All Yoga is Hatha Yoga they say, right?

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Is Hatha the oldest form of Yoga?

Hatha Yoga is a style of Yoga. It is said to be the Mother of all Yoga Practices. Does the Motherhood state come from age? To have an idea, we can consider the most known hatha yogic texts such as Hatha Pradipika which is dated around 15th ce and Gheranda Samhita, that is around18th ce. Though hatha yogic texts gives us an idea about those scripture’s centuries we cannot date Hatha Yoga only by that since, traditionally, knowledge would be passed on orally, straight from the Guru, the Master Teacher.That means, texts can be reasonably recent in comparison to their content’s real birth time. But, one-thing researchers do know: Hatha Yoga has great part of its roots in Tantra. A Tantra that has nothing to do with what unfortunately the West has poorly absorbed and is in its practices concerned with widening awareness and self-consciousness…But that is a theme for another post.

Traces of this Tantra can be found thousands of years ago, some even say 10 thousand. However, here again, what science does know is that tantric texts are also found in our Common Era, around 5th ce and 7th ce. In addition to that, even though Hatha Yoga can be connected to what may be very ancient practices, there are practices known as Yoga in older scriptures than the Hatha Yogic texts… And those define Yoga as different practices than the one we go for nowadays in what is known as a Yoga Class.

So how exactly Hatha Yoga is the Mother of the practices we know today as Yoga?

There are a few recognized scriptures connected to Hatha Yoga. Before this Hatha Yogic Literature, the asana (the body-practice!), as it is taught today in Yoga Classes, was simply not present in any text and Yoga was mainly understood as a diverse set of meditational techniques – seated meditation techniques.

It is only through those Hatha Yogic scriptures that we have described body techniques (asanas) and other techniques such as cleansing techniques (kriyas), breath techniques (pranayama), energy locks (bandhas), etc. Before those texts the concept of asana – when appeared in a scripture – was only interpreted as a meditative body posture. So as you can see, since nowadays a Yoga practice is mainly constituted of body practices together with breathing practices we can say that they are mainly rooted in Hatha Yoga School. And, obviously, as time goes by, styles have been developed and maybe grown away from its roots.

It is important to know, though, that Yoga along meaning itself Freedom or Union with the Divine has always been interpreted as the techniques for being freed from suffering whether only meditational or not. Hatha Yoga, then, is the set of techniques that uses the body and specially the management of the breath to attain that goal, also going through meditation and giving away health and happiness as side effects of its journey.

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Studying the scriptures and a little bit of History is crucial to keep us inspired. We do offer 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course in Goa, India if you are interested in deepening your Yoga Scripture knowledge and your Yoga practice, join us.

Suzana Altero
Turiya Yoga