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BIG BOOK OF YOGA - STRUCTURE OF HATHA YOGA

SAMADHI
Components

DHYANA • Asana
• Shatkarma
• Pranayama
PRANAYAMA • Mudra
• Bandha
BAN
DRA

• Dhyana
DHA
MU

• Samadhi
SHATKA
A
ASAN

RMA

Asana

Postures which create the physical foundation for Hatha Yoga. It strength-
ens and tones the body, increases flexibility, and begins to develop mental
concentration. The earliest Asanas were mostly seated postures, designed
to maximize stability and comfort during meditation. The Asana repertoire
has grown to include standing, kneeling, prone, twisting, balancing, and
inverted postures, all of which help the Yogi to develop physical mastery.

© Big Book of Yoga 2010


Shatkarma

The set of six bodily purification techniques. 1) Dhauti cleans: the orifices of
the head; the teeth, gums, and tongue; the entire gastro-intestinal system;
the rectum. 2) Basti is a form of enema. 3) Neti cleans out mucous from the
sinuses with either string or water. 4) Nauli churns the abdominal organs
and muscles. 5) Trataka focuses the vision. 6) Kapalbhati is a form of hy-
perventilation said to remove heaviness from the head.

Pranayama

Practices for control over the flow of breath and energy in the body. Usually
involves 4 parts: 1) inhalation, 2) holding full breath, 3) exhalation, 4) holding
empty breath. (At beginning stages, parts 2 and 4 are sometimes omitted.)
Yogic theory states that as the ability to hold the breath increases, the flow
of prana in the body settles. As prana becomes still, the mind does too –
this is the ultimate goal of Yoga.

Mudra

Techniques combining bodily posture (sometimes movement) and mental


direction of internal energy. Not to be confused with the various hand ges-
tures used in some forms of meditation, dance, and Yogic ritual. Mudras
are considered to be the most powerful practices in Hatha Yoga for stimu-
lating Kundalini energy in the body. Generally considered to be suitable for
advanced practitioners only.

Bandha

Muscular contractions which are designed to both stimulate and confine


the movement of energy in the body. There are three primary bandhas
used in Hatha Yoga: Mula bandha, the upward contraction of the pelvic
floor; Uddiyana bandha, the diaphragmatic upward suction of the abdomen;
Jalandhara banda, the contraction of the neck and throat towards the
chest. Maha bandha is the application of all three bandhas in conjunction.

© Big Book of Yoga 2010


Dhyana

The meditative stage of practice. The Hatha Yoga traditions employ three
meditative practices in particular: 1) Focusing on the individual chakras;
2) Focusing on the inner sounds heard during practice (Nada Laya); 3)
Focusing on expansion into infinite space. For more on these techniques,
see the explanations and references listed in the Endnotes section.

Samadhi

Varying degrees of absorption into inner stillness. Patanjali describes 8


samadhis, ranging from those achieved by intellectual reasoning, to those
which arise from meditative bliss, to the ultimate experience of the complete
dissolution of the individual self into pure awareness. This highest level of
samadhi is considered by Patanjali to be the goal of Yoga practice. (This
point has been debated by subsequent traditions.)

© Big Book of Yoga 2010