Did you know that the human body boasts as many as 72,000 *nadis? As if this were not enough, yoga texts disagree on the number! **Shiva Samhita quotes a whopping 3,50,000 nadis arising from the navel center. While Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Goraksha Samhita speak of 72,000 nadis, each branching off into another 72,000 nadis.

In Kundalini yoga there are three main nadis. The Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. The Ida and Pingala symbolize the basic duality of existence. Ida spirals up the left side of the spine ending at the left nostril. Pingala is a mirror image of Ida, ending up at the right nostril.

Lunar energy is aligned with Ida. Solar energy with PingalaIda is cool, comforting, introverted, feminine, governs the intellect. Pingala on the other hand, is warm, challenging, extroverted, masculine, in control of vital processes like digestion

*A nadi is a pathway or channel of subtle energy. It cannot be seen upon dissection of the human body.

What is hatha yoga?

The word ‘ha’ means Sun, ‘tha’ means Moon. Hatha means to balance the Sun and Moon energies in you.

Hatha yoga is the science of harmonizing Pingala and Ida; or the solar and lunar energies within us so as to prod our higher consciousness to life. It is the science of activating the third, central nadi– Sushumna – which is the path to enlightenment.

Hatha also means being adamant, making an effort.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Hatha yoga is stretching your boundaries a little bit. We define our boundaries and stay there. Hatha yoga says, okay stretch a little bit. Extend your boundary, little by little.”

Hatha yoga begins with exertion. Your body may say, “That’s it, I can do no more.” Or your mind may groan, “Yoga? Oh no not again!” But you stay determined. You just do it. Every time you raise the bar just a tad, step out of your comfort zone a little further.

The rationale behind hatha yoga

Traditionally you would work with the body first by diligently doing yoga asanas. Next comes the breath. You would practice pranayamas like Nadi Shodhan. Finally you would move on to the mind with meditation.

In its true classical sense, Hatha yoga is practiced to bridge the gap between your body and higher states of consciousness. Let’s look at the physical aspect of meditation as an example. In order to meditate effectively, you need to sit comfortably with spine erect and unsupported for long periods. This requires a strong back, a flexible groin and well-toned legs. Knees, ankles and feet need to be healthy. Hatha yoga prepares your body. And ensures that meditation is a blissful experience – not a painful one.

Hatha yoga benefits 

Before you start your Hatha yoga practice, check out which nostril is more active. If it is the left nostril, Ida is more dominant. Time to do asanas like standing poses, back bends, twists and inversions. If the right nostril is more switched on, Pingala is more energized. Seated postures and forward bends will cool you down.

  • Hatha yoga boosts overall health.
  • Tones the spine.
  • Improves flexibility.
  • Strengthens muscles.
  • Enhances balance.
  • Revs up blood circulation.
  • Increases immunity.
  • Relieves stress.
  • Helps with focus and concentration.
  • Balances the flow of energy.
  • Makes you happy.

Hatha yoga also balances the three gunas or qualities inherent in you. Tamas, the quality of inertia and delusion; and rajas the quality of activity and selfishness will be tempered. While Sattva, the quality of harmony and goodness will prevail.

Pranayamas and meditation

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is a powerful way to balance the Ida and Pingala. While meditation gives you access to higher possibilities. Mental clarity, inner peace and contentment will be well within your reach.

Is Hatha yoga a part of Sri Sri Yoga?

Sri Sri Yoga is primarily Hatha Yoga, integrated with other paths of yoga to help you achieve your highest potential. In Sri Sri Yoga, wisdom and a combination of gentle asanas and pranayamas are taught for the total well-being of the body, mind and spirit.

With regular practice of Hatha yoga, you will not just exist in this world, you will live. With enthusiasm, spirituality and a strong sense of divinity.

Hatha yoga helps develop the body and mind, bringing a lot of health benefits. Even so, it is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor, and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher.

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