Maharishi's Yoga Asanas

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi prepared a Six Month Course, followed by a Second Course of One Year, in Yogas Asanas, which he termed "...a reliable practice from the ancient tradition of Yogis." According to Yogi, Asanas are idealy suited to the fast tempo of modern life in order to keep the body flexible. He recomended about ten minutes each day for the Yoga Asanas program. The advantage of Asanas over other types of excercise is that Yoga Asanas do not consume energy. This course had been adopted by the International Academy of Meditation at Shankaracharya Nagar, Himalayas.

Hatha Yoga, the yoga of force, was developed by Matsyendra, one of the most illustrous of the Mahasiddhas, numbering 84, according to tradition. According to David Gordon White, "It was especially within two tantric sects, the Western Transmission and the Yogin Kaula (transmitted by Matsyendra), that a practical concomitant to this speculative - and in some cases gnoseological or soteriological - metaphysics came to be elaborated.

This was Hatha Yoga, the "method of violent excertion," whose system of the six chakras ("wheels [or circles] of transformation") became the centerpiece of the doctrine and practice of the Nath Siddhas - who claim their origins in the person and teachings of Matsyendranath" (5).

Hatha Yoga: The Report of a Westerner

by Theos Bernard     

     "THIS STUDY is the report of a Westerner who has practiced Yoga under a teacher in India. The pri mary purpose of the investigation was to test by personal experience the techniques of Hatha Yoga. For this purpose I went to India and Tibet. First I made a general acquaintance with India, meeting and talk-ing with people from every walk of life, from rajas to beggars, kavirajas to magi-cians, scholars to students, saints to sadhus. I visited colleges, libraries, mu-seums, temples, shrines, ashramas, and ghats from Calcutta to Bombay, from Kashmir to Ceylon, including all the out-standing cities, such as Allahabad, Ben-ares, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Srinagar, Peshwar, Uddipur, Hyderabad, Mysore, Bangalore, Madras, Madura, and Tri-chinopoly. This alone consumed several months, but provided an impression of India's culture to be had in no other way.

     After the "grand tour" I submitted to a course of traditional training in Hatha Yoga, taking notes and making critical observations in order to appraise the re-sults in the light of experience rather than of theory. I was, in fact, induced to make this practical trial of Yoga because of the disappointments I experienced in connec-tion with Yoga theory. The theories, about which there is an abundant litera-ture, were confusing rather than informa-tive regarding the practical content and discipline of Hatha Yoga. To this end I became the sincere disciple of a highly esteemed teacher and settled down at his retreat in the hills near Ranchi. Under his supervision and guidance I adhered to the rigid discipline imposed upon one who wishes to practice Hatha Yoga.

     In order to further my studies, it was suggested by my teacher that I go to Tibet. According to him, what has become mere tradition in India is still living and visible in the ancient monasteries of that isolated land of mysteries. Immediately I set forth. My first intimate contact with the training as it is found in Tibet was through a renowned hermit on the Ti-betan border in northern Sikkim. With him, by means of an interpreter, I was able to converse about the doctrines and literature of Tibetan Lamaism. Through him I was able to make a general inven-tory of the literature of the Kargyupa sect, which contains the earliest material taken into Tibet from India from the sev-enth to the eleventh century. My travels culminated in a pilgrimage to the holy city, Lhasa, where I was accepted as an incarnation of a Tibetan saint.

This re-moved all obstacles and enabled me to take part in the religious ceremonies of the Jo-Wo Kang and the Ramoche, the two sacred temples in Lhasa, in rites held at the tomb of the last Dalai Lama in the Nam Gyal Ch'oide of the Potala, as well as to attend the services held in many of the smaller shrines of that great palace. Opportunity was given for me to partici-pate in ceremonies and discuss the teach-ings with some of the leading Lamas of the famed monasteries of Drepong, Sera, Ganden, Dochen, Dra-Yarpa, Palk'or Ch'oide, at Gyantse, Tashi-Lumpo, in Shigatse, and Saskya, "the Oxford of Asia," which was the original seat of learning in Tibet and today houses one of the largest libraries of the land.

     During my stay in Lhasa, a learned geshe from the Sera monastery lived with me. He helped me to find and classify the literature I sought and instructed me." - Theos Bernard

Other titles of interest by Theos Bernard, M.A., Llc., P.hD.:

'Hatha Yoga'

'Penthouse of the Gods'

'Heaven Lies Within You'

'Philosophical Foundations of India'

Works Cited:

"A Six Month Course in Yoga Asanas"
by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Rishikesh: International SRM Publications, 1962

"The Alchemical Body"
Siddha Traditions in Medieval India
by David Gordon White
Chicago: University Press, 1996
Paper. 596 pages. Illustrated. Bibliography. Index.
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"Hatha Yoga"
by Theos Bernard, M.A., Llc., P.hD.
New York: Columbia U. Press, 1932
Illustrated. Partial Translations of Hatha Yoga Pradapika.
Out of print. Rare. A classic.