Introduction of traditional yogic text

Hatha Yoga is a kind of yoga focusing on physical and mental strength building exercises and postures, as well as other practices, described primarily in three texts of Hinduism:

  • Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama (15th century)
  • Shiva Samhita, author unknown (1500 B.C. or late 17th century)
  • Gheranda Samhita by Yogi Gheranda (late 17th century)

 Haṭhayogapradīpikā

consists four chapters which include information about Asanas, Pranayama, Chakras, Kundalini, Bhandhas, Kriyas, Sakti, Nadis, Mudras, and more. It runs in the line of Hindu Yoga (to distinguish from Buddhist and Jain Yoga) and is dedicated to Sri AdiNatha, a name of lord Shiva, who is believed to have imparted the secret of Hatha Yoga to his divine consort Parvati.

Shiva Samhita

also describes the teachings of Shiva to his consort Parvati.Shiva Samhita is considered the most comprehensive and democratic treatise on hatha yoga.Shiva Samhita talks about the complex physiology, names 84 different asanas (only four of which are described in detail), describes five specific types of Prana, and provides techniques to regulate them. It also deals with abstract Yogic philosophy, Tantric practices, and Meditation. It emphasizes that even a common householder can practice yoga and benefit from it.

Gheranda Samhita

is a manual of yoga taught by Gheranda to Chanda Kapali. The text itself follows this division in seven chapters, and has a focus upon the ṣaṭkarmas (shatkarma), thus this text is sometimes said to describe ghatastha yoga. For instance, the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali describes an eightfold path (yama and niyama instead of shatkarma and mudra, and addition of dharana). The closing stanzas on samadhi teach different methods than those described by Patanjali.

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