The Secret World of Tantric Hatha Yoga
The Secret World of Tantric Hatha Yoga
Secret Worlds: Tantric Hatha Yoga
Most people are familiar with some different types of yoga. But what does yoga have to do with Tantra? Isn’t Tantra all about tea light candles and spicing up your sex life?
This post will go through how Hatha yoga differs from traditional western yoga and explains the different levels of benefits from the practice and how it can make you feel confident and empowered.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
The word “yoga” literally translates as “yoke” – that thing that joins the necks of the oxen together when they pull a cart. It is a metaphor for “union”, the joining together of two opposite things. “Hatha” is made up of two Sanskrit words, “ha” (the sun), representing movement and heat, and “
“Hatha yoga is an ancient science, devoted to bringing the body into a state of balance, where it is possible to act in a state of complete calm.”
What Makes Yoga Tantric?
The Tantric tradition is thousands of years old. In contrast with ascetic spirituality (which tries to reach the Divine by escaping the physical world), Tantric spirituality views the entire Universe as a manifestation of the Divine. Therefore, any spiritual practice which uses the body is a Tantric practice. All yoga asanas (postures) can be traced back to Tantric roots.
The connection between the physical practice of yoga asanas and spiritual practice was obscured when yoga asanas came to the West. Westerners are generally familiar with yoga as a means to stretch and relax the body, rather than a vehicle for reaching altered states of consciousness.
What Is Tantric Hatha Yoga?
Tantric hatha yoga is hatha yoga practice which has returned to its roots in the search for higher states of consciousness.
The purpose of Tantric hatha yoga is not to become super-flexible, or to work-out, but to still the chattering of the everyday mind. Bringing awareness to more subtle levels of consciousness.
How Tantric Hatha Yoga Differs
If you are familiar with Western forms of yoga, the first difference you will notice with Tantric hatha yoga is the focus on mental concentration. Asanas are held for several minutes to allow time for the mind to settle, and the effects of the asana to be felt.
“The mind is usually focused on a particular place in the body.
What are the Benefits of Hatha Yoga?
The Physical Level
Although Tantric hatha yoga is not focused on increasing flexibility or strength, it can be a common side benefit.
Certain asanas affect the mobility of joints, extend the reach of tendons, and build muscular strength. There are also many asanas which require balance in various positions. The inverted postures like headstand and shoulder stand also have many health benefits.
Participants report an increase in core strength, balance, and flexibility. Annoying aches and pains reduce, the quality of sleep improves, and your ability to relax and recover becomes greater.
The Energetic Level
The effect of Tantric hatha yoga is to increase the overall energy level, as the body operates more efficiently.
When Tantric hatha yoga refers to “energy”, it is not so much of a phenomenon. The body has a detectable electrical field. This field changes based on heart rate, blood flow, hormones, and many other biological functions.
The practice of hatha yoga directly affects this. Simply focusing the mind on a particular part of the body directly increases blood flow to that area. Practices which compress and then release an area stimulate the flow of lymph fluid. Twisting the neck stimulates the thyroid gland, the source of many important hormones.
The Emotional Level
Our emotions are more closely tied in with our physiology than many of us realise. Many Tantric hatha yoga postures encourage opening the chest and pulling back the shoulders. This is a well-known antidote to depression and creates a feeling of confidence and empowerment that stays with you.
Breathing practices, known as “pranayama” (control of the energy), also have an immediate, powerful and noticeable impact on our emotional states.
“Other practices move energy from lower centres, where it may create lower emotions. Higher centres empower confidence, gratitude, and unconditional love.”
The Mental Level
It is easy to see how the modern world, with its encouragement of inertia and poor posture, sets people up for low emotional states. These low emotional states contribute to confusion, indecisiveness, poor memory, and inaccurate self-image.
Certain Tantric hatha yoga practices affect the mind directly, sharpening mental acuity and memory. The continual practice of mental concentration develops the mental “muscle” over time, allowing you to develop the capacity for deeper concentration. Other practices allow you to expand your awareness to aspects of your thinking that were previously subconscious, and therefore invisible to you.
Some benefits gained from the mental level of tantric hatha yoga include:
- Better memory
The Spiritual Level
The word “Spiritual”, in this sense, refers to your individual experience of the different states of consciousness that are available to us as human beings. This includes states which have been referred to as “awakening”, “enlightenment”, “Christ consciousness”, “samadhi”, and “nirvana”.
“Practicing Tantric Hatha Yoga can increase your access to states of acceptance, detachment, gratitude, unconditional love, purity, appreciation of beauty, and non-judgemental observation.”
How to Get Started
Because Tantric hatha yoga has a spiritual and mental focus, the flexibility of your body is not important. We encourage participants of Tantric hatha yoga to make use of supports and to attempt easier versions of the asanas. With proper mental concentration, many of the beneficial effects of the asana can be felt. Even when your body is not able to achieve the full version of an asana.
Tantric hatha yoga can be practised by anyone from the youngest child to the oldest great-grandparent. It is particularly beneficial for people whose health doesn’t allow them to undertake more vigorous forms of exercise.
It’s easy to get started in Tantric hatha yoga – there are no prerequisites. Simply join a class, do the practice, and observe the effects on your body, mind, and emotions. If you find it valuable, keep going. You may have just started a lifetime journey of fascinating discoveries!