Sivananda daily readings :Yoga Asanas-benefits----Prana/pranayama

Yoga Asanas

Health is wealth. Good health is a valuable asset for one and all. It can be achieved by the practice of yoga asanas, which control the emotions and produce mental peace. It also distributes prana evenly throughout the body and different systems. It helps in maintaining the healthy functioning of the internal organs. It gives internal massage to the various abdominal organs.

Physical exercises draw the prana out but asanas send the prana in. The practice of asanas cures many diseases and it awakens the kundalini shakti. These are the chief advantages of the yogic system of exercises advantages which none of the other systems have.

Practise a few asanas daily - at least for fifteen minutes. Soon you will possess wonderful health. Be regular in your practice - this is of paramount importance.

Asanas should be done on an empty stomach in the morning or at least three hours after food. Morning is the best time to do the asanas. Do not wear your spectacles whilst doing them. Wear a langotee and a singlet if necessary.

Be moderate in your diet. Practise brahmacharya (celibacy). Begin with a minimum time and gradually increase it. Answer the calls of nature before you begin doing the asanas.

The endocrine glands play an important part in the economy of nature. The practice of sarvangasana keeps the thyroid healthy and this means a healthy functioning of all the organs and systems in the body.

The diaphragm, the muscular partition between the chest and the abdomen, is also developed by certain exercises such as - dhanurasana, mayurasana, and paschimottanasana. The movement of the diaphragm massages the abdominal viscera and organs. There will be daily evacuation of the bowels in the morning. Constipation, dyspepsia and a host of other ailments of the stomach and intestines will disappear.

Four asanas are prescribed for the purposes of japa (repetition of God's name) and meditation. They are padma, siddha, svastika and sukha. Be able to sit in any of these for three hours without shaking. Then only you will be able to control the breath and do meditation. If you can be steady in the posture for even an hour you will acquire a one-pointed mind and feel infinite peace.

Benefits of Yoga Asanas

The practice of Asanas develops the body and the practitioner himself is kept agile and nimble. He has an elastic spine and a supple body. He has a keen and vigorous appetite. Any trouble is removed at its starting point by the practice of Asanas.

The three important organs, that is, the heart, the lungs, and the brain and cerebro-spinal system, are kept in a healthy condition. The vital forces are preserved and increased. The circulation of the blood in the arteries and veins is kept in proper order by the practice of Asanas. There is no stagnation of the blood in any part of the body.

The practitioner of asanas always laughs heartily and radiates joy, strength and vigour wherever he moves. He always gets success in all his attempts. He looks very young even at the age of sixty. He is endowed with a peculiar glow in his face and eyes. He possesses a peculiar charm in his smile.

By practising the asanas regularly, men and women will acquire a figure which will enhance their beauty, and a suppleness which gives charm and elegance to every movement.

Health is thy birthright - not disease. Strength is thy heritage but not weakness; efficiency but not inefficiency; courage but not fear; bliss but not sorrow; peace but not restlessness; knowledge but not ignorance; immortality but not mortality.

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This body is the moving temple of God. It is an instrument for crossing the ocean of samsara or the round of birth and death. It is the instrument for attaining the supreme abode of immortality, eternal bliss and perennial joy. It is a horse that can take you to the destination, the goal of life. Therefore it must be kept healthy and strong.

Proper training and care of the body, on an intelligent basis, is necessary. There should be harmonious development of all the muscles of the body, organs, nerves and frame.

Prana and Pranayama

Breath is external manifestation of prana, the vital force. Breath, like electricity, is gross prana. Breath is sthula (gross) and prana is sukshma (subtle). By exercising control over this breathing you can control the subtle prana inside. Control of prana means control of mind. Mind cannot operate without the help of prana.

The vibrations of prana produce thought in the mind. It is prana that moves the mind. It is prana that sets the mind in motion. It is the sukshma prana or psychic prana that is intimately connected with the mind.

Breath represents the important flywheel of an engine. Just as other wheels stop when the driver stops the flywheel, all other organs stop working when the yogi stops the breath. If you can control the flywheel you can easily control the other wheels.

Likewise, if you can control the breath, the external breath, then you can easily control the inner vital force, the prana. The process by which the prana is controlled, by the regulation of external breath, is termed pranayama.

Just as the goldsmith removes the impurities from gold, by heating it in the hot furnace and by strongly blowing the blow-pipe, so also the yogic method removes the impurities of the body and the indriyas (senses), by blowing the lungs - that is, by practising pranayama.

The chief aim of pranayama is to unite the prana with the apana and to take the united pranapana slowly towards the head. The effects, or fruit, of pranayama is the awakening of the sleeping kundalini.

"He who knows prana knows the veda," is the important declaration of the shrutis. In the Vedanta Sutras you will find: "For the same reason, breath is Brahman." Prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. It is the sum total of all the forces in nature.

Prana is the sum total of all latent forces and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us. Heat, light, electricity and magnetism are all manifestations of prana. All forces, all powers, and prana, spring from the fountain or common source - the Atman.

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In genesis it states that God breathed the breath of life into adam and he became a living being, another important part of the bible which is overlooked.

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