"Swatmarama, the author of Hatha Yoga Pradipika (hatha=force or determined effort) called the same path Hatha Yoga because it demanded rigorous discipline."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 21st paragraph of the Introduction.
Hatha=Force or Determined Effort
Have we forgotten (or maybe we never knew) what Hatha Yoga is? It is Force-ful. It is Intense. We seem to want life to be light and pleasant, without conflict. This is what our culture teaches us.
From the time we were little kids we were taught to sit still and quietly in little desks. Sit still, be quiet, listen to what is told to you, and do it. This process doesn't support creative thinking, and isn't a good model for learning to take action.
Once we have been processed into working drones, TV watchers, and passive consumers, our education is considered successful. The lightness and passivity that this education cultivates--a pleasant demeanor--is a poor substitute for vitality, intensity and caring! Life can be rough, and the obligation most of us seem to feel to put a smile on a hurt is contradictory.
Yoga is for people who are ready to think as individuals. It is for people who are committed to feeling, experiencing, caring and doing the right thing. Yogis take responsibility for what they are doing.
How can a person be awakened from the anaesthetic sleep of complacency?
Yoga technique and discipline is a way to voyage forward into positive change. In yoga practice there is an opportunity, and even an invitation to learn your body, sensations and emotions. And to set up a plan of regular practice is key. If you only practice yoga when you feel like it, then you will only know yourself within the subset of those parameters. It is important to have the discipline and fortitude to hit the mat according to plan rather than relying on a whim. This takes Determined Effort; this is Hatha Yoga.
It is not an easy path, but it offers satisfaction. Yoga asks us to consider all aspects of ourselves, not just the parts that we like or choose. Everything. And in this quest towards understanding, we have the potential to be empowered, integrated, compassionate and peaceful.
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