I was looking through my copy of the AYA2 (Ashtanga) House Recommendations this week, crowdsourced and curated by Angela Jamison and designed by Laura Shaw Feit of Small Blue Pearls blog and http://lshawdesign.com.
Got me thinking, what would be Krishnamacharya's 'House Recommendations' be like?
Here's what I could find from his texts, Yoga Makaranda (1934), 'Yoga Makaranda Part II' (released by AG Mohan) and Yogasanagalu (1941)
Free pdf downloads of Yoga Makaranda I and II are available from my download page (Yogasangalu coming soon, ongoing translation here)
Unfortunately I don't have Laura's classy layout.
Perhaps sometime in the future I'll re edit this into the AYA2 chapter headings.
I was going to post this tomorrow as for some reason there's more traffic during the week than at the weekend (do Ashtangi's take a day off blogs as well as practice Saturdays?), but it's long and might be perfect for a quiet Sunday so let your friends know about it perhaps, there are some jewels here.
UPDATE: Just turned these notes into a pdf to make them more reader friendly as this blog can be so slow to load at times. I've stored them on googledocs and they can be downloaded freely here
No photo's but just checked and it looks good, and more importantly reads nicely, in ibooks.
The idea here is to encourage everyone to read more Krishnamacharya and to make him as accessible as possible
I've also added the file to my free download page
Currently typing up something extra to add to the Yogasanagalu and Yoga Makaranda sections, new pdf file should be up on google docs in a couple of days, check back.
from Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941)
11. 3rd Limb and Authority (to practice asana)Third step is the asana. People who make sincere efforts to practice the first and second steps (limbs) as much as possible, no matter what the conditions are will have the authority to go into the 3rd step that is “Asana.”Depending on how strong one practices detailed aspects of the 2nd and 3rd limbs, so fast will they experience the corresponding benefits. In yoganga, no practice will go to waste. However, one should practice daily at an appropriate time with devotion, sincerity and respect and without going against how it was taught by the guru.
12. CautionEspecially those who want to start practicing the two yoganga’s “Asana” and “Pranayama” without following the aforementioned niyamas, following drawing charts and practicing on their own freewill will not receive benefits but may also be responsible for tarnishing the name and bringing disrepute. Unlike other practices, yoganga sadhana not only nourishes muscles. It benefits body, musculature, and mind and according to the age of the practitioner improves the active energy, extends life, eliminates diseases, provides stability of the mind, comprehension of subtle reality and self knowledge.
13. ReviewBody exercises can be divided into two types: Sarvanga Sadhana and Anga Sadhana.The system which provides vigorous motion to one section of limbs while providing limited or no activities to other section is called Angabhaga Sadhaka. I haven’t expanded on this since the current generation of youth may well imagine the examples that I am referring to.Examples of well known body exercises that are classified under the Sarvanga Sadhaka are: Talinkhana, Garudi, etc. From these body exercises one can achieve more than necessary strong and bulky muscles resulting in impaired brain function and in these individuals respiration (inhalation and exhalation) will be irregular, but never even.
Niyama1. In yoganga sadhana we don’t see these (above mentioned) irregularities and with regular practice all organs will become strong. How is that? When practicing asanas, we need to maintain deep inhalation and exhalation to normalise the uneven respiration through nasal pasages.2. In yoga positions where eyes, head and forehead are raised, inhalation must be performed slowly through the nostrils until the lungs are filled. Then the chest is pushed forward and puffed up, abdomen tightly tucked in, focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose, and straighten the back bones tightly as much as possible. This type of inhalation which fills the lungs signifies Puraka.3. In yoga positions where eyes, head, forehead, chest and the hip are lowered, we have to slowly exhale the filled air. Tucking in tightly the upper abdomen, the eyes must be closed. This type of exhalation is called Rechaka.4. Holding the breath is called Kumbhaka.5. We have to discontinue laughter and shouting hard. Reason? Lungs become weak and you will start losing prana shakti.Do not hold the urge to urinate or defecate before, during or after practice. Holding will lead to putrefacation of excreta internally therefore leading to diseases.6. Before practice and immediately afterwards no type of food must be taken.7. Foods that are very hot, sour, salty, bitter and smelling bad must be given up.8. Liquor, smoking, women (outside of marriage), eating fire must be rejected by the practitioner.9. Private parts must be held with appropriate attire during practice.10. It is said that these Niyamas must be followed by the yoganga practitioners in Patanjali yogashastra, Hathayoga pradipika and many other texts is mainly for our benefit and not for our misery. By practicing these Niyamas, our ancestors used to live without too much worry and have brought enormous fame and glory to the country of Bharata.
- The art of yoga which had been in hibernation for some reason, has seen a resurrection due to encouragement by some very important people and it is the responsibility of the young boys and girls to make it a success. Unlike other practices, yoga practice does not require spending money on various apparatus. Unnecesssary food or drinks are not required. Expensive clothing and attire are not needed. Big buildings are not necessary. Differences in caste, creed, young-old, men-women do not matter. However, deep desire, faith, courage, perseverence, Satvic (pure) and limited food - these are required. There is simply no reason why this yoganga sadhana which provides so much benefits and is so simple must be given up by us, impoverished Indians.While Foreigners have come to the growing yoga shala supported by Sri Maharaja, taken photos of the drawing charts and displaying it in their countries, it is not right that we sit still and do nothing.
- Bharata, which is the home of all philosophical/spiritual sciences, we have it our hand to ensure that others don’t become teachers of our youth.
- This amazing system is not being practiced along with spiritual sciences with the help of a Guru, but is being abused by some of us is very unfortunate.The number of yogasanas are countless. Although the quote “Asanani cha tavanti yavanto Jeevarashayah” from Dhyanabindupanishat has been widely known, people who keep on saying that there are only eighty four (postures), must be under delusion. Whoever practices yogasanas with appropriate breathing technique will not be bothered by diseases. Yogasanas that are suitable for obese body, lean body and underweight body have been listed in the yoga shastra texts ( listed in the table coming up). Some people are saying “yoga practice will lead to a very lean body and pranayama practice can cause madness.” Respectable people who make such statements, did they get mad by practicing and then got cured by some treatment? Our youth must ask this question. Some others bring up the dangers to sensationalize the issue. Without proper training and understanding there is danger in everything. We have to assume that the reason some doctors have an unfavourable view of yoga is that the practice is not currently in vogue.Yogasanas must be only practiced with vinyasas and never without it. Vinyasas from 1 to 7 are equal in all asanas. Vinyasas create movement in the kosha (sheath), nerve, arteries, muscles and spaces between bones and helps eliminate impurities in these areas. In addition, muscle tissue develops and becomes strong.Practicing yogasanas without vinyasa will make the body lean and emaciated. Some people who did not learn yoga through a guru and practice without vinyasa have brought bad reputation to yoga which is very unfortunate.Therefore, how many vinysas for asanas? Asana position comes at which vinyasa count? When do you perform rechanka and puraka? When to do antah kumbhaka and bahya kumbhaka? What are its benefits? For yoga practitioners information, it is listed in the table below.Yoga practitioners must perform pranayama on an individual basis. However, yogasanas can be performed individually or as a group. When teaching yoga in a group, it is advised to separate people with obese, lean, and short body types. Otherwise, they will not get their desired results. People with obese body naturally want to get lean. Drill and other exercises also follow this rule. All can not perform all types of practices (sadhanas). Can an obese person run like a lean man? Can he raise and bend hands and legs (in the same fashion)?. For instance, if he runs hard due to drill masters orders, he could be put in danger due to elevated heart rate.In yoganga practice, asanas that are possible for a lean person are impossible for an obese person. However, we don’t need to increase the number of yoga instructors. Yoga practitioners may be divided approximately on the basis of body type and the same instructor can teach them. In the same way, practitioners with common disease types may be divided and treated (with yoga). Yoga sadhana is without risk compared to many of the body exercises that require equipment. Yoganga sadhana must be done standing, sitting, sideways and upside down.All these types of asanas are given in this edition. Interested practitioners and instructors must study carefully, practice and teach. Many asanas are also printed for ladies. From this, we can get an idea of our ancestors behaviour.***********
- Lazy people can not make progress in any work while energetic will not be left behind. India’s cultural and spiritual wealth was not only permeated by speech. The courageous overcome obstacles and practiced. In this edition, it is once again suggested that yoga sadhana is for people of all ages.
- from Krishnamacharya's Yogas Makaranda (1934)
Investigations of the YogangaA man can live in his body for as long as he wishes, not just one hundred years. But for that, prana vayu suddhi is essential. Prana vayu suddhi means to keep prana vayu under one’s control. If prana vayu is to be kept under our control, pranayama is the most important tool. Our ancestors followed these useful in- structions and so lived as long as they wished and served as a support for the people of this world and even today exist as famous and enlightenened souls. But now, day by day, we keep destroying the techniques of pranayama. We mistrust our history and the great people who came before us and undertake physical ex- ercises and movements that are dangerous to our lives. As a result, we age within a few years of birth, struggle and stagger to a corner and fall down.I have described the methods and rules for following pranayama in the chapter on pranayama. It is important to first learn that through the practice of asana and pranayama we keep our body, mind, prana, indriyas, and atma in a proper state — this is yoga.There are many types of this yoga — 1. hatha yoga, 2. mantra yoga, 3. laya yoga, 4. raja yoga.Hatha yoga focusses mainly on descriptions of the methods for doing asanas.Raja yoga teaches the means to improve the skills and talents of the mind through the processes of dharana and dhyana. It also explains how to bring the eleven indriyas under control and stop their activities in the third eye (the eye of wisdom), the ajn ̃a cakra, or the thousand-petalled lotus position (that is turn their attention inward and not outward) and describes how to see the jivatma, the paramatma and all the states of the universe. But even here it is mentioned that to clean the nadis it is necessary to follow the pranayama kramas.Asana and pranayama are initially extremely important. But if one wants to master asana and pranayama, it is essential to bring the indriyas under one’s control.Yoga consists of eight angas which are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
2.1 Yama and NiyamaAhimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, kshama, dhrthi, daya, arjavam, mitahara and sauca — these ten are called yama.
To not hoard money is called asanchayam and this is also a yama. To perform good deeds without fear is a yama.Tapas, santosha, asthikya, daana, isvara puja, siddhanta vakya sravana, hri, mathi, japa, homam — these ten are called niyama.
To never harm anybody through mind, speech or action is ahimsa.
To always speak the truth with good intentions and through that be of useto all living beings is satya.
To not usurp other people’s wealth through mind, speech or action is calledasteya.
To not waste your viryam by any means is called brahmacharyam.
To not change the state of your mind irrespective of whether you get the expected benefits of your actions or not is kshama (equanimity).
Whatever hurdles arise to your happiness or welfare, to continue to under- take with mental steadfastness and courage whatever work that has to be done is dhrthi.
Be it enemy, friend, stranger (an alien or somebody you are unconnected to or indierent to) or relative, to behave towards all with the same good intentions without dierentiation is daya.
To keep the state of mind honest (on the straight path) is arjavam.
To use half the stomach for food and to keep the other half in equal partsfor water and for air flow (vayu sancharam) is mitahara.
To maintain cleanliness internally and externally is sauca.
2.1. YAMA AND NIYAMA
These ten yama and niyama should be carefully practised as far as possible. This will have many benefits. The third part of yoga is asana.One should practise asana in a superior, very clean place, clean all the nadis in our body and master the vayus to bring them under our control.To begin practising yoga, the two seasons, spring (the months of chittirai and vaigasi) (Apr. 15 — Jun. 15) or autumn (the months of aipasi and karthikai) (Oct. 15 — Dec. 15) are superior.If a yogabhyasi eats when the vayu sancharam is equal in both nostrils and sleeps when the air flow is in the surya nadi (right side) he will have superior health.
Cold and hot, joy and sorrow, adoration and aversion — to maintain a steady state of mind when encountering these and to follow the dharma of your caste is tapas.
The sorrows and pleasure that result from any occurrences due to variations of time and place — to accept these with a peaceful, contented mind is santosha.
To have definite belief that for all the fourteen worlds, there is one para- matma who protects these worlds and to be sure that without him, this diverse universe could not have come into existence, and to make up your mind to find and know (realize) this paramatma is asthikya.
To give away your earnings (earned honestly) to good causes without any reason and without expecting any returns is daana.
To worship one’s chosen deity in the proper manner according to the vedas is isvara puja.
For the purpose of establishing sanatana dharma, to study the vedas, the vedanta, smrti, the puranas and ithihasas, to do vedic study and recitation of these, to understand the functioning of various dharmas, and to listen to the discourses of great sages is siddhanta vakya sravana.
If you have strayed with one of the three — your body, possessions or spirit — out of ignorance, to inform the elders about this without hiding it, to feel remorse and promise never to repeat it, and to be humble in one’s mind is hri (modesty).
Following one’s path as specified by the sastras and while doing this to visualize with one-pointed mind the divine auspicious form of one’s chosen deity and to perform dhyana on this deity is mathi.
To properly chant the great mantras learned under the guidance of one’s guru with correct intonation, metre and rhythm and with understanding of their meaning is japa.
Nitya naimitika kaamya are the three types of srouta smarta karmas (pre- scribed or recorded vedic rites and rituals). Leaving aside the kaamya karma (action or rite performed with a self-interested motive or with a view to- wards desired results), to perform the nitya naimitika karmas (nitya karmas a constant or continuous rite or action, naimitika is a regularly recur- ring or periodic rite or action) at the proper time in order to please the devatas, and after reciting all the mantras to put the havis (rice) in the fire as described in the sastras is homam.
2.3 WarningThe obstacles to becoming an adept yogi are sleep, laziness and disease. One has to remove these by the root and throw them away in order to keep the body under one’s control, to conquer the senses, and to make the prana vayu appear directly in the susumna nadi. Asana siddhi will help all this. To acquire this skill in asana quickly, recite the following slokam every day before practising yoga:Jivamani Bhrajatphana sahasra vidhdhrt vishvam Bharamandalaya anantaya nagarajaya namahaRepeat this prayer, do namaskaram to adisesha, perform the relevant puja, meditate on adisesha and then begin the practice. When I explain the rules of yogasana, if the position of the head has not been specified, then keep the head in jalandara bandha. Similarly, if it does not specify where to place the gaze, then the gaze should be directed towards the midbrow. If the position of the hands has not been specified, then the hands should be kept as in siddhasana. Whenever there is a krama where some part of the body has to be held with the hand, and the placement of the hand has not been described, hold the relevant part of the body with the first three fingers of the hand (including the thumb). Make sure to remember this.When practising the asanas, it is important to do both the right and left sides. First practise the right side and then the left side. If you don’t do this, the strength of yoga will not reach all parts of the body.
2.4 Important ObservationsFrom ancient times, while doing veda adhyayanam, the svaras (the notes udatta (elevated), anudatta (grave) and svarita (middle/articulated)) in the aksharas (syllables) of the vedas are observed and mastered without fail; in music, the rules of sruti (division of octave), layam (metre or time), thrtam and anuthrtam are followed; in pathyatmaha (verses of 4 lines each) poems the rules for chandas, yati, and parasam have been established and are carefully followed; in mantra upasana, the anganyasa, karanyasa, sariranyasa, kalaanyasa, matrukanyasa, ji- vanyasa, tattvanyasa are experienced and understood. Similarly in yogasana, pranayama and the mudras, the vinyasas handed down from ancient times should be followed.But nowadays, in many places, these great practitioners of yogabhyasa ignore vinyasa krama and just move and bend and shake their arms and legs and claim that they are practising asana abhyasa. This is being done not only in yogabhyasa but also in veda adhyayanam and in mantra upasanas where the rules are being ignored and people shamefully practise this as though it were part of their worldly aairs. If this behaviour continues for some time, even the vedas will be ruined.Everybody knows that anything that is done without following the prescribed rules will not give any benefits. When we know that this is true, is there any need to reiterate this for the great traditions of yogabhyasa, veda adhyayanam and mantra upasana which provide the best benefits? Some people, who are involved in sahavasa dosha and interested only in worldly benefits, say that they do not see any point in following sanatana dharma or karma yoga. There are reasons for their saying this. I would like to briefly mention one or two points addressing this.1. They are not following the rules such as vinyasa.
2. Their guru is not teaching them using the secrets and techniques that are
in his experience.
3. The guru has not instructed them properly about the place and time of practice, the appropriate diet and drink and activities for the practitioner. As a result of many people teaching yogabhyasa in this fashion, many leave the path of yoga saying that they do not see the benefits in yogabhyasa and fall into the traps of various diseases. They do not exercise the body properly and spend money unnecessarily. Instead of following the system properly, they lose their way and waste time on unnecessary pursuits and have started saying that these times are not appropriate for sanatana dharma and karma. Some others, in order to hide the mistakes and bad actions that they have committed, keep saying that doing yogabhyasa makes one go mad and intentionally deceive great people in this manner. In spite of this terrible situation, some young men and women collect some yoga texts from here and there and eagerly begin to practise in either a correct or incorrect way. For these people, god will reveal the secrets of yoga without fail. The modern age belongs to the youth. Let the god of yoga bless them to have good health, long life and body strength.
Following the path that my guru has recommended for me, I am writing down the secrets of yoga.Yogasana and pranayama are of two types: samantraka and amantraka. Only those who have the right to study the vedas have the authority to practise the yoga that is samantraka. All people have the right to practise the amantraka type. For each asana, there are 3 to 48 vinyasas. None has fewer than 3 vinyasas.When practising asana, the breath that is inhaled into the body and the breath that is exhaled out must be kept equal. Moreover, practise the asana with their vinyasas by breathing only through the nose.Just as music without sruti and laya will not give any pleasure, similarly asana practice done without vinyasa krama will not give good health. When that is so, what more is there to say about long life and strength in this context?In yogabhyasa, there are two types of kriyas — langhana kriya and brah- mana kriya. One who is obese should practise langhana kriya. One who is thin should practise brahmana kriya and one who is neither fat nor thin should practise yogabhyasa in both.Brahmana kriya means to take in the outside air through the nose, pull it inside, and hold it in firmly. This is called puraka kumbhaka.Langhana kriya means to exhale the air that is inside the body out through the nose and to hold the breath firmly without allowing any air from outside into the body. This is called recaka kumbhaka.In vaidya sastra, they describe brahmana kriya as meaning a prescribed diet and langhana kriya as meaning to fast. But in yoga sastra it does not have this meaning. Without understanding these intricacies and secrets of yoga, some people look at the books and try to do yogabhyasa (like looking for Ganesa and ending up with a monkey). They get disastrous results and bring a bad name for yoga sastra. We need not pay any attention to their words.If one practises yogabhyasa in the presence of a guru for a few years, following vinyasa and associated kriyas, the dierent aspects and qualities of yoga will be revealed. Instead, for those who practise an asana for only one day, and then ridicule it the next day asking what has been gained by this, the correct answer can be given by a farmer. If a person sows some seeds and then complains the next day that no seedlings have grown, no farmer will tolerate such a ridiculous statement.Some people say that yogabhyasa is only for men and not for women. Some others say that yoga is only for brahmins, kshatriyas, and vaishyas and not for others.One can immediately state that these people have never read the yoga sastras.Some other great people scare people by saying that yogabhyasa will drive one mad, and have proceeded to completely destroy the jitendriya tattvam (doctrine of conquering the senses) and other such vairagyam in this world. There seems to be no limit to this kind of hilarious statements.Those who have minutely examined the Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka, and Yoga Yajnavalkya Samhita, and who have carefully studied and compared the yoga texts will not utter such foul sentences.In each section for each particular asana, we have included a description and an enumeration of its vinyasas. The vinyasas in which the head is raised are to be done with puraka kumbhaka and the ones in which the head is lowered must be done with recaka kumbhaka. Uthpluthi (raising the body from the floor with only the support of both hands on the floor is called uthpluthi) should be done on recaka kumbhaka for a fat person and on puraka kumbhaka for a thin person.Those who ignore these rules and only do yogabhyasa according to their wishes, by following picture books, will be unhappy as a result because they will obtain absolutely no benefits from this. These people then ridicule yogavidya and their sanatana dharma, and start doing physical exercises that are contrary to our country’s ahara guna (diet), jala guna (water) and vayu guna (climate) and waste a lot of money on this. Who is at fault?Ordinarily, any physical activity will initially cause the body pain. Similarly, yogabhyasa will also initially cause some physical pain. But in a few days, the pain will subside on its own. When we do physical exercises, there are two types: exercising some parts of the body and exercising the entire body. Nowadays, we follow Western exercises and methodology, think that this is easy, spend a lot of money on it, procure expensive equipment from abroad and exercise with no consistency or routine. This is not an achievement of the body but a bodiless eort or a body destroying eort. We did not make up these names. We realize this from the kinds of kriyas that are being followed by the practitioner of these exercises. Moreover, such exercises will give proper blood circulation to some parts of the body while reducing the blood flow in others. This will result in poor strength, and eventually will cause paralysis and lead to an early, untimely death.To make things worse, when we observe the practitioners of the kinds of physical exercises that exist nowadays, they make loud noises while practising and we notice that they breathe through their mouths. This is very dangerous. It is a danger to our lives. We have life only as long as prana vayu exists in our body. Therefore, such exercises are not suitable for people in our country. It is more intelligent to spend the money nourishing the body than to spend the money on such physical exercises.There are only three forms of physical exercises that give equal strength to the joints and blood vessels in our bodies: yogabhyasa, karadi sadhana (fencing or fighting with weapons) and archery. I don’t know why people have given up the skill of archery in the present day.Karadi sadhana can be found to exist here and there but it must be stated that even this does not follow the proper krama nowadays. Through no fault of anybody’s, everybody starts dividing into camps, competing with one another and eventually end up fighting. Moreover, fencing is an eort only for achievement in this world and is not the way to get any permanent results. The greatest fault in karadi sadhana is that many do not achieve the subtle benefits of strength of mind and balance in the body. Good health, longevity, happiness, strong mind and strong body are the five aspects that are essential for a man. If these five parts are not functioning properly, one cannot understand the essence of the universe. With no understanding of this, even acquiring a good life has no meaning. In modern times, many types of strange phenomenan are occurring. Among these, using the skill of discernment to examine the good and the bad, the time has come to carefully choose only the good. This skill to discern exists only in human beings and in no other living beings. If one wants to develop such a skill, it is essential to have complete physical strength, strength of mind, and similarly one needs to conquer each of the five aspects mentioned earlier. The secret of the five aspects is what we call yoga.For such achievements in yoga, we do not need to send our country’s money elsewhere to procure any items. Whatever money we get, there is plenty of place in our country to store it. The foreigners have stolen all the skills and knowledge and treasures of mother India, either right in front of us or in a hidden way. They pretend that they have discovered all this by themselves, bundle it together, and then bring it back here as though doing us a favour and in exchange take all the money and things we have saved up for our family’s welfare. After some time passes, they will try and do the same thing with yogavidya. We can clearly state that the blame for this is that while we have read the books required for the knowledge of yoga to shine, we have not understood or studied the concepts or brought them into our experience. If we still sleep and keep our eyes closed, then the foreigners will become our gurus in yogavidya.We have already given the gold vessels we had to them and bought vessels from them made from bad-smelling skin and have started using these. This is a very sad state. Our descendents do not need these sorts of bad habits.The physical exercise that is yoga, this asana kriya that is with us is more than enough for us. The hut that we live in is enough. We don’t need excessive amounts of money for that. What yoga mata wishes for us is that we eat only the sattvic food that Bharatmata can give us. The ability that our youngsters have to follow outsiders can also be used to follow the knowledge and skills of our country. I have complete faith in this. In schools, it is very important to have this yoga vidya in the curriculum. I do not need to emphasize this specifically to the great scholars who know the secrets of vidya.For the achievement of all the five angas, the means is yoga. That which gives us good health and good fortune is yoga. That which gives us long life is yoga. That which gives us power of intellect is yoga. That which makes us wealthy is yoga. That which makes us human is yoga. That which makes our Bharatmata virtuous and faithful is yoga. That which gives us the power of discernment to know what we should do and what we should not is yoga. The knowledge that helps us understand why we have taken on this life is yoga. That which gives us the answer to the question — where is our god? — is yoga and not anything else. We can say this confidently.
“Yoga is the foundation
for both siddhi and liberation"
On analysis, yoga alone paves the way for complete ultimate knowledge of everything. A systematic pristine practice of yoga is a perfect tool for understanding one’s true nature Yoga is a state of oneness of jivatma and paramatma
That which was said then is also a proof of this.
Chapter on Yogabhyasa
After continuing to practise the first two angas — the yama and niyama — the relevant and important concepts required for the practice of the third and fourth angas — asana and pranayama — will be described in this section: the place and time to practise, dietary rules and restrictions, understanding nadi sodhana, vayu sodhana (that is, examination of the breath, determining what we are aware of and not aware of about our breath, and the correction of breath).
Yoga should not be practised in a country where there is no faith in yogab- hyasa, or in a dangerous forest where you cannot look after your person, or in overcrowded cities, or in houses where there is no peace.
3.1 Places to practise Yoga
The following places are superior: a place with plenty of water, a fertile place, a place where there is a bank of a holy river, where there are no crowds, a clean solitary place — such places are superior. In such a place, yoga can be practised. In such a place find a region where there is a well or a pond or a lake. Build a fence around this area and in a flat region in the middle of this build a beautiful ashram. In this location, make arrangements so that insects like ants, mosquitoes, and bed bugs and insects that can draw blood cannot enter. Moreover, it is necessary to clean the space with cowdung daily. Inside the building, put up pictures on the four walls to encourage the growth of vairagya (detachment), jitendriya (control of the senses), and yoga vidya abhyasa.
In the yogabhyasa sala decorated as described above, spread a seat of grass on the ground in a clean space not facing the front door. Over that spread a tiger skin or deer skin and over that put a white blanket or a clean white cloth.
Prepare such a place for sitting. To make sure no bad smell enters this place, burn sambrani or incense. After completing their yoga practice consisting of asana and pranayama, the yoga practitioner must rest for fifteen minutes keeping the body on the floor before coming outside. If you come outdoors soon after completing yogabhyasa, the breeze will enter the body through the minute pores on the skin and cause many kinds of disease. Therefore, one should stay inside until the sweat subsides, rub the body nicely and sit contentedly and rest for a short period.
3.2 Discussion of when to begin Yogabhyasa
In the spring, the months of chittirai and vaigasi (Apr. 15 — Jun. 15), in autumn, the months of aipasi and karthikai (Oct. 15 — Dec. 15), and in winter, the month of margazhi (Dec. 15 — Jan. 15) — if you start the practice of yoga at these times, it will not cause any diseases in your body and you will be able to become an adept in yoga. The other months are mediocre.
3.3 Dietary Restrictions for the Yogabhyasi
Food must be eaten in measured quantities. It must be very pure. The food should not be overly hot, it should not have cooled down too much (very cold food should be avoided). Savouring the taste, fill the stomach with such food until it is half full. After this, leave a quarter of the stomach for water and leave the rest empty to allow for movement of air. For example, one who normally has the capacity to eat 1/4 measure of food, should eat 1/8 measure of food and leave the rest of the stomach as mentioned above.
For whom there is neither excess nor less of sleep, food and activity
For him alone it is possible
to attain the state of yoga
The reader should keep these great words from the Gita Saram in their mind.
More importantly, before explaining the various details of yogabhyasa and the benefits rendered, the reader should note one warning. That is, if anyone asks what the meaning of the phrase “anda pinda caracaram” (“what is the relationship between the microcosm and macrocosm”), they give the easy answer “the complete universe”.
This is definitely accurate! But they don’t understand the real meaning of its philosophy. There will be no haste to understand the real meaning since one already has the correct answer. There is an urgency to explain this here in order to have faith in this statement.
Andam (Macrocosm) means the entire world. Pindam (microcosm) consists of all the mobile and immobile beings and objects in this world. Caram is that prana which is between the andam and pindam uniting and dierentiating the two and causing them to function. That is, Svasam (breath) is vayu (air). Acaram is the state of compressing the vayu and bringing together andam and pindam in a state of unity, that is, uniting the jivatma and paramatma together. To get to the state where the prana vayu can help the jivatma and paramatma unite, we need to practise recaka puraka kumbhaka according to the krama of yoga in order to regularly be able to bring this vayu under our control. This is similar to a man taming wild animals in the forest and slowly bringing them under his control. The yoga practitioner should similarly gradually bring the vayu under his control.
Otherwise, like the man who can get killed by the wild animals, vayu will also kill the practitioner. Therefore, the practitioner must proceed with minute attention and extreme caution and must make a habit of observing the rules given here.
3.3.1 Food that can be eaten
Old thin cooked rice, wheat roti or poori, halwa, white or green corn roti, moong dal, urad dal, green plaintain, plantain flower, banana stem, tender eggplant, spices and herbs, edible roots, ghee, milk, sweet fruits, gooseberry, things made out of wheat flour, cardomom, bay leaf, cinnamon and such fragrant spices and foods can be eaten.
3.3.2 Food that should be avoided
Bitter, sour, salty, hot (overly spicy), yoghurt, vegetables that cannot be di- gested easily, alcohol, addictive narcotics, jack fruit, wood apple, pumpkin, onion, asafoetida, butter, curdled milk, too much sweet, dry coconut, mangoes and other foods that increase the heat in the body and oily, fried foods should be avoided.
Section on recommended activities and activities to avoid
The following activities should be given up: long journeys requiring one to stay in a village at night; having a bath after sunrise; fasting; stressful physical exertion other than asana pranayama; to eat once a day; not eating or fasting; to sleep after eating during the day; talking too much; too much sex; to dry yourself by a fireplace; to be too close to a fire; to bathe after oiling yourself with bad-smelling oil.
3.4.2 Activities that should be done
These activities must be practised: Get up early in the morning at 4:00 am every day and have a bath in a great river. If that is not possible, have a bath in clean hot water. Eat in the afternoon and at night, both times as mentioned earlier. Eat measured quantities of soft sweet food. Place signs of one’s (religious) tradition on the body and put on clean clothes. Follow the rules of your caste and creed and work according to your dharma.
Worship the idols representing the deities. Have sincere heartfelt devotion to the guru and elderly. Tattvam and sastram — study and research these constantly. During times of war constantly practise asana and pranayama and the earlier yogangas. Bathe using good-smelling oil. In the night, eat food with milk and ghee. These activities must be carried out.
from Krishnamacharya's Yogas Makaranda Part II (19?)
PERSONS COMPETENT TO PRACTICE YOGA:
All the ancient authors on Yoga are unanimous that everyone, be young or old, of either sex, in good health or not, is competent to practice Yoga, as far as it is aimed towards attainment of physical and mental benefits. There are as many asanas as there are living beings, says an ancient text. Thus, whatever be the state of the body, particular asanas and Yogic breathing exercises can be found and prescribed, by a competent Guru, which will be of benefit to the individual. The practices are so comprehensive as to cater for everyone.
Systematic course of Yoga practices has been given in a number of books written by the ancient rishis. These are the outcome of their rich experience. Similar practices are also found in books written by men of other religions.
Some ideas are prevalent that beginning of Yogic practices by the young, may stunt their growth and hence these should be practiced only after the age of sixteen. It is time that such erroneous notions are cleared.
No such age limit has been prescribed in any of the ancient treatises and my experience has shown that there is not only no deleterious effect but on the other hand there is considerable benefit. The other types of physical exercises, may make for showy muscles, but one should take into consideration also the fact, that in the enthusiasm parts of the body may be considerably strained and there may be no balanced development. The great benefit which Yogic exercises give of mental development and poise will be absent.
That these practices were intended to be started at a fairly young age would be clear from the fact that Pranayama forms part of the daily sandhya to be done after Upanayanam and this samskara was prescribed at the age of seven.
In the young, if habits of food restrictions are not observed, the boys tend towards becoming fatty or by taking of improper food and at irregular times tend to become subject to stomach upsets. Yogic exercises act as a corrective. Muscles may not be showy, but better health and balanced development of mind and body takes place.
There are quite a number of authoritative texts in Yoga and Ayurvedic treatises that prescribe Yogic practices for pregnant ladies, both in good health and for those who are not.
My own experience shows that such a practice is of considerable benefit to the mother, the unborn child and the child when born.
When Yogic practices can be undertaken even by ladies is a delicate condition, there need be no apprehension at all that Yogic practice will harm the young.
All asanas are not necessary for a routine practice for everyone. Age, ailments, peculiarities and individual constitutions are to be considered to find out which asanas are to be practised and which should be avoided.
One important thing to be constantly kept in mind when doing the asanas is the regulation of breath. It should be slow thin, long and steady; breathing through both nostrils with rubbing sensation at the throat and through the esophagus inhaling when coming through the oesophagus inhaling when coming to the straight posture and exhaling when bending the body.
The asanas are best practised early in the morning on an empty stomach. Those who are weak may do asanas after lapse of an hour after taking light liquid diet like milk. The head down postures should be done only after the lapse of at least three hours after a meal and the CHURNING (NOULI) after the lapse of six hours.
We have already mentioned that all asanas are not necessary for each individual. But a few of us at least should learn all the asanas so that the art of Yoga may not be forgotten and lost. I can say with pardonable pride that people of all ages from young children up to adults 120 years old, men as well as women have practised Yoga under my instruction. Enthusiasts from foreign countries, English, French, Russian and American ladies have undergone systematic training under me and a few of them e.g. Mr. Evgenic Strakary (Indira Devi) of Russia, have published books giving a description of what they have learned. Mr. Therose Brosse of France, a heart specialist has made the following observations:
Health is the prime necessity for enjoyment of life in this world. There are many ways in which health can be secured and of all the ways, the Yogic way is the best. The Yogic way gives you the maximum health with the minimum of expenditure. Yoga can be practised in all seasons and by all the several castes of people. This Yoga was discovered by our ancestors who practised it with great discipline and the secrets have been handed over to us in treatises on the science of Yoga.
The Yoga Asanas are not new inventions of the modern days propagated among the masses. Our religious books say that these Yoga practises were discovered thousands of years ago. The Bhagavad Gita which is accepted as one of the greatest scriptures all over the world is alone sufficient to testify to the greatness of Yoga. The connection between Yoga Asanas and Health is described in Chapter I Sloka 17 of Hathayoga Pradipika.
It is common experience that if one goes out of the way, one meets with danger. Some are of the opinion that the practice of Yoganga Sadhana leads one to madness. But how we do account for those people who are mad without the practice of Yoga? So it is very improper for one to criticise the Sadhana that it is either good or bad without actually putting it into practice oneself. The practice of asanas eliminates excessive fat, unwanted tissues faeces and urine without the aid of any surgical instrument. Hence the Rishis of old called it operation without instruments.
The ugliness of fleshy bodies vanish by the reduction of the unwanted flesh and the bodies which are thin and emaciated pick up flesh and strength by the practice of asanas. They get a certain lustre after some time. On account of these great efficacies, the MUNIS of the old have sung of the as “ ”. The beauty that comes to the man, both to his internal organs and to the external, is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika ch. II sloka 78:
1. Regular practice keeps the body away from becoming stout. 2. Lustre and peace are expressed in the face.
3. Speech is clear and heart is steady.
4. No diseases in the eyes.
5. Diseases of stomach are set right and stomach get normal.
6. Vital fluid is controlled.
7. Dyopepsia is cured and regular working of the liver is ensured.
8. The blood vessels are cleared every day.
For more particulars see Hatha Yoga Pradipika, ch. III slokas 45 to 48.
One who practices Yoganga Sadhana has no fear of disease and death. See SVETHASVARA UPANISHAD chapter II.
“He has no disease, does not become old, has no death, never feels lazy, has uniform health
throughout life, will never have bad desires, his body will have a certain KANTHI, will have powerful speech, there will be no odour in his perspirations and he will never have diabetes, dropsy and diarrhea.”
It is regrettable that the practice of Yoga Asanas with the help of the printed charts is on a large scale and it is dangerous. There is no doubt that for him who practices with the help of a proper Guru knowing its secrets, great benefits accrue. Propagandists of Yoga asanas are many nowadays and we have to choose one who is well-versed in the secrets of the science. The students of the modern medical science learn from direct contact with their masters. We want propagandists who can actually demonstrate what they teach and who know which asanas are good for which kind of ailments and how they are practised in relation to duration and breathing. We do require good demonstrations but without a knowledge of the secrets the people will not be benefitted and the science will not be revived. The secrets of Yoga, Raga, Sex and Statecraft are not easily communicated.