The yoga student or sadhaka is prepared to undertake a programme of self discipline in order to improve his character, achieve psychological cleansing of past difficulties, and follow the traditional methods of Yogic practice that will lead to spiritual experience and realization of the truths of life.
The natural law that determines each of us grows through self effort is recognized and adhered to and it is up to the aspiration and determination of each student that personal spiritual progress is made under the watchful eye of the Guru. This classical system is still followed by some but in western adaptation of the training process there are some considerable modifications.
Firstly, there are many professional teachers to guide a student in Hatha Yoga but in western life it is a very rare relationship to find a devoted life student who reveres a wiser person as his mentor and spiritual teacher. It is equally unusual to find a wise individual who is prepared to undertake the responsibility of such a personal charge that embraces physical and spiritual training of another. Consequently any transmission of wisdom and guidance is based upon impersonal general philosophical teachings rather than through spiritual intimacy. The individual aspirant is forced to a large extent to rely upon his own integrity and his own intuition in applying the spiritual directives in the Yogic system.
These principles apply and are a reliable guide to those who wish to advance their self culture and invite further understanding of life through their own development of spiritual consciousness. The prescribed common disciplines and exercises are practised according to individual enthusiasm and sense of purpose. Each of these should be studied carefully.
Yamas/Niyamas are moral and ethical values. It is usual to accept these as they are inherent in all cultures and civilizations and every enduring religion is based upon the restraints that are demanded that we do not behave with violence or by stealing for instance and the need to cultivate the nobler qualities of loving kindness and truth. There are corresponding guidelines applied to health in Hatha Yoga.
Asanas – teach us of the need for correct attitudes of mind and body
Pranayama – demonstrates many practical ways of increasing and directing energies constructively through respiration
Pratyahara – reminds us of the need to cultivate and control all of our senses that we are not enslaved by them but apply our sensitivities appropriately
Dharana – is then able to be achieved without distraction as we learn how to cultivate the mind and control our emotional and thinking processes through psychological self- understanding
Dhyana – is the passive control of the mind to allow a calm and receptive state in which we find soul refreshment through meditation and contemplation
Samadhi – indicates the arrival at a state of being beyond activity and effort where we become receptive to the Universal spiritual energies and wisdom of our human race. This is a unique, sublime spiritual experience.
Through our personal self culture, self discipline and personal aspiration, known as Sadhana, we have opportunity to assure our physical and psychological health and to directly experience spiritual consciousness.