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Author Topic: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya  (Read 12720 times)

Sadhak

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Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« on: February 18, 2013, 03:36:07 PM »

Namaste!

I've been visiting various Nathas for several months in India, and never saw that they perform asanas and pranayamas. But many smoke ganja. Can anybody explain to me why in the Natha tradition (known as Hatha Yoga Tradition), almost none does asanas, compared to many ashrams in Rishikesh, or Mysore, etc.?
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Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 05:56:44 PM »

Namaste Sadhak ji.

I think, that this possibility is created for a following reason, when yoga has become widespread and appeared in the West, it became quite independent Western tradition. Therefore, some elements of the Tradition gradually disappeared in the Western society and some the contrary began to develop and acquire hypertrophied form. Moreover, the word "tradition" often came to be applied to different schools, styles, but not to the path of yoga (in the form of life, etc.), so gradually a lot of confusions were created. This was followed by a backward wave from the West to India, especially to the major metropolitan areas and tourist places, where new yoga also gained popularity among tourists looking for gymnastics, not for sadhana, though these things are somewhat different. In connection with such processes, yoga (according to understanding of sadhus) and yoga for people with superficial interests, formed in two different worlds. Many people have become more willing to believe that Hatha Yoga is not Yoga of the Sun and the Moon, but only "yoga of effort," and there appeared even references that the concept of the Sun and the Moon not given in Sanskrit dictionaries. However, many of Nathas concepts represented by a symbolic language (sandhya-bhasha). For example, when talking about the Ganges, the Yamuna in the human body, or the oceans, stars, etc. this may be metaphorical. Dictionaries do not always take this into account in relation to any specific mystical directions, and contain the most usual and popular meanings. I assume, the main thing here is not to make hasty conclusions about what Nathas practice and what not. First of all, you sould learn as much as possible what views these yogis have and what their way is.
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Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 02:30:04 PM »

Namaskar dear Matsyendranathji!

I was thinking a lot of your response. Could it be that yoga is different in different traditions, in Buddhists it is one, in Shaivites is another, in Shaktas is some other form, in Jain is something else? What do you think of the sources of origin, especially for hatha yoga? I've heard from Buddhists that it originated from them, as the whole Siddha tradition, that Gorakshanath appeared late in XII century, and Tantric Buddhism for a few centuries earlier.
And why in Natha texts there isn't found such a clear mention of 36 tattvas that in Kashmir Shaivism or Shaiva Siddhanta? What is the particular philosophical form in Natha Yogis, revealing the world structure? Do Naths, as Buddhists, identify themselves with Devata, do they visualise themselves as Devata, for example as Shiva Gorakshanath?
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Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2013, 08:56:07 AM »

Namaskar Sadhakaji!

This is a good and relevant question, and neither trivial at the same time. Yoga has now become very popular all over the world; maybe its popularity is even lower than in its motherland. Traditionally in India, it was supposed as a sadhana, but as a gymnastics it is more widespread in the new Indian environment, such as large metropolitan areas with very developed business. Therefore, it is no wonder that nowadays many are willing to say that yoga (hatha yoga in particular, which is in the demand everywhere) originated from the tradition to which they exclusively belong, whether it is Buddhism, Kaulism or Vaishnavism, etc. To this end is not difficult to use some ancient texts, arguing over particular evidences and ignoring the others, to prove that yoga deeply rooted in someone's tradition, which is even older. Even if it is partially the case, this would not be a reason to say that Buddhism was the cause of the Natha yogis' origin, and that Nathism with all its numerous Yogis and Mahasiddhas obliged to Buddism only. You can, for example, take any Jain text or Pancharatra text and find some minor elements of hatha yoga in there, which by the way are not the primary practices of these traditions, and then declare that that these elements (of hatha yoga) are the cause of Nathism. It would have been too much, as if I would say that Shaktism is totally obliged to the Vedas, be based on the references of female Dedevatas. But in general, Vedism is patriarchal obviously. Therefore, I would still be careful to recognize the origin, and where it came from. Certainly, scientists can make mistakes, one of such examples is that Gorakshanath lived in the XII century. I've never heard this interpretation form the sadhus, for them He is the immortal Yogi. If we look up his history, or the history of Matsyendranatha, we’d find out that Gorakshanath appeared out of the ashes and Matsyendranatha came out of the fish. How come it is possible to make standard biographies on the basis of these stories that historians are accustomed to?

There are some interesting quotes from Mahapuranas, where the Gorakshanath’s name was mentioned:

Gorakshanatha along with Navanathas are mentioned in Skanda Purana (in Kashi Khanda and Himavata Khanda):

  ब्रहमद्वीपे महातीर्थे स्नात्वा दीपोप्रदीयते।
  कार्तिकस्य चतुर्दष्यां शुक्लायां वा विषेषत:।।52।।
  गोरक्षनाथो योगीन्द्रो योगेनात्र समाश्रित:।
  मत्स्येन्द्रेण समं नित्यं चौर³ग्याधैष्च योगिभि:।।53।।
  तेषां योगष्च संसिद्धस्तत्र मृगस्थले द्विज।
  पषुपते प्रसादेन योग: प्रापुरथार्हणम।।54।।
  नानासिद्धगणैर्नित्यमत्रागत्य सुभकितत:।
  प्रारब्धस्तैर्महायोगो गोरक्षस्य प्रसादत:।।55।।
  कार्तिकस्य चतुर्दष्यां Ñष्णायां दृष्यते बुध:।
  सिद्धाश्रमें पादुकास्य निष्पापास्ते न संषय:।।56।।
  त्रिरात्रंवसते तत्र तं गोरक्षं स्मरन धिया।
  योगीष्वरो भवेदाषु सिद्धदेहो भवेत्सदा।।57।।
  अत एव गरिष्ठं च हयेततक्षेत्रविरूपदृक।
  सिद्धानामारमं शाष्वत पषुपतेर्विहारकम।।58।।
  मृगस्थलीगिरिं भ्राम्य व्रीहिन विक्षेपयेत्Ñतम।
  सुवर्णरतिकातुल्यं ब्रीहिमेकं च युकितमत।।59।।

Further, the name of Gorakshanatha can be found in Kedar Khanda of Skanda Purana:

  नित्यनाथादय: सिद्धा अत्रैव तपतत्परा:।
  सिद्धिम्प्राप्ता: पुरा देवि मादृषास्ते न संषय:।।1।।
  न तस्य भयलेषो•सित तिष्ठतस्त्र पीठके,
  शीघ्रं वै लभते सिद्धिं यथा गोरक्षकादय:।।2।।

   नव नाथा:समाख्यातास्तत्र श्री आदिनाथक:।
   अनादिनाथ: कूर्माख्यो भवनाथस्तथैव च।।
   सत्यसन्तोषनाथौ तु मत्स्येन्द्रो गोपीनाथक:।
   गोरक्षो नव नाथास्ते नादब्रहमरता: सदा।।

Also, his name is mentioned in Brahmanda Purana:

  तस्य चोत्तरकोणे तु वायुलोको महाधुति:।
  तत्र वायुषरीराष्च सदानन्दमहोदया।।1।।
  सिद्धा दिव्यर्षयष्चैव, पवनाभ्यासिनो•परे।
  गोरक्षप्रमुखाष्चान्ये, योगिनो योगतत्परा:।।2।।

Gorakshanatha is mentioned in Shiva Purana as well:

   अहमेवासिम गोरक्षो मदरूपं तनिनबोधत।
   योगमार्ग प्रचाराय मया रूपमिदं धृतम।।

He is mentioned in Markandeya Purana:

   द्विधा हठ: स्यादेकस्तु गोरक्षादिसुयोगिभि: |
   अन्यो मृकण्डुपुत्राधै: साधितो हठसंज्ञक:।।

Vayu Purana mentiones Gorakshanatha as Chaturyuganatha.

These Puranas are considered to be the oldest. Their maximum age is VIII century, although there are those who believe that Puranas were written much earlier.

There is a famous story in Nepal about Narendra Deva. That Yogi lived in Svayambhunath area. Someday he advised residents of Nepal to сall Yaksharaja's son - Matsyendranatha from Kamarupa, to liberate Nagas from confinement and bring back the rains (according to the legend Gorakshanatha made his asana, seating rug, of Nagas). The time of Matsyendranatha's arrival likewise the story is 657 BC, when Matsyendranatha became revered in Nepal. In any case, this information raises serious doubts about the version dated to the XIIth century.

As for 36 tattvas, they are not always used in Nathas, as well as the visualisation of yourself as a Devata, likewise in Tantra. Though some may do so, but not everyone. I think this happens like that, due to the many factors. If you read the books of Akshay Kumar Banerji, which were published in Gorakhpur with the blessing of the head of Gorakshanath-mandir, you will find that the pandit says: “Nath can belong to any form of Dharma (religions).” Last summer I also heard the same thing from one of the genuine Guru of Jamat, that anyone can be the Yogi, even a Muslim or a Christian, especially a Shakta, Shaiva or Vaisnava sadhaka.

If we admit that the overall goal is Alakh Niranjan, and if we select the scheme of 36 tattvas, then it will prevent someone from practicing if he, let say, is Vaishnava, who is folowing a system of 25 tattvas consistent to Sankhya and his Vaishnava metaphysical concept. Sometimes someone chooses not only a single Shaivism and Tantrism or identification with Devata. For example, if some yogi prefer Sufism, Sankhya or something else, but according to the practices of those religions he can not identify themselves with God or metaphysical schemes of 36 tattvas, it does not mean there is no alternative to 36 tattvas, because those who prefer that scheme, can practice it. I think this is due to the unconstrained choice of Dharma, therefore it looks like that there is no metaphysical strictness. For someone Gorakshanath is Guru, and the perfect Yogi who personifies the ideal of perfection, but for someone he is Shiva, Narayana, or all at once. It depends on personal preferences. Dharma comes from the root "dhra" - a support, this is what can support yoga. But for Natha the goal is Alakh Niranjan, i.e. A-laksh ("laksa" - a designation), that Absolute which is quite beyond any designations - Niralamba. Nevertheless religion can play a positive role, although yoga is their supreme mystical essence. Yoga is not limited to just one single sect.

That’s how I understand it, as well as different yogis of our Tradition. Perhaps, there are other more interesting opinions of a reputable Bhagavannanth Yogiji and others.
 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 03:39:15 PM by Matsyendranatha Yogi »
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Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013, 01:23:32 PM »

Namaskar!
Thank you Yogiji!

Yes, I read A.K. Banerji's book, it is available on the Internet for free access. Indeed, he says that yoga was within different denominations, though the mention of Krishna as a yogi looks a bit strange on the background of ISKCON devotees, who do not recognise yoga, jnana and karma. They say that only bhakti saves in Kali Yuga. Obviously, there are different Vaishnavas Buddhists, not all too categorical in statements. In fact, Buddhists place Indian Gods below their Boddhisatvas. As for Vaishnavas, there is Pancaratra tradition to which belonged Guru Krishnamacharya, who extended this tradition to the West. Now, in terms of yoga, it is strongly popular.

For dates of Gorakshanatha's life, many explicit uncertainties, whereas with such teachers as Buddha, Sankaracharya, etc. more obviously.
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Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 01:53:45 PM »

Pranam Sadhak ji!

Regarding Krishnamacharya, of course, he contributed greatly to formation of the transnational yoga, but his connection with the Vaishnava Pancaratra and Ashtanga-vinyasa teaching are completely different things. I haven't heard that Krishnamacharya, P. Jois, Iyengar and others, passed someone yajnopavita-sanskara of their Tradition or even tantric dikshas of Pancaratra and having this in your disposal can be referred to as a Tradition, but the asanas and pranayamas taught by these Gurus makes reference to the Yoga styles. Although styles are often called as "Tradition". If the origin of Yoga is in the Pancaratra, then why a practice of Yoga and their primary sadhana are considered separately in the West nowadays? Yoga can be found in many Tantras: Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, but the presence of some Yoga sections (units) does not anchor a whole Tradition towards Yoga. For example, Rudra Yamala (Uttara-khanda) mentions cleaning techniques (shatkarmas) and more than 20 asanas, this is greater number  than in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. But we must also bear in mind that there are detailed descriptions of various Devata upasanas and other Tantric sadhanas besides. To some extent, yoga is being put in almost every Sampradaya, it is quite normal, but each Sampradaya in general may have specific milestones, and the yoga practice in there can play a minor counterpoint, as in Pancaratra, which you mentioned.

You surely noticed that Vaishnavas of ISKCON rely more on bhakti. This is Chaytanya's stream of Vaishnavism which originated about 500 years ago. Despite the fact that the entire Bhagavad Gita is devoted to yoga, they provide some minor importance for yoga. They translate Gita in their own way. If we compare translations of Gita by Sankaracharya, Jnyaneshvara, Abhinava Gupta (Gitartha-sangraha) with others, we will see how different they are  :). The ideal option is to learn languages and read original texts, because translators could give their own interpretations which are not always flawless. For example, Swami Prabhupada correlated Hatha Yoga with Patanjali and didn't say a single word about Gorakshanatha; according to Prabhupada's vision, the purpose of Buddha's appearance was an abolition of pashu-balidana (animal sacrifice), instead of showing the path to enlightenment of consciousness and salvation from sufferings (dukha). I do not think that the followers of those Traditions would be agree to the interpretations he gave. Therefore, I prefer to study interpretations of the Traditions themselves.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 07:10:09 PM by Matsyendranatha Yogi »
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Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 01:40:13 PM »

Namaskar dear Yogiji!

I did not even think of these issues, of the relevance of the ritual part of a tradition to Hatha Yoga practice. Perhaps, not many think of it, because for most people yoga, first of all, it is asanas which affect the body, pranayama and bandhas, and mudras. And in most cases, even pranayama not relevant to all. You mentioned of yajnopavita. How is it different in Nathas and Brahmans? How does it affect the yoga practice? I read in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika that wearing particular clothes and some attributes does not make a man a yogi, and the most important is the samadhi realisation, etc. While I understand that the text could be written for the special people at special times and in special circumstances, and saffron clothes selects some group of people from other castes and their way of life. In Europe, people have never lived in varnas, and difficult for us to understand whether there is any benefit from this yajnopavita or not. I heard a little bit about the nitya-karma, different disciplines, and when I started to know more about it I realised that in the Western environment it is almost impossible. Alternatively asanas and pranayama adapted almost for all, because everyone has the body, they eat the same food, breathe one air, etc.
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Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 01:49:54 PM »

Pranam Sadhak ji!

As far as I know, Nathism is fairly verbal tradition. If you follow a Guru, ideally is how he interpretes any particular text, or gives you some personal guidance. Texts are very controversial phenomenon, for example, sat-karma's specifications say that they lead to the highest siddhis, or in the description of a certain practice may be a comment such as "who hears this practice will not need any other," etc. I do not think that it should be taken literally. There is some part in the text where Gorakshanath criticises many yoga techniques, such as khechari-mudra, for example, in the closing part of Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati. The same goes for wearing yoga clothes. Obviously, for some it may be important affecting his outlook and practices, but for someone otherwise.

As for Natha janeu, it is very different from a Brahmanic one in terms of ritualistic usage and in terms of a metaphysical sense. The Natha janeu is a symbol of the energetic channels in the subtle body, the process of Kundalini Shakti awakening, unaccented sound (anahata-nada) and nadanusandhana practices related to it. Therefore, symbolism of the Natha's attributes and initiations coincide to what Nathas are practicing.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 07:55:57 AM by Matsyendranatha Yogi »
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Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 03:45:05 AM »

Thank you for the answer Yogiji!

Could you explain why Nathas smoke ganja, is it not contrary to the principles of Hatha Yoga? I asked about it some sadhus and Gurus, but didn't receive a clear answer. Many yoga instructions say that it is contrary to the principles of health and cleanliness, what yoga is associated with. What kind of yoga therapy may be involved when a person takes regular ganja?
At the expense of the subtle body, is also very interesting, because the Buddhists have their cakra description of the subtle body, the Hindu - their own, and different Indian sources give different descriptions of the chakras' structure.
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Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 07:29:36 AM »

Pranam Sadhak ji!

These are very good questions, but they require a detailed answer. It is not always possible to respond meticulously within a forum format. In fact a yoga therapy, in my personal opinion, is a relatively fresh (modernistic) phenomenon, as well as the interpretation of yoga as a therapy. If it was possible to cure all the disease by asanas, they would have been applied in all hospitals as the treatment instead of a drug. Asanas and breathing techniques can lead to some health effects, but they are only side effects not the main destinations objectives of yoga.

As for ganja, it is quite an ancient psychedelic cult, which has its roots in the Vama-marga and Aghora, when adepts used to involve in their rituals intoxication and some impure elements. For example, such elements as bhang, vijaya, madhya (or madira), etc. These should be used as supporting elements for attaining pratyahara and dhyana, in order to enter some other states of consciousness, of course combined with the puja principles. If they were used in the right way for puja, it was not considered as a sin. But rituals of 5Ms (or 7Ms in Aghora) are not revealed to everyone, the ritual requires some complex external actions, special forms of initiations, sometimes expensive ingredients (samagri). Natha yogi are mostly sadhus, not everyone has money to buy expensive samagri, in addition, they prefer to rely less on external factors, and focus more on the inner state. Therefore, Nathas borrowed something from Kaulism, where impure elements have been used so far, but Nathas reduced it to simpler forms. Ganja it is such an element, however, in certain rituals bhang gets used sometimes. Nevertheless, I cannot entirely exclude the possibility of someone of the sadhus smoke it out of habit, without any sense of the sacred. But someone, indeed, may correlate these impure elements with Tantrism, Shaivism, as a tribute to Tradition and Shiva offering. There are also yogis, who don't use intoxications in sadhana, considering it unnecessary for themselves.

About the subtle body's structure. To a greater extent, all chakras reflect Shaiva-Shakta metaphysical views, e.g. by comparison ratio of pithas Kamarupa, Uddiyana, Jalandhara, Purnagiri with some of the body's centres; as well as deities inherent Shaivism: Rudra, Ishwara, Sadashiva, Shakti, Paramashiva, Prakasha, Vimarsha; or Shatka-Shakti like Dakini, Rakini, Lakini and others who came from Aghora, also Matrikas. This and much more came out of Tantrism, which is closer to Shaktism and Shaivism. Since Hatha Yoga is not just a set of physical exercises, but techniques affecting the chakras, Kundalini, etc. (they correspond to Shaiva-Shaktism in the first place), it is certainly Nathism and its practices became more and more associated with  Shaivism. I think that the issue of intoxications came from there (from Tantrism). When I talked to my Guru, he often told me that the tapasvi environment is extremely tamasic, because Tapas means accomplishing something for quite long. This is not the highest form of practice, like Sahaja practice. Still, Hatha Yoga is caring for your body, although it is directed at a subtle body, and by means of developing the subtle plane we may gradually obtain mukti.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 07:11:03 AM by Matsyendranatha Yogi »
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Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2013, 06:00:56 PM »

Yogiji, thank you for the explanation on account of psychedelics among sadhus. At least it gives some idea of these trends' origin in sadhu world. No one says nothing about it. Of course, to a Western yoga practician these concepts are very wild, I think the most yogis accept them as symbols. Personally, I have not seen any orienting point towards tamasika bhava in Vaishnavas, very rarely, mostly they were in sadhus of Shaiva paths. Really, hasn't Vaishnava cults focused on the Kundalini concept, chakras, nada sound and others? Because there are also Vaishva Sahajiyas and many of Vaishnava tantras. Probably, you are right that Vaisnavas focus on the sattvic bhava. Do you know whether any non-dualistic Vaishnava bhakti cults exist nowadays?
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Olaf

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2013, 09:12:46 PM »

Om Namah Shivaya!

The Nath yogis were the best hatha yogis in past! Each Nath Yogi should practice similar is written in  Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In addition, there are 76 Krias that should have been taught by Shiva to Parvati.

Om Shanti Olaf
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lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu

Sadhak

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 07:28:13 AM »

Jaya Mahadev!

Dear Olaf, I first time hear about 74 kriyas, it's interesting. Could you explain in detail what are they? Are there some texts or other sourses are describing them? 
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Olaf

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 05:01:04 PM »

Om Namah Shivaya!
Kriyas are kombinations of mudras. They are for advanced students and should be taught by a teacher. Each mudra is a kombination of different mudras and bandhas. For example:
- Maha Mudra
- Ashwini Mudra > Muladhara Chakra
- Mula Bhandha Mudra > Swadhisthana Chakra
- Agni Sara Mudra > Manipura Chakra
- Matsya Mudra > Anahata Chakra
- Kaki Mudra > Vishuddha Chakra
- Uddhiyana Bandha Mudra > Ajna Chakra
- Nabho Mudra > Sahasrara Chakra
- Maha Vajroli Mudra > all Chakras
- Viparita Karani Mudra > Harmonizationder
- Khechari Mudra > Relaxation and transition into meditation
Swami Satyananda Saraswati has compiled 20 from the 76 kriyas in this book fpr advanced KriyaYoga Sadhana. He had an initiation into Kriya Yoga.  ---> http://www.amazon.com/Kundalini-Tantra-Re-print-Golden-Jubilee/dp/8185787158/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364824204&sr=8-1&keywords=Kundalini+Tantra
The Hatha Vidya Knowledge has been obtained!!
Om Shanti Olaf
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lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu

Matsyendranatha Yogi

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Re: Hatha Yoga in the Nath Sampradaya
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 12:37:26 PM »

Namaskar Sadhak ji!

Of course, there are different schools: Shaiva, Vaishnava, completely non-dualistic and dualistic. Shaivism is more related to Advaita, while Vaishnavism is quite dualistic, although there are some exceptions, but they are rare. Worshiping in its standard form implies that one (a subject), puts himself below an object of worship, it is a bhakti approach, while jnyana approach is more non-dualistic when you observe Atman or Brahman (atmajnyana, brahmajnyana, etc.). Advaita is a closer to yoga, as it has more internal approach. Though, there are different Advaitas such as Shankaracharya's Advaita is a practice of Atmasakshatkara, denial of the delusional world, Maya; Kashmir Shaivism Advaita is another one, when sadhaka perceives this manifested world as Divine Shakti. But all of these are relative things, besides there are many people who consider Shankara as a shakta (a Shrividya-upasaka), also there is Ramanuja Vishishtadvaita and many more. Hinduism is a very multi-dimensional and ambiguous. Is there any place for yoga in those schools? This question requires writing dedicated materials - a huge amount of it, also it requires answering some questions: In which form yoga existed in a particular Sampradaya?, What role has it played in there?, etc. For example, pranayama could be found in a form of nadi-shodhana in almost every tradition where a puja is performed. Obviously that it is not compareable with yoga and vast amount of other Hatha Yoga techniques.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 03:26:26 PM by Matsyendranatha Yogi »
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