Good health is the greatest asset. Without good health one can hardly expect success in any walk of life. To keep up good health, there are numerous modern physical culture systems designed to develop the muscles. The physical culturist develops them by mechanical movements and exercises. In such physical exercises, there is a fast movement of the muscles resulting in the rapid functioning of the heart and lungs. The practitioner becomes exhausted very quickly. There may also be anxiety, psychological tension and fear. Some exercises develop the chest and the arms only, which becomes lopsided and results in disharmony in the personality.
In Yogic exercises, there is harmonious development of all the muscles of the body, internal organs, nerves and the frame. There are no rapid movements and hence there is no waste of energy. In Yoga, exercise movements are gentle and rhythmic. On the other hand, they conserve energy.
The three important organs viz., heart, lungs and brain with its cerebro-spinal system, are kept in a healthy condition by regular practice of a few important Asanas and one or two breathing exercises. Sound functioning of the organs depends upon good healthy nerves. The tripod of life are the brain, heart and the lungs. The heart and the lungs are under the control of the brain. These three important organs along with the cerebro-spinal system are kept in a healthy condition by regular Yogic exercises.
If the muscles are not given proper exercises, they will tend to contract, and there will be stiffness and heaviness in the body. Blood circulation and nerve force will consequently be impeded. Their malfunctioning will disturb the organs. Some of the Yogic exercises concentrate on the development of the muscles also, consistent with the development of other parts as well.
These Yogic exercises are both preventive and curative in their nature. On the whole, they prevent diseases attacking the body by maintaining the natural health. Some exercises also cure existing diseases like cold, cough, constipation and gastric troubles.
Some Yogic exercises involve forward and backward motions, others help the lateral movement of the spine. Some clean the lungs, throat, etc. Thus the body as a whole is developed, toned up and strengthened. The entire body becomes flexible, thereby preventing stagnation of blood in any part of the body.
Another unique feature of these exercises is, however, their influence upon the endocrine system of glands, the ductless glands as they are called. The malfunctioning of the thyroid, pituitary and pineal glands is corrected by a course of selected postures. Besides all this, some of the exercises have great effect upon man’s mind, his power of concentration and memory. They also wake up his dormant spiritual faculty. The Prana or the vital force is externalized in modern physical exercises, where as the Yogic exercises make the Pranic current flow inwards. These Yogic exercises help to improve the health by regulating the functioning of the internal organs. Their regular practice bring to every practitioner, good health, longevity, strength, vim and vitality. By practising the Yoga Asanas regularly with care and caution, the personality as a whole will become pleasing and attractive.
This system is simple, exact, efficacious, economical and capable of being practiced without any extraneous help when once a preliminary knowledge about it is obtained.
A word of warning and caution. There are certain “dos” and “don’t’s” here which should be adhered to at any cost, to derive maximum benefits and avoid harmful results by the practice of Yoga:
1) Generally, Yoga Asanas may be practiced by young people only after twelve years of age, and not before. The minimum age limit if higher for certain specific Asanas like the Sirshasana and Sarvangasana.
2) Practice of Asanas for curing diseases must be done under the personal supervision of an experienced instructor.
3) Those who are suffering from chronic eye disease, running ears, high blood pressure and heart troubles should not practise Yoga Asanas. They can however practise relaxation in Savasana alone which is very beneficial to them.
4) Get up early in the morning at 4 or 4:30 a.m. If you feel sleepy, practice standing postures and four to six Surya-Namaskaras. Then answer the call of nature and wash your face.
5) If you are not in the habit of answering the calls of nature in the early morning, you can practice Asanas without answering the calls. After finishing the Asanas, Pranayama and meditation, you can go to the lavatory.
6) Take bath in luke warm or cold water according to your capacity and convenience.
7) Spread a folded blanket or yoga mat on the floor and practise the Yoga Asanas over the blanket or yoga mat.
8) Do not wear spectacles or loose ornaments when you do Asanas. They may get damaged and may also cause injuries.
9) If you are accustomed to take bed-tea early in the mornings, after tea practise 4 to 6 Surya-Namaskaras and then answer the calls of nature and start the practice.
10) Asanas should be done on empty stomach, in the morning or at least 3 or 4 hours after food. Half an hour gap should be there before you take a heavy meal or bath, after the practice of Asanas.
11) One cup of milk or tea can be taken ten minutes after the practice of Asanas. If before, then there must be an interval of at least half to one hour.
12) In the beginning, each Asana can be practiced for a few seconds and gradually increase the duration of time. There should not be jerks or rapid movements of the body.
13) After the practice of Asanas and Pranayama, one must sit in a comfortable posture and practise meditation at least for ten to thirty minutes, according to one’s convenience.
14) If it is not possible to practise all the Asanas in the mornings, one can do the standing postures and Surya-Namaskaras followed by Savasana. The remaining Asanas and Pranayama can be practiced in the evenings.
15) Before starting Sirshasana and also Pranayama, one must see that one’s body and mind are calm, serene and undisturbed. If one is tired, fatigued, mentally or emotionally disturbed, then one should relax in Savasana for ten to fifteen minutes, and then start the practice.
16) Asanas should be practiced in a well ventilated clean room where there is free movement of fresh air. In cold regions, one can practise in a closed room. The floor must be even. Asanas can be practiced on sandy river beds, open, airy places and by the seaside.
17) If the practice of Asanas are discountinued due to some unavoidable circumstances there is no fear of any adverse reaction. After some days you can again start practising.
18) Regularity is the most important factor is you want to derive the full benefits of the yoga Asanas quickly.