The Ha-Tha Forces, Foundations in Asanas, Breath, Sensations, Meditation…
How Is Hatha Yoga Taught at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre by Guruji Sharat Arora?
What are the mistakes in practice bringing imbalance of Ha-Tha Forces?
Among the yoga practice, asanas are postural practices. Asanas, looking at a bigger pictures are part of Hatha yoga, one of the eigth limbs of it. While DOING the asanas we have to know what Hatha yoga is! Else we can easily jump into gymnastics or fitness. Hatha yoga is a balance between Ha and Tha. Ha which can be associated with the sun, is the active part, the action, the DOING ! The sun generates light. Tha on the other hand, can be associated with the moon and is the passive part, the reflection, the NON DOING as the moonshine reflects the sun light.
Now how can we balance these two sides in our practice? If we look at tadasana, the mountain pose, an imbalanced tadasana would bring action in the feet, action in the legs, action in the knees, action in the pelvic area, in the chest, shoulders, necks and arms. The pose is an accumulation of actions interacting with the others and then creating tensions. A balanced tadasana, would be action in the feet and reflection of this action on all the rest of the body. Maybe from the outside the 2 poses might be looking similar but from the inside, the feeling of the pose will be really different! It’s like when the British came to India, they saw all the people just sitting around and they though “they should be doing some work!” what the people were doing? Meditation, a job of the infinite importance, the most important job!
This is a first step, to train our inner eye, observing from sensations. And the best indicator is the movement of the breath. Another example you find in most of the yoga books: in Virabhadrasana II (the warrior 2), if you turn the head front (over the bent knee), you bring tensions in the neck. If you stay longer, your focus will move to the neck and shoulder area, no more in the foundation of the pose which are the feet. The breath will become uneven and you won’t enjoy the effects of the pose!
In the forward bends, one common mistake is to lift the head up while bringing the chest forward. Lifting the head up, you squeeze the back of the neck and create tensions rather than keeping the neck free, aligned with the rest of the spine. Same thing in hand stand when practiced without awareness with head facing down looking at the hands - rather than looking in front with freedom in the neck!
If Ha and Tha are in balance, breath moves into an infinity of space. We reconnect here with the essence as described by the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
What happens to a serious practitioner? At the beginning he might try so much that instead of DOING, he is OVER DOING the action and this creates imbalance. If you stretch your toes in order to empower your feet, you are aware of the sole of the feet. Now, if you stretch your toes too strongly, tensions arise! You are feeling it but it is becoming tight, hard. Awareness is also coming from the tension but instead of it being soft, it is all hard. There is a big difference between the two. Being aware, all come with ease but if you exaggerate and don’t understand what is tension and what is stretching, there is a failure. And the failure is in the effect of the pose.
On the mental level, OVER DOING is connected with blockages and these blockages are not allowing the energy to flow and the realization to take place. When we are free of tensions then everything fits into place and goes into balance. We do the necessary action with peace and quietness.
We do yoga to release tightness and tensions, not to accumulate it! We do yoga to benefit fully of its effects from the physical to the spiritual levels.
Hatha yoga has to be learnt correctly, it is not an option and it has to be learnt well in our daily life too!
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre