-By Yogi Ram
As someone said “A good teacher is a good student”, a good teacher is constantly learning and growing. He is a diligent student of his subject. Reading is a very easy way to gain valuable knowledge for a teacher. Through books you can have easy access to the knowledge of others.
In my opinion every yoga teacher must read on daily basis to increase his knowledge of yoga philosophy as well as others aspects yoga. These two yoga books are considered “Classics” which are a must read for any yoga teacher in order to understand the basic philosophy and practice of yoga.
Patanjali Yoga Sutras
Sage Patanjali compiled this valuabale book on yoga philosophy aroundthe period of 900 BC. He simplified the core philosophy of “Raj Yoga”, the yoga of control and renamed it as “Ashtanga Yoga”, the eight fold yoga.
The book talks about the practice and fruit of yoga. This book consists of four chapters and total of 196 verses. This book explains the core philosophy, practices and goal of raja yoga.
The four parts are:
- Samadhi Pada – This part explains the state of the Samadhi. Samadhi is the ultimate goal of the practice of yoga.
- Sadhana Pada – This part explains the practice of yoga. It aslo explains the philosophy and practice of Ashtanga yoga and its parts, yam, niyam, asanam pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and smadhi.
- Vibhuti Pada – It explains the astral powers which can manifest and distract from the real purpose of yoga.
- Kaivalya Pada– This part explains the state of enlightment, liberation and the ultimate reality.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Swami Swatmarama compiled this classic text in 15th century to shed light on the practical aspects of the classical yoga. Hence he named it Hatha Yoga Pradipika ( Light on Hatha Yoga). This was the first book which gave clear information on the practices of Hatha Yoga as a stand alone Yoga form. Even though he agreed that the goal of Hatha yoga is Samadhi and Kaivalya he differed with Sage Patanjali that a sadhaka needs to practice yama and niyama before making any attempt to practice asana. Swami Swatmarama informs that a sadhaka can begin his journey with asana and consistent practice of asana will lead the sadhaka to the practice yama and niyama naturally.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika consist of four chapters; asana, pranayama, mudras and samadhi.
The first chapter describes the asanas and the effect of asanas on the body, mind and spirit. It also explains the pre requisites and observations for asana practice.
The second chapter describes the practice of pranayama and the subtle effect of prana. It also explains the prerequisites and the benefits of the pranayama on nadis and chakras. It also explains the Shatkarma as the preparatory excercises for pranayama.
The third chapter describes the ten various mudras and their benefits.
The fourth and the last chapter explain the samadhi, laya and nada.