This is a handbook on Hatha Yoga postures and breathing techniques. It also includes short articles about Yoga. In this post, I will summarize some thoughts after reading it.
The philosophy of Yoga starts with the concept that any idea which is not confirmed by experience must remain mere speculation.
The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ means ‘union’. But union of what? In my understanding, it is the union of opposite concepts: big/small, cold/hot, up/down, heavy/light, etc. A central pair of opposites is self/non-self. Enlightenment, or self-realization, or nirvana, is likely the elimination of the self/non-self boundary.
Although the concept of selflessness is wide-spread, and it may even make sense intellectually, the “non-self” experience is likely beyond one’s daily reality. Yoga potentially provides such a path. Specifically, Hatha Yoga provides a path via obtaining health and strength.
A man is never old, if his spine is flexible.
The Hatha Yoga postures (asanas) exercise the body and its effects consist of
- improving circulation
- massaging the glands
- increasing the flexibility of the spine
My experience is that unconscious muscle tensions get released after persistent practices. For example, the ones between the ribs and near collar bones relax after back bends and spinal twists. As a result, lung capacity increases.
When one has succeeded in perceiving the mental reactions by themselves one knows everything, since every material object that may be perceived is only perceived in a similar manner.
Yogi Gupta also gave a brief guideline to meditation in this book: firstly concentration and then meditation. To me, it seems similar to the Buddhist approach of first stopping (samatha) and then observe (vipassana). In my rough understanding, meditation is an exercise to bypass the contact between sensory organ and sense object to form perception directly. For example, instead of looking at a candle flame, imagine a candle flame. Then the formation of perception is the object of study.
Yogi Gupta emphasized the importance of a teacher. One should seek guidance from a teacher for meditation practices, Yoga asana practices, and breathing practices.