Hatha Yoga Pradipika 18 — Things to Avoid

This entry follows “The Duration of Sun-Moon Practice” from chapter one.

My input amidst verses is in [brackets] and in color when commenting.

The following is a rendering of verses 59 to 63 approximately—I find that verses are numbered differently in different editions:

A chaste, moderate eating, renounced, engrossed-in-yoga aspirant becomes accomplished within one year; there is not the least possibility of a doubt about this. 

Chaste (brahmacharya) refers to one whose sexual “seed” has been sublimated, elevated and not lost. (I have put the word “seed” in quotes so that we females may consider this concept according to our own anatomy.)  

Moderate eating is addressed in Hatha Yoga Pradipika 15 – Suitable Food. There is more on this subject coming up below.

Renounced does not refer to sacrifice, but to being on the verge of true detachment—neutrality—naturally. Because of this detached state, the yogi is able to remain continuously engrossed in yoga.

Accomplished refers to having achieved sun-moon union. Accomplishing sun-moon union does not necessarily mean that it is finished, but that one has gotten there.

Moderate eating, or appropriate ingesting, is the consuming of ‘food’ that is naturally tasty, sweet, minus one fourth portion, and eaten to please Lord Shiva.

Yogis consider the following foods to be unsuitable: Bitter, sour, hot [spicy-hot], very salty, unripe vegetables, fermented foods, sesame oil, sesame seed, intoxicating drink, fish, meat, curds, buttermilk, jujube, oil cake, asafoetida, garlic, onion, etc. Reheated, stale, excessively salty, and food turned sour or spoiled, is to be abandoned altogether. 

Remember that what is being sought concerning what one ingests should be tranquil in nature, sattvas. In this verse, the foods listed as unsuitable or to be avoided are of the quality of tamas (inert or lifeless) and rajas (overstimulating). So as we are to understand from Suitable Foods, we are to avoid food, people, situations and environments that are overstimulating or are oppressive, dark or depressive. In other words, avoid anything and everyone unfavorable to the easy-going, moderate and tranquil quality of sattvas. 

Keep in mind that this instruction applies during sun-moon yogaand that some practitioners of yoga have not reached the stage of sun-moon yoga and others have gone beyond it to royal yoga. However, for one wishing to attain to sun-moon yoga, it only makes sense to apply these instructions (and the ones that follow) to one’s own sadhana anyway. 

During the period of continued practice of sun-moon yoga, the aspirant should not tend the fire, associate with women, or go on journeys, etc. Nor should he associate with base, evil-minded people, bathe early in the morning, or fast, and should avoid all laborious and strenuous physical activities.

Should not tend the fire – One should not stoke passion, i.e., seek sexual pleasure.

Should not associate with women – Read “men” if you are a woman, or read whichever gender is sexually attractive to you.

Should not go on journeys – It is in one’s best interest not to move around a lot during Hatha Yoga as this interferes with one’s practice routine and exposes one to unfavorable conditions. This includes wandering as a mendicant as well as moving house over and over again.

Should not associate with base, evil-minded people – It is taught that, when seeking Truth, one should associate only with those persons who have achieved it, or those who also sincerely seek it, particularly those on the same path as you so as to avoid confusion. 

Should not bathe early in the morning – The purpose of this is to avoid cold baths (bathing would have taken place in rivers and streams in the days of the original text).

Should not fast – Fasting is popular in some circles, but it is not recommended during Hatha Yoga.

Should avoid all laborious and strenuous physical activities – Contrary to popular opinion, excesses of all kinds, including exercise and hard work, are discouraged during sun-moon practice. Sun-moon practice will take care of any such needs on the part of the body. 

Durga Ma

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2 thoughts on “Hatha Yoga Pradipika 18 — Things to Avoid

  1. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 19 — The Order of Things | Mystical Tidbits

  2. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 18 — Things to Avoid | Mystical Tidbits | Google First Page Blog

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