The first 5 postures in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika include mostly seated postures, many of which have been changed or forgotten over the centuries.
The next 6 postures are mostly still done the same way today as described in the text.
"Assume Kukkutasana, join the neck with the hands, and lie on the back like a turtle."
The name means "Tortoise lying on the back," which is exactly what this posture looks like. Another meaning of "uttana" is "upright," so some do a posture with this name that is seated upright.
"Bring the toes as far as the ears with both hands as if drawing a bow."
This posture is quite difficult to do in its full form as described. Modern yogis have kept the posture but made it more accessible by simplifying it. You've probably done Dhanurasana by simply grabbing the feet and kicking up and back.
"Place the right foot at the root of the left thigh, and the left foot outside the right knee. Grasp the feet and twist the body."
This posture is still practiced the same way, commonly referred to in English as the "spinal twist." Interestingly, it is instructed here not as the ultra-advanced (and newer) Purna Matsyendrasana, with the bottom leg in Lotus. It is instructed as what has come to be known as Ardha Matsyendrasana, or Half Matsyendra Posture.
"Stretch both legs on the ground like sticks. Grasp the toes with both hands. Rest the forehead on the knees."
This posture is given the honor of "the best among asanas." It is practiced pretty much the same way today, with the exception that some schools teach it with a flat spine, reaching the head toward the feet.
"Hold the earth with both hands. Place the sides of the navel on the elbows. Rise high above the ground like a stick."
This posture too is practiced in the same way today. It is very difficult, so it is not common in a regular yoga class. But the posture is the same.
"Lying on the back on the ground like a corpse is Shavasana."
This posture has become a staple of modern yoga classes. Nearly every class now ends with Shavasana.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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