The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of most important yoga text describing Hatha Yoga. It is an excellent guide to advancing in yoga practice and spirituality. The main goal of this text is to illuminate the physical disciplines and practices of Hatha Yoga and integrate these with the higher spiritual goals of Raja Yoga (meditation). It is written by “Swami Svatmarama” in 14th century. It contains four chapters Asana, Pranayama, Mudras and Bandhas and Samadhi. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, along with the Gheranda-Samhita (1650), is one of the most detailed manuals describing the techniques of Hatha Yoga.
Chapter 1 starts with Salutation to Lord Shiva who expounded the knowledge of Hatha Yoga. It contains detailed information on the names of asanas, how to perform them, and what kind of diet will enhance the benefits of their practice. It should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health and lightness of body. There are certain asanas which have been adopted by Munis like Vasistha. Gomukha-asana, Swastika, Virasana, Kurma-asana, Kukkuta-asana etc. Lord Shiva taught 84 asanas. Of these the first four being essential ones are Siddhasana, Padmasana, Simhasana and Bhandrasana.
In chapter 2 we know about Shatkarma and Pranayama. Pranayama should be performed daily with satwika buddhi (intellect free from raja and tama or activity and sloth), in order to drive out the impurities of the susumna. There are six types of Kriyas (actions). Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauti and Kapala Bhati. These six kinds of kriyas (actions) which cleanse the body. They produce extraordinary attributes and are performed with earnestness by the best Yogis (experts). When you practice these kriyas regularly your body becomes lean and healthy, the face glows with delight and apptite increases. Shatkarma and Pranayama are very useful for purified the Nadis.
Chapter 3 describes about the mudras and bandhas. Lord Shiva explained very well about these mudras which annihilate old age and death. These mudras like Maha Mudra, Maha Bandha, Maha Vedha, Kechari Mudra, Uddiyana Bandha, Mula Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha, Viparita karani, Vajroli, Sahajoli, Amaroli etc are very useful for many diseases. These mudras should be kept secret by every effort, and not revealed to any and every one. These Mudras (gestures) and Bandhas (locks) that aid in awakening kundalini power, which leads to enlightenment.
Chapter 4 describes a regular method of attaining to Samadhi, which destroys death, is the means for obtaining happiness. When atma and mind become one, is called Samadhi. There are certain mudras which help to attain to Samadhi likes Shambhavi Mudra, Unmani, Taraka, Khechari, Arambha Avastha, Parichaya Avastha etc. The state – the identity of jivatman and paramatman, in which all thoughts disappear is called Samadhi.
Hatha Yoga was considered to be the foundation to all higher Yoga. It is not just a physical practice but a process of cellular transmutation from gross to subtle to divine.