16th century textbook on yoga

Published: Nov 11, 2016 by Lucy Tennyson

The Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā (or Light on Hatha Yoga) is a classic Sanskrit text written by Swami Svātmārāma, who incorporated older Sanskrit concepts into his popular synthesis in the 15th century. It is one of the three classic texts of hatha yoga.

It details the techniques of the main practices of hatha yoga: seated asana (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), shatkarma (internal cleansings), mudra (energy seal), and bandha (energy locks). Swatamarama tells us that once a practice of asana has been established then pranayama can begin – these are breathing exercises intended to control prana and the subtle energies of the body, which in turn can be used to control the mind.

Modern yoga includes versions of many of the asanas described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, practised so many centuries ago by Indian yogis. These are all seated, originally intended to prepare the body for long periods of meditation.

 How to practise cow faced pose

 A good description of how to safely practise this posture can be found on the Yoga Journal website. Take care if you have any shoulder or knee issues, and use blocks to sit on, unless you are very flexible in the hips. Be sure to prepare with some gentle stretches and warm up sequences.

Pose of the month Gomukhasana or cow faced posture from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika


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