From David’s Ashtanga Journals: Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Joy and I in Goa working hard.


Joy and I are leaving India in 6 days. We have been working hard this year…me finishing my Pranayama book and Joy storyboarding for her upcoming film.  We can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by.

Adjusting Suzanne Faulkner (owner of Ashtanga Yoga Club Durham)

We will be heading off to the west coast for my annual Mysore Intensive at Breitenbush Hot Springs (March 7th-11th) and then back to Philadelphia by March 15th.

I will be teaching quite a bit in Philadelphia this spring so I encourage you to come and study with me at the Ashtanga Yoga School of Philadelphia.

I would also like to invite you to attend my Second Series In-depth Study in Philadelphia April 11th-16th. To find more information you can visit my website.

Hari Om,




A page from my HYP.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Fasten your self without reserve onto the teachings of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is the life saver, the sturdy raft that will carry you across the vast, tumultuous, many faced, ever changing, worldly mind ocean.

This is the book, this is the knowledge that will help you understand the power, magnitude, and scope of the goals of hatha yoga. This is the book, the knowledge that will help you understand the practical application of the teachings, how to approach asana’s, pranayama, mudra’s, and concentration………………

Look to this book, study this book, marry this book, obsess over this book, consume this book, love this book, bow to this book, become a connoisseur of this book, appreciate its subtle bouquet, its heady nose, its earthy, chewy flavors, drink it in and become inspired enough to accept the rigors, challenges, discipline, and failures of practice. Be patient and certain enough to match your self against the toughest, most unforgiving, relentless, ever ready opponent–your mind……………..

Back of my book.

Here inside the pages of this book……
this is:
where the pith of practice is
where you find the extracted essence of practice
where you learn what to focus on inside your body in practice
what language to use to describe the inner experience that practice awakens
what images to imagine in order to create asana’s, pranayama, mudra’s, and concentration
your bible,
your most dog eared, marked up, underlined, used, ragged, gone through, treasured, contemplated, pondered, puzzled over, yoga treasure
what is in your pocket, by your bed, in your backpack
your obsession
your perfect guide
your friend
your inspiration
your initiation
where to focus your efforts
how to think about practice
how to learn to be mature and thorough in your conception of what hatha yoga is and how to practice it and what you can gain by practicing it.
your wise old guru, the one who lives up in the mountains, close to the elements, naturally silent and prayerful with twinkling, mischievous, attentive eye and inward absorption, fearless spring in his step like a sure footed, playful mountain goat
how you understand the body, movement and asana practice as something much more than physical
how you understand the body energetically, as a vechicle for traveling to the energetic realms and finding Spirit in the vast, empty sky of consciousness,
where you find your asana, your immovable spot……….grounded, settled, subtle, energetically dynamic, tuned in, undisturbed, purely reflective, infused with subtle breath.


* “From David’s Ashtanga Journals” are unedited excerpts from his ongoing journal about the practice.

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11 Responses to From David’s Ashtanga Journals: Hatha Yoga Pradipika

  1. Bryan Petrow says:

    Dear David,

    I sometimes hear teachers and friends mention the Hatha Yoga Pradipika but have often wondered how its wisdom will further my own practices. A moment ago I saw your facebook post on the topic – I was immediately intrigued. I read your words and was all HYP about it! I love how your movement of mind shines through in your prose, as if I was hearing you verbally profess these words at a weekend Ashtanga workshop. I now feel that I would greatly benefit from some advice on how to achieve a broader understanding of the HYP.

    I am interested in sleep yoga. I am also familiar with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There seems to be a vast temporal gap between these texts, like a couple thousand years or so, as you know. Is there reason to believe that each manuscript’s teachings are mutually inclusive of one another on the topic of sleep yoga, or are there major evolutionary discontinuities to be explored? If so, are there significant ways in which the treasures of the HYP has been interpreted differently by Pattabhi Jois compared to sleep yogis? If so,, do think there are any valuable lessons in the HYP which you consider to be useful for preparing the body and mind for the art of Tantric Sleep Yoga and/or Tantric Dream Yoga?

    I feel that hearing an answer to this three-part question as it relates to “asana’s, pranayama, mudra’s, and concentration………………” will help me become a more knowledgeable Ashtangi as well as illumine me to what I may have been missing in my own practices, awake and asleep. I hope you will take a moment to respond.


    PS: My question is somewhat inspired by Alan Wallace’s book “Dreaming Yourself Awake” in which he endorses Hatha Yoga as a means to further ones nocturnal practice, as well as Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s guidebook, titled “The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep.”

  2. My own take on the HYP and its incredible teachings is very personal meaning I’ve found verification in the HYP of what I have found within myself through practice. The HYP verifies and puts into language the deepest musings and explorations that I have experienced in practice.
    I see a deep connection between ashtanga yoga, the HYP and the idea of ‘dream’ or ‘sleep’ yoga. If you think carefully about the teachings from the yogi’s who wrote the HYP you see undeniable connections to Shamanism. In short serious yoga practice is a form of shamanism. Shaman’s routinely use sleep and dreams to access new inner worlds, new perspectives, new ways of seeing that circumvent the rational, habit entrenched, ordinary ‘waking’ mind.
    This is exactly what you do in your daily ashtanga practice and its also one of the reasons why we practice early in the morning :-) –so that your mundane mind will loosen its hold on you, loosen its stubborn, narrow, rational grip. And you’ll be more ready to be receptive, to be more centered in breathing, in the immediate experience of the physical and energetic body, and thus closer to dream and sleep consciousness. And in entering ‘dream’ time, the yogi and shaman access the sacred world within themselves, they find visions, cosmic truths, and the truly important knowledge that shows them how to bridge the ordinary world with the world of Soul and Self. As student of yoga you can choose from nearly countless aspects or techniques of yoga, you decide what you want to emphasize, and so you could work more specifically and directly with sleep and dreaming in combination with hatha yoga techniques. Such hatha yoga techniques as are found in the HYP and in ashtanga yoga would most likely be significantly beneficial to a dream or sleep yoga practice. This is partly because these practices are so strong, active, physical, wakeful and tangible. They involve using the body and will to move and direct prana and this is good because for many of us if we were not careful sleep yoga would actually only be sleep!
    One other note it is definite that Pattabhi Jois interpreted the hatha yoga pradipika far different than the sleep yogi’s. He nearly single handedly made the ancient teachings relevant to generations of people like you and me. He was a truly original, creative, and fortunate man to be able to speak a new, different ‘soul’ language to an entire global generation of yoga students. And to me this is one of the most creative and worthy aspects of the subject—that it keeps getting renewed and seen in different, original contexts. And that’s where it gets interesting to me, how are these ancient practices relevant to now? How can we honor and preserve the tested wisdom in them while exploring them for ourselves so that they are relevant, fresh, and ensure that we find growth and sacred truth in them?

  3. That HYP post is a beautiful free verse poem.
    Thank you for the hypnotically lovely writing.

  4. Bryan Petrow says:

    Thank you for your response. I too feel inspired when I read excepts of an ancient or classical text whose truths seem so relevant that they could have been engraved or penned yesterday. I believe that this is good evidence that legendary yogis benefited from their practices similar to how many of us still do today. And it is exactly the meaning behind your poetic praise of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika – a testament to a divine path towards many forms of truth. Thank you for your thoughts on my particular question. I found them refreshing and perspective altering and indeed helpful. I hope to talk to you soon.


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  7. Elena Ray says:

    Wow I have just discovered you through the modern miracle of Facebook link to your recent Elephant Journal interview. I love the way you think and write, and your videos are neat. I’ve got to dig out my HYP and see what it is that I never saw! I only mark up my Henry Miller books like that))))

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