Friday, February 10, 2012

The Real Purpose of Hatha Yoga

This morning I was studying the Hatha Yoga Padipika with commentary by Swami Muktibodhananda and I found this to be very inspiring and a wonderful reminder about the real role of a yoga teacher. 

Swamiji explains, "In the last forty years hatha yoga has been accepted as a therapeutic science all over the world and many scientific studies have been conducted in this field. Today we teach yoga to people because it is very necessary. Man [the human] has become sick and medical science is not able to meet the challenge. Hatha yoga, however, has been helping everybody. Therefore, we do not want to discourage this aspect, but at the same time we should not forget what hatha yoga really stands for.

Behind every sick man there is a spiritual man. Behind a diabetic there is a yogi. Behind a man suffering from depression there is an aspirant. When a patient comes for help, teach him yoga and make him better. Treat his sickness, but do not stop there. Take him further into the spiritual domain of life.

This is the mistake that most yoga teachers make in the West. 

They just take a patient with arthritis, rheumatism or insomnia, teach him a few exercises and that is it. Hatha yoga has not been used to treat the total personality. This is why teachers are not able to raise the level of their pupils. 

Just to improve the physical health is not enough. The mental health must also improve, the nature must change, the personality must change, the psychological and the psychic framework also has to change. You should not merely feel freedom from disease, but freedom from bondage and from the vagaries of the mind.

Now, the time has come when teachers in every part of the world must understand and transmit the true spirit of hatha yoga."


  1. Thanks for posting this, Lila. I feel fortunate and grateful that I have found teachers who have gone beyond the teaching of asana.

  2. Thank for posting this, Lila. I went to Hatha Yoga today and I was thinking of you!