Hatha Yoga is the union (YOGA) of the sun (HA) and the moon (THA), and the body-oriented yoga methods we are exposed to in the West fall under this category.  We aim to bring energy into the SUSHUMNA (central channel), a hollow space in the energetic body extending from the center of the pelvic floor through the crown of the head.  When this occurs, profound stillness results.  We use the direct relationship between PRANA (inner breath), which we can access through the body, and CITTA (‘the mind’).  Normally the entrance to Sushumna is said to be blocked by the coiled snake KUNDALINI, our slumbering energetic potential.  By bringing pairs of opposites such as IDA (the moon channel accessed through the left nostril) and PINGALA (sun, right) into balance, or by joining PRANA with APANA (winds governing inhaling and exhaling patterns in the nervous system) and blending technique and counter-technique, we can wake her and coax her upwards.  We begin to look for traces of one extreme while its complement is dominant.  Eventually we can be with the best of both polarities simultaneously, suspending the mind’s usual dualistic tendencies.  We cannot hope to rest in our center if our NADIS (energy channels) are obstructed with layers of crusty old concepts and conditioning.  Memory is stored somatically, not just represented somewhere in the brain.  Physical forms and movements stretch and squeeze the body, and especially when combined with deep breathing, prana is forced through the system to depths that have long been desensitized and dredges up intense sensations with which we have associated cognitive patterns.  Our bodies start to feel alive again, and when we can observe the feelings without getting lost in the habitual thoughts and reactive behaviors they trigger, the associations become weaker, and we make room in our energetic pipes for flow and space in our lives for creativity and peace.


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