What Is Hridaya Hatha Yoga?
Cultivating Relaxation & Openness
through Yoga Practice
What Is Hridaya Hatha Yoga? Using the Body to Discover the Self
The word “yoga” evokes many images, from sages sitting in the lotus position on the banks of the Ganges to stretch pants-clad young people bounding through acrobatic workouts. These days, it can be hard to know what you’ll be doing when you sign up for a yoga class. So, what is Hridaya Hatha Yoga? In short, it’s a way to use the body to discover the Self.
More Than Just Physical Postures
At Hridaya, we practice Hatha Yoga in a contemplative way. We perform physical postures (asanas) slowly and gently, holding them for a while to get the most benefit. The physical practice is integrated with Advaita, the non-dual vision. That means that you are not just stretching the body, you are engaging with it—at every level. While in an asana, your focus is on gaining intimate knowledge of the body and its bio-energies. You observe the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and actions that arise in and around you while remaining non-reactive. In this way, you connect to the essence of your being, the Spiritual Heart.
This inward focus is recommended by the traditional texts of Tantra Yoga and Kashmir Shaivism. Encouraging relaxation and happiness rather than effort or strain, Hatha Yoga is an ideal starting point for your spiritual journey.
The Natural Yoga of the Heart
Hridaya Hatha Yoga is natural yoga, a free expression of energy, where everything is done straight from the Heart. We don’t try to push energy in certain directions or to achieve specific results. That only further strengthens the mind and the individual will.
Instead, we share meditative attitudes to help you develop an inner sense of freedom. These attitudes imbue your Hatha Yoga practice with a deeper meaning and enhance your ability to focus and express your personality. You become more discerning, balanced, and dynamic.
Yoga—Joy, Relaxation, Celebration, and Surrender
The Spiritual Heart expresses its power of love and happiness in every asana. We do not focus on performing a spectacular or artistic pose, but on awakening and expressing the Heart’s inner happiness. This happiness radiates throughout the body, removing tension, strain, and stress. We avoid practicing in a dry, mechanical way and seek to awaken the joy, love, and clarity generated by the awareness of the present moment.
When you hold an asana without tension or unnecessary muscle contractions, you perceive a “blossoming” of the flow of energies. In this way, the practice reflects a positive, life-affirming attitude. It allows you to open your heart and celebrate life. The asana becomes a mechanism for transformation and healing, a process for revealing your higher Self, not just an energizing and healthy exercise.
You begin to experience yoga as a spiritual art, understanding that the revelations that arise don’t derive from personal effort alone, but from the capacity to surrender personal limitations.
The Role of the Body and Emotions
We see the physical body as a divine instrument designed to enable us to experience the ecstasy of recognizing and glorifying the Infinite One, advaita, in multiplicity, samsara.
The body is a majestic manifestation of the spirit, not just a mass of dense matter. Similarly, thoughts, desires, passions, and emotions are not obstacles to spiritual awakening to be repressed or eliminated. Instead, they are tools for expanding individual consciousness and even transcending it.
The physical body and subtle energies represent divine gifts that can help you discover true freedom. What is Hridaya Hatha Yoga? It is a practice that develops and refines all aspects of the being: the body, mind, emotions, intuition, and most fundamental virtues.
The Seven Steps of the Hridaya Hatha Yoga Practice:
- The Witnessing Attitude. Come into the present moment, observing any thoughts, feelings, or emotions with non-reactivity.
- Relaxation. Enter the asana slowly, gradually, and with awareness. Keep the body relaxed and feel the joy of stretching. Enter the posture with the same naturalness and spontaneity that a cat has when stretching its body.
- Immobility. Once you are in the posture, try to stay as still as possible. This induces the stillness of the mind.
- Open Attention. Be aware of the background of Stillness as you notice any physical or subtle sensations, impressions, energy streams, or chakra activations that arise. Cultivate a state of observation full of love, free from analyzing, labeling, or conceptualizing.
- Chakra Activation. Acknowledge the specific energy or energies awakening in you.
- Universal Energy. Become aware of the universal quality of the perceived energy. It is no longer “my energy,” but universal. This does not mean that a universal energy replaces a personal energy. It is just another perspective on the same phenomenon.
- Surrender. Ask “Who am I?” and surrender the ego’s consciousness to the Spiritual Heart. In this way, the practice of an asana becomes a meditation in itself. You become aware of the infinite and non-dual nature of your being.