Essay by Yogâchârya Mario Verri
Founder and Master of Centro Pûrņa Yoga
at World Wide Yoga Conference
18-20 September 2009
S. Domenico Auditorium – Rome, Italy
I am Mario Verri. I practice and teach Yoga at the Purna Yoga Center in Rome, founded and directed by me in 1973.
The teaching, based on the power of antique and original Yoga traditions, has as its principle references the classical texts. Different path of Yoga are experimented and experienced in their harmonious interaction, to achieve “PURNA”, the completeness and the entirety of the BEING.
Furthermore, I am honoured to have know many important masters of Yoga, amongst them Guru Ambu and Doctor Gharote.
The subject which will be examined in the course of this event, has as the central theme “Yoga brought back to Yoga” and how is this achieved if not through authentic Unity? Such a treatise, as can be perceived, demands a great commitment.
How , in fact, can such an observation be understood in the best possible way?
How can we be enlightened and enlighten to go back to the origins of Yoga? It is this, in reality, what we are dealing with: to comprehend evermore and ever better the message that many influential yogins handed down to us.
If we proceed to analyse what the ancient foreseers and researchers of Yoga intended concerning some important points, as for example: the human body, the spine, the natural movement of the body and the nadis quoted in Hathapradipika, well! offered to the serene eye of the researcher, their illuminating, manifest or concealed knowledge is astounding.
Before penetrating the theme of this report, some clarifications regarding the text, previously mentioned, (namely HP) should be provided. Having to examine, in this event, the origins of Yoga, we have chosen this text because of its contents, which in our opinion, is truly outstanding. Although there are many equally valid texts, such as Yoga-sutra and the Bhagavad-gita.
The Hathapradipika, which means “The Clear Lantern of Hatha”, is a text on Yoga written in 1350 AD, and many versions exist. The one here taken into consideration is one of the most influential and was published in 1970 by the famous Kaivalyadhama Institute of Lonavla. It consists of five chapters and 409 shlokas.
We possess another version of HP, published by the Lonavla Institute, subdivided into 10 chapters and 626 verses.
Another version, indeed monumental, is that of the Rajasthana Institute. Ms number 6756, which is comprised of 1553 verses, subdivided into six chapters.
In the light of what has so far been related, it appears evident that the cited manuscripts are probably part of a text and of a science of Yoga which was much more detailed than was previously assumed and practised.
It is undeniable, therefore, to investigate, to do research and to practise deeply is the least that can be expected of earnest researchers of Yoga. This said, let us go and examine, as much as is possible, the above mentioned points.
I° Point – THE HUMAN BODY
A singularity can be noticed immediately: in Italian and in many other languages, only two words exist to fully indicate the complexity of the corporeal body of man, the term body and the term organism, whilst in the Hathapradipika text, edited in the Sanskrit language, we can find several different enlightening terms such as Deha, Kaya, Sharira, Pinda, etc., up to a total of ten terms. We can even observe that Sanskrit, the language spoken by the Gods, uses a very refined language, as an example we can observe that the word “go”, which indicates the cow, also means, ox, milk, leather, bow string, cantor; sky, lightening, earth, cattle, stars and rays of light. It is simply amazing that such a language can have so much wealth of concepts, therefore it is evident that its terms have many different and functional meanings, hence every single word must be understood both in its uniqueness and in its relationship to the entire phrase in which it is inserted. So, if every word is to be used in a precise context and in a profoundly appropriate manner, it must be studied starting from its roots.
Let us examine the word Deha.
Deha comes from the source “DIH” which means “To Consecrate, To Daub”. The profound meaning which this term transmits is very simple and clear. In every one of our activities, not only during our Yoga “lessons”, I repeat, in every one of our activities, first of all it is necessary to consecrate, make sacred that which we are about to do and hence, we can then thoroughly spread both the action and the benefit which is derived. Does it seem that modern day man is mindful of Consecrating each of his actions?
2° Point – The SPINE or MERUDANDA
Normally the spine is dealt with quite well, but in reality, in the West, no one goes beyond the anatomical and physiological aspects. In fact five Merudandas exist, the spine, the energetic, the mental, the intelligent and the joyful. All these are in connection with the various sheaths or Koshas.
The Spine is the Supporting Axis of the human body and carries out, at the same time, the functions of stability and mobility, flexibility and solidity, resistance and adjustment, as well as support (lungs) and protection, given that it contains and protects the Spinal Cord and the roots of the Spinal Nerves, it moreover allows, a solid anchorage of the bone apophysis to the muscles of the dorsal tract.
It is supported by the Pelvis which revests an important role in the well-balanced posture of the body, while at its summit is the Head. All this being said, it is not possible to manifest an appropriate and well-balanced action without there being a profound control of the Articulations of the Pelvis, as this results in being the Motor of the Body.
Hence the back should be vigorous, powerful and a great support, with the Spine that stretches flexibly, and the Abdomen should be a combination of naturally toned up muscles.
What is of great interest about the Spine is the answer we can and must give to simple and intelligent question:
“Why must we keep the Spine perfectly aligned?”
“Because the perfect alignment requires minimum commitment and guarantees maximum stability”.
We need to insist on this point because it is of great importance. In our experience, having seen and verified numerous students,, we have noticed their difficulties in “feeling” the Spine and this can only be achieved by perfectly aligning it, and making it become a perfect Axis. If we talk about a perfect Axis, it means that it is necessary to pass through several levels of Consciousness: The Spine, seen in this way is, is a Living Structure of Intelligent Wisdom, a constant expanding, layer after layer of Consciousness and Evolution.
Hence, in conclusion, the transition to the other Spines, previously mentioned, requires The Alignment and The Anatomic Subtlety.
Let us now see the 3rd Point, MOVEMENT AND POSTURE
We would like to consider the Asanas, which are Corporal Models engraved into the brain, as something that is much more vast and profound, and that is not only the performance of Yoga positions, but something that has do to with both the Motionless and the Dynamic aspects of the energy. Only in this way is it possible to experience the energetic fullness that should not privilege either aspect.
In fact, “the Stance, then becomes the Posture, it is the Position of the body in space, always subjected to the force of gravity, whose influences are utilized by the entire neuromotory system which then interacts in both the Static and the Dynamic with the least expenditure of energy”.
Therefore, with regards to Movement we should ask ourselves what is the Posture and what is the Position, given that many people think that the Posture only pertains to a static approach. But this is totally misleading inasmuch as the Posture has another meaning and value, as it concerns both the Static and the Dynamic. If we observe a person who is vertically aligned, we consider him to possess an adequate Posture, whilst, it often occurs that adopting an excellent Position and simultaneously an adequate Posture; because this also concerns themanner in which a specific position is assumed, be it correct or not. The Position, on the contrary, is related to the individualization and the definition of the different corporal areas.
What must be understood is that it is necessary to increase the level of profound relaxation of the body/mind so as to utilize only what is needed, that is to say, perform economical and precise movements in the appropriate moment. In fact the Posture communicates the manner in which to perform the movements, englobingmotivation, meaning and modality of the execution, in the exact instant that it is performed: it indicates the existing bond between intention and execution of the movement, the manner in which the various areas of the body appear connected in the achievement of a “transformation or maintaining a state”. It is therefore necessary to develop a refined ability to be able to achieve that which must be performed, be profoundly aware of which parts of our body are influenced and fluidly coordinate the muscular structure.
The least indicated, yet most common Postures are those which we assume when we are under great emotional stress. In fact the relationship between a correct Posture and Equilibrium, that is to say with a mental and emotional tranquillity, is an excellent means of evaluating if a position is effective. Hence excessive or flaccid muscular tension, or strong emotional influences are not compatible with a functional Posture.
Even to this regard we have examined and “tested” numerous students noticing difficulty in their movements and in maintaining the positions in an intelligent manner. In other words, the movement “must begin from the waist”, the appropriate muscles , generally speaking, should be used and must cease in the exact moment that there is no longer any need. The knowledge of the body must be profound, that is to say, it is necessary to use the superficial muscles for the dynamism and the deeper ones for stability. So, when we perform Yoga Positions, we must keep in mind “intelligently” the entire Passage and not only the Position.
Reflecting deeply on this last sentence, we truly understand what we need to develop a functional Postural Re-education, which takes into account both the Statics and the Dynamics, hence the Moon and the Sun. The steps to be followed are:
1) Structural Balance.
- The development of a Central Upright Axis.
- The bone structure “sustains” the muscular activity.
- The bones “substitute” the muscles.
- Swarupa asana – The essential form.
2) Energetic or Pranic Balance.
- Prana, is used to go beyond the bones.
3) Mental Balance.
- Control of the Moon and the Sun.
2) Bilanciamento Energetico o Pranico.
- Il Prâņa viene usato per andare oltre le ossa.
3) Bilanciamento Mentale.
- Dominio della Luna e del Sole.
IV°Point – The NADIS
Let us come to the last point of this paper, the Nadis. As we have seen at the beginning, a completely developed Spinal Column participates in many components that in Yoga are the five essential Dimensions, otherwise known as Koshas. Establishing that it is the structural connection of both the spine and the body, the other connections follow, from the energetic to the joyful. Here we are now entering the subtle field which must be fully explored and conquered. Hence the aligning of the other columns lead to the task of the subtle re-arrangement of all the “internal” components of the human being. Let us remember, regarding this matter, theTattvas or The Principles of Reality of the Samkhya system. In this way all the Tattvas of Prakriti , from Prithvi as far as the Buddhi get to be aligned.
To align in depth such incredible Principles, the Hathapradipika outlines a design at the same time both simple and marvellously efficient. Obtained from Yama and Niyama, Asana, Shat-karma, Pranayama, Mudra-Bandha, Nadanusandhana and Kundalini. Given that we are talking about Nadis, let us see what the sage Swatmarama-ji has to say. He affirms:
“II-5 – It is only when the entirety of the Nadis, which are usually full of impurities, are purified, that the yogin is able to control the Prana.
II-6 – Therefore the pure of heart should practice Pranayama regularly so that all the impurities contained in the Nadi Sushumna can be removed.
II-10 - The Prana should be inhaled through Ida and exhaled from Pingala, then exhaled from the other then taking air through Pingala, holding it, and then exhaling from the left.
It is necessary to be clear. This Science of Yoga, from ancient times, makes use of and is an admirable synthesis of Yoga, Ayurveda, Alchemy and the Study of Celestial Events. To fully understand all of this, all that is necessary is to study in depth the Sanskrit terms used. Let us see here more in detail.
In the first verse, the importance of the shuddhi or purification of the whole subtle structure of the nadis or the chakras is put into being. Only when the above mentioned structure has been purified with the elimination of the impurities ormala, then the yogin has the overall control of all the aspects of Prana; and only then is he able to integrally contain the Prana and act with total effectiveness.
In the second verse, Swatmarama-ji indicates that it is necessary to regularly practise Pranayama, i.e. constantly, in order that all the obstructions contained in the Nadi Sushumna are removed – it is at this point that Swatmarama-ji insists that it is necessary to be pure of heart and that the impurities appear to be in the Sushumna.
The third verse - Let us see the key terms.
Prana – From Pr(a)-ana = “First Unity”, and also “Breathing Outwards”.
Ida – From Id = To pour, she is the Inspirer.
Pingala – From Ping = The Red
Recaka – From Ric = Purification.
Puraka - From Pr = To fill
Susumna - Means “Full of Bliss”.
What we urge to emphasize is that the sage Swatmarama-ji used and indicated Ida and Pingala, Candra and Surya and so on, in progression. Normally it was all translated as left nostril, right nostril, moon, sun etc, but it is easily forgotten that the ancient yogins, when they were referring to the visible breathing activity, they intended to refer, at the same time, to the invisible activity. One forgets, and we repeat, the entire journey practised by the yogin is a progressive penetration into the subtle sphere, until it leads to that which is invisible, yet at the same time is tremendously present, Purusha.
That the study of Yoga texts and the consequent practise have been carried out at a level, barely just a little more profoundly than the surface, that is to say at a literary level, is a well known fact. So, continuing with NS, this is not simply a breathing and cerebral balance technique – It is and must be the first global purification of the Nadis! In this regard, there are many different levels, it must be said, that have not been taken into consideration.
- Utilising the left and right nostril, Savya and Daksha – nadi.
- Re-awakening and utilising Ida and Pingala Nadis.
- Re-awakening and utilising Candra and Surya.
- Re-awakening and utilising the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers, namely the “Fluxes”.
- Re-awakening and utilising the activities of Night and of Day, Ratri and Diva.
- Ultimately, the access to the Life the flows independently of the techniques used - “To Feel” and therefore to abandon the visualization.
From the points here above mentioned, a geography of the subtle body appears evident, a living configuration of energy, an incomparable progressive re-awakening. Swatmarama-ji is showing us, at this moment, that in performing NS, it is first of all necessary to acquire awareness of the fluxes in general of Ida and Pingala; then it is necessary to visualize the Moon and the Sun Discs, acquiring awareness of their energy, as explained extremely well in the Hatharatnavali; then it is necessary to re-awaken the specific “fluxes” of the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers; and finally, it is necessary to live in every one single action of breathing, the “activities” of the Night and of the Day! Having reached this objective the result obtained is of extreme rarefaction and balance of the breath/prana itself, with the consequent alternating discontinuation and the vital and dynamic transposition into Sushumna, thus becoming, the active Spiritual Axis. This Middle Path, more precisely, is non other than the re-awakened flux of Maha-shakti, who proceeds to join her spouse Siva, The Infinite Consciousness! Now it is time to conclude this paper, summarizing the points analysed.
The first is the Human Body, which must be, first of all, consecrated and daubed in every activity.
The second point is the Spine, the Living Axis, which participates at very profound dimensional and evolutionary levels.
The third point, The Movement encourages us to live an Authentic Posture and a Real Position, the union, therefore of the Static and the Dynamic Force.
The last point is Nadi Shodhana, which synthesized into a few profound words is the re-awakening and the preparation of a Cosmos to be conquered.
This is the conclusion of a short but incredible journey into Hathapradipika, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, which, as affirmed by the sage Swatmarama-ji, are non other than a unique immense Path!
Offered at lotus feet of Lord Maheshwara