The Great American Eclipse viewable from Oregon to South Carolina happened on Monday, August 21, 2017. I was fortunate to view the path of totality in Madisonville, TN. The sun caught up with the moon and became eclipsed. I was reminded of “Hatha” and the sanskrit meaning of Hatha Yoga.
Several interpretations exist for the word Hatha. Yoganand (Michael Carroll) the dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga explains that the ancient meaning had a forceful or violent connotation. Not the act of yoga, but the effect of yoga. In ancient India where yoga originated, the sun and moon represented a cycle. The hot, dry season of the sun withered the plants. The lunar cycle of the moon ushered in the monsoon season.The belief was the moon brought the rain, a replenishing and rejuvenation force.
Here in Tampa we’ve definitely felt the effects of THA in Hatha. Rain falls daily. And therefore we yearn for cool, dry days in fall. It’s been very HA HA HOT! Like watching the weather, we often watch for signs of change. Change comes with the lunar cycle of a full moon and a new moon, and planetary cycles such as Mercury in retrograde.
The 2017 eclipse was a reminder of traditional Hatha yoga. Hatha is the balance of earth and moon. Yoga “yokes” sun and moon together. The eclipse was a dramatic example of the sun and moon cycle. We are “yoked” in a universe of social, political and psychological cycles. Hatha Yoga asks us to stand in balance of opposing forces.
As for Hatha Yoga, Yoganand speaks of the other interpretation of yoga. The other sanskrit translation describes the forceful nature of yoga. Yoganand asks what kind of force would it take to pull the sun and the moon apart? In this interpretation Hatha is used to define a process so radical, so forceful, and so profound. Hatha Yoga is a force of nature known to balance the obstacles of the past with building blocks for the future. It is the sun and the moon, and the powerful relationship with us here on earth.
In this season between HA and THA, it is time to examine the cycles of our own lives. The cycles that we create for ourselves and others, and those we get drawn into. The eight limbs of yoga provide the powerful force needed to correct that trajectory. Practicing Hatha Yoga is a journey around the sun, under the watchful eye of the moon. The eight limbs of yoga are the roadmap and the road, the direction and the destination. Namaste.