The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

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The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
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Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the one book that has established itself as the classic work on Hatha Yoga, draws on sage Svatmarama's own experience and older works. Here is a book written for the student of Yoga, translated into English by Brian Dana Akers for you.

About the Author

BRIAN DANA AKERS began practicing Hatha Yoga at age twelve, learning Sanskrit at seventeen, and working in publishing at twenty-three


OVER THE last half millennium, one book has established itself as the classic work on Hatha Yoga book you are holding in your hands. An Indian yogi named Svatmarama wrote the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in the fifteenth century C.E. Next nothing is known about him, although his name may provide a clue. It means "one who delights in one's Atman," indicating the achievement of a state of bliss. Drawing on his own experience and older works now lost, he wrote this book for the student of Yoga. He wrote this book for you.

You've no doubt heard of Hatha Yoga. The word pradipika comes from the Sanskrit verb i{ "to flame forth" and means light, lamp, or lantern. Its extended meaning, since one is throwing light on a subject, is an explanation or commentary. Therefore, the title means "An Explanation of Hatha Yoga."

Even though I've worked hard to make it understandable, this book, like Yoga itself, will require some effort from you. It is chock-full of metaphors, synonyms, and analogies. (Perhaps it also contains a bit of hyperbole.) It is not a smooth, modern narrative, but rather an esoteric work, purposely oblique at times, from medieval India. Furthermore, I recommend that you learn Hatha Yoga under the guidance of an experienced teacher, not solely from 4, is a book. Some practices in this book, I don't recommend at all.

(You'll know them when you read them.) This is nothing new. Looking at verses 2.37 and 3.22, you can see there have long been different opinions on what should and shouldn't be practiced. This book is divided into four chapters. In Chapter 1, Svatma-rama salutes his teachers, says why he is writing this book, who he is writing it for, where and how Yoga should be practiced, describes fifteen asanas, and recommends dietary habits. In Chapter 2, he establishes the connections between breath, mind, life, nadis, and prana, then describes the six karmans and the eight kumbhakas. In chapter 3, Svatmarama says what mudras are for, and then describes the ten mudras. In chapter 4, he discusses samadhi, laya, nada, two mudras, and the four stages of Yoga.

The Sanskrit original is complete and correct. I carefully examined four previous editions of the text word by word-in fact, letter by letter-to produce the best, most aesthetically pleasing version of the original Sanskrit ever published. I favored more sandhi over less and took the liberty of simplifying and standardizing the sentence that concludes each chapter. Lines and verses were grouped the way they were translated, but the numbering was left unchanged. I utilized Arabic numerals and left the translation unnumbered to avoid clutter. While including the Sanskrit for the benefit of scholars, students, and posterity, its inclusion allowing easy comparison with the English-is also a statement of confidence in the quality of the translation.

The English translation is both accurate and accessible. To make it accurate, I stayed in the background and put myself at the service of the author and the text. I suppressed any urges to coin neologisms and employ fleeting usage, or to add my own comments and interpretations. The verse was made the unit of translation to stay off the slippery slope of paraphrase. Where the meaning is open to interpretation, I followed the tradition, specifically Brahmananda's Jyotsna commentary. Due to the ever-increasing knowledge of the reading public, more words were left untranslated than would have been a quarter century ago. (You may want a dictionary of Yoga handy.) Some previous translators inexplicably suffocated the book's wonderful parallel constructions; I allowed them to breathe. The translation is gender-neutral where appropriate, but many words in the original are gender-even anatomically-specific and were left that way. Finally, almost every word in the original made it into the translation. Few were left out, and very few new words were added.

I did many things to make the translation accessible. I tried to use international standard written English and produce prose that is clear, concise, and direct. To that end, I often broke a long Sanskrit sentence into shorter English ones, typically changed the word order from subject-object-verb to subject-verb-object, favored the active voice over the passive, added the necessary punctuation, and occasionally moved the latter part of a line or verse to the beginning for a better flow. Diacritics, italics, and the heavy use of brackets were dispensed with to avoid the hyper density common in books on Indian philosophy. The transliteration system, therefore, is not perfect--both ' and IT are represented by "sh," for example, and is represented by "ch." (However, I retained the familiar Sri instead of going with Shri, and went with yogi instead of the more correct yogin.) I invite the stickler for spelling and pronunciation to learn Devanagari it's a delightful writing system. Compounds are generally open to avoid long strings of unfamiliar letter combinations, although when compounded, the words bandha, mudra, kumbhaka, and karman are the final members of a closed compound for consistency within each category and with the asanas. I decided notes placed at the foot of the page-rather than at the end of the chapter, the end of the book, or in brackets within the translation would be the least distracting and most convenient way for you to receive necessary bits of information. Lastly, I regularly changed the third-person potential mood found in many descriptions to a simple imperative. For example in verse 1.20, one should put the right ankle becomes simply put the right ankle.

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