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Object and Method

"The Self is not within the reach of the weak."

Hatha Yoga is the name given to the technical practices and disciplines by which the body and the vital energies can be brought under control. Although but one of the means of yoga, it is the first preparation towards the way of reintegration, essential for further realization. Only exceptional beings of surpassing development, which in itself implies the possession of all the "attainments" of Hatha yoga, can dispense with its rules and practices.

All treatises on yoga insist that the sole purpose of the physical practices of Hatha yoga is to suppress, physical obstacles on the Spiritual or Royal Path of re-integration Raja yoga; and Hatha yoga is therefore called "the ladder to Raja yoga".

"The science of Hatha yoga is the ladder up which those climb who wish to reach the higher regions of the Royal Path." (Goraksha Samhita.)

The meaning of the word Hatha is explained in the Goraksha Samhita also quoted in the Hatha yoga pradipika (comment. 1, 1.)

"The syllable 'Ha' represents the sun, and the syllable 'tha' represents the moon, and the conjunction (yoga) of the sun and moon is therefore Hatha yoga."

The cosmic Principles which, in relation to the earth, manifest themselves in the planetary world as the sun and the moon are found in every aspect of existence. In man, they appear mainly under two forms' one in the subtle body, the other in the gross body. In the subtle body they appear as two channels along which our perceptions travel between the subtle center at the base of the spinal chord and the center at the summit of the head. These two channels are called Ida and Pingala. Ida situated on the left side, corresponds to the cold aspect or the moon, and Pingala on the right side, to the warm aspect or the sun.

In the gross body, the lunar and solar principles correspond to the respiratory, cool and the digestive, warm, vital energies, and are called Prana and Apana.(1) It is by coordinating these two most powerful vital impulses that the yogi achieves his aim.

(1) When referring only to the movements of the breath, the cold air breathed in is spoken of as Prana Vayu and the warm air breathed out as Apana Vayu.

This reading on Yoga is Chapters I through VIII of Alain Danielou's Yoga: The Method of Re-integration.

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