I have not covered all of the postures from Hatha Yoga Pradipika with images and instructions in this series. You can find them online easily. I Googled 68,100 sites for Hatha Yoga Pradipika in April, 2007. I am holding more pages until the appropriate images are converted from a video of my teacher. These will be added in the future to this series. This section is incomplete, but you can read what the Pradipika has contributed.
Postures from Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Edited to be easier
(Vira = hero, warrior)
- Place one foot on the thigh of the opposite leg, and do the same with the other foot. (This posture is shown differently online, in books and in magazines.) The Pradipika describes it as the Gomukhasana (see image in right column here). An alternative is to sit as shown in the specific instructions on the page Gomukhasana. Usually, it is just shown as someone kneeling on the floor and sitting down on their heels. This is a great exercise for the knees, but don't overdo it in the beginning if you have knee problems or if it hurts.
(Kukkuta = Cock)
- Get into the Padmasana (lotus posture) first. (You can also sit with your legs crossed, comfortably.) Place your hands in between your thighs and under your thighs and literally, carry yourself by raising your body off the ground with your palms on the floor. This is an advanced pose. I have a video of my teacher doing this, which is where I will get some of the images to get online in the near future, and also will convert it to a DVD to sell on this site for advanced students and teachers.
(Kurma = Tortoise)
- Still in the above posture (Kukkutasana), grasp your neck by crossing your hands behind your head and lie down in this position with your back touching the ground. You take on the appearance of a tortoise. If you look at the Tortoise image here in the right column, you will see how the knees are spread out for Kurmasana. To do this variation, instead of coming forward, lie down on your back with your hands crossed behind your neck. Again, this is an advanced pose. Step 11 in Moon Salutation would be helpful to build up to this posture. If you look at The Fish posture and just bring your back down to the floor, it might be easier to understand what is meant here. Sometimes the postures are hard to describe without an image.
(Paschima = West)
- Sit with your back straight and your legs stretched out with your knees straight and together. Point your toes to the ceiling or towards your face.
- With exhalation, bring your upper body forward and sink down as far as you can, pressing the small of your back in so that you are not rolling forward with a rounded spine (which can cause injury). Try to hold the soles of your feet. If you can't reach the soles of your feet, hold your legs wherever it is the most comfortable. It doesn't matter how far down you actually come, as long as you move forward with the sense that your spine is not rounded and your knees remain stretched.
- If you have a serious back problem, this is not the greatest posture to attempt until your back is stronger. If this is easy for you, do the following: Try to place your forehead on your knees. Hold the soles of your feet with your hands as you stretch your elbows out to the side and come down as close as possible to your legs. Hold the posture and breathe with the abdomen so you feel it moving in and out. With exhalation only, sink farther.
- This posture carries the air from the front to the back part of the body (i.e., to the Susumna). It kindles gastric fire, reduces obesity and helps digestion to function. As a result, many digestive diseases can be prevented.
(Mayura = Peacock)
- This is a very difficult posture. Go online if you really want to see what this looks like. It's a powerful balancing posture. You are, literally, holding your body in a horizontal position off the floor by resting your navel on your elbows. The body should look like a horizontal stick (sideways in the air!).
Siddhasana (men) or Siddha Yoni Asana (women)
(Siddha = Sage, Prophet)
- This is called the King of asanas. It's easy to do, so you should always include it in your practice. “This cleanses the impurities of 72,000 nadis.”
- Sit on the floor with both of your legs outstretched. Bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot against your right thigh so that your heel touches the perineum (that soft spot between the anus and genitals). Bend your right knee and place your right heel against your pubic bone (pelvic plexus). This stimulates the Muladhara (1st) Chakra.
- Your back should be straight, as always when in a seated position.
- Press your chin lightly into your chest (not locked). Sit calmly while you restrain your senses. Gaze steadily at the spot between your eyebrows. This is Siddhasana, “the opener of the door of salvation.” It is a posture used for Meditation, as is Padmasana (lotus posture).
- Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. Variation: Place your left heel above your genitals and your right heel next to your left heel. Other names given: Vajrasana, Muktasana, or Guptasana.
(Simha = a Lion)
- Kneel on the floor and sit down on your heels. Press the heels on both sides of the seam of the perineum, in such a way that the left heel touches the right side and the right heel touches the left side of it.
- Place the palms of your hands on your knees and thighs. Your arms and fingers are stretched.
- Open your mouth and begin by gazing at the tip of your nose with your mind collected. (Note: Do not gaze on the tip of your nose if you have a serious problem with your eyes or if you have ever had a serious mental disorder.)
- This posture is considered sacred to Yogis. It has a powerful effect on the completion of the three Bandhas (= restraints), specifically:
—Mulabandha—a posture where your body from your anus to your navel is contracted and lifted up towards your spine;
—Kantha or Jalandhar Bandha—a posture where your neck and throat are contracted and your chin is placed and resting in the area of your larynx, and
—Uddiyana Bandha—a posture where your diaphragm is lifted up and your thorax and abdominal organs pulled back towards your spine. This is part of the Nakra-Kriya (Nauli) series on this site.
Cleansing the Nadis
- The Nadis should be cleansed of their impurities by performing Mudras, (which relate to the air asanas, Kumbhakas, which are dealt with in the Pranayama series). Pay close attention to the heartbeat when you practice Hatha Yoga. It is a good practice to do rhythmic breathing to the beat of your heart. Practice is the only way to succeed.