Many modern Yoga teachers promote that Yoga reduces weight, makes you happy, healthy, and keeps you in touch with your “inner self.”
Well, they are not far away from the truth. The original Sanskrit Hatha Yoga text called Hathayoga Pradipeeka (1500-1600A.D.), does promise eight benefits of yoga that are rather similar to what your Yoga teacher may promise you.
Hatha Yoga, as you may be familiar, elaborates on the physical aspects of the original Raja Yoga or Patanjali Yoga. Hatha Yoga includes the postures or asanas, various breathing and cleansing techniques, as well as Kundalini tantra practice and meditation. Modern Yoga is mainly based on Hatha Yoga.
So, let’s explore the 8 Promises or signs of advancement in the Hatha Yoga Pradeepika*:
Lean Body (Vapu Krushatvam): Yep, you read it right! This is the first benefit of practicing Hatha Yoga. Yoga regulates various internal systems in the body. It becomes easier to lose weight while practicing Yoga when coupled with a proper diet, which is also prescribed by Yoga and Ayurveda. The result is a lean, toned body, and healthy internal organs. Yoga regulates the weight. So if you are already thin, you will not get thinner but healthier.
Happy/Blissful Face (Vadane Prasannata): As the body cleans from within, the inner bliss is reflected on the face. People may say that “You have a glow on your face.”
Sweeter Voice/Manifestation of Inner Voice (Naad Sfutatvam): With the practice of breathing techniques or Pranayama, our voice gets clearer and sweeter. One may be able to connect with the inner voice as the mind gets calmer.
Clear Eyes/Vision (Nayane Sunirmale): Various cleansing techniques as well as breathing techniques can bring a twinkle to your eyes, and may improve the vision. Yoga practice often sharpens the inner vision or intuition.
Freedom from Diseases (Arogata): With proper yoga practice, one can notice improved physical and mental health.
Control over Desires, especially sexual desires (Bindujayaha): With adapting Yoga as a life style, one can enjoy life without being the slave of senses and desires.
Good Digestion/Strong Digestive Fire (Agnideepanam): Modern science has recognized that weak digestion is the source of most diseases. Hatha Yoga practice rekindles the digestive fire and regulates the metabolism.
Purification at the Cellular and Subtle Level (Naadi vishudhi) : With regular Hatha Yoga practice, the entire body-mind-spirit system gets purified, starting with our cells. Thus one can enjoy the life to the fullest, feeling connected to one’s inner source.
So what’s stopping you from undertaking the Yoga practice and enjoying the life to the fullest?
Hatha Yoga Pradeepika mentions 6 possible reasons or challenges in Yoga or life in general:
Being harsh on oneself or too disciplined
Being around negative people
Unsteadiness of the mind
Hatha Yoga Pradeepika also gives 6 remedies to overcome these challenges:
Desire for the true knowledge
Firmness or conviction in practice
Renouncing the company of unsuitable people
As we can see, the above mentioned material is still relevant and applicable to today’s life. The benefits of Hatha Yoga as a therapy for various challenges–from diabetes to depression in modern life–seem promising as it is a gentle and non-invasive approach.
With the practice of Yoga, may we all be happy, healthy, and harmonious!
References: *Hathayoga Pradeepika by Swatmaram (approximatly 1500-1600A.D.) Chapter/ verses: 2.78, 1.15 and 1.16