On Hatha Yoga


On Hath Yoga

A sense of not struggling; a progression of moments of not striving; breath excites the human form … the moment is a lifetime.

“How is a lifetime achieved in a single breath?” you ask.

I reply: “I breathe in. I breathe out. Soon the words vanish and I breathe in and I breathe out. Thoughts intrude. I breathe in and I breathe out. Thoughts intrude again, and I breathe in and I breathe out.”

Let us explore the details: Focus is key to Hatha Yoga as in all the various Yoga forms of the past and present. In Hatha Yoga only breath is of focus. Sacred Breath or Prana in Hindustani and many languages on the Indian Sub Continent is the nexus of Hath Yoga. We touch the sacred with each breath. With each breath we come “closer” to the sacred core of the universe both factually and metaphorically. In Genesis we find; “God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”  So, we find (though now long forgotten) even within the Western Christian/Judaic tradition there is recognition a new beginning; there is recognition of another lifetime. From dust by the simple act of breath God imparted a lifetime to man.

Practitioners of Hatha Yoga discover that breath is the vehicle one uses to return to “source” (God in the Christian/Judaic tradition). This is the fundamental state of all human being. Breath is the medium that takes us beyond thought, beyond form; breath brings us into direct experience of reality; breath takes us beyond words, beyond ideas, into deep, true manifestation that is in expression with source.

For our Live Another Lifetime classes and exercise in Hatha Yoga, students should bring with them a comfortable floor mat or a small roll up rug to lie down on. Students who prefer may practice sitting in a comfortable chair. What we are trying to accomplish is to place the body in a relaxed position that demands little attention to the corporal form. Our breathing exercises are conducted via nasal breath so the student should prepare by clearing the nasal passage to the best ability.

In India all my teachers focused on one thing and one thing only during the practice of Hatha Yoga: breath and breath alone. In the West I also sought out many teachers. What I found was that many if not all were attempting to “multitask” by placing the body in “yoga” positions, some of which can be very strenuous to maintain. This only serves as a distraction to the breathing process. I do not deny that serious Hatha Yoga can be accomplished in and from any position one chooses; however, any corporal distraction will, like any thought (for a distraction no matter its source is a thought) interrupt our breath and we will need to breathe in and breathe out to bring us back to the state of manifestation in expression with source.

Hatha Yoga is not multitasking. Some students believe that since they are only breathing they should have plenty of time to do something else at the same time; thus the instructors that believe “physical” yoga and Hatha Yoga can be combined. I say that anything can be combined so long as it does not lead to distracting thoughts.

Also: Silence. Our breathing is not labored in our practice. We do not breath in “hard” and exhale the same. Is that not a distraction, also?

So, in general, what students can expect at our Hatha Yoga secessions is that most people are lying on the floor on the mats they brought with them. A few people are sitting in chairs because they find lying down to be uncomfortable. There is complete silence in the room. Only the instructor is calmly and steadily guiding the group into greater and greater depths of meditation by reminding students of the techniques required to achieve the highest level of communion with source that they are able to accomplish. Students internalize the methods and after a few lessons are able to enter into a state of Hatha Yoga instantly almost anywhere and in the midst of almost any distractions. This is the ultimate goal of the practitioner; to be free of distraction and in communion with source under all conditions. For us this represents living another lifetime.

Chuck Ananda Handshealer

12/27/2009

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