Watch Out For The Hatha Yoga Trap
Navigating the Pitfalls of Hatha Yoga: Cultivating Awareness Amidst Health Benefits and the Transience of the Physical Body - By James Adams
Reading time: 3 minutes
If left unchecked, Hatha Yoga can lead to an over identification with the physical body. Any form of attachment leads to suffering.
Hatha Yoga* is the one of the many Yoga disciplines that can be followed. Hatha Yoga comprises of physical postures, otherwise known as asanas. If practiced with consistency, and under the guidance of a trained Yoga teacher, Hatha Yoga carries significant health benefits.
Serious practitioners of Hatha Yoga report having a healthier body, healed ailments, and to put the icing on the cake, a more relaxed outlook on life.
Using a combination of pranayama breathing and asana postures, Hatha Yoga naturally tones the physical body and makes it more robust. It's not difficult to see how people would be positively encouraged by the changes to their body as a result of practicing Hatha Yoga.
They may become very accustomed to the health improvements; no longer having painful backs, sore shoulders, or a new found strength to perform physically demanding postures such as the headstand. It may create a fresh identity. An identity of being fit and healthy.
Here lies the trap.
Hatha Yoga* was originally designed as a Yogic Science to create awareness and purify the physical vessel, to make it stronger and durable, such that it may be the recipient of higher states of consciousness. It was not designed to trap the aspirant in the comfort of having a healthy body.
Life is transient. The human body is transient. The human body changes state as the aspirant ages. Not even Hatha Yoga can hope to compete with the natural rhythms of life.
It may provide health benefits, but it will not override the inevitable changes that the human body will undertake in it's time on earth. Humans age. It's as natural as the rising sun. Make no mistake, an aging body is going to create new ailments and other physical restrictions that will make it less robust.
This is ok.
A significant part of the Yogic path is learning to accept the transience of life without judging it. Identifying with a healthy body is another manifestation of ego.
Suffering will occur as the aspirant ages and loses some of the health improvements gained from Hatha Yoga. This needs to be kept in check.
So should one refrain from practicing Hatha Yoga to avoid becoming attached to the benefits?
Not at all. The guidance is to cultivate awareness on how the mind responds to the health improvements that Hatha Yoga brings, knowing that the body will inevitably change in accordance with the natural cycles of life.
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