Hatha Yoga

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

Hatha yoga is described in the yogic texts as efforting practice, a way to apply yourself physically.  However, you’re working on enlightenment, not on perfecting your body. The point is that your physical mastery gives you mental fortitude, so you can apply your mind to more subtle and interior practices.

In India, the land of yoga’s origin, the poses are only 10% of yoga’s technology. The other 90% is about your mind and getting beyond your mind, so you can experience svaroopa, your ever-blissful Divine Essence. Body-centered practice goes by the generic hatha yoga. The West offers many brand names, including our own Svaroopa® yoga.

By contrast, 90% of the yogis in India are sitting.  They are sitting to listen to their Guru expound on the teachings, sitting to contemplate the teachings they’ve heard, sitting in meditation.  They sit to watch the sunrise or sunset, sit as they participate in Vedic ceremonies, and they sit and wait for their own Divinity to fill into the stillness they’ve created in their mind. 

Hatha yogis don’t sit and watch the sunrise; they do Sun Salutations. They don’t listen to teachings or contemplate them; they do poses and try to make their body measure up. They don’t regulate their breath in order to quiet their mind; they pump their breath in order to sustain continual movement. They don’t still their mind; they keep moving while looking for a quiet inner center. 

Yoga has been growing in the West since 1893, so much that yogis now compete for championships and even Gold Medals. Google it: yoga is a sport. This is a different direction than the sages intended. 

Hatha has a second translation: the mystical meaning that is found in every Sanskrit word. The syllables ha and tha name the energies that flow along the two sides of your spine: ha — along the right side of your spine; tha — along your left. When you open and balance these two flows, the energy shifts and flows through the center of your spine. This is a profound inner opening that deepens with practice, especially with the guidance and blessings of an authorized Master.

To summarize, hatha yoga has two approaches: one is a path of self-effort and the other is a path of Grace – two radically different paths. Svaroopa® yoga is a path of Grace. Everyone else is on the other path, as wonderfully arduous as it can be.

After my Guru sent me back to America, I could see that my yoga students were not getting the openings that the poses are meant to provide. So I taught them variations, using carefully aligned angles to target their spinal tensions, providing the spinal release that is now named Svaroopa® yoga. It surprised me when people started getting Shaktipat awakening. Now I realize that I was carrying my Guru’s gift of Grace to the next generation. 

Svaroopa® yoga is a hatha yoga, with self-effort involved. This is a path of both self-effort and Grace. Self-effort is very important: you must apply yourself to the practices. Yet, on a path of Grace, you have to remember to make space for something more to happen. 

Svaroopa® yoga is unique, a hatha yoga that’s full of Grace. You put forth effort. You make time to attend a class or have a private session. Or you do your own practices. Yet Grace supports you every step of the way. 

But where are you going? There’s really nowhere to go. You’re not travelling to your Self because you already ARE the Self. You already ARE Consciousness-itself, svaroopa. This is why it is named “Svaroopa® yoga.”

This entry was posted in About Gurudevi, Ashram News, Svaroopa Yoga on by .

About Swami Nirmalananda

Serving as the Master Teacher, Swamiji is a teacher of the highest integrity for over 35 years. Formerly known as Rama Berch, she is the originator of Svaroopa® yoga as well as the Founder of Master Yoga and of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. In 2009 she was honored with initiation into the ancient order of Saraswati monks. Now wearing the traditional orange, she has openly dedicated her life to serving others. Usually called Swamiji, she makes the highest teachings easily accessible, guiding seekers to the knowledge and experience of their own Divine Essence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s