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Thread: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

  1. #31
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    Re: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

    Quote Originally Posted by MahaHrada View Post
    It was in in India that i have first met people with no personal interest or knowledge at all of the philosophy and background of yoga and ayurveda but nonetheless teaching classes and offering massages in resorts and hotels purely as an opportunity to earn money.
    I don't mean to create a false dichotomy between western and Indian yoga. I have seen all the advertisements of Indian yogis with their expensive resorts and nonsense certifications. What I mean is that there is a shift of mentality from how yoga was taught in the days of Shivananda. I have read an old book about the journey of a Dutch yogini who went to India and was able to learn yoga for free at ashrams including accommodation and food. If you go now you will have to lay down thousands for retreats and workshops. The people I learned yoga from when I was in my teens were not full time yoga instructors, but priests who studied at a gurukula. The mentality they had about teaching yoga was very different. They even gave me a free copies of yoga instruction books in Hindi and they taught how to incorporate asana and pranayama practice into a daily ayurvedic routine. I think that is closer to the way Krishnamacharya, Kuvalayananda and Shivananda intented yoga to be practised.

    If you say Hatha Yoga has originated outside of the Nath Sampradaya, it is not based on facts, it is a a wrong statement.
    I am not saying that Hatha yoga originated outside the Nath Sampradaya, only that it wasn't created in a vacuum within the Nath sampradaya. I am no expert on Nath sampradaya, but as you are saying, it was influenced by other Indian traditions. The practice of asana in hatha yoga also could not have developed in complete isolation of the postural practices of the tapasvins and yogins who practiced seated, standing, balancing, upside down and hanging poses.

    It would also be interesting to see how much influence the dhanur veda (martial arts) and natya shastra (dance) have exerted on hatha yoga. Then there is also the question that postures similar to hatha yoga asanas were practised in China and Tibet in Buddhist monasteries even before scriptures like the Hatha yoga pradipika were written. According to the Chinese they were brought to China from India through Buddhist missionaries like Bodhidharma. It is interesting to note that the yoga of Krishnamacharya, who studied in the himalayas, is very similar to the yoga practised in Chinese forms of yoga with all its flowing vinyasa. Some form of postural yoga must have been practiced in India before it could have been transmitted to China.

    The shatkarmas of hatha yoga are very similar to the ayurvedic practices of vamana, virecana, basti and nasyam. Even though they are perfomed slightly differently, it's likely they influenced the hatha yoga purification practices. The practice of mudras is very common in tantra, it is even used in Sandhyavandana before and after gayatri japa by some people and pranayama is also practiced commonly in various forms. The practice of bandhas is perhaps something that is completely original to the Natha yogis, I am not sure.

    There is also a mention of hatha yoga in the aparokshanubhuti, a work attributed to Shankaracharya:
    143. By the connection of these fifteen limbs, Raja Yoga is explained. Those who are not yet spiritually ripe for this knowledge should take up Hatha Yoga.



    That theoretical knowledge and practical experience are considered almost oppossites to each other and also their non sectarianism, has been one of the pillars of the Nath Siddha Sampradaya and can hardly be called modern, most Nathas in the past and also today are opposed to conventional patterns of religion.
    I don't know how the Natha's thought about philosophical knowledge as opposed to practical knowledge, but they must have had some justification to practice yoga, some underlying reason to do this instead of using their time on something else, even if they say they didn't. That must have been part of their philosophy which must have been motivated by some sort of Hindu ideal about liberation.
    Last edited by Sahasranama; 03 August 2012 at 10:46 AM.

  2. #32
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    Re: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    I don't mean to create a false dichotomy between western and Indian yoga. I have seen all the advertisements of Indian yogis with their expensive resorts and nonsense certifications. What I mean is that there is a shift of mentality from how yoga was taught in the days of Shivananda. I have read an old book about the journey of a Dutch yogini who went to India and was able to learn yoga for free at ashrams including accommodation and food. If you go now you will have to lay down thousands for retreats and workshops.
    I think commercialisation depends on where you look, where i live, in a country in Europe,there is one ashram led by westerners, going back to Shivananda, it is done in the same spirit, when people are willing to live and work in the ashram they get food and accommodation and yoga education for free, and on top of that permanent residents even get pocket money from the ashram, of course non resident students have to pay, but a small and reasonable amount, compared to what they get and even if sincerely interested in studying yoga as a non residents who cannot afford to pay the rates, the residents find ways to nonetheless accomodate and teach them for reduced rates or for free if they ask. I am not as much informend on how ashrams in other countries are run.
    I think nowadays certifications are very important, especially in the west since they help to maintain or establish a minimum standard of knowledge and experience. The requirements are not very high and it is barely the minimum you must know to not harm people with your classes. That is done as a help to prevent Yoga from getting a bad reputation because of fraudulent uneducated practicioners. The certifications have helped to establish a standard that allows people to attend yoga classses with certified teachers while the costs are paid by health insurances. Without certifications that would have not been possible. Certainly there is also a commercialisation of Yoga due to its rising popularity, but there are many westerners who selflessly dedicate their lives to promote Yoga in the form it was taught by people like Kuvalayanada or Shivananda, in a non commercial way, and the vast majority of Yoga teachers do it because it is for them part of an alternative lifestyle or an alternative non invasive form of health care not because it is an easy way to generate money, because it isn´t.
    I am not saying that Hatha yoga originated outside the Nath Sampradaya, only that it wasn't created in a vacuum within the Nath sampradaya. I am no expert on Nath sampradaya, but as you are saying, it was influenced by other Indian traditions. The practice of asana in hatha yoga also could not have developed in complete isolation of the postural practices of the tapasvins and yogins who practiced seated, standing, balancing, upside down and hanging poses.
    I have a problem when talking about the Nath tradition since naturally i will be territorial and have avoided writing in HDF about it since it has to preserved from guru to shisya only not by publicising.
    Yes, we can trace some of the Hatha Yoga postures to tapasvins, but though you are right that it has not developed in a vacuum, it is a very unique teaching of its own, and one cannot criticise modern Hatha Yoga of lacking so called "religious or spiritual" elements that were important in other forms of Yoga.

    I admit that modern Yoga has made itself vulnerable to that criticism since it wrongly appropriated Patanjalis Yoga sutras into its canon, of course now one can say that Hatha Yoga is focussing too much on the physical aspects, compared to what is taught in the Yoga sutras.

    The second drawdown regarding modern Yoga is that they never had access to the Nath teaching and no knowledge of their internal practices but instead integrated the exercises of the Nath Siddhas into a framework of Vedanta and Vaishnava bhakti. This was only partly succesful, and though i defend the dedication and sincerity of modern yoga, looking at it from the viewpoint of a nath siddha, i do not like the result of mixing vedanta, patanjali yoga and Hatha yoga since it is not doing justice to any of the systems.

    Regarding Kundalini, the pancha vyomas and panchamahabhutas, six adhvans, 16 adharas, three lakshyas and the Yogangas like dharana dhyana and samadhi and how this knowledge is integrated into a graded path culminating in shatchakrabheda and nadanusandhana, these central higher practices of hatha yoga are non existing in modern Yoga. Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi is interpreted according to Patanjali but not practised according to the way it was intended by Hatha Yoga which is a very different procedure. The reason for this is that the tantric or Kaula background, that is central in Nath teachings, is entirely missing from modern Yoga. Satyananda Sarasvati (of Bihar school of Yoga) has tried to integrate tantric teachings into the vedanta based yoga of Shivananda, but was in my opinion only marginally successful.

    In Nath Tradition there is also the upasana of Yogesvari, the shaktipat of the Guru Parampara and the knowledge of the aims of the Kaya sadhana, these are misising from modern yoga. In authentic Nath yoga, Hatha yoga is only a part that must eventually lead to a purified immortal Body that is made similar or of one taste as the siddhas say (samarasya) to the Mahasakarapinda, the universal cosmic body of Adinath Shiva, which is a union of the principles of Shiva and shakti or Kamakala, one with the Guru existing beyond the physical body. When one is activating the 16 and 17 parts of the moon, the chandrakalas, which contain the fluid of Immortality, the goal of the Nath yoga is achieved, These are practices of internal alchemy, and these are the central goals of Hatha Yoga as well as those of the Kaula Dharma. There is also a focus on the void nature of the ultimate state that is closer to shramana and chinese concepts of the ultimate than vedic, These are very obscure teachings that are outside the pale of mainstream Hinduism and closer to taoist teachings than to Vedanta.
    It would also be interesting to see how much influence the dhanur veda (martial arts) and natya shastra (dance) have exerted on hatha yoga.
    According to my studies there arent any similarities, it is more that we should look to china and Qigong there is a mutual influence.
    Then there is also the question that postures similar to hatha yoga asanas were practised in China and Tibet in Buddhist monasteries even before scriptures like the Hatha yoga pradipika were written. According to the Chinese they were brought to China from India through Buddhist missionaries like Bodhidharma.
    The Nath siddhas taught buddhism as well as taoism as well as islam. Virupa nath for instance appears in the Hatha pradipika list of Gurus and is also prominent in the chakrasamavara/Vajrayogini (Chinnamasta) based tantric lineage of Vajrayana buddhism, the siddhas are known with the same or similar names in all these religious traditions, that is due to the unique non sectarian nature of this tradition. Siddha Boganatha is known to have taught alchemy in China for instance, while Matsyendranath is worshipped as the Incarnation of Buddha Lokeswara by the nepali buddhists but also as an enlightened pir in the chistiya silsila of Sufism.
    The practice of mudras is very common in tantra, it is even used in Sandhyavandana before and after gayatri japa by some people and pranayama is also practiced commonly in various forms. The practice of bandhas is perhaps something that is completely original to the Natha yogis, I am not sure.
    Mudras in Hatha Yoga are not hand postures but body postures, these are shared by and may go back to the Kaula Tradition like other aspects of Hatha yoga as kAlavancana, (cheating, or evading time), utkranti , (yogic death) , or parakayapravesha.(entering other bodies)
    These Mudras of Hatha Yoga, the body postures are related to certain high developed states of the Mind, or trances, the siddhas are grouped into different categories according to which Mudra they primarly belong to, or assume, these relate to certain samadhis, the body freezes into these postures when the samadhis occur and vice versa.
    There is also a mention of hatha yoga in the aparokshanubhuti, a work attributed to Shankaracharya:
    143. By the connection of these fifteen limbs, Raja Yoga is explained. Those who are not yet spiritually ripe for this knowledge should take up Hatha Yoga.
    This does not sound plausible since the first mentioning of the term hatha yoga in the yogashastras themselves appears around the 15th century not earlier. But i will try to check out the validity of that quote.
    I don't know how the Natha's thought about philosophical knowledge as opposed to practical knowledge, but they must have had some justification to practice yoga, some underlying reason to do this instead of using their time on something else, even if they say they didn't. That must have been part of their philosophy which must have been motivated by some sort of Hindu ideal about liberation.
    Underlying this idea is the primal importance that the Guru has in these traditions, and that without the grace of the Guru Parampara true understanding will not occur no matter how much you practice and study, important aspects will be sealed because your body is not ripened (pakva) to receive knowledge, and the other reaosn is the focus on the stage of para and pashyanti vac which is a state of knowledge prior to verbalisation.
    Para and Pashyanti vac are also aspects of Nada (sound vibration) and Kundalini and therefore important in authentic Hatha Yoga. They are also the adesh or ajna the command (of the Guru) that the Nath siddha follows. If he does that properly he will be automatically carried into a pre-language state. Thats why the Siddha greets the siddha with the word "Adesh" When Kundalini rests in coiled form she is language prior to speech or manifestation as name and form.
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 03 August 2012 at 04:00 PM.

  3. #33
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    Re: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

    Quote Originally Posted by MahaHrada View Post
    This does not sound plausible since the first mentioning of the term hatha yoga in the yogashastras themselves appears around the 15th century not earlier. But i will try to check out the validity of that quote.
    Aparokshanubhuti:

    "In its subordinate role Hathayoga was most often overshadowed by Rajayoga. A good example of this is the medieval Vedantic text called the Aparokshanubhuti, which has been attributed to Adi sankaracharya. It is unlikely that this text dates back to the eighth century, but it would predate the fourteenth century if the “Vidyaranya” who wrote a commentary on it called the Dipika is the same Vidyaranya who wrote the Jivanmuktiviveka"

    "It is worth digressing here to point out that in the history of medieval Yoga the term rajayoga rose to prominence at approximately the same time as hathayoga (i.e., twelfth to fitfteenth century), in texts such as the Aparokshanohuti, the Amanaskayoga, the Dattatreyayogasastra, the Amaraughaprabodha, the Sarngadharapaddhati, the Yogabija,and the Hathapradipika."

    Jason Birch Hatha Yoga


    Other scholars like Alston also deny the authorship of Adi Shankaracharya. Like i suspected it is very unlikely that this work predates other well known Hatha Yoga shastras.

  4. #34
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    Re: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

    I know that the authorship of Shankaracharya of the aparokshanubhuti is uncertain, but since the advaita scholar Vidyaranya who was born in 1268CE wrote a commentary on the work, the text must have existed before that time.

  5. #35
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    Re: Personal experiences in Yoga practise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    I know that the authorship of Shankaracharya of the aparokshanubhuti is uncertain, but since the advaita scholar Vidyaranya who was born in 1268CE wrote a commentary on the work, the text must have existed before that time.
    Yes that date fits well within the range of the appx.date of formative period of Hatha Yoga 12th century is also suggested as the appx. date of the life of Gorakshanatha, from Gorakshanatha to Svatmarama i think are about 30 Gurus , if we take 30 years time diifference for each Guru we arrive in the 13th century for Hathapradipika which is reasonable. A lot of concepts of Hatha Yoga can also be found in the buddhist Kalachakratantra which goes back to the 10th. - 12th. century.

    Matsyendranath and the beginning of the Kaula Tradition and also the beginning of buddhist Vajrayana Tantra is dated earliest around the 6th century. He is also credited with the founding of the Vajrayana tradition under the name of Luipa. All these dates are within schedule of what scholars assume as the period, Kaula and buddhist tantra was formulated in writings and that later these traditions gave rise to Hatha Yoga and the Natha Sampradaya. Before that we have no written records and we can only speculate. There also is a few hundred years time gap between the founder of the Kaula Tradition, Matsyendranath and his disciple Gorakshanath, which is not accounted for.
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 04 August 2012 at 05:54 AM.

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