Hatha Yoga. Part II

Health is the fundamental aim of hatha yoga. What is health? It is difficult to define. Some people think that good health is epitomized by rippling muscles, but this is not necessarily true, for many fitness fanatics suffer from chronic physical problems, are easily susceptible to infection and disease and are also weighed down with many mental problems. Often skinny looking people are far healthier than the Tarzan types. In a general sense, health can be defined as a combination of the following: resistance to infection, absence of disease, both mental and physical endurance, flexibility of mind and body, mental peace, perfect coordination and condition of all organs, muscles and nerves in the body and their control by the brain and spinal nerve centres, together with a perfectly functioning pranic body. Hatha yoga aims to bring about this state of health.
Hatha yoga is particularly popular with many people, for they can see tangible benefits from its practice. It is very easy to see improvement in physical health and to feel emotionally and mentally more calm than usual, and hatha yoga leads to these benefits in a reasonably short period of regular practice. However, at the same time it is important to understand or at least appreciate that health of the body and mind is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is a method to master the mind and attain higher states of consciousness. To this end hatha yoga and other paths of yoga can be utilized. The basic aim of hatha yoga is to build a firm, strong, healthy body, because without this asset, one’s activities and aspirations are sev erely curtailed.
Hatha yoga also ensures that there is free flow of prana within the psychic channels of the body. This is of prime importance for perfect physical and mental health as well as experiencing higher states of awareness5. Remember that although prana is not visible it does not mean that it is non-existent or a mere concept. For the sake of comprehension, equate prana with electricity. Electricity cannot be seen and scientists have never explained its nature, yet at the same time it is agreed that some form of energy exists which we label electricity, and can be seen when we flick a switch and electrical gadgets work. Without the electrical supply there is no reaction. Similarly without prana our body would cease to function.

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