--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
> Dear Nina,
> Thank you for this. It's very insightful and shows a
> skill level and knowledge that is obviously experiential
> as well as an ability to share it understandably...both of the
> qualities that go into the formula for a great teacher. I want
> to add that the classic "reason" to do Hatha Yoga is not to
> get ripped, strong, or even agile. It is important so one can
> sit in meditation without the body distracting you. So, in a way,
> 'Sensation' is not the endpiece itself...the end of 'Sensation'
> is the endpiece, and the beginning of the sensational.
> Peace and blessings,
> PS: In the past, I've been made aware (by my wife, a Hatha Yoga
> teacher for 25+ years), that sometimes when I present this concept,
> it comes out sounding like I am negating the value of Hatha Yoga.
> I hope that isn't the case now. Hatha Yoga is a wonder-full
> practice and experience. OK Bette?
You're welcome, Bob, and thank you for the compliment.
You mention that the classic reason to practice hatha yoga is not to
gain strength or flexibility, but to be able to sit in meditation
without being distracted by the body. This may be the case, and while
it might seem to (implictly) invalidate other reasons, it does not.
There are plenty of reasons people practice hatha yoga: to
relax/restore; for physical or psychological therapy; for exercise;
to gain strength, flexibility and agility; for self-image and so
forth. It is possible to understand all of those reasons as
indicators that a person is looking for enlightenment in some form.
Enlightenment can be as simple as having one burden dissolved.
One suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, one learns to abide the pain
without suffering, one learns to correct the alignments in the body
that contribute to the pain.
One suffers from chronic stress reactions, one learns to recognize
the warning signs of stress, one learns to slow and even halt the
process of reaction to stress, one learns to refigure the stressors.
One suffers from any manner of physical or mental burden, one
practices facing these burdens, learning the nature of these burdens,
and then, ultimately, learns to be 'in charge' of those burdens.
These are enlightenments, just as much as any mystical 'big whammy'.
Enlightenment is ongoing, incremental; lighter and lighter, every
moment. The burdens may not disappear, but the experience of the
That is the nature of the practice. You begin the practice for
whatever reason, but eventually, the reasons give way to an
embodiment of the practice.
On a side note, personally I really enjoy the directness and
palpability of working with the body to understand the enlightenment
experience. It is such that, given a bit of practice, one can read
shifts of consciousness of another by observing the shifts of
alignment and manner of motion in their body. Hatha yoga, and by this
I mean the 'manner of practice' moreso than the 'form of practice'
(asanas), is unique in that it asks the practicioner to directly
embody the process of enlightenment.
But here's the catch, at some point, one realizes that the body is
incredibly resilient, and that it is in constant conversation with
its total environment. One might see radical change in the body
through the practice of hatha yoga, but how much effort it takes to
embody these changes such that they become 'nature' and do not bend,
once again, back into the old conversational patterns! When can the
practice be let go? When has the practice become so embodied that it
will carry itself? I suspect, that as long as one has a body, this
tension between the practice and the total environment will exist.