Yoga for the health of body and mind
Dr S Kulachandra Singh
Contd from previous issue
The wheel of time (Kalchakra) moulded and remoulded man in the three Gunas, and the man became a prisoner of three kinds of affections -Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and man became a prisoner of three kinds of affections -Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and Adhibhiautika. Adhidaivika pain has its source within man either at the phychological level or both, creating mental agony. Adhidaivika andAdhibhautika pains are due to causes beyond one's control like destiny or accident, allergy or virus infection.
There is misconception in some quarters that asanas are just a form of physical movements with no bearing on the true meaning of yoga. The same misconception prevails with the term Hatha Yoga (The Yoga of the Will ), Raja Yoga (The Royal Way of Yoga), Jnana Yoga ( The Yoga of knowledge), Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action )and Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion). Asanas are a part of of the Yoga tree, and they cannot be separated from the main theme.
According to Sage Patanjali, the dualities in men are vanquished by the mystery of asanas. Swatmarama in his Hatha-Yoga Pradipika proclaims that adabas not only give health and lightness of the body, but he further maintains that even tamasic and rajasic qualities of mind are destroyed by the asanas. In the Yoga Upanishad it is said that one who has mastered asanas has conquered the three worlds : hell, earth and heaven; for me, they are the spheres of the body, mind and soul. When such clear statements are made by exponents of Yoga, it is unfortunate that some people want only and unnecessarily to decide Yoga in order to promote their own ideas and indulge in unwarranted criticism.
No limb of Yoga can test one's tenacity of will, discipline and subjugation as asanas can do. Where does the body end and the mind begin ? Are not the body, mind and self all inter-woven together enabling man to live fully ? Why demarcate and denigrate one essential component of Yoga ? There are two ways of doing asanas with ajnana (without any thought behind them). While performing asanas the spine, the limbs, the skin, the fibres, membranes, nerves, muscles, organs, intelligence, will, nay the very Self, should be sharp, alert, alive, observant and receptive. Activity and passivity must go together to get the best effect from each Asana.
And that is Yoga-union or true integration in an Asana. For a practitioner of Yoga there is no limitation of age or sex, colour or dogma, health or lack of it, strength or weakness. Patanjali linked Yama and Niyama to the ten commandments applicable to the whole universe without any restrictions of country or age. One could add the eleventh commandment for all men over the globe-asanas. As healthy trees alone bear healthy flowers and fruits, only accurate performance of asanas give a healthy personality, peace to the mind. Perform asanas with uninterrupted awareness and undivided attention (Vivekakhyati). Do not perform asanas mechanically, with the mind wandering elsewhere. Perform asanas with total movement and involvement.
Penetrate the intellect from one end of the body to the other, vertically, horizontally, circumferentially as well as cross-wise. This will bring uniformity and harmony to the body and sculpt the body to bring out its latent beauty. Just as a goldsmith heats and melts the gold to remove impurities, the Yogi performs asanas to remove toxins accumulated in the body.
Gazing at a burning candle, uttering a prescribed mantra, thinking good thoughts, concentrating in noble personalities or reading sacred texts are normally regarded as spiritual practices (Sadhana). If a practitioner considers each Asana while performing it as his mantra or his chosen deity (Ishtadevata), then every Asana will become a spiritual pose. Why name some asanas as a purely physical pose and another as a meditative one ? Why not say that so long as efforts are there no refine it, it is physical or cultural pose and that with, further refinement of movement it becomes a meditative pose ? If right attitude and aptitude for performing asanas are cultivated in the mind and soul, the practitioner will gain mastery in them, and when efforts of refinements case, light will dawn in him from the core of his being spreading towards infinity. Perfect performance of asanas does not bring one to body consciousness, but rather frees one of the limitations of the body and sets one free, sublimating the mind with the Self.
As a devotee surrenders his all at the feet of the Lord, the practitioner surrenders and merges himself and becomes one with the Asana. There is no difference between the knowable, the Knower and knowledge. There is only experience of that which is true (Satya), good (Shiva ) and beautiful (Sundara).
Yama and meditation-The body is the only capital the soul possesses and it has to be taken care of, whether it is used for pleasure of the body or realisation of the Self. New inventions and discoveries are made to enhance health as well as the span of life. In olden days men was not blessed with aids and instruments for observation like the microscope and stethoscope, but he developed the faculty of observation and trained it by intuition and tapped natural resources to tackle the prevailing ills. Early man experimented subjectively on himself to test his own inventions and brought out so many asanas with specific purposes like health, longevity, clarity and refinement in one's own Self. He copied the movements of animals and other forms of life and devised asanas and evaluated their effects on his own body.
His inventive mind discovered new asanas so as to deal with different ailments. He found the Universal Spirit flowing throughout all creation and started naming asanas after different aspects of creation, the vegetable and animal kingdoms, heroes, sages and Gods.Today we live an artificial life. We have artificial foods, stimulants for sex and tranquillisers for sleep.
Yogasana have stood the test of time,they stimulate the system as well as tranquilise it as the occasion demands.
Though men have different geographical backgrounds, historical perspectives and social environments, their basic problems and desires, their pleasures and pain are the same all the world over.
The difference in feelings is one of degrees and this difference brings about bio-chemical changes in the system. Asanas restore the chemical balance in the system, making the body fresh and clean as man is ever dynamic, i.e. he looks for the expansion of knowledge. So asanas have to be performed which ever-flowing energy and dynamism creating new avenues and hopes. Asanas should never be done mechanically, for the body rusts and the mind stagnates.
A tree has roots, trunk, branches, leaves, bark, sap, flowers and fruits and each of these components has a separate identity, but each component cannot by itself become a tree. So also Yoga is like a tree. The universal principles of Yama are the roots. The disciplines of Niyama form the trunk. Asanas are like the branches. Pranaysms which aerates the body with the breath of life form the leaves. The bark of Pratyahara prevents the energy of the senses from flowing outwards and turns it within the yogi, enabling him to find true happiness within himself. Dharma is the sap flowing through the whole body holding it firm, till it bears the flower of Dhyana, which in turn ripens into the fruit of Samadhi.