We've hit that point, the part of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika where we learn about "posture." The word "Asana" means "seat" or "pose." Consider this; 3000 years ago people weren't sitting in chairs at desks or driving around in cars. They were squatting, sitting on the ground, moving along the earth on their own two feet and taking a seat wherever they needed.
In the Yoga Sutra we are taught "Sthira Sukham Asanam;" to take an easy, steady seat. The same is true in Hatha Yoga. In order to quiet our mind, slow our breath and focus inward, we must have steadiness of body. No matter what pose we choose to take, if that posture remains steady, easy and balanced, we will be able to maintain focus.
Tight walkers, slack-liners, acrobats, gymnasts, etc. all have the ability to remain balanced, steady and focused in order to maintain their pose. In Yoga, rather than posing to perform, we are posing to turn within.
As you practice, look not upon how your posture looks but, instead, look within and feel the pose change you.
Hatha Yoga is the practice of focusing upon our outer shell. The metaphor of a tortoise is used to describe how we can protect our Self from the distractions of the world. Hatha is the shell; protecting that which lies within. Each of the tortoise limbs, head, and tail are representative of our ability to either reach out into the world or draw inward toward Self.
Our Energetic Bodies
Focus upon our physical bodies often helps us to develop awareness inward to our energetic body. Most of the practices taught today bring attention to the athletic benefits of Asana rather than the energetic. An authentic practice includes not only physical accuracy, but postures that are intelligently sequenced to help practitioners feel the movement within.
Most of us experience physical dis-ease. There may be pain in our backs, shoulders, knees, etc. Sometimes, through a physical practice, these pains will gradually go away. However, there are times when the discomfort we are experiencing is an expression of an inner condition.
Each of our cakras, or energetic center, aligns with a specific physical nervous plexus. The way in which we feel energetically will effect how we feel physically. Think about when you get stressed out. Energetically, you may at first feel driven and directed but, over time, you will begin to run out of energy. You'll begin to feel fatigue and eventually your body will become sick. You may get a cold or s stomach ache. Your energy body is sending you signals of it's dis-ease.
As humans, we tend to numb ourselves to avoid feeling our emotions and the imbalances in our energy bodies. We work too much, drink to much and spend too much time avoiding listening to ourselves. As we practice Hatha Yoga we turn our attention within in order to connect and identify where energy is limited, trapped or blocked. We have to be willing to experience what we feel both in our bodies and deeper.