Hatha yoga means that from the time you begin your yoga practice till the time you leave the room you’re going to be conscious in yourself, especially the body. Eckhart Tolle calls this ‘being in the body’ which means having your awareness in the body. You are in your body, you are aware of your body, not as an outsider looking at your body, but as an insider feeling the body. As you stretch your toes are you feeling the stretch on the sole of the foot? You are doing to feel and then being aware of that feeling. This is yoga practice. By being in your body you come to be present. Now, when stretching your toes you take your arms to the side and press down through the centre of the heel into the floor. Presence is totally there and stays there. You make other movements but you don’t take your awareness from the foot.
Now I just want to emphasise that feelings, sensations is what we are connected with. Maybe you think feelings and sensations should be some dramatic thing. But they are not. Sensations are relief, lightness, heaviness, common things like these. We feel them all the time but we don’t notice. Our job in yoga practice is to notice but not react. Note the difference. When something is painful it’s obvious we start to react. We don’t want it. We get into this game “Ah this feels nice or this doesn’t feel nice”. We don’t want to play this game with sensations. We just want to be with them because that is the way to be in the body. So when you do your yoga practice, be aware of the body sensations. When you do the postures, be aware of the body sensations. This is the path.
When doing the movements stay connected. Don’t let your mind wander. Wandering is not yoga practice. The mind wanders all the time, we don’t want it to wander anymore. Even when I'm resting I'm staying connected, if I'm conscious I do not allow my mind to wander even for one second. The mind is constantly analysing what is happening, and so awareness gets consumed by thoughts, one after the other. When practising yoga consciously, there are no more thoughts. You stay with your breath in your body. Your breath is your best friend and the best way to stay present. When I’m present, no wandering occurs. This is our practice; this is called meditation. In conscious yoga practice we are mediating the only difference is we aren’t sitting and watching we are acting and watching. This is Hatha Yoga.
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from Introductory 5 Day Yoga Course, 15 May, 2014
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre