HATHA VIDYA (The Science of Yoga)

  • Hatha means to hold closely and firmly. To stick fast and be devoted to
  • Vidya means science or knowledge
  • Yoga means to unite, to associate and to join
  • Yoga also means zeal, endeavour and the fixing of the mind at one point   
  • HA stands for, the seer, the self, the soul (Purusha) and for the Sun (Surya) and the breath (Prana) 
  • THA represents nature (Prakriti) consciousness (Chitta) the Moon (Chandra) and the out breath (Apana)
  • Hatha Yoga is the union of Purusha with Prakriti, consciousness with the soul (Atman) The Sun with the Moon and Prana with Apana

Hatha Yoga, or the science of Yoga means zeal and endeavour, the fixing the mind on one point. As in holding the body steady in a posture with contemplation and meditation.


The Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva, approached her Lord (the seed of all knowledge) for guidance to ease the suffering of all humanity. Lord Shiva revealed to her the greatest of all sciences for the holistic development of man, the science of Hatha Yoga. On receiving yogic knowledge from Shiva, Parvati imparted to Yogi Mastsyendranāth, Yoga Vidya (knowledge & wisdom) This knowledge was passed on to Yogi Gorakanath, who summarised the teachings into 200 verses  

Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Hatha Yoga Pradipika Yoga Dharma


Gorakanath is also thought to be the founder of the Nath tradition who were Shaivists, or followers of Shiva. He is known as a Maha Yogi (great yogi) who proposed the quest for truth through a life of discipline and self Determination. Gorakanath is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama, the compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.   

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika was compiled by Yogi Swatmarama around the 15th-16th century, and sets out a path to emancipation, through Asana, Mudra, Bandha, Pranayama and Shatkarmas. The practices strengthen the gross body and cleanse the subtle body. Hatha Yoga is the balancing of the polar energies of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the positive, male energy, or Pingala Nadi. Shakti, the female negative energy, is Ida Nadi. The central channel or Shushumna Nadi lays dormant until the Ida and Pingala energies are balanced. Once the energies become balanced, Shushumna opens and Kundalini is driven upwards. The result is Samadhi.


HYP 7.5

When Prana becomes subtle and the mind steady, one attains the state of equilibrium, which is called Samadhi. 


aSam = together or toward

dhā = puts or places 

Joining or putting together

bSam = integrated or together

Ā = towards

dhā = to get or to hold

Integration and wholeness or truth


  • Samadhi is a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object
  • ·        The object shines back unmodified
  • When Prana becomes subtle and the mind steady, one attains the state of equilibrium, which is called Samadhi
  • Samadhi represents the stage where the mediator merges with its object of focus and transcends the self altogether to a higher understanding


The origin of the word Samadhi is said to come from the Maitri Upanishad, which dates from around the 1st century

  • Oneness with the object     
  • No distinction between the act of meditation and the object of meditation


The Tattva Upanishad sets out the path to emancipation through Hatha Yoga.  The Yoga Tattva Upanishad is considered among the oldest known texts on yoga that details descriptions on Hatha Yoga practices and the benefits.  

 1. I shall now describe Yoga-Tattva (Yoga-Truth) for the benefit of Yogins who are freed from all sins through the hearing and the studying of it 

24-25. Now hear (the description of) Hatha-Yoga. This Yoga is said to possess (the following) eight subservients, Yama (forbearance), Niyama (religious observance), Asana (posture), Pranayama (suppression of breath), Pratyahara (subjugation of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana, the contemplation in the middle of the eyebrows and Samadhi that is the state of equality.

The Yoga Tattva Upanishad  shares many practices and teachings with the Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga, and Laya Yoga. It includes the ideas and discussions on, Mantra, Kundalini, Hatha and Raja Yoga. The Yoga Tattva Upanishad is Vedantic and elaborates on the concept of Atman and its meaning.

The Yoga Tattva Upanishad states:

jnana (knowledge) without yoga cannot secure moksha (emancipation, salvation), nor can yoga without knowledge secure moksha”, and that “those who seek emancipation should pursue both yoga and knowledge”


Comprises four chapters

1. Asana

2. Pranayama

3. Mudras

4. Samadhi

Chapter 1

Begins by listing previous and saluting masters. Swatmarama then goes on to say Hatha Yoga is for the attainment of Raja Yoga.     

1.3 Owing to the darkness arising from the multiplicity of opinions people are unable to know the Rāja Yoga. Compassionate Swātmārāma composes the Hatha Yoga Pradipikā like a torch to dispel it.

 Chapter 1. continues with instructions on where, when and how to practice Hatha Yoga.  


Yogis desirous of success should keep the knowledge of Hatha Yoga secret for it becomes potent by concealing, and impotent by exposing

1.12 – 14

Instructions are now given as to where and how to practice

The six causes of failure:

1. Overeating

2. Over exertion

3. Talking to much

4. Severe austerities 

5. Public contact

6. Fickleness of mind 

The six causes of success:

1. Enthusiasm

2. Courage

3. Perseverance

 4. Proper understanding  

5. Determination

6. Avoiding excessive contact with people 

Chapter 1. continues with the ten Yamas and Niyamas

1.19 (unlike the Yoga Sutras the HYP recommends Asana to be practice first) *

Being the first accessory of Hatha Yoga, Asana is described first. It should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health and lightness of body

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika goes on to list fifteen Asanas

  • Hatha Yoga tells us it is almost impossible to control the mind through the mind, unlike the Yoga Sutras which advocates using the mind to control the mind.
  • Hatha Yoga prescribes Asana with Mudra and Bandha for proper cleansing of Nadis
  1. 61-62 Lists foods to avoid
  2. 64-65 Lists Beneficial foods 


Whether young, old, sick or lean, one who discards laziness, gets success if they practice Yoga


Success comes to those engaged in the practice. How is success achieved without practice? Merely reading books on Yoga, will never get success.


Asanas with various Kumbhakas, and other divine means, should be practiced, till the fruit of Raja Yoga is obtained.


Chapter 2.  On Pranayama


The Yogi, having established in Asana and is free from fatigue, should practice purification of Nadis, Mudras and Pranayama


When the breath is disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogi gets steadiness of mind


The breath does not pass through the middle channel (Shusumna), owing to the impurities of the Nadis. How can then success be attained, and how can there be the Unmani Avastha


When the whole system of Nadis is cleansed then the Yogi can control Prana

Instructions on Pranayama now follow



Describes the six Shat Karmas (cleansing practices)

1. Dhauti (digestion)

2. Basti (colonge)

3. Neti (nasal)

4. Tratak (eyes)

5. Nauli (abdomen)

6. Kaplabhati (frontal lobe)

 Chapter 2

  • Goes on to describe and instruct on different Pranayama’s
  • The manifestations of a successful Pranayama practice


Chapter 3.  On Mudras


When the dormant Kundalini gets aroused by the grace of Guru, then alone all the Lotuses (Chakras) and the Granthis (knots) get pierced 


Thus, Prana moves freely through the royal passage (Shushumna) which renders the mind

objectless and death is defied  


One should put all the efforts in practicing the Mudras to awaken Isvari (Kundalini) which lies dormant at the entrance of Brahma – Bvara

3.6 – 7 List the Ten Mudras 

1. Maha Mudra

2. Maha Bandha

3. Maha Vedha

4. Khechari

5. Uddiyana

6. Mula Bandha

7. Jalandhara Bandha

8. Viparita Karani

9. Vajroli

10. Sakti Chalana


3.6 – 7 List the Eight Siddhis (Powers) 

1. Anima – to become as small as an atom

2. Laghima – to have no weight

3. Mahima – to be immensely large

4. Garima – to be very heavy

5. Prapiti – to be transported anywhere

6. Prakamya – to see ones wishes fulfilled

7. Vashitva- to control all animals & elements

8. Iashitva – Lordship


Chapter 43.  On Samadhi

4.1 Salutations to the Guru, who is Shiva himself, in the form of *Nada, * Bindu and *Kala. Those who engage themselves in Yoga, attains the state of absolute.     

*Nada – Internally aroused sound 

*Bindu – Internally aroused light

*Kala – A rich sensation felt all over the body

All these experiences indicate the development of Pranic activity in the body. Shiva, who is the source of all the activities, is said to be of the nature of Nada, Bindu and Kala       


Now I shall narrate the detailed characteristics of Samadhi, which brings freedom from death, absolute peace and highest bliss. 


When Prana becomes subtle and mind steady, one attains the state of equilibrium, which is called Samadhi   


On attaining the state of Samadhi, the Yogi does not remain aware of sensation of smell, taste, Appearance, touch, breath and himself or others


On relinquishing the objects of perception, mind merges (in the absolute) after which only Kaivalya remains


One talks of Laya. But what are the signs of Laya? Laya is forgetting the objects of experience as a result of which no further desires arise  


Thus, there are several techniques of Samadhi as related by the eminent ancient teachers based on their experiences    

 Martin Thompson