Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 1.16
Over the course of the next six weeks, I’ll be teaching from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 1, verse 16:
Enthusiasm, perseverance, discrimination, unshakeable faith, courage, and keeping good company are the six causes which bring success in Yoga.
Each week, we’ll explore one of the factors which lead to a successful Yoga practice according to Yogi Swatmarama’s 15th century C.E. text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Short Background on the Text
Hatha is translated from Sanskrit as “sun-moon.” My understanding of the text and from my teachers is that this translation refers to all dualities we encounter, but in our physical yoga practice, this idea can be explored in terms of relationships in the body (e.g., right and left side, or inhalation and exhalation) and between the body and mind (e.g., mental effort and physical effort).
Although many subtler and more refined definitions exist and are useful, we’ll go with the most widely used definition of the word Yoga as “union.” (This definition is adequate for our six-week course of study. For a more exhaustive list of definitions, please see this handout.) Finally, Pradipika means “that which illumines” or “to shine a light upon.” So, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika’s purpose is to illuminate the means by which we may achieve union of body, mind, and spirit.
“The main objective of hatha yoga is to create an absolute balance of the interacting activities and processes of the physical body, mind, and energy,” says Swami Muktibodhananda in the opening remarks of his translation of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Each week for the next six weeks, we’ll explore one of the factors set out by Yogi Swatmarama in the following classes. We’ll consider how the theme applies to our practice on the mat and in the rest of our lives.
Week of January 3: Enthusiasm
Week of August 2: Perseverance
Week of August 9: Discrimination
Week of August 16: Unshakeable Faith
Week of August 23: Courage
Week of August 30: Keeping Good Company