Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Western world stress relief: Hatha Yoga from India
The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, and is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite." Translations include "joining", "uniting", "union", "conjunction", and "means".
Outside India, the term yoga is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise. Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy is called a yogi or yogini.
The Bhagavad Gita ('Song of the Lord'), uses the term yoga extensively in a variety of ways. In addition to an entire chapter (ch. 6) dedicated to traditional yoga practice, including meditation, it introduces three prominent types of yoga:
* Karma yoga: The yoga of action,
* Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion,
* Gnana yoga: The yoga of knowledge.
Traditional Hatha Yoga is a holistic yogic path, including moral disciplines, physical postures (asana), purification procedures (shatkriya), poses (mudra), yogic breathing (pranayama), and meditation. The Hatha yoga predominantly practiced in the West consists of mostly asanas understood as physical exercises. It is also recognized as a stress-reducing practice.
Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon ( हकारः कीर्तितः सूर्यष्ठकारश्चंद्र उच्यते | सूर्यचंद्रमसोर्योगाद्धठयोग निगद्यते || ), referring to Praana and Apaana, and also to the principal nadis (energy channels) of the subtle body that must be fully operational to attain a state of dhyana or samādhi.