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THE BIG BOOK OF YOGA: THE NUTS & BOLTS OF HATHA YOGA

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THE NUTS & BOLTS OF HATHA YOGA

Yoga Then & Now

Let's start with a visualization exercise: Imagine you've just walked into your local Yoga studio to take a class. What sort of things will you see? Probably a few spare rolled up mats, some blocks, straps, cushions, and blankets. A spray bottle for wiping down the mats after use. Modern Yoga HallA sound system in the corner for playing soothing music. A thermostat. Maybe a hard wood floor if you're lucky, and perhaps a few inspiring posters on the walls. The odd OM symbol here and there. And, of course, other students pouring into the classroom as well, finding their favorite spots, chatting about their day, getting ready to sweat and stretch a bit.

Now, zoom backwards in time about 530 years or so - you're in India, an aspiring Yogi, and you are going about your practice according to the advice of your teacher. What do you think your Yoga studio would have looked like then? Well, according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP), a major Yoga textbook written around that time, your practice space would have been no longer than "the length of a bow" (about 1.5 meters, or 5 feet), with no windows and a tiny door for an entrance1. You should be living alone, but in a

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Ancient Yoga Practice Hut

"well-administered, virtuous kingdom", where it's easy to beg for your daily meal. Cleanliness was considered of utmost importance, but instead of a spray bottle with soapy disinfectant, HYP recommends a daily wipe-down of the walls and floor with cow manure! Instead of a sticky mat, you're sitting on a patch of Kusa grass (kind of like a tatami mat). Your "wall poster" might have been a few lines of Sanskrit carved in, reminding you of the six cardinal sins of Hatha Yoga:

Ancient Yoga Poster

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