In the next part, I want to point out 7 typical mistakes people make when they try hatha yoga postures. Hopefully, this can help you to avoid them.
1) You don’t need to learn all the hatha yoga postures.
In the past years of conducting hatha yoga workshops, I have come across many “collectors” of hatha yoga postures. They are very eager to learn, which is a great personality trait. However, these individuals are not able to go deeper into the poses. Yet, they wish to do all the hatha yoga postures.
As Sadhguru explains in Asana Siddhi, you can perceive the remaining 83 postures and reach the ultimate union through mastering one posture. Learning hatha yoga postures is never about quantity. The emphasis is always on the integrity of the posture, the level of depth, your involvement and your focus.
I recommend starting with the beginner sequence and gradually building up the “holding time” (the duration you hold each posture). For example, you start from the initial 15 seconds holding time with each posture, slowly increase to 2 to 3 minutes per posture, and eventually stay hours in one posture, but in complete ease.
In this way, you can establish a firm foundation that paves your way to the ultimate goal. When you reach the level of staying hours in one posture, doing all 84 postures does not seem very practical.
2) Never pick any random posture from a yoga book, magazine or internet.
This was a mistake I made many years ago. I bought a yoga book that explained various postures and their benefits. I simply picked a few poses that looked doable, to remove my ailments. I had no idea that you should never randomly start with a yoga posture back then.
As Sadhguru explains, some postures are preparatory in nature, and others are meant to boost energy in a certain way. Yoga postures are not just a simple physical form. It opens up your energy system for a more significant possibility. This energizing process needs to occur correctly, step by step, according to the energy physiology of the human body. Any random activation of energy can lead to more harm than good.
Learning yoga from a book, magazine, TV or internet is not the best approach. The yogic tradition always emphasizes Guru-Shishya – a direct teacher and student relationship. Powerful practices like hatha yoga or kriya practices are always taught in person. This live teaching involves a certain energy transmission that is difficult to replicate through books, magazines, TV, or the internet.
3) Never create your own hatha yoga sequence unless you know what you are doing.
You should never create your own hatha yoga routine for the same reason unless you know what you are doing. When I first started doing yoga, I studied the yoga book I bought very carefully. Then, I picked up a few postures and created my own routine. This was based on the benefits the book described and my ailments. I was practicing this routine religiously for quite some time and thought I would benefit from those postures.
I had no idea what a dangerous thing I was doing back then. During the hatha yoga teacher training, Sadhguru explained the importance of the hatha yoga sequence. He says the order of the postures is not based on anyone’s preference. Instead, it is based on the mechanic of the human body. It is a scientific approach to opening up a person’s energy system while taking care of organ comfort, skeleton comfort, and energy comfort at the same time.
We can use our digestive system as an analogy here. First, we take food through our mouth, then the food goes through the food pipe, stomach, intestine, and eventually the waste coming out from the rectum. You do not change this order, do you? Let’s take the shoulder stand posture as an example.
You might have seen this posture in a yoga book, magazine or on the internet. Some people would try to do this posture on their own. However, there are important corrective steps you need to take afterwards to regulate the blood circulation. Thereafter, we also do a few spinal twist variations to re-adjusting the alignment of the spine. If you have not learned the sequence properly, simply attempting this posture can lead to health problem in the long run.
There is profound science behind the order of hatha yoga postures. Without knowing the deep mechanics of the human body, you should not mess it up. In the Yogasanas sequence, Sadhguru has carefully selected the postures suitable for us to learn. This way your safety is assured and you’ll actually derive the benefits.
4) Never do hatha yoga postures for any particular benefits.
Nowadays, it is pretty common to see yoga postures in magazines with explanations of their benefits. In principle it is good that these channels promote yoga to the general public. However, there is a danger to this approach. It reaches out to a mass audience without giving a proper context with regards to how these postures should be approached properly.
You should never do a hatha yoga posture for any particular benefit. It doesn’t work in that way. Instead, hatha yoga postures are integrated systems to align your body to the celestial geometry. Through this alignment process, you can experience ease, calm and bliss. This also, of course, brings us many physical benefits. But, these are the side effects of hatha yoga rather than its sole purpose.
Without any preparation, sudden activation of your body into a powerful posture can lead to damage in the long run. Of course, you might feel some immediate benefits, but it can cause disruption in your energy body, manifesting into a bigger problem in your life. Therefore, the benefits of a proper asana sequence are much more significant than the sum of the individual ones.
5) Never use a prop for a hatha yoga posture.
Many practitioners use blocks or strips while practising hatha yoga. These props are used to help them to stretch further into the postures. This is something you should never ever do when you practice hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga is not a physical form.
You consciously place your body into a certain posture to align with the celestial geometry. Once this process starts, you go beyond the physical form. Even though you might not reach the perfect posture, your energy body still aligns in a big way. There is no space for anything extra other than your body during this process. You are trying to unite the micro self to the macrocosmic to become one with it.
The danger of using props is that you stretch your body to the point it is not ready for. This can easily lead to injuries. Instead, you need to go through the necessary preparation to build up your body step by step, without using any shortcuts. The journey to the perfect posture is the most transformational.
6) It is never about doing a fancy looking posture.
Have you seen some of the yoga poses on Instagram? Some of them really look like a showcase of fancy postures. Many dress up in sexy outfits and twist their bodies into impossible poses. Learning hatha yoga is never about doing any fancy-looking postures.
As Sadhguru explains in Asana Siddhi if you master one posture, you can attain the ultimate knowing through that single posture. This is an inward process. Sometimes, the simplest form is the most powerful one. It is never about how it looks to the outside world. Here is ardha-siddhasana as an example.
The Image shows a samyama participant sitting in ardha-siddhasana in a deep meditative state. Ardha-siddhasana is a half sitting posture, not even a full posture. Sitting in this posture for 7 days in an advanced program like Samyama takes enormous preparation. But, once you can sit like that in front of Sadhguru for 7 days, it becomes an explosive experience. The true experience of bodilessness and mindlessness will give you endless tears of ecstasy. This is achieved through half a posture.
7) A “once in a while” yoga class will not get you there.
Attending yoga classes once a week is quite common for some practitioners. This is suitable for someone new to yoga and who wishes to try it out. Once you have gotten a taste of it, it is time to get serious about the whole process. The path of hatha yoga is not a once in a while social convention. It is a journey of discipline and commitment. Therefore, you need to go on and practice it every day.
This is the exact reason why an entire practice is taught to participants in all Isha hatha yoga series. Once you learn the method, it is in your hand. You can take it wherever you go and do it whenever you need. It trains you how to do authentic hatha yoga at home properly. You don’t need to rely on any yoga teachers anymore.
At the same time, your lifestyle should also be aligned into this direction, including your diet, clothing, sleep, etc. Only when you have this single-pointed devotion, something profound can happen in your experience. Otherwise, nothing more will yield to you other than simple entertainment.
Do you practice hatha yoga regularly? What do you think of the points I mentioned above? Maybe you disagree with what I shared here. I am very curious about what your experience is? Please feel free to share your comments, feedback, or experience in the comment box.