What is the True Meaning of Hatha Yoga?
What is the True Meaning of Hatha Yoga?

There are 2 different interpretations of the word “hatha”.

First interpretation comes from Sanskrit word “hatha” means wilful or forceful. And some people understand it as physical and psychological strength / will power required for the practice. Or that the main focus of the practice is achieving power. However, this understanding is somewhat shallow and hides the real beauty or true purpose of the Hatha Yoga discipline. Hatha Yoga is not about forceful pushing oneself beyond limits and putting the body in danger of injury.

Second interpretation comes from the breaking down the word “hatha” into 2 beeja mantras – “HA = the energy of the Sun” and “THA = the energy of the Moon” – and seems much more appropriate as well as explains the main teaching of the Hatha Yoga.

In the Universe there co-exist 2 opposite forces. The Sun represents the ACTIVE, generating, hot, bright, outward, masculine, Yang energy, whereas the Moon represents the PASSIVE, reflecting, cold, dark, feminine, Yin energy.

When Yin and Yang are in harmony, we are healthy and happy. When one force is in excess it causes physical and psychological illness. Excess of the masculine / Sun energy causes violence, too much movement and burn out. Excess of the feminine / Moon energy causes sleepiness, lack of movement and inertia.

Ha-Tha Yoga practice balances the 2 energies in the human body system, bringing about harmony and allowing the progress on the spiritual path. Hatha Yoga prepares the student for the final stage of practice – the Raja Yoga (the King Yoga or the Yoga of Meditation).

In the Hatha Yoga Sanskrit text “Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati” by Gorakshnath।। श्रीगोरक्षनाथकृत – सिद्धसिद्धान्तपद्धतिः ।। the HA-THA bija mantras are explained in the verse 1.69 as follows:

हकार: कीर्तित: सूर्यष्ठकारश्चंद्र उच्यते।
सूर्य चन्द्रमसोर्योगाध्हठयोगों निगद्यते।

Hakarah keertitah suryash Thakarash chandra uchyate

Surya chandramasoryogadh hathayogo nigaghyate

HA represents the Sun THA means the Moon
To bring Sun and Moon together in harmony is Hatha Yoga

There are 3 principal energy channels (nadis) in the human body – Pingala, Ida and Sushumna. HA represents the Pingala or the Sun energy nadi, whereas THA represents Ida or the Moon energy nadi. Sushumna nadi is the spiritual channel and when the energy flows through it the aspirant’s consciousness ascends.

Before this process can happen there are specific prerequisites. Spiritual practice requires higher frequency energy that can only be received when the body has become more subtle and is able to support such powerful energy flow. This is also the process of bringing about the harmony of the energy flow between Ida and Pingala nadis and therefore balancing the whole body system. Then only the Sushumna nadi can open or activate.

Hatha Yoga concentrates on purifying, strengthening and stabilising practices so that the body becomes fit and balanced for the Raja Yoga – the highest practice of Meditation and Samadhi. Raja Yoga stage is synonymous to when the Kundalini energy arises through the spiritual, Sushumna nadi. In order to achieve that state, the Hatha Yoga prepares the practitioner mainly through Shatkarmas (yogic cleaning techniques for the body), Asanas (strengthening positions for the body), Pranayamas (breathing exercises to lighten up the body and make it subtle), Bandhas and Mudras (locks for the body stabilisation, specific guidance of energy & seals to preserve it). In some Hatha Yoga text also moral code is mentioned as well as some techniques to withdraw the senses (pratyahara) and guide the energy within.

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