Many people look at yoga as addressing the health of the respiratory (lungs) and the circulatory system (heart). But according to the yogic texts, the digestive system is considered a key component to our overall physical and spiritual health. In fact, the digestive system is so important for a successful yoga practice that Hatha Yoga’s first yama is to cultivate a moderate diet.
According to the Haṭhayoga Pradipika stoking the body’s internal, gastric fire is necessary in order to raise the sleeping Kuṇḍalini.
Due to this heat, the sleeping Kuṇḍalini is awakened and straightens like a snake struck by a stick.
Chapter 3 Verse 68
The Kuṇḍalini is a metaphysical concept. It is an attempt to describe the Creative Universal energy or Shakti. Our body is the microcosmic manifestation of this primordial energy. Hatha Yoga’s intention is to raise the Kundalini, that is, opening our energy portals to all this free movement of Shakti.
Then the gastric fire and the apana join the prana which is naturally hot and the body’s fire is stoked.
Chapter 3 Verse 67
The Haṭhayoga Pradipika is saying the digestive system is key to our health because it ignites our vital energy, called prana in Sanskrit. Apana is the out-breath. It is associated with the navel, abdomen, anal and genital organs, in other words, the digestive and reproductive systems. This verse can be translated that having a healthy, digestion that functions at a high level of wellness, combined with breath, creates heat in the body.
Reading this we understand the internal yoga of our organs is even more important than the external yoga of the muscles and bones because it is our internal heat that awakens our latent creative and spiritual energy, making our Kuṇḍalini open her eyes and move.
The pranic energy we get from that food in the way of proteins, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, drives the health of our organs. The food we eat, correct digestion, good absorption and consistent elimination are all addressed in the Haṭhayoga Pradīpika.
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