How many of you, sisters and brothers, find in yourselves the unmistakable signs of disease,
declining health, vim, vigour and vitality? How many of you, may I ask again, feel actually the grip
of premature old age? Why do you unjustly throw the whole blame on heredity without for a
moment realising that for nearly thirty or thirty-five years you have been flouting the laws of life?
Thirty-five years of wrong living! Thirty-five years of wrong feeding! Thirty-five years of wrong
breathing! Thirty-five years of wrong thinking! Thirty-five years spent in abject ignorance of the
relationship between brain and brawn! Thirty-five years, in fact, spent in doing everything possible
to develop the disease of “Old Age!”
Now suppose the whole situation is reversed, and in place of wrong living, wrong feeding,
wrong breathing, etc., there is introduced right living, right feeding, right breathing, and so forth,
what will be the effect? Will physical and mental degeneration give place to physical and mental
regeneration? The answer given by the Seers of the East is an emphatic “YES”. The Indian Yogins
have conclusively proved that by following a regimen it is quite possible to rebuild the human body to reconstruct the human mind, to regain lost youth, strength and beauty. The key to accomplish this
remarkable feat according to the Saints, Sages and Rishis of yore is to be found in Yoga-Asanas.
You know what the word ‘Yoga’ means. It is union of the individual soul (Jivatman) with
the Supreme Soul (Paramatman). Asana is an easy and comfortable seat or pose or posture. Thus the
term Yoga-Asanas means certain postures by assuming any one of which the individual soul is
united with the Supreme Soul quite easily by the Yogic practitioner. The relationship between mind
and body is so complete and so subtle that it is no wonder that certain physical training will induce
certain mental transformations.
A good many of you might have come across several persons capable of demonstrating
these Yoga-Asanas some of which may seem at first sight disgusting and tiring. At any rate such
persons are not uncommon in India. Some of my own students who are specialists in this branch of
Yoga can do the various exercises with amazing grace and finish. It is wrong to suppose that these
Yoga-Asanas are merely physical exercises founded by the ancient Rishis of India just as so many
systems of physical culture have cropped up now both in Europe and in America. There is
something spiritual, something divine at the bottom of this system for it awakens the sleeping
Kundalini-Shakti, helps the Yogic student a lot in establishing himself fully in meditation and
finally makes him taste the nectar of Cosmic Consciousness.
It is important to know what an ideal system of physical culture should be, so that you will
be able to judge for yourself the value of Yoga-Asanas in the light of the ideal. That system can be
safely said to be an ideal system which requires the smallest amount of energy to be spent in order to
secure the greatest amount of benefit; which can effect a maximum increase in the vital index;
which can build up a healthy nervous system; which can ensure health for the excretory organs of
the body; which can take care of the circulatory system; and which can also develop the muscular
system. Let us now see how far these few conditions are fulfilled by Yoga-Asanas.
Let me now prescribe a short but complete course of Yoga-Asanas which is more than
sufficient for an average man (or woman) of health not only to maintain a high standard of health
but also to achieve true success in Yoga. Yogic physical culture is only a means to an end, and not
an end in itself. You need not, therefore, attach undue importance to this branch of Yoga alone to
the gross neglect of the others. All the Asanas mentioned and illustrated in this book can be
successfully practiced without the personal contact of a teacher. Thousands are benefited in various
ways by regularly practising these Asanas. The various exercises given in this book have been so
arranged that strict adherence is expected of you. All Asanas should be done invariably in the
morning, and not in the evening as you will find in some books on the subject. The reason for this
emphasis is that in the evening everybody is tired of a day’s work and as such will not be able to do
the various exercises with a feeling of exhilaration and freshness which he or she would otherwise
feel in the morning. There should absolutely be no feeling of depression or fatigue either before or
during the performance of these exercises. This is an important point to remember, if you wish to
enjoy the benefits of these exercises in the fullest measure. You need not go through the whole
course everyday. but you must by all means be regular and systematic in the very little that you do,
and be amaster of all the exercises given in this book. Another point to remember is that the amount
of energy expended in these exercises should on no account strain your system. Those of you who empty stomach; but there is no harm if a small cup of milk, light tea or coffee is taken before
commencing the exercises.
Asana is the third limb (Anga) of Yoga. If you are firmly established in Asanas, you will not
feel the body at all. When you do not feel the body, qualities of the pairs of opposites will not affect
you. When you are free from the effect of the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, pleasure and
pain, you will be able to take up the next higher step viz., Pranayama and practice it with an
unruffled mind. Therefore you should select that posture which is easy and comfortable and in
which you can remain long, say, three hours. Lord Krishna says: “Having in a cleanly spot
established a firm seat, neither too high nor too low with cloth, skin, and Kusa grass thereon;
making the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him, seated
there on the seat, practise Yoga for the purification of the self. Holding erect and still the body, head
and neck, firm, gazing at the tip of the nose, without looking around, serene-minded, fearless, firm
in the vow of godly life, having restrained the mind, thinking on Me, and balanced, let him sit,
looking up to Me as the Supreme.” (Bhagavad-Gita Ch. VI-11, 12, 13).
Yoga aims at developing, will-power. Aman of strong and dynamic will-power will always
sit upright and walk with his chest thrown in front of his head; but a weak-willed person will change
his posture often and often, while sitting or standing, will walk in a zigzag fashion, betraying
infirmity and want of resolution of mind in every step. The practice of Asanas is of vital importance,
and though the practice may be found to be painful and troublesome at the outset, when once the
habit of sitting on one Asana for a considerable length of time is formed, you will feel a peculiar
thrill and pleasure while seated there, and you will not like to change the pose on any account.
According to Patanjali Maharshi, posture is that which is firm and comfortable. He does not
lay any special stress on either Asana or Pranayama. It was only later on that the Hatha-Yogins
developed these two limbs of Yoga, and, no doubt they are of tremendous help to the Yogic student.
While the Hatha-Yogins aim at the control and culture of the body, the Raja-Yogins aim at the
control and culture of the mind. And as body and mind are interdependent, physical culture is a sine
qua non to mental culture.
It is wrong to suppose that Yoga-Asanas are purely meant for the Indians and that they are
ideally suited to Indian conditions. That it is not the case is proved by the following few instances.
Mr. Harry Dikman, the Director-Founder of the Yoga Centre in Riga, Latvia (Europe) is a good
specialist in these Yoga-Asanas, Bandhas and Mudras and his opinion and advice to persons
suffering from various kinds of diseases, curable and incurable, are increasingly becoming popular
in Europe. I have not heard of another man either in Europe or in America, who takes such a keen
and lively interest in this subject and is making researches in the same. You will be surprised to
know that Mr. Harry Dikman is essentially a philosopher and a sage.
In California (U.S.A.) a young girl of about two and twenty, weighing 280 lbs., due to much
adiposity and therefore feeling completely dejected and forlorn, finally took recourse to
Yoga-Asanas on the recommendation of a friend of hers, and in the course of six months time, to the
astonishment and wonder of all, was able to reduce her body-weight to 180 lbs., by following the
instructions of a specialist! The photographs of the girl taken before, during and after the six months
course were lavishly published in various American journals and high tributes paid to the remarkable efficacy of Yoga-Asanas as the means of building up a radiant and healthy body and
eradicating all kinds of diseases.
Mr. Ernest Haekel of Los Angeles, California, Mr. Boris Sacharow of Berlin and several
others interested in acquiring psychic powers by awakening the Kundalini are all instances to prove
that Yoga-Asanas can be practiced and are intended not only for India and the Indians but for the
whole world and the humanity at large.
Practise either Padmasana or Siddhasana for meditative purposes and the various other
Asanas, Bandhas, etc., for maintaining, a high standard of health, vigour, strength, vitality, and for
keeping up Brahmacharya.
(THE LOTUS POSE)
Amongst the various poses prescribed for meditation, Padmasana is unique and foremost. It
holds a very conspicuous place in the Yoga practices because great Rishis like Sandilya, Gheranda
and several others have spoken of it in glowing terms. It is called Padmasana because of its full pose
lending one the appearance of a full-blown lotus.
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