December 1, 2012

The Promise of Hatha.

Hatha yoga is a delightful aspect of the Path of Light.

The meaning of the word “Hatha” itself affirms it: “ha” meaning sun and “tha” moon.

If Hatha has to do with celestial bodies—sun radiating light and moon reflecting light—by practicing Hatha yoga, can we discover our own celestial bodies, shining and reflective?

There seems to be a promise inherent in it.

Teaching Hidden Language Hatha Yoga every morning for three months during the Yoga Development Course at Yasodhara Ashram, I am given daily evidence that the Light works. This reflective, symbolic approach to Hatha yoga brings people in touch with themselves at an intimate level and encourages the Light of understanding to grow.

The effects of the Light are as evident as the growing daylight throughout the course, from the black mornings of January to the extended spring light of April.

Our first practice together each morning is the Divine Light Invocation. It is our wake-up call.

The Light Invocation is a complete integration of body, mind and speech. Focus is concentrated through breath and tension, the mind is nourished by the Mantra and finer feelings expressed as we open our hearts.

Group practicing the Divine Light Invocation

It is like a statement of purpose as we extend up, concentrate and reach for the Light beyond our limitations, acknowledging our connection to this Light. We start with the body, taking a stand for the Light, expressing a desire to be in the Light.

As the class progresses, Light takes the form of awareness, of caring for the body, of willingness to hear whatever comes up.

The Light is present as compassion as each person listens to his or her body, learning how to make adjustments independently, taking responsibility, watching when habitual drives push, demand, cajole. Turning to the Light.

After warming up the body through movement and the mind through observation, participants move into one pose with more intensity, writing down key words associated around the name of the asana: Tortoise, Cobra, Mountain, Triangle.

Sometimes, they will take a personal association into the pose and see what opens up as the body and symbol work together. Or, they will take a question from the Hidden Language book and reflect, listening to the body, listening to the mind.

When we do the Light Invocation and then do the pose again, there is inevitably a breakthrough; it surprises me how consistently this happens.

The Light seems to create a fluidity so insights become brighter, more lucid and succinct. Maybe it’s because in the Divine Light Invocation, we invite the Light to penetrate the cells of the body and every level of consciousness. If the invitation is sincere, it really happens.

One student comments, “I marvel at the power of the Divine Light Invocation. It makes it almost effortless to shift focus, to let go.” Another says, “Lightness allows the body to lift in new ways. It starts in my thoughts.”

Others note the interplay of will and surrender: “Using tensing and relaxing with the Divine Light Mantra, I find I can go further with the pose without pushing or increased effort. Surrender—so gentle.”

“The combination of surrender and will, gradually stretches me toward my goal at the right rate for my body and understanding.”

Class ends with Savasana, relaxing body and mind into the Light. As the body relaxes and the mind relaxes, awareness increases—awareness of Self, not as body or mind, but as Light.

People arise refreshed, finding surrender is not so hard. We read significant reflections and repeat the mantra of the Light together.

In Hatha, we become aware that our bodies are vehicles for the Light, a Light that both reveals obstacles and also dissolves them. We carry the power of this Light into the day.

And each day during the Course, the Light grows, inside and out.

A promise manifests.


Swami Lalitananda is a teacher and author of two books, including The Inner Life of Asanas. For five years, she was the Director of Radha Yoga & Eatery in Vancouver, a space that embraces art, culture, yoga and community. She lived and studied with Swami Radha for over 20 years. Swami Lalitananda took sanyas in 1996 and is dedicated to making yoga accessible and significant in everyday life.




Ed: Bryonie Wise

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