Hatha Yoga

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Hatha Yoga, the report of a personal experience by Theos Bernard

This is a fascinating book recounting a personal experience of the practices within the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP). Theos Bernard explores the bredth of yogic practices from asana (posture), kriyas (purification), pranayama (breathing), mudras (gestures) to Samadhi (bliss).

Some of the practices in the HYP, certainly the more unusual kriyas, are rarely taught or even practiced in the West, so this book offers a rare experiential account of Bernard’s path. His experience takes you far beyond what most people in the West understand yoga to be about.

His acutely observational accounts of his training and practice are recounted with a great openness, demonstrating his curiosity about the teachings. He tells how he once stood on his head for three hours; how he learned to swallow a surgeon’s gauze four inches wide by twenty-two and a half feet long, to soak up the contents of his stomach (a kriya called dhauti karma), He also recalls how he cut the lower tendons of his tongue (khecari mudra) as well as taught himself to draw up water into his colon and expel it (basti kriya).

In addition, there are also 36 black and white images in the back showing Bernard demonstrating various asana.

The book has extensive footnotes from the HYP and also the Gheranda Samhita and Shiva Samhita comparing how the different practices are described in these ancient texts. These are fantastic for anyone with a keen interest in philosophy and the practices as described in these texts.

It isn’t too heaving going (if you miss out the footnotes) and is accessible to most people with a reasonable level of yoga knowledge. However it doesn’t have a glossary which can make it difficult for anyone who doesn’t already have a good grasp of yoga terminology.

For a basic understanding of the HYP this is an excellent read.

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