Hatha Yoga Pradipika - Asanas
Hatha Pradipika, authored by Swami Swatmarama, commonly known as Hatha Yoga Pradipika gives 15 asanas in detail that should be practiced by a Yoga aspirant.
Swastikasana (The Auspicious Pose)
Gomukhasana (The Cow Face Pose)
Veerasana (Hero's Pose)
Koormasana (Tortoise Pose)
Kukkutasana (Cockerel Pose)
Uttanakoormasana (Stretching Tortoise Pose)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist Pose)
Paschimottanasana (Back Stretching Pose)
Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Siddhasana (Adept's Pose)
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Simhasana (Lion Pose)
Bhadrasana (Gracious Pose)
To get into swastikasan, first sit cross legged maintaining a straight back and the neck aligned, bring feet between thigh and calf muscles, left leg over the right and place both the hands on the knee in either chin mudra or Jnana mudra."
This posture automatically directs the prana shakti as per meditation, stimulating the nadis at the back of the leg and spine. It provides a gentle massage to sciatica, stimulates the lumbar region and maintains inner body temperature.
Infuses fertility, creativity and auspiciousness in the body of the practitioner.
For gomukhasana, cross the right leg over the left so that the knees of both the legs are in one line, and heels are slightly touching the buttocks on the opposite sides. There is an option to interlock the hands at the back making an infinite symbol, or let them rest on the upper knee, one on top of the other, hold still and keep the gaze fixed on the tip of the nose or eyebrow center. In this position back is automatically straight, even though it is not a meditative posture, it prepares the mind for a stronger one pointed concentration.
The figure infinity or eight is very significant as it represents the complete balance between higher and lower forces; positive / negative aspects.
Tones the muscles and nerves around shoulders and cardiac plexus.
Regulates the hormonal secretion by pressing the nadis in the legs connected with reproductive organs.
On a pranic level, gomukhasana effects vajra nadi and prevents the prana from flowing outwards, instead it directs and accumulates at Muladhara, creating a complete energy circuit in the spinal region.
The name is an abbreviation for Mahaveerasana which means "the Great Valiant", a name for the monkey God Hanuman, and signifies the power to subdue.
For veerasana, first sit on the left heel, bend the right knee placing the foot beside the other knee, hold the right palm against right cheek and let the elbow rest on the right knee, place the other arm on the thigh, close the eyes and rest in the posture maintaining a straight spine.
For variation, tuck the foot of right leg near the thigh joint of left leg, and let the hands rest on the knees in either chin mudra or jnana mudra."
This posture stabilizes the energy flow in reproductive organs and enables the control of sexual organs, increases will power and strengthens the body.
For koormasana, start in Vajrasana, and then place the feet in such a way that the toes are pointing outwards and the heels are gently pressing into the anus, keep the body straight and relaxed. For variation, spread the legs and slide the arms under the knees interlocking them behind the buttocks, exhale to further bend forward so that the forehead touches the ground.
This posture is extremely beneficial for the treatment of slipped disc.
Stimulates kidney and digestive tract.
Helpful in correcting curved spine
Preserves energy and channelizes sexual energy.
To get into kukkutasana, first sit in Padmasana, insert both the hands between thighs and calf muscles placing the palms on the mat, with an inhale lift the entire body in the air balancing on the hands, keep your head straight so it remains in line with spine and gaze at the tip of the nose or fixed at one point in front of you. Exhale while lowering down."
This posture is very useful in awakening kundalini.
Strengthens the hands and shoulders.
Helpful in altering the flow of prana / energy in the body.
For uttanakoormasana, from kukkutasana after taking the hands between thighs and calf muscles, clasp the palms on the shoulders and gently roll yourself back on the floor. There is also an option to interlock the hands behind the neck as per your reach. To come out of this posture, follow the reverse steps, first unclasp the hands then legs and take few seconds of Shavasana before getting up.
Tones the nervous system and relaxes the body.
Very effective in curing of nervous disorder and anger issues.
Stimulates digestion and appetite by regulating adrenal glands
For dhanurasana, lay flat on the ground, on your abdomen, bend the legs backwards and grab hold of the ankles, separate the knees and with an inhale raise the head chest and legs up in the air, balancing on the abdomen. To attain full bow, grab the toes instead of the feet by twisting the elbow outwards and upwards, hold the pose as long as comfortable with natural breathing and concentrate either on vishuddhi or manipura chakra.
Stimulates solar plexus.
Regulates the digestive, excretory and reproductive systems.
Useful in yogic management of diabetes as it massages the liver and pancreas.
Stimulates and regulates endocrine glands, particularly thyroid and adrenal glands, stimulates production of cortisone.
Helpful in treatment of hunched back and drooping shoulders,
Corrects female infertility.
Regulates menstrual cycle.
For matsyendrasana, start in Vajrasana, and slide the body to the right so that the right heel touches the left buttock, place the left foot by the side of the right knee such that the knee is pointing upwards, raise the right arm up with an inhale and twist to your left by tucking the elbow on the outer side of the raised leg or grab hold of the left toe for full twist.
Repeat the same process from left side to balance.
Awakens the dormant energies by channelizing the prana.
Stimulates manipura chakra, also increases the vital capacity of manipura so it can sustain the effect of kundalini awakening.
Stimulates pancreas, liver, spleen, kidney, stomach and ascending-descending colon.
Useful in treatment of diabetes, constipation, dyspepsia, and urinary problem.
Tones nerve roots, adjusts and realigns vertebral column.
useful in treatment of lumbago, rheumatism and slipped disc, also helpful in relieving from stress.
This asana is also known as the stretch of the west, as in ancient times the back portion of the body was termed as "west" and this posture gives an intense stretch to the entire back portion of the body.
To get into paschimottanasan, sit with stretched legs, toes pointing upwards, let the hands rest on the knees maintaining a straight back, with an inhale, lengthen the arms upwards exhale and bend forward from hip joint, maintaining the spinal stretch, grab the big toe / feet or ankles depending upon the stretch and comfort of your body, and tuck the head in between the legs and breath in the final position.
Activates manipura chakra.
Strengthens digestive organs.
Enables nervous and pranic impulses to pass directly up to the higher brain centers.
Tones the abdominal region, and entire back portion of the body including shoulders and arms, massages visceral organs, particularly pancreas, spleen, kidney, liver, reproductive organs and adrenal glands.
Useful in yogic management of digestive disorders especially diabetes, constipation, flatulence and loss of appetite, also cures sexual problems.
Regulates menstrual cycle.
Helps in removing excess fat from abdominal region and thighs, also promotes health and harmony.
This pose is named after a peacock as it resembles one and also because it matches the digestive capacity of the practitioner to a peacock's, a peacock's digestion is remarkably strong, it can digest all poisonous substances even rocks, secretes ample digestive juices and have a very strong elimination.
To get into mayurasana, start in marjariasana with palms on the ground and fingers pointing backwards, place the elbow on the sides of the navel, stretch the legs backwards with an inhale, raise the legs up balancing on the palms. Hold as long as possible keeping the focus on manipura or maintaining balance. For variation, sit in Padmasana, adopt the hand position as described earlier and with an inhale lift the entire body up balancing on the palms.
This asana pervades the digestion and elimination of toxins so that any poisonous substance isn't circulated or stored.
Alleviates constipation, flatulence, indigestion, dyspepsia, and gastritis.
Stimulates the functioning of liver, kidney and gall bladder.
Improves metabolism and circulation.
Strengthens back muscles and spinal column.
Helpful in awakening of Kundalini.
Resembling a corpse, it is a relaxation pose and is very essential to practice in between asana for the entire body to absorb and observe the effects of the practice and to prepare for the practice ahead to practice Shavasana, lay flat on the ground, keep hip width distance in between the legs, hands left loose by the sides of the body and palms facing upwards, gently close the eyes minimizing all the body movements, leave entire body loose and relaxed. Breathe normally into the posture further relaxing the whole body.
This pose is very useful in developing body, mind awareness and pratyahara.
Helpful in yogic management of high blood pressure, peptic ulcer, anxiety, hysteria, neuroses and all psychosomatic disorders.
Important practice for developing dharana and dhyana.
Revitalizes entire organic system.
This posture is one of the most preferred meditative postures as it directly works on stimulation of ajna chakra, controlling the mental fluctuations, and nervous as well as pranic impulses from Muladhara and Svadhishthana, purely designed to channelize the prana to ajna by the adoption of shambhavi mudra, so it can receive the pranic impulses coming from lower centers actively.
To get into siddhasana, sit cross legged so the heel of the left leg is gently pressing in between the anus and the genitals and the right heel gently presses the pubis / directly above the organ of generation, hiding the toes in between the thigh and calf muscles. Maintain a straight spine and fix the gaze in between the eyebrows.
Note that this version of siddhasana is not recommended for women, instead a softer version named Siddha Yoni Asana, where left heel presses against the opening of the vagina and right heel against the clitoris, hiding the toes in between thighs and calf muscles.
Slight application of Jalandhar Bandha (throat lock) with siddhasana is an automated pranayama that adjusts heart rate, blood pressure and brain nerve patterns.
This asana is really good for preventing nervous depression during meditation, as it stops blood pressure from going too low.
Regulates the production of male hormone testosterone and maintains inner body temperature.
Stabilizes the lower psychic centers the muladhara and svadhishthana which act as the major barriers in spiritual awakening.
or Kamalasana, is said to be the destroyer of all diseases. The kind of interlocking of the legs it offers, naturally holds the lower back straight and minimizes the body movements.
To get into padmasana, sit with cross legged placing the right foot on the left thigh and left foot on the right as close to the thigh joint as possible, cross the hand behind the back and try to grab hold of the feet or the toes, the old times padmasana is now a days Baddha Padmasana.
These days padmasana is commonly practiced with just the leg position, keeping the back straight and palms resting on the thighs in either chin mudra or jnana mudra.
This asana balances the prana and the functioning of all the organ system.
Stimulates the acupuncture meridian of stomach, gall bladder, spleen kidney and liver.
Tones sacral and coccygeal nerves by supplying them with increased amount of blood.
Awakens the higher faculties of mind by reversing the flow of prana and apana vayu.
This asana held a great esteem by highest yogis as it excellently facilitates the bandhas, there are two traditional ways of getting into this asana.
For first version, tuck the left foot under the right buttock, so that the heel of the left leg gently presses the perineum from the right side, similarly folding the right leg tuck the right foot under the left buttock in a way that it presses the side of the perineum or vagina from the other side. Let the palms lest on the thighs with fingers spread wide apart, slightly bend forward and fix your gaze at the tip of the nose (nasikagra drishti), open the mouth and extend the tongue out as far as possible.
To adopt the other version, right foot goes under the right buttock and left under the left buttock, hands can be either resting on the thighs or can be tucked under the thighs.
Lift the chin up, 3 to 4 inches, fix the gaze in between the eyebrows (shambhavi mudra) and extend the tongue out as far as possible.
This asana is useful in treatment of numerous disease related to throat, mouth, nose and ear, also in eradicating stammering.
Tones the facial muscles.
Externalizes the introverts.
This asana is more beneficial if performed in front of a rising sun.
"The gracious and blessed" this posture is also known as Gorakshasana and Moola-bandhasana where the foot position slightly varies than what we have in bhadrasana.
To get into Bhadrasana, first sit in Vajrasana and from here spread the knees as wide as possible, keep the feet together with heels tucked under the buttock. Close the eyes and concentrate on the movement of breath.
This asana automatically induces Moola Bhandha, stimulating the Muladhara Chakra.
Tones reproductive organs alleviating any kind of ailments concerning the organs of the reproductive system.
Comes with added benefits of Padmasana, Siddhasana and Vajrasana.