The "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" (15th century CE) is arguably the most respected and referenced textual source of hathayoga. Oddly, its true name is Hathapradipika. Only later when referred to by other texts was the word "yoga" added to its title.
The Hathapradipika is mostly a compilation, drawing verses from at least 20 other texts that preceded it. Notably, it is "the first text that explicitly sets out to teach Hatha Yoga above other methods of yoga." (1) Like so many other compilations, it contains teachings from a wide (and sometimes contradictory) swath of history and traditions.
With its instruction of 15 postures (asanas), it is the first yoga text to include asana among its techniques. "Prior to everything," it says, "asana is spoken of as the first part of hatha yoga. Having done asana one gets steadiness (firmness) of the body and mind; diseaselessness and lightness (flexibility) of the limbs." (2) It is worth noting that not a single one of the postures is done standing.
It marks a turning point in yoga history because so many of the texts that come after it quote it directly. It is considered by many to be encyclopedic and authoritative.
In addition to postures (asana), the Hathapradipika teaches 6 cleansing acts, 8 breathing practices, 10 mudras and a whole chapter on samadhi. These non-postural practices have largely been lost in western yoga, even that which is called "hatha."
1. Mallinson, James. Hatha Yoga entry in Vol. 3 of the Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism
2. Hathapradipika. Chapter 1, Verse 17.
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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