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Classical Yoga: An Introduction to the Origin of Yoga

Sadhguru: Over 15,000 years ago, in the upper regions of the Himalayas, a yogi appeared.
Nobody knew where he came from or what his origins were. He just came and sat still
absolutely still. People gathered in huge numbers because his presence was quite
extraordinary. They waited, hoping for a miracle, but he was completely oblivious of them.
For months on end, there was no sign of life, they couldnt even see if he was breathing or
not. The only signs of life were the tears of ecstasy that flowed out of his eyes on occasion.
Slowly, people began to drift away. The miracle they were waiting for did not happen; they
couldnt see that a person sitting unmoving was a great miracle in itself. He was obviously
beyond the physical, but people missed that. Everyone left, except for seven hardcore beings
who hung on. These seven people followed the yogi wherever he went. When his attention
fell upon them, they pleaded with him, they wanted to experience whatever was happening to
him. He dismissed them. This is not for people who are seeking entertainment. This takes
something else. Go away. But they hung on. Looking at their perseverance, he said, Okay,
Ill give you a preparatory step. Do this for some time. After that well see. The seven men
began to prepare. Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, but the
yogis attention did not fall upon them again.
84 years of hard sadhana had passed by, and one day, the yogi once again took notice of the
seven men. He saw that for 84 years these people had been preparing themselves. They had
become shining receptacles, he could not ignore them anymore. He watched them keenly,
amazed that these people had become so wonderfully receptive. On the very next Full Moon
day, the yogi turned south and sat as a guru to these seven men. Because we did not know his
name, we did not know who he was, we call him Adiyogi the first yogi. That full moon day
is still observed today as Guru Purnima.
Transmission of the yogic sciences to the seven rishis
Guru Purnima is a significant day in the yogic tradition, because this was the first time
Adiyogi opened up the possibility for a human being to evolve consciously. For the first time,
the entire science of how a human being can evolve into his or her ultimate possibility was
taught to these seven men, the celebrated Saptarishis or Seven Sages. Adiyogi put seven
different aspects of yoga into these seven different people. This became the foundation for
the seven basic forms of yoga. Even today, yoga has maintained these seven distinct forms.
Adiyogi expounded these mechanics of life to the Saptarishis for many years. When all of the
seven disciples had fully attained, he told them, Go out into the world and spread this.
Legend has it that he sent one to Central Asia, one to South America, another to North Africa
and the Middle East, another to South East Asia, another came down to the lower parts of the
Himalayas, which is now considered as the Indian Himalayas, one stayed with him, and the
last one came to the southern part of India. This was Agastya Muni, and he ensured that every
human habitation south of the Deccan had a spiritual process not as a teaching, a
philosophy, or a religion but as a way of living. Even today, his work is still visible in the
culture around here. For this part of the world, the only goal has always been liberation.

Sadhguru looks at how Hatha Yoga is not a physical exercise but a powerful means to
prepare the body for higher possibilities. He looks at the importance of a Guru in the
tradition and why Hatha Yoga can come alive only when life is breathed into it.
Sadhguru: Unfortunately in the western part of the world, if you utter the word yoga,
people think you must twist yourself out like rubber bands or stand on your head. Yoga is not
an exercise form. The word yoga means union. Today, modern science has proved that the
whole existence is just one energy. So if all this is one energy, why is it that you are not
experiencing it that way? If you can break the limitations of the illusion that you are separate,
and begin to experience the oneness of the existence, that is yoga. The religions of the world
have always been talking about God being everywhere. Whether you say God is everywhere
or everything is one energy, is it any different? It is the same reality. When it is
mathematically deduced, we call it science. If you believe it, we call it religion. When you
find a method to get there, we call it yoga. So what is yoga, what is not yoga? There is no
such thing.
To lead you towards the experience of yoga of union and boundlessness we manipulate
the energy and move the system in a certain way. Physical postures are one aspect of this.
Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using the
body or body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what Hatha Yoga or
yogasanas are about. Hatha yoga is not exercise. Asana means a posture. If I sit in one way, it
is one asana. If I sit in another way, it is another asana. So innumerable asanas are possible.
Out of these innumerable postures that the body can take, eighty-four fundamental postures
have been identified as yogasanas.
Hatha yoga is a preparatory process of yoga. The word ha means sun, ta means moon.
Hatha means the yoga to bring balance between the sun and the moon in you, or the
Pingala and Ida in you. You can explore Hatha yoga in ways that take you beyond certain
limitations, but fundamentally, it is a physical preparation preparing the body for a higher
There are other dimensions to this, but to put it simply, just by observing the way somebody
is sitting, you almost know what is happening with them. If you have observed yourself, if
you are angry, you will sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are
depressed, you sit yet another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and
emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to take certain postures.
The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different
postures, you can also elevate your consciousness.
The practice as you see it currently in most places the mechanics of it is simply of the
After twenty years of yoga entering the West and becoming popular, despite it being taught
sometimes in ways that leave much to be desired, still, the health benefits of it are
undeniable, wherever you live and whatever you do. Right now the number of people
practicing yoga is growing in a big way. This could be simply because the scientific
community is slowly beginning to recognize the depth and dimension of what this is. But if
improper, distorted kind of yoga spreads, in fifteen years time, scientific studies will clearly
come out and tell you in how many ways it is harmful to human beings, and that will be the

So it is important that we bring back classical yoga as it was. If it is taught in a proper

atmosphere with a certain sense of humility and inclusiveness about the whole process, it is a
really fantastic process of shaping your system into a fantastic vessel, a fabulous device to
receive the Divine.
It is a very powerful way of living. Power, not over somebody else; its all about power to
access life.

Gheranda Samhita and Hathapradipika

Part I

Gheranda Samhita and Hathapradipika are two of the older main Hata-yoga text
available in India. Dated back a few hundred of years, they are still studied today in many
yoga schools in India and throughout the world. This articles brings forth some of the
similarities and differences between them in regarding some of the main aspects of study.
The mythology describes Lord Siva as the first to teach Hatha yoga to his partner
Parvarti, overhearing this was a fish that brought this knowledge to the rest of the
world. Lord Siva is called Adinatha in the first verse of the first chapter of Hathapradipika,
while Gherand Samhita a dialog between a Guru and a disciple (Gherand and Candakapali)
a Guru, in Indian tradition symbolizes god
The first verse of Hathapradipika is the same first verses of Gherand Samhita, with minor
differences; this proves both texts to be of the same paradigm.


The term Nadi is first introduced by Svatmarama in the first chapter (Hathapradipika I-39),
in reference to the asana, stating that only Siddhasana of all the asanas purifies the 72 nadis.
Next we find in the second chapter the importance of keeping this nadis clean, clear and pure.
The nadis being air path must be able to allow the air to travel along the Susumna the
middle path of the body. Without this basic step one cannot attempt to higher yogic practices.
This is the reason great importance is given in yoga to the practice of pranayama.
There are few common verses (the Hindi term is slukas) between Hathapradipika and
Gherand Samhita regarding the asana, pranayama, mudra and other topics, and those verses
that are similar are found among other Hatha yogic texts as well and seen to have a common
As both, Hathapradipika and Gherand Samhita,describe kriyas, asana, pranayama as
well asmudra, some differences and similarities can be seen in the names, technique and
other aspects.

Satkarmas or Kriya Cleansing process that purity the


Gherand Samhita describes 21 kriyas. These practices became popular as the needs for
purification grow with the change of time and life style. AsGherand Samhita is quite a late
yogic text these are not only added to the other practices but are considered compulsory to be
practiced first in order to purify thenadhis in the body. It is only after the body is pure and
there is a free flow within thenadhis that one can practice the other aspects of yoga. (Lesson I
It is advised to keep these purifications as deep secret by the yogi as those that are not
prepared will not understand then and the effect of the practice will be lost. (I-12, 23)

Although Hathapradipika does not mention these purifications an individual limb or step, it
does include the same Satkarmas in relation to the purification of the nadhis that is vital for
yogic practices. (Hathapradipika lesson II-22)
These are according to the order given in Gherand Samhita:
1. Dhauti that clean the body from inside from the upper to the lower opening. There 4 in
number: Antadhauti (which is further divided to Vatasara, Varisara, Vahnusara and
Bahiskrta), Danda, Hrddhauti and Mulasodhana. (Gherand Samhita I-14, Hathapradipika II25)
2. Basti cleaning of the rectum. There are two kinds Jalabasti, which is practiced in water
and Suskabasti, practiced on land (Gherand Samhita I-44, Hathapradipika II-27)
3. Neti cleansing the pathway between the two nostrils, and between the nostrils and the
mouth. This can be done by the help of a thread or a rubber tube, water or milk.
4. Lauliki is purification is known in Hathapradipika as well in other references as Nauli.
This is done by movement of the abdominal from side to side. Gherand Samhita states that
this practice destroys all diseases and in creases the heat of the body. (Gherand Samhita I51, Hathapradipika II-34)
5. Trataka is a practice of gazing at an object (such as a candle) without blinking until tears
appear in the eyes. This practice is performed for purification the eye as well as to develop
concentration. (Gherand Samhita I-52, Hathapradipika II-32)
6. Kapalabhati or Bhalabhati is divided to 3 ways according to the technique used
Vatakarma, Vyutkarma and Sitkrama. These cure phlem and mucus disorders (known
in Auyrveda as Kapha disorders). Further more one will not suffer from old age and fever.
(Gherand Samhita I-59, Hathapradipika II-36)


Number of asana: Traditionally there are considered to be 84 lac of asanas mentioned by

lord Siva, one for each type of reaction or species of animals. (Gherand Samhita II-1)
Out of these Svatmarama finds as the essence or most important these being: Simhasana,
Padmasana, Siddhasana and Bhadrasana. This seems to be due to their contribution to
awakening the Kundalini energy as well as this, the luck of all 3 banda (body lucks) should
be applied this severs the practice of pranayama.
Out of these- Siddhasana is given the most significant by Svatmarama and is stated to be
ideal for pranayama as it bring together the body position (the specific arrangement of the
legs) the gaze (eyes position).
Gherand Samhita describes 32 (of the 84 lace) as good enough in this world of mortal
beings: Sidda, Padma, Mukta, Svastika, Simha, gomukha, Vira, Dhanu, Mrta, Gupta,
Matsya, Matsyendra, Goraksa, Pascimittana, Utkata, Samkata, Kukkuta, Kurma,
Uttanakurmaka, Uttanamanduke, Vrksa, Manduka, Garuda, Vrsa, Salabha, Makara, Ustra,
Bhujanga and yoga. (Gherand Samhita II-2)

In some asana an importance is given to the specific places where one is advised to be
looking at while practicing some particular asana these gazes are:
1.Nazel gaze- focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose
2. Between the eyebrows or at the Ajnya Chakra
I.e. Padmasana and Simhasana are advised to be performed while gazing at the tip of the


Literally the term Banda can be translated as luck traditionally there are 3 bandas:
1. Mooladhara banda is practiced by inward contraction of the anal sphincter.
2. Uddiyana bandha is performed by pulling the abdomen, above the navel.
3. Jalandhara banda is pressing the chin down and creating a lock at the thought region.