Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Insights and Inspirations - Venkatesa Daily Readings Vol 2 - Why Hatha Yoga

January 14, 2022

Iyengar & Swami VenkatesanandaQuestion: I am not the body, not the mind, but there is emphasis on Hatha Yoga. Why is that so?

Swami Venkatesananda: There is a feeling that the body is mine. Why should that idea be discarded? Because when something happens to this body you think 'I am suffering', 'I am enjoying'. This confusion is very deep. Hatha Yoga enables you to realize that the body has its own intelligence, energy; it won't obey you!  And there is no other way of finding this out. You tell the body to sit and meditate, it won't obey you, the mind becomes restless. If it is my mind, why should it be restless? Unless and until you grip the problem of the restless mind you can't have an external appearance of tranquility. In order to achieve this, you have to go deep into whatever it is.

     That restlessness is partly physical and mental. The problem must be tackled from different angles. You can't merely say: "the body is not mine". When the body is slapped, you say: "it hurts me". In order to resolve that confusion, Hatha Yoga is necessary. Neither the statement "I am the body" nor "I am not the body' is an experienced reality, truth. How does one find the answer? The whole of the Hatha Yoga system is based on that. It is not merely what is called yoga asanas.

     The intention of Hatha Yoga is not to build up a body beautiful. The whole approach is to find an answer to this question: "Is the body mine or not?" The intention again is (if you follow Iyengar’s system) there are so many parts of the body whose existence you are unaware of. So by twisting and turning, you not only make the body a little more supple, active, dynamic, mobile (that is of secondary importance), but suddenly you realize you have so many muscles, tendons which normally you are unconscious of. So, bring them to consciousness and realize you have no control over these things. Then you learn to let the body function on its own intelligence.

     Alexander Pope has said: “The proper study of man is Man.” God is the center of man's being. If man is harmonized here, he is harmonized with the world, he promotes harmony. If there is a discordant note within his own heart, he sows the seed of discord everywhere.

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