This unique classic teaches hatha yoga as it was originally intended: as a way to uplift your consciousness and aid your spiritual development. Kriyananda’s inspiring affirmations and clearly written instructions show you how to attune yourself to the consciousness of each pose, so that each yoga posture becomes a doorway to life-affirming attitudes, clarity of understanding, and an increasingly centered and uplifted awareness.
Illustrated with photographs of the postures, this authentic “awareness approach” adds an important dimension for advanced practitioners, while providing an excellent foundation for beginners.
• Become aware of the energy flows in your body and their effects on your attitudes and outlook
• Achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul
• Cultivate attitudes of willingness, appreciation, kindness, and joy
• Enjoy a greater sense of radiant health and well-being
• Increase your self-control
• Achieve a richer, more harmonious emotional life
• Deepen your inner awareness
Kriyananda brings the yoga science back to its central focus as an integral part of the meditative science of Raja Yoga. His approach is in the tradition of the ancient hatha yoga and of his own guru, the great Indian master Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the most widely read and respected of all books on yoga, Autobiography of a Yogi.
The Purpose of Yoga Postures
Physical Postures and Mental Awareness
Basic Rules for Yoga Practice
The Full Yogic Breath
Vrikasana, the Tree Pose
Garudasana, the Twisted Pose
Chandrasana, the Moon Pose
Padahastasana, the Jackknife Pose moving into The Backward Bend
Trikonasana, the Triangle Pose
Utkatasana, the Chair Pose
Sasamgasana, the Hare Pose
Supta-Vajrasana, the Supine Firm Pose; Alternate Position, The Camel Pose
Matsyasana, the Fish Pose
Savasana, the Corpse Pose
Paschimotanasana, the Posterior Stretching Pose
Janushirasana, the Head-to-the-Knee Pose
Halasana, the Plow Pose
Karnapirasana, the Ear-Closing Pose
Bhujangasana, the Cobra Pose
Dhanurasana, the Bow Pose
Chakrasana, the Circle Pose
Ardha-Matsyendrasana, the Half Spinal Twist
Ardha-Salabhasana, the Half Locust Pose
Salabhasana, the Full Locust Pose
Akarshana Dhanurasana, the Pulling-the-Bow Pose
Viparita Karani, the Simple Inverted Pose
Sarvangasana, the Shoulderstand
Sirshasana, the Headstand
Vajrasana, the Firm Pose
Siddhasana, the Perfect Pose
Padmasana, the Lotus Pose
Yoga Mudra, the Symbol of Yoga
A. Breathing Exercises
B. Poses and Affirmations
Basic Principles: The Purpose of Yoga Postures
In the main stream of life two currents, especially, may be observed. One is toward an expansion of awareness. The other is a sinking back into sleep and unawareness, a shutting out of reality, a longing for death. Positive and negative—in all of us, both of these trends may be observed.
To the extent that we draw the world to us, by an attitude of willingness, appreciation, kindness, joy, we express the positive current. When, by unwillingness, a critical attitude, selfishness, unkindness, grief, we push the world away from us, excluding it from our circle of awareness, we express the negative current. Man, unlike the lower animals, has the freedom greatly to quicken his evolutional climb toward perfect awareness—or, if he prefers, to fall back into the mires of unknowing from which he emerged. It is for him to rejoice in his existence, or merely to wallow in it.
Every growth in awareness is, in the last analysis, a growth in Self-awareness. What we observe in the world depends on our own capacity for observation. An anguished spirit will find in everything justification for its anguish. A joyous spirit will see reasons for gladness everywhere. No amount of pious maxims or lofty philosophy can bring light into man’s world beyond what already exists in his own consciousness.
The true purpose of yoga is to facilitate the development of this Self-awareness—not as a self-enclosure, but as a doorway to an expanded awareness of the surrounding universe, of truth, of very life.
Usually, hatha yoga (the science of yoga asanas, or postures) is taught only from a standpoint of its benefits to the body. And from this standpoint it might well be said that the yoga postures, as a system for achieving longevity and radiant health, stand supreme. We have personally seen old men, practitioners of this science, who might have passed for young men in their thirties. At Allahabad we met an ancient yogi, named Deohara Baba, who was reputed to be 140 years old. His hair was black, his body muscular. He could easily have been taken for a man of about 50.
Old age and sickness settle first in the joints and in the spinal discs. Anatomical studies reveal that these spinal discs often begin to show signs of degeneration as early as man’s third decade, which is to say, in his twenties. The yoga postures loosen the joints; they stretch and irrigate the vertebrae, keeping them youthful even late into old age. They promote the free flow of energy throughout the nervous system and assist in the elimination of toxins and poisons from the joints and other body parts where these foreign elements tend otherwise to settle, sometimes permanently. The postures exert a beneficial pressure on various glands and internal organs, flushing and stimulating them. Even a little bit of this practice can produce astonishing improvements in one’s general health.
It is small wonder, then, that hatha yoga should be growing in popularity in the West as rapidly as it is. A few years ago an article in California’s Palo Alto Times (now the Peninsula Times Tribune) listed the grievances of high school students in a neighboring community. Among the “rights” demanded by those youngsters was instruction in the yoga postures.
Yes, whether for good or ill, the asanas are well on their way to becoming a fad. But the aim of these postures, so far, has generally been recognized to be only the promotion of physical health. Much more is involved.
For by the yoga postures one can improve his mental outlook. He can achieve a richer, more harmonious emotional life. The postures are a definite aid to spiritual development. Particularly, from a standpoint of the approach of this book, they help one to develop a more vital awareness. The hatha
yogi (a yogi is one who practices the yoga science) learns to include his body
in the general circle of his awareness, to live in his body instead of merely
existing in it. By increasing his physical awareness he can free his mind from
the imperatives to commonly imposed upon man by his body: weakness, fatigue,
physical sluggishness and resistance, discomfort, pain. He is thus able to make
the body the servant of his will. Health, as it is usually conceived, is
negative: a mere absence of disease. But the yoga postures help to create a
joyous sense of vitality and well-being. They make the body an ally, not a
neutral neighbor or even a foe, of the soul in its search for expanding
Standing Poses: Chandrasana, The Moon Pose
“Strength and courage fill my body cells.”
Chandrasana will help make you more conscious of the spine, a vital necessity in more advanced poses.
Stand with feet together, with the weight on the balls of the feet. Be conscious now of your spine—imagine that a rising current of
energy in the spine is extending upward beyond the shoulders.
Inhale slowly and bring your arms out to the sides, palms upward, and straight up above your had. As your hands meet, lock your thumbs
together with your palms facing forward, stretch upward, and rise up on your toes.
Now exhale, shifting the right hip to the right, and extend the stretch of the upper body to the left. Remain slightly up on your toes.
Try not to twist the body, but keep it flat, as thought you were bending between two panes of glass.
Be aware of the upward movement of energy in your body, as if it were the energy itself that is stretching your body and extending the
stretch to the left.
Affirm mentally, “Strength and courage fill my body cells.”
Hold this pose for approximately 30 seconds, breathing naturally when you need to.
Inhale, returning to the upright position. Stretch upward again.
Exhale and bring your arms slowly down to your sides, settling back onto your heels.
Repeat Chandrasana in the opposite direction.
(Original Title: Yoga Postures for Higher Awareness)
The yoga science my Guru introduced to the West was the meditative science of Raja Yoga. The physical postures, or asanas, are an aspect of that science, but a subsidiary one. Although Paramhansa Yogananda didn’t actually teach the asanas, he did highly recommend them. Often he had me demonstrate them, too, for his luncheon guests. Photos of me in various Hatha Yoga asanas were often featured in articles on them in Self-Realization Magazine during the nineteen-fifties.
I began to teach Hatha Yoga in and around San Francisco in 1965. Soon thereafter I developed a new approach to the asanas, one that I felt was more in tune with the true meaning of yoga than most explanations of them. For the supreme goal of that ancient science is union with God; it has nothing to do with the trendy “this-will-slim-your-hips, girls” approach. Hatha Yoga is not a system of physical culture, except insofar as it teaches the importance of keeping the body fit—as my Guru once put it to me—”for God- Realization.” The system I developed is compatible with the high spiritual truths taught in Raja Yoga, and championed by Paramhansa Yogananda.
My Guru never explained the yoga postures specifically to me. Nevertheless, I think (hope might be a better word) that I learned something spiritually from him when I was performing them in his presence for his guests. At any rate, I know that the system I evolved is in tune with everything he taught, and I feel secure about presenting them as his system, not my own.
Today, Ananda Yoga has become widely known in many countries.
“Kriyananda is one of the world’s most respected teachers of Eastern philosophy.”
“Kriyananda shines as a light on the Path—a path we all walk, run, or stumble along toward the truth of our own divinity.”