Chapter 6 Asanas
ASANAS Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
‘Asana’ means ‘a position in which one feels comfortable’. Asanas are a kind of exercise by regular practice of which the body stays healthy and hardy and many diseases are cured. But Asanas are not prescribed for the general cure of diseases; only those diseases which create trouble in the path of meditation may be cured by the help of specific Asanas. The relation between the physical body and the mind is very close. There are many glands in the body and from each there is a secretion of a particular hormone. If there is any defect in the secretion of hormones or any defect in a gland, certain Vrttis (Desires/ expressions of mind) become excited. For this reason, we find that in spite of having a sincere desire to … do meditation, but they cannot concentrate their minds because their minds become extroverted due to the external excitement of this or that propensity.
If a person wants to control the excitement of these propensities, he or she must rectify the defects of the glands. Asanas help the Sadhaka (Meditator) to a large extent in this task, so Asanas are an important part of Sadhana(meditation). There are many Asanas whose forms are similar to those of different animals, and therefore they are called by the names of those animals. And there are many characteristics found in animals and birds which are not commonly found in man: the physical structures of those animals and birds are such as to further certain glandular secretions, and as a result certain special qualities are developed. The tortoise can easily retract its extremities. If human beings can also sit in that way for some time, they can withdraw their minds from the external world. The name of that posture is ‘Kurmakasana (tortoise posture)’.
Rules for Asanas:
(1) Before practicing Asanas (or meditation), take a half-bath or full bath.
Half Bath: In an extremely cold climate use lukewarm water. The
system is: Wash the arms, the face, the legs, the neck and the genital organs. Then, keeping the eyes wide open, hold a mouthful of water and gently splash the eyes a minimum of twelve times.
(2) Do not practice Asanas in an open place, because it may result in sudden exposure and thereby you may catch cold. While practicing Asanas indoors, attention should be paid to keep the windows open so that air can pass through.
(3) No smoke should be allowed to enter the room. The less smoke the better.
(4) Practice Asanas on a blanket or a mat. Do not do Asanas on the bare ground, because you may catch cold, and some secretions which come from the body while practicing Asanas may be destroyed.
(5) Practice Asanas only while breath is flowing through the left nostril or both nostrils; do not practice Asanas when the breath flows only through the right nostril.
(6) Do not practice Asanas on a full belly. It is prohibited to perform Asanas for two-and-a-half to three hours after a meal.
(7) After practicing Asanas, you should massage your arms, legs and entire body, especially the joints, very well.
(8) After the massage is finished, remain in Shavasana (corpse posture) for at least two minutes.
(9) After Shavasana do not come in direct contact with water for at least ten minutes.
(10) A practitioner of Asanas should not massage his or her body with oil. If you like you may rub oil lightly over the body.
(11) After practicing Asanas, it is desirable to walk in a solitary place for some time.
(12) If it is necessary to go outdoors after practicing Asanas and if at that time the body temperature has not come down to a normal level, or if there is any difference between the room temperature and the outside temperature, you must cover your body when going out. If possible, inhale a deep breath inside the room and exhale it after coming outside. In that way there will be no chance of catching cold.
(13) It is not prohibited for the practitioner of Asanas to practice
free-hand exercise, running or sports, but just after Asanas all these are prohibited.
(14) There is no restriction of nostrils for the following Asanas: Padmasana (lotus posture), Siddhasana (Siddha posture), Ardhasiddhasana (half Siddha posture), Bhojanasana (‘cross-legged sitting posture’), Viirasana (Viira posture), Diirgha Pranama (long bowing posture), Yogasana (Yoga posture) and Bhujaungasana (snake posture). For all those Asanas where there is no restriction of nostrils, there is no restriction on food
(15) During menstruation, pregnancy and within one
month of delivery, women should not practice Asanas .