YOGA PRACTICES are useful for prevention of diseases and for keeping physically fit, mentally alert and spiritually in an ecstatic state of mind.

Yoga is a household word today. Yoga is mentioned every day on radio and television as an alternative to mainstream medicine. Meditation is presented as a treatment for stress, worry and cardiac problems in general books on health and sometimes in medical texts as well. There is an enormous documented and undocumented evidence to show benefits of Yoga practices on the human mind and body.

In ancient times, people lived closer to nature than present-day living permits. Sheer observation of nature by them over a period of time with a receptive mind led to the discovery that amongst other things, the key to good health is alternate stretching and relaxation of the human body. Furthermore, a healthy system depends on a body free from dirt and residue after digestion of food. Therefore, a bowel movement must be daily and preferably first thing in the morning. By sheer observation, it had also been determined that the thyroid is a vital gland in the human body, before the modern discovery of glands.

Asana, literally meaning posture, is traditionally the first few steps in Rishi Patanjalis Ashtang Yoga.

Asanas are essentially performed while

  1. standing,
  2. sitting, or
  3. lying down.

These postures have been devised

a: To keep the spinal cord supple, e.g. alternate bending of the spine as in Bhujang Asana (cobra), Figure 4, and Nauka Asana (boat), Figure_6

b: To help strengthen abdominal muscles, e.g. Udiyaan or Neoli, Figure 3, a simple pumping of the stomach; and

c: To keep the joints supple. There are Asanas for each part of the body. SARVANG ASANA, Figure 1, had been recognized as the posture that tones the whole body, since it tones the thyroid.

d: Another important factor in Asanas is the absence of tension or fatigue in the body. It is recommended that Asanas be performed after a bath, when the body is clean and the stomach empty. Food should be taken no sooner than 30 minutes after these exercises or four hours before.

e: Yogasanas are designed primarily to keep the body physically fit and to initially train the mind to focus on a particular part of the body for its betterment. In Shava Asana (dead posture), Figure 11, one lies down flat on a padded mattress and relaxes the whole body.

f: In order to free the mind from extraneous thoughts, it is advisable to direct the mind to observe the limbs of the body starting from the head gradually down to the toes. In this manner, relaxation becomes complete both physically and mentally.

g: Think of throwing out all physical ailments, stress and worry while breathing out, and taking in all the energy from the universe while breathing in. Music can aid this thinking process.

h: The importance of physical fitness lies only in the fact that positive actions in life are difficult without good health. Therefore, the body is the vehicle or means to something better.

i: Keeping the body in physically fit condition is not the objective in itself, according to the philosophy of Yoga. This is in contrast to material philosophy in which emphasis is only on physical pleasures, keeping the body physically fit, enjoying all material possessions and trying to acquire more possessions, more possessions and more possessions without limit.

j: It should be understood at this stage that pleasures are not denied to a Yogi. These occur along the way but are not the destination for wise people. If one has mastered the technique of selective Yogasanas in life, one remains free from disease in the body. Remember that constipation, common cold and cough are regarded as alarming conditions in Yoga philosophy. These are the beginning of serious diseases in the body. Food has great importance in Yoga. Food may generate three types of tendencies in the human body.

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