Hatha Yoga Pradipika 17 – The Duration of Sun-Moon Practice

Continuing from chapter one, “The Greatness of Continued Practice.”

The first translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition
The second translation is from the Akers edition from yogavidya.com
The third translation is from Swami Kripalu’s Revealing the Secret, and is followed by his commentary.

Things in (parentheses) are from the edition concerned.
My own input amidst verses is in [brackets] and in color when commenting.

The Term (Duration) of Purifying Action Yoga (vs 69)

Sinh edition:
Asanas (postures), various kumbhakas, and other divine means, all should be practiced in the practice of Hatha Yoga, ’till the fruit—Raja Yoga—is obtained.

Akers edition:
Practice Hatha’s asanas, various kumbhakas, and excellent karanas until the fruit of Raja Yoga is won.

Kripalu edition:
Various postures, different holds [locks], energy seals and other unworldly methods: all these systematic practices of sun-moon yoga should be continued until the fruit consisting of royal yoga is attained.

Kripalu Commentary on The Term (Duration) of Purification Action [Kriya] Yoga

Sun-moon yoga is the tree, and royal yoga is its fruit. The liberation-seeking aspirant does the continued practice of sun-moon yoga only for attaining liberation. By means of it, the mastery of the organs is accomplished. Through it, the vital air is brought under control, so that the stabilization of the mental faculty is facilitated. The stabilization of the mental faculty is called royal yoga. In it, Divine Power, rising up from the root-base energy center, becomes of one form with Kind Dissolver in the thousand-spoked energy center. Until the aspirant attains the fruit consisting of royal yoga, his effort is not completely fruitful; this needs to be borne in mind.

What’s the big deal about Raja Yoga? The big deal begins with samadhi and ends with liberation and the ever new joy of union with the Divine. But how does all this start? Where does one begin?

Things begin when one finds a teacher, a guru, who knows Hatha and Raja Yoga. Many people try to practice yoga on their own, and many make good progress, but until one becomes dedicated to a teacher and a path, progress is slow by comparison. So let’s examine an example of how this process might look:  

Joe Blow, who has been managing his yoga practice on his own, finally decides to shop around for a good teacher. Once having found one, he asks for shaktipat diksha. Permission granted.

Joe Blow has shaktipat and the next thing he knows he’s back at first base, listening to teachings on yama and niyama. Joe has never heard of these teachings before (which is why he’s learning about them now), but being a clever fellow, he realizes that he is actually in yoga kindergarten and determines that he must master these yamas and niyamas if he’s going to get on with things. This frustrates him to no end. Joe feels that with all his past experience and all those kriyas that were happening in his meditation before he even met his teacher (which, by the way, he did without anyone’s help, thank you very much!) that he should be getting on with something more advanced!

But Joe is dead serious about his trek in the land of enlightenment, and sticks with it anyway. His teacher has him doing two consecutive hours a day of the practice he learned at his initiation, and which he likes very much. But where’s the action? Where are the goodies? Even the old kriyas begin to elude him. At least with those, he felt like he was getting somewhere. (He doesn’t realize it yet, but he was.) 

Still, Joe is a serious guy and stays with the practice regardless of his frustration, confusion and niggling doubts, and decides to read some scripture to see if that will help. He picks up a copy of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika only to discover that it’s all gibberish—or so he hopes, because if what he suspects as a result of reading this gibberish is true, he hasn’t even begun Hatha Yoga yet! (He hasn’t.)

Joe sticks with the program. After a few months, some interesting things start to happen in his meditation. Now he’s inspired and excited. But the next thing he knows, he’s downright scared. He finally tells his teacher about the scary stuff (he’s been a little embarrassed about this, you see), and his teacher suggests he read the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, skip the commentaries, and pay attention to what Arjuna is going through to see if he feels that there is any correlation to his own situation. More gibberish and still scared. Teacher says, “Go ahead anyway” (with the practice, that is).

At this point, Joe has gotten a lot of personal garbage out of the way, but, being in unfamiliar territory, he’s not yet at a point where he can see this. Then one day (SURPRISE!) Hatha Yoga begins on its own and, with the guidance of his teacher, he begins to catch on. It was this and all the earlier work that seemed so unrelated to the present practice, and paying attention to the yamas and niyamas and using them (he was pretty good at some of them already; he’ll work on the others), that got him here. 

All in all, Joe got to Hatha Yoga fairly soon after his initiation. Only about six months to a year…or so. Now he will spend some years with Hatha Yoga (if he doesn’t balk at the next hurdle or two) and eventually find himself in completely new territory all over again: Raja Yoga.

Jaya Bhagavan,
Durga Ma

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One thought on “Hatha Yoga Pradipika 17 – The Duration of Sun-Moon Practice

  1. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 18 — Things to Avoid | Mystical Tidbits

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