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Hatha Yoga

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xvii ] The branch of Y oga which specializes in methods of physical training. Its earliest surviving manuals (e.g. the Hatha-yoga-pradipika of Svatmarama) are not earlier than the medieval period, but many Hatha Yoga techniques are of much older origin. Hatha Yoga claims to be a beneficial preliminary to the more difficult mental training of the Y oga-darshana . A basic moral and religious discipline was originally required for Hatha Yoga, but in some more modern forms the undertaking of bodily purification exercises is considered a sufficient prerequisite. Suppleness, flexibility and physical control are emphasized more than muscular development or speed of movement. The main methods are postures ( asana ), some very difficult, systematic tensing and relaxation of particular areas ( bandha ), breath control ( pranayama ) of various kinds, and the use of imagination and attention in order to control various bodily phenomena. More advanced is a colourful visualized physiology derived from T antra (1), involving the arousing of fundamental vital or sexual energy ( kundalini ) and the activation of various channels ( nadi ) and centres ( cakra ). Eventually this should lead to S amadhi and D hyana yoga practice. [35: 17–75; 45: 175–93; 133: 148–50] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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