आसनं कुम्भकं छित्रं मुद्राख्यं करणं तथा |
अथ नादानुसन्धानमभ्यासानुक्रमो हठे || ५८ ||

HYP 1.58

āsanaṃ kumbhakaṃ chitraṃ mudrākhyaṃ karaṇaṃ tathā |
atha nādānusandhānamabhyāsānukramo haṭhe || 58 ||

Back to Basics

In the current state of the world, technology reigns supreme. Complicated technical gadgets, machines, tools and services are designed and marketed primarily for one purpose – to make everything easier. Humans have developed machines to replace the simple things in life – and maybe replaced humans themselves in certain areas.With all the excitement of a simplified life we can now even take yoga classes online, listen to any song almost instantly, video call friends and relatives and even find the best restaurants in a city totally foreign to us. Basically, technology makes life easier to live.

As technology advances there is no stopping the simplified pursuit of a state of living and being that is at ease. However, there is also the fear of falling behind, as a consumer or customer it could be as simple as forgetting a password, needing a new update, connection malfunction or not being up to speed on the latest social news and events worldwide.

Yoga is described as the state where you are missing nothing. No password, no smartphone, no wifi, crypto, EV, paywave or sat-nav. Sounds like a relief.

A yoga practice can be basic; the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā – a popular medieval text of yoga practices – describes purification through a combination of āsana, prānāyāma, mudra, bandha, chanting the name of God, mantra, speaking and causing no harm to others – which includes not eating them – are just a few practices that are becoming more and more synonymous with being a yogi.  However sometimes the hardest part of the practice can be to include the practice itself, sometimes going back to basics is a challenge. It is challenging for the ego – the sense of Self – as a test of who you think you are and where you have come from mirrored with the idea of where you would like to go. The idea of an advanced āsana practice comes with the appearance of making things ‘look easy.’

In a contemporary use of the word basic (Omg, that’s so basic) it’s usually used as a negative or when someone or something is ‘out of touch’. What if we purposely went back to being basic – not to the stone age or a primordial existence – but to return to a place in our lives, in the world, in our yoga practice where we may have missed something or forgotten why something is done – a vinyāsa practice is something that is done on purpose. An āsana suddenly opens up new experiences when it is approached in a different way or with the help of props or alignment clues and maybe even a partner to assist. Chanting does not always have to be in beautiful melodies but instead with sincerity, correct pronunciation and love. A meal can be a simple combination of vegetables and grains and can be eaten in a simplified way – one that is not distracted by television or smartphone – or better yet a meal that is created as an offering for someone else and enjoyed with the company of others in person, not through a screen.

There are many ways in which our yoga practice – and life – can be more basic, without feeling the strain of ‘missing out’ or falling behind. Perhaps it time to empty the cup of all we know and start again, with a new appreciation and maybe even a sense of ease.

It’s time to go back to basics.


– Doug Whittaker