The hatha yoga practice is essentially a prana based subdivision of raja yoga.
The idea is to attain “citta-vritti-nirodha” (the cessation of mental fragmentation) through control of the prana, making Hatha yoga the most ideal form of practice for Apnea due to its intimacy with the breath.
Prana is recognized as the all pervading force of every living thing, universally. To have life is to have prana.
There are 5 major prana vayus (winds) recognized in the Hatha Yoga system:
Prana: chest, intake
Apana: pelvis, outgoing
Samana: navel, digestion
Udana: throat, swallowing (also separates astral and physical bodies)
Vyana: movement of the whole body
Prana is carried via the nadis of the astral body, the most prominent of these nadis being:
Pingala: is the “ha” in hatha and represented by the sun. The Pingala runs from the base of the spine to the right nostril. It has an upward warm movement of air called prana vayu.
Ida: is the “tha” part of hatha and is represented by the moon. It runs form the left nostril to the base of the spine and has a downward cooling energy called apana vayu.
Shushumna: base of spine to top of head. Because the shushumna is the most commonly blocked nadi it is essential to focus on purifying this, as prana must be able to move through this nadis for spiritual awakening.
Hatha yoga literally means the union of sun and moon energies (prana and apana) in order to awaken the kundalini shakti and attain divine consciousness. The practice consists of a sturdy foundation of yamas and niyamas, daily cleansing of the six kriyas and a daily practice asanas, which are used solely to cleanse the body and its energetic channels (nadis) in preparation for pranayama.
The most fundamental pranayama practices in Hatha include:
nadi shodun (alternate nostril breathing)
and awakening kundalini shakti using mula, uddiyana and jalandara bandha locks, mudras, and eight other “mahakumbakas”/advanced pranayamas (majors: surya bheda, ujjai, bhastrika, and minors: sitkari, sitkali, brahmari, plavini, and moorcha).
More Hatha Yoga Theory