Hatha Yoga. Part III

Hatha yoga aims at harmonizing prana in the body so that in turn the physical body will automatically become healthy and receptive to higher vibrations. The mind and prana are intimately linked together and so if the pranic body is tuned up, then the mind is automatically relaxed and harmonized; at least to a degree, for it is the mind that controls prana, not prana the mind. However, prana and mind are part and parcel of the same thing; the division between them is only arbitrary. Certainly we can say that a balanced pranic body implies vitality of both body and mind, for all these aspects are directly related to each other.
Hatha yoga treats the body as an instrument to be kept in the best possible condition. This is one of the reasons most other spiritual and religious systems fall down. They seem to ignore this important aspect of our being. If a musician wants to play a beautiful musical composition, it is essential that his instrument is in perfect condition. He would not dream of playing his masterpiece on a broken, battered violin. It is the same with the path to higher awareness. The essential prerequisite is a well-tuned body and mind.
At the same time, as we have already mentioned, one should not assume that hatha yoga is only to bring about mental and physical health. Hatha yoga involves awareness in many of its practices and as such is a means to meditation in itself. This does not imply that people who are sceptical of the concept of higher awareness should not practise batha yoga for health reasons – far from it. But at the same time they should bear in mind the higher ideals of hatha yoga, which are clearly stated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the classical textbook on this subject: “Those people who practise only physical exercises (in hatha yoga) without mental and spiritual aspiration will fail to achieve the best results.”
In a sense yoga has a different aim to other methods or systems that concern themselves mainly with the body. These other physical systems aim to develop the body in one way or another so that it can be exhibited, or can perform certain sports with a greater degree of perfection etc. They make the practitioner more concerned with his or her body. Hatha yoga, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. It attempts to harmonize the body so that it can be forgotten or transcended. In this way one is less hampered by the body and associated ailments, and more able to dedicate oneself to mental and spiritual pursuits.

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