Yoga And Meditation

Hatha Yoga is a part of Raja Yoga. Both these Yogas are therefore, the necessary counterparts of each other. Ha-Tha, term is actually derived from two Sanskrit words, "ha" meaning sun, and "tha" meaning moon. So Hatha Yoga is actually the "union of the sun and moon". This refers to bringing together our light and dark sides, our masculine (strength) and feminine (gentle) sides, our stable nature and our changing nature. In addition to sun-moon, Hatha also means energy and flexibility.


As a learner, the practitioner will perform Hatha Yoga as a form of physical exercise that challenges and refines his/her flexibility, physical strength and balance. This Yoga adds another facet to their life with a matching development in emotional strength that will help in handling the challenges of life with a balanced temperament.

Hatha Yoga mostly prepares the body for the divine path through physical and breathing exercises, and asceticism. It prepares and nourishes the body so that the mind can practice meditation largely without obstacles. Therefore it concentrates only on third and fourth steps of Raja Yoga. It deals with the practice of the postures (Asanas) and breathing technique (Pranayama) to control the nerves (Nadis)..

Exercising the Asanas in Hatha Yoga has two important objectives:

• First is to bring the health and energy to the body and mind by opening the nerves (Nadis).

• The second objective is to master at least one posture in which one can be comfortable for a longer duration of time. Thus, to strengthen the power of will and concentration and not paying much attention to the worthless thoughts brought in the mind by sensory organs. When the Asanas are regularly performed, slowly and gradually, the control on the body and mind is achieved.


Without purification of the body one will not be ready for the higher practices of Yoga. For this Yoga has six techniques are described and are known as "Shat Karma's". Shat Karma is made of two components: 'shat' meaning 'six' and 'karma' meaning 'art' or 'process'. The six kriyas which fall under this are Dhauti for cleaning the stomach, Basti for cleaning the colon, Neti for cleaning the nasal passage, Nauli for cleaning the abdominal organs, Kapalabati for cleaning the respiratory organs and Trataka for clearing the mind.


Sutra Neti is one of classic Shat Karmas (Six Cleansing Activities) of ancient Hatha Yoga. It acts as a significant synergist in accelerating the yogic process as inscribed by the unimpeachable treatises on Hatha Yoga and Yoga Hygiene. As water cleansing or bathing of the nasal cavities instinctively removes irritants, dust and impurities from the nasal passages and is thus usefully relaxing. In addition to this, Sutra Neti also helps in stimulating and toning the nerves, glands, and organs of the whole nasal and cranial area including eyes, sinuses, ears, and skull. In India, it has been a specific and traditional treatment for lethargy, sinus headaches, eye and ear complaints, congestion, heaviness of the head, excess kapha (mucus), lack of alertness, opening of the third eye, and other similar problems.


The Shuddikriya for the cleaning of the nasal path is known as neti. The aim of the process is to purify the breathing path right from the nostrils to the throat. If the aim is achieved using water, the process is known as Jal Neti. In Yoga, it has been used for its extremely powerful physical, psychological and spiritual benefits. However, in the modern world - fed on an attitude of immediate gains Jal Neti has gained immense popularity because of its dramatic effect on the sinuses.


Neti with Milk Usage of milk in the Neti pot, pre-warmed to body temperature, is suitable for those who suffer chronic nose bleeding or those who initially find intense irritation from the use of salty water.


A strip of wet cloth, four fingers wide (3") and fifteen hands (11/4 metres) in length, is stoutly swallowed and, then taken out, as instructed by the guru. This is known as Dhauti. Dhauti is divided into four parts. According to the Gherand Samhita they are called antar (internal) dhauti, danta (teeth) dhauti, hrid (cardiac) dhauti, and moola shodhana (rectal cleansing). The practice described in this verse is actually vastra dhauti. 'Vastra' means 'cloth', this practice must only be performed under expert guidance and in full accordance with the instructions given.


Vatsara Dhauti is performed by breathing in slowly through the mouth in Kaki Mudra and then swallowing the air into the stomach while expanding the abdomen. It can be done up to ten times or until the stomach is fully expanded. Then the air should be passed through the large intestine. To do this it is helpful to assume an inverted posture. Pashinee Mudra is best. The air should then pass out of the anus easily.


Varisara Dhauti is more commonly known today as Shankha Prakshalana. In this practice you drink a total of sixteen glasses of warm salty water and evacuate it through the bowels. First you drink two glasses and perform a series of five specific asanas: tadasana, tiryaka tadasana, kati chakrasana, tiryaka bhujangasana and udarakarshan asana. After every two glasses the asanas should be performed until the water starts flowing out of the anus. Once clear water starts coming through, you will know that the stomach and intestines are perfectly clean and you can stop the practice. Forty-five minutes after completing the practice, a saltless liquid mixture of cooked rice, mung dal, and ghee has to be eaten until the stomach is completely full. There are dietary restrictions to be observed for the minimum period of one week after the practice, and as it is a major cleansing operation, it must be done under expert guidance.


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