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What Is “Hatha Yoga”
The science of Yoga is divided into several branches. Among the best known and leading divisions are (1) Hatha Yoga; (2) Raja Yoga; (3) Karma Yoga; (4) Gnani Yoga*
This book is devoted only to the first-named, and we will not attempt to describe the others at this time, although we will have something to say about all of these great branches of Yoga, in future writings.
Hatha Yoga is that branch of the Yoga Philosophy that deals with the physical body — its care — it’s well-being— its health — its strength — and all that tends to keep it in its natural and normal state of health.
It teaches a natural mode of living and voices the cry which has been taken up by many of the Western worlds:
Let us get back to Nature/’ excepting that tlie Yogi does not have to get back for he is already there, for he has always clung close to nature and her ways, and has not been dazzled and befooled by the mad rush toward externals which has caused the modern civilized races to forget that such a thing as nature existed.
Fashions and social ambitions have not reached the Yogi’s consciousness he smiles at these things, and regards them as he does the pretenses of childish games he has not been hired from nature’s arms,
but continues to cuddle close up to tlie bosom of his good mother who has always given him nourishment, warmth and protection.
When confronted with a choice of methods, plans, theories, etc., apply to them the touchstone: “Which is the natural way,” and always choose that which seems to confirm the nearest to nature.
This plan will be a good one for our students to follow when their attention is directed to the many theories; “fads”; methods; plans and ideas, along health lines, with which the Western world is being flooded.
For instance, if they are asked to believe that they are in danger of losing their “magnetism”, by coming in contact with the earth, and are advised to wear rubber soles and heels upon their shoes, and to sleep in beds “insulated”
with glass feet, to prevent nature (mother Earth) from sucking and drawing out of them the magnetism which she has just given them, let the students ask themselves
“What does Nature say about this?” Then, in order to find out what nature says, let them see whether nature’s plans could have contemplated the manufacture and wearing of rubber soles and glass feet for beds.
which they exhibit to amuse and entertain (or disgust) Western travelers.
Some of their feats are quite wonderful, when regarded from the standpoint of curiosity, and the performers would be worthy applicants for paying positions in the “dime museums” of America, indeed their feats being very similar to some performed by some of the Western “freaks.”
We hear of these people exhibiting with pride such tricks and acquired habits as, for instance the ability to reverse the peristaltic action of the bowels and intestines, and the swallowing movements of the gullet, so as to give a disgusting exhibition of a complete reversal of the normal processes of those parts of the body, so that articles introduced into the colon may be carried upward and ejected from the gullet, by this reversed movement of the involuntary muscles, etc.
This, from a physician’s point of view, is most interesting, but to the layman is a most disgusting thing, and one utterly unworthy of a man.
Other feats of these so-called Hatha Yogis are about on a par with the instance which we have reluctantly given, and we know of nothing that they perform which is of the slightest interest or benefit to the man or woman seeking to maintain a healthy, nonmal, natural body.
These mendicants are akin to the class of fanatics in India who assume the title “Yogi”, and who refuse to wash the body, for religious reasons; or who sit with uplifted arm until it is withered; or who allow their finger nails to grow until they pierce their hands;
or who sit so still that their birds build nests in their hair ; or who perform other ridiculous feats, in order to pose as “holy men” before the ignorant multitude, and, incidentally
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