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Home > Hatha Yoga and our Body
Hatha Yoga and our Body
Multilayered Human Body.. The Cosmic interpretatio.. The notion of Moksha
"The greatest conquest in the world is self-conquest that begins with conquest of the body."

Hatha Yoga is designed to gain in-depth understanding of our body and to unleash its power and strength to obtain our higher selves. To a Hath Yogi, the body is not a mere mass of living matter, but a mystic bridge between the spiritual and the physical being.

Hatha-yoga is often regarded as physical or bodily yoga. Such an over simplistic view is mistaken if that is all hatha is considered to be; but it is certainly the case that hatha-yoga works very much "with" and "through" the body, and that its conceptual isolation of the body is crucial to Hatha`s theory and practice. This conceptualization which involves whole `subtle` physiological dimension-forms should be understood properly. For that the misunderstood conclusions have to be discarded.

Kaya SadhanaKaya Sadhana is the Sanskrit term for the development or cultivation of the body for a spiritual purpose. Kaya meaning `body` and Sadhana meaning `that which leads to the fulfillment of the goal`. The related terms kaya-siddhi and kaya-sampat refer to the state of `bodily perfection` acquired through such practice. Kaya Sadhna in Hath yoga has a typical meaning:

"Hatha-yoga does not seek mere transcendental experiences. Its objective is to transform the human body to make it a worthy vehicle for Self-realization. "

According to yogic philosophy: the body, mind and senses constitute instruments or tools for the respective processes of:

(a) Experiencing the world.
(b) Coming to realise our true nature.

If these instruments are to work efficiently then it is important that the yogi maintains them in the best possible condition, and, furthermore, endeavors to strengthen and purify them to the utmost.

Yoga-SutraAccording to Yoga-Sutra achieving this goal results in beauty, gracefulness, strength, and robustness. Such a condition is said to proceed from sanyama (control) upon the `gross` and `subtle` elements. This implies that bodily perfection is viewed as a consequence of meditative discipline, although the relation between the two should perhaps` be better understood as one of mutual enhancement. Physical upliftment assist spiritual one and vice versa.

While techniques designed to hone the body so that it may provide better access to higher states of being receive more explicit attention in the treatises of hatha-yoga than in those of other yoga traditions, the notion of the body`s being a `vessel` which must, in some sense, be made worthy of the spirit is one that extends back as far as the Rig-Veda, and persists throughout the post-Vedic era.

The necessary purification is portrayed as a `burning action`, represented by the fire-deity Agni; and this idea of `heating` is echoed in the later hatha manuals, where the bodily vessel is said to resemble an unbaked urn left in water [which] inevitably decays` unless `purification by baking well in the fire of yoga is performed`. According to Yoga-Sutra `bodily perfection is achieved by destroying impurities of the senses`. Tapa is frequently translated as `austerity`, but it is better understood as the `spiritual flame`, zeal or urge, which is fanned through yogic disciplines, not merely by extreme asceticism, hardship or bodily deprivation.

Vedanta metaphysics explains the concept of body being a mere, but significant "vessel". Underlying the practices of hatha-yoga is the view that the true identity of every human being and of all apparently discrete entities is ultimately a single divine Reality. It is this "Self" which has been, is, and forever shall be who we really are. Its true state is held to be of eternal.

The implication of the theory expressed here is that to talk of the human psychophysical complex comprising body, mind and senses as a `vessel` or `container` in which the spirit or Self dwells. It is only to use an analogical method of describing the actual situation. In truth, the psychophysical complex is held to be a disguised form (Upadhi or limitation) of the Self. Thus what is required is not that we eradicate the form, but that we alter our perception of it in such a way as to perceive its true nature.

The task of the yogi is to accelerate the operation of the mighty law of human evolution, in order to achieve the consummation of the process in one lifetime-`to create a gifted human being blessed with a trans-human state of consciousness. For the hatha-yogi, this task involves actively transforming the `vessel` through a combination of physical, subtle-physical and intrapsychic techniques, so that the psychophysical complex is net merely maintained, but is positively `refined` and `etherealised`.

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