have to handle it.

 Purification exercises are called shaucha – the first of the five niyamas (2nd of the 8 rungs of raja yoga).  Shaucha is a word both for physical cleanliness and mental purity.  A clean, clear mind is a purified mind.  You become very sensitive to impurities in the body.  So we go from purification of the mind to purification of the body.  A pure mind cannot live in an impure body, just as a clear mind cannot live in confused surroundings.  A clear mind has fixed daily habits.

 Quite often people do their practices mechanically but their overall attitude toward life is not changing.  This is seen in the craze about diets, substituting one kind of drug culture for another.  Food still remains an object that is picked up and put in the mouth when one craves it.  How we eat or when or how much is ignored.  We also ignore the idea of gratefully accepting the gift of food and passing on this gift by offering food to someone else.  We eat it without offering it to anybody else.    We cannot take one little thing in isolation and experiment with it without making it part of our overall growth.  I would rather see a person eat meat and share it than become a vegetarian, live on the diet of a hermit and not share his food with others in mind. 

 People ask ‘should I take a shower before my hatha yoga or after my hatha yoga?  If we cannot revive the concept that all waters are mother waters, that taking a shower is an act of washing off the dirt of the body and the mind, then it doesn’t matter whether we shower before or after doing hatha postures.  It’s going to keep our bodies clean, that’s all.  The psychological impact is missed, because we have demolished mythology, killed Milton, murdered Dante, destroyed the ancient Greek culture, because we have cut off our connections between the individual mind and the cosmic mind, because we are too ashamed to recite poetry in school.  Because of all those collective, cultural murders, entering a shower is for us only washing the dirt and sweat from the body; but the psychological satisfaction, the spiritual satisfaction, the ritual satisfaction, the washing of the mind, changing the overall pattern of thought is missing. 

 Objects are just objects and have no psychic connections. There is nothing from the subtle body flowing between ourselves and the mother waters.  Unless this overall attitude changes, just moving the body in the sun salutation is of no use.  Rather, when we practice our physical yoga, let our connection of the mind be between the core of the mind and the vast field of cosmic energy.  The two are one.

 In yoga philosophy, there are 3 universal qualities: tamas (stability), rajas (activity) and sattva (harmony).  Tamas may take the form of lethargy, heaviness of mind or depression, rajas excitement or nervousness, and sattva joyfulness, clarity of mind and calmness. Everything in nature has these 3 qualities, as in the case of food.  Choose the right food and choose the right attitude that goes with the food.  

 We can overcome conditions by undertaking certain types of action – fresh actions to counter those psychological effects from the subtle body.  There has to be the intent to love, to be concerned, to share, and it has to be pure, positive altruistic without seeking results therefrom, without asking for fruits of that action.  Only then will it bring the necessary changes in the subtle body which will very minutely adjust the relationship between the mental and physical body.  That minute intangible adjustment will change the flow of secretions in our glands and will begin to undo the damage caused by the warping of energies due to past selfishness.

 Besides changing the energy pattern of the subtle body by altering one’s attitude and conduct, there are other ways to help remedy diseases.  The exercises can be done mentally but there is one secret.  That is breath.   Breathe as though the diseased part of the body is being exhaled out from that point. It is the breath that is flowing from that point outward, outward through the nostrils, then inhale as if peace and healing are going down to that point.  If you are too ill to exercise, breathe as if the breath is flowing out from the cardiac area and flowing upward and flowing into that area.  Do it for a good one hour every day at home or in the hospital.  This is the first exercise in the complex and long art of self healing.

 At the same time, we are also working from the physical angle, doing our exercise with this openness of heart.  When we are opening our arms, we shouldn’t just open our arms out into empty space, we are opening our arms out to the whole universe.  When we close our arms, it is not a selfish act of drawing in, but embracing and gathering. 

 If we observe our natural inclinations, there is a certain point where the whole yoga practice will come to us.  We have to learn it by prescription now because we are not sensitive to whatever is natural in us.  Why?  Because we have been incorrectly trained in the use of the mind; we have been told that the rational mind is the only worthwhile mind.  In the process, what women of the primitive tribes of Africa practice naturally at childbirth, here we have to go to classes to learn.  Dr. Leboyer observed the women of India at childbirth and wrote his book, which is selling millions.  So: self-sensitivity, self-observation; an overall view of the universe – where we are in the universe, what our connections are.  We know this in the moon and the tides and the menstrual cycles yet we don’t understand it.

 The real philosophy of hatha yoga can come to us by practice, practice of the mind – doing it as a mental exercise, as an act of worship, as an act of reestablishing the relationship both with the lower world of the instincts , of the snake and camel and elephant and with the higher world of the beings of energy which we really are – beings of energy which have come and occupied these physical bodies and are exercising control over them.  In that context, we should practice our yoga and enjoy it.


 At a moment’s notice we should be able to be still; there should be no movement in us.  Our mind should become fixed on one point, and there should be no movement from that point.  Then we would have conquest of emotion.  A person who moves and shakes about uncontrollably is emotionally disturbed. A person who has steady emotion has a settled calm body and a steady voice.  The perfection of a posture has all these ramifications.  What is our posture like when we are walking, standing, talking at a party?  Stillness becomes artificial when it does not come from steadiness of emotions and of mind. 

 The first thing we have to do is straighten our lives.  If the mind is divided four ways, the posture will be divided four ways.  The more we grow, the more we should become aware of our posture.  Let the emotions work on the posture and at the same time let the posture train the emotions.

 The perfection of the posture, remember, should not be perfection of the yoga postures at the time of doing hatha.  It is the perfection of a posture throughout life and that is an indication of where one’s mind is.  The more steadiness we have in our minds, the more grace we will derive from there, and the more controlled and graceful our movement will become.

 A person should work on the condition of mind that disturbs their posture.  Then the posture itself will automatically correct itself.  What is in the mind that makes a person move?

 When a person has perfected their meditative asana they are no longer disturbed by pairs of opposites (like pain/pleasure.  When the axis of the spine is straight and firm and neither falls to the left nor the right, nor front nor backwards there is perfect balance.  When you have found your axis in life, it shows in your posture.  You stand firm with your body, with your emotions, and then you are not easily distracted by heat and cold or pain and pleasure or craving and satisfaction or praise and blame.   If we just force our bodies to withstand pain, we will not succeed.  It is the duality of the mind between pain and pleasure that has to be conquered, that has to be unified.  If you are torn all the time between this and that, you cannot be still for long. 

 Find in the mind where the posture begins and from there send the right impulse, the right direction, and that is the perfection of the posture.  Posture is the firmness of mind, firmness of emotions, firmness of life, firmness of decision.  It is a whole body language.



 Kundalini yoga is the yoga of energy currents, not in the sense of electric or heat or light energy which are material, but in the sense of living energy, which is I, the Self.  The mainstream of kundalini flows through the spine divided into three streams, ida (to the left), pingala (to the right) and sushumna (mainstream).

 Only a very minor current of the kundalini is awake in most of us and keeps us going through our lives.  Everything we do is a function of our kundalini force.  A minute amount is released into our system through the spine, connecting to the brain and to the seven centers of consciousness.  From there it is distributed through the entire system.  A yogi’s ultimate aim is the total awakening of kundalini and when that awakening takes place, the yogi’s consciousness thereafter is the entire life force which exists in the entire universe. It is from this that all the miraculous powers are derived by the yogi.  Kundalini yoga is a very high and subtle form of yoga in which nothing happens that is visible to others.

 Hatha yoga in its finest, highest, deepest philosophy is a preparation for kundalini yoga.  It is the preparation for the control and direction of meditative experience.  Hatha yoga is refining the body to move a human being to a finer energy existence.  Initially the experiences of kundalini are very pleasant, so pleasant that the physical or sensual experiences that people are familiar with become as nothing compared to the kundalini sensations.   A yogi does not identify with them or derive the pleasure from them that we do. 

A person may come to a hatha yoga class to learn about how to strengthen his back or work on a thyroid problem. Such things are very easy.  If the spine is not straight, the energy flow is obstructed.  Kundalini yoga is working from within, whereas hatha yoga is working from the outside.  The idea in kundalini yoga is to raise energy up into the higher centers of consciousness.  As you raise the energy into these higher centers, you are able to accomplish much more.  When the heart center is opened for example, it is not that you become unemotional but rather that you become a master of your own emotions.  There are people who claim to be followers of kundalini yoga and say ‘love everybody, have sex with everybody’.  The two statements are contradictory.  To love everybody means opening the heart center – an upward, inward flow.  Having sex with everybody is blocking the lower sexual center so that the kundalini energy flows downward and outward and is dissipated.  When it flows inward and upward, the heart center receives that energy and opens up its love to everyone.

 In kundalini yoga, nothing is seen happening because what is moving is the finer energy current within.  Hatha yoga becomes a preparation for this inner movement.  Unless one understands these higher purposes for hatha yoga, it remains only a fine physical body exercise. 

 Ultimate purpose of hatha yoga

 Ultimately, hatha yoga is a preparation for the body to contain the kundalini.  Hatha yoga is what is done with this body to lead toward that realization of being this energy being.  Energy has no weight, it occupies no space, it is invisible, yet what is happening is intensely dynamic, intensely alive.  That is kundalini yoga.

 When you perform your hatha yoga, do it with the awareness of these energies.  Do not merely move muscles when doing hatha yoga.  The muscles move anyway, but the purpose is to locate the field of energy.

 People are not essentially a physical configuration.  We are a pattern of energy channels, shakti-nadis, along which our physical body has arranged itself like iron filings along magnetic force lines, like straw floating on currents, eddies, whirlpools.

 All that is physical is projected from and shaped by the patterns of subtler essences and currents. All that happens in the physical body is a manifestation of changes in the subtle body and in the energy channels.  Only a part of what happens in the subtle body and in the energy channels is manifested on the physical plane.  The chakras and nadis (energy channels) are co-incident with the plexuses and nerves but are not the same.   They are flows ,patterns and hub-centers in the circuitry of the subtle body.  They are also connections and channels for the flow of forces from the causal body and above all they are energy currents and concentrations of the universal forces – prana (the vital force), chit (the consciousness force) and jiva (the life force).

 Hatha yoga is essential as we learn to identify the subtler forces.  As controls are established, the barriers begin to crumble ever so slowly.  We need to whittle down tamas, the physical inertia of the body, by a constant process of purification through the practice of hatha yoga.

 The practice of the physical aspects of yoga should be undertaken with a view to preparing the body in anticipation of changes that spiritual progress will require or induce.  The practice of hatha yoga should not be overemphasized in isolation from general spiritual aims.  To practice it only for health, beauty and longevity without any pursuit of deeper truths is to reduce yoga to the level of other physical sciences.  As one progresses, hatha yoga practices at first help and then give way to kundalini yoga.  Then an entry into the subtle body is gained.  Hatha escorts one to this point and then bids adieu.


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