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Archive for February 4th, 2013

Date: 03 Feb 2012 22:53:11 -0000
From: “Acintya Deva”
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: Why Asana Is A Must For Proper Sadhana

Baba

== WHY ASANA IS A MUST FOR PROPER SADHANA ==

Note: The “I” in the below account refers to our dear margii brother Ram Prasadji. He is the one who spoke to rector master dada about asanas. I have merely noted down the points and recounted the scene so others could read what happened. Thus the “I” does not refer to me (Acintya), the “I” reflects brother Ram Prasadji.

Namaskar,
Astaunga yoga – the eight-limbs of yoga – includes yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. When my own asana practice became disturbed, I sought out one Dada as I did not want to be deficient in any way.

At the earliest opportunity I asked rector Dada to review my asanas. He was very busy in arranging duties related with the master unit. When he inquired about my problem, I told him that earlier I did not have any serious problem. But when I started doing asanas, then I began to experience various issues.

I related what happened when I had visited Ananda Nagar, and met up with one Dada. I requested Dada to prescribe some asanas for me, then in a distracted manner he told some asanas while I was walking along with him. Since practicing those asanas my situation worsened.

After listening to this, my rector Dada told that, “You have to understand the problem with our workers, WTs. Because of organizational work pressure, everyone in the Ananda Marga Wt cadre is busy. Some do not have time to study Baba’s books nor the Ananda Marga acarya diary; while others do not have proper knowledge about asanas and their positive and negative effects. In that case, some do not know which asana is related with which disease, while some other workers certainly know. If you find a Wt who is knowledgeable, then that is very good – learn from them. Otherwise, refer to Baba’s books [as explained below] because getting improper guidelines from an unqualified worker could be harmful.”

THE SCIENCE OF ASANAS

Here is more what my Rector Dada recounted to me that day.

Asanas are a tested and proven science. Thus they should be prescribed very carefully, only after proper analysis and inquiry regarding the practitioner’s physical and psychic diseases or problems. Asanas are not just some free-hand exercise. Asanas are deeply healing postures of comfort that are related with various glands and subglands.

Baba has revealed a completely new science. In the past, various yogiis were doing asanas, but they were not aware about the serious consequences. And they did not know the way asanas link with various propensities. In His discourse “Glands and Sub-glands”, Baba has revealed the secret.

Baba says, “This is a new science which is unknown today.” (1)

Baba has given the science in His Ananda Marga teachings how asanas affect various cakras and their related glands and subglands.

PROPER SYSTEM MUST BE FOLLOWED

So asanas should not be learned or practiced in a haphazard way. If anybody does asanas without proper awareness, those asanas can cause serious harm or create more diseases: Physical, as well as psychic. To avoid this situation, better is to follow Baba’s direct teaching.

In the asana book, it says that margiis should consult with acaryas. Then how can margiis decide our own asanas with the help of the books only?

The answer is simple: Yogic Treatments book.

In that text, various diseases and their respective asanas have been detailed. One should carefully read about their health problem. The recommended asanas for that problem should be practiced carefully and diligently, otherwise there is the possibility of causing harm.

DADAJI: “REFERENCE YOGIC TREATMENTS”

Here is more of what Dadaji and I discussed that day.

Dada confided in me, “You see my situation. I am extremely busy in my master unit work. If any asthma patient or heart disease patient asks me about asanas, what can I tell them? And if I give them the wrong asana, that will be very bad. So for the sake of safety and welfare for others, I suggest that everybody should read the Yogic Treatments (Yoga Cikitsa), and follow the guideline. In that way they should decide upon and practice their asana. That is a very safe method.”

Then I replied, “Dadaji earlier nobody ever told me this in such a clearcut way.”

Dada replied, “On this very point, what can I say? I know my own shortcomings. I do not have any hesitation to accept them. Due to extreme pressure of work, some WTs do not have time to study all those huge teachings of various diseases and their remedies and asanas. So those concerned persons should decide. That is why Baba has written this book. Otherwise, what for?”

In the Preface of Yogic Treatments, Baba has written:

“The object of the art of healing is to cure a patient, both physically and mentally. So the main question is not to uphold any particular school of medical science; rather, the key task is the welfare of the patient.”
“Just as diseased body organs can be restored to normal by administering medicines internally or externally, they can also be healed, more safely and more perfectly, with the help of yogic ásanas and mudrás. The aim of this book, therefore, is to make the general public aware of the yogic methods of treating the various illnesses.
“My purpose is to let people cure themselves by practising the ásanas and mudrás described in this book. People are requested not to take the risk of practising ásanas and mudrás by themselves, but rather to do so under the guidance of an experienced ácárya [spiritual teacher]. Ananda Marga ácáryas will always be ready to help without any remuneration. Detailed instructions for practising the ásanas and mudrás, for bathing, etc. have been given in Part Three of Ananda Marga Caryácarya. If necessary, the reader may consult that book.” (2)

Dadaji added, “In normal times – when all acaryas are up to the mark in all respects, then getting acarya consultation on asanas from a Wt is best. That is Baba’s guideline. But in this era, if a proper acarya is not nearby, then one can adjust and learn directly from Baba’s above books, i.e. Caryacarya – 3 and Yogic Treatments. That will suffice – that is better than getting improper guidelines from an acarya without the requisite knowledge. However, if one is very new to Ananda Marga and yoga, and they have never practiced a yoga asana, then they should refrain from learning on their own. Then they should wait to in contact with a wt or practicing margii. There is no other way.”

SOME WARNINGS

In the last Dadaji warned, “Be careful. If asanas are done correctly then that is very good. Very beneficial. But if they are done incorrectly, then they are very harmful. If you need help with a particular asana ask your bhukti pradhan, unit secretary, or any Wt or senior margii who has a keen understanding of that particular asana.”

“One of the tragedies nowadays, when yoga has become so popular around the world, is that many are practicing without following the do’s and don’ts such as proper diet, correct form, or wrong asana entirely, and in result they hurt and harm themselves.”

After that he showed me the Baba’s discourse, “Glands and Sub-glands”, where Baba has revealed operative aspect behind the science of yoga asanas. Some asanas give pressure on the glands and then the secretion of hormones increases. And that affects on the body and mind. Whereas other asanas have a depressurizing effect on other respective glands. that affects in the the opposite manner. Some asanas work in one direction, and then other asanas are work in the opposite direction.’

‘And Baba also especially warned, that in various diseases certain asanas are prohibited. Like, in high blood pressure, sarvangasana (shoulderstand) is very harmful. Similar in the case of heart patients, salabasana is very bad. There is a long list of such conditions. So the best is to consult Yogic Treatments book. That is the safest way.’

MORE OF BABA’S GUIDELINES ON ASANAS

Dada told, ‘This following paragraph of “Yoga Psychology”, is very important:

Baba begins telling about cakras.

“Cakra is a Sanskrit term while “plexus” is the Latin term. Besides the main nerve centres at the point of each cakra, there are also sub-centres where sub-glands are located. These sub-glands influence the propensities attached to each cakra. This science is largely unknown today.” (3)

Baba furthermore continues. Here He gives the link between asanas, cakras, and propensities.

“By performing a’sanas regularly, human beings can control the propensities attached to each cakra, and hence the thoughts which arise in their minds and their behaviour. This is because a’sanas have a profound effect on the glands and sub-glands.” (4)

Baba then goes on to explain the way asanas affect the glands:

“All a’sanas have either a pressurizing or depressurizing effect on the glands and sub-glands. For example, mayu’ra’sana [peacock posture] has a pressurizing effect on the man’ipura cakra. The secretions of the glands and sub-glands of the man’ipura cakra and the propensities associated with them will become more balanced if this a’sana is practised regularly.” (5)

Here Baba gives a specific example.

“If someone has a great fear of public speaking, it means his or her man’ipura cakra is weak. Through the regular practice of mayu’ra’sana, this propensity will be controlled and fear will be eliminated.” (6)

Baba then explains more about the precise way in which asanas exert their effect on the cakras.

“Other a’sanas may have a depressurizing effect on the man’ipura cakra, and if these a’sanas are performed regularly the glands and sub-glands associated with the cakra will become less active. Increased glandular secretions generally make the propensities more active and vice versa.” (7)

Baba concludes by giving the link between importance of asana selection, and their effect on each person’s propensities:

“By practising a’sanas regularly, one can control the propensities and either increase or decrease their activity. So spiritual
aspirants should select the a’sanas they perform very carefully. This effect of a’sanas on glands and sub-glands has never been revealed before.” (8)

CURRENT SITUATION WITH VARIOUS WTS:

PARTING WORDS OF RECTOR DADA

Under normal circumstances, it is quite beneficial to review one’s asana practice with our wholetimer dadas and didis. Unfortunately, we are not living in normal times.

Tragically, nowadays, some dadas and didis themselves do not do asanas. By seeing their obesity and big belly, it is quite clear they do not do asanas. Yet when they entered the Marga they were quite slim and healthy. Gradually, over the years, they grew in the midsection. Part of the cause was not doing asanas. Only some junior workers and some seniors are practicing asanas. While a few Wts do not do them at all – not ever or rarely. That is the sad news.

For instance, when Wts are at a margii’s house then they must practice asanas to impress that host margii family. But when they are alone or in the jagrti with other dadas then they do not practice. Nor do they practice when traveling on the train etc. During reporting or in camps, then some may practice and many not. Those not practicing will often make sarcastic, taunting remarks to those who do practice asanas. Because those dadas feel threatened that if more do asanas then they also may have to do them.

That is the astonishing aspect: If they see any WT practicing asanas then they harass that sincere worker and make them the butt end of their jokes. Such is the toxic atmosphere in the organisation these days. Those strict in 16 Points are abused by other workers.

There is more to tell: If any Dada is doing tandava or kaoshikii, then sometimes other workers tell them to stop because they are making noise and creating a disturbance. This is the shocking response that happens nowadays. Certain wts feel irritated if another is sincere in following daily dharmic practices like asanas, kaoshikii and tandava etc, so they become a vocal opponent. In their own campus, such things are happening with some Didis. Not always, but sometimes.

Another twist is that when overseas wts go to reporting in India, then certain host workers do a show of asanas and sadhana lessons for a few days – as if they are very sincere. Yet if you inquire with them about the most basic asanas, often they we have seen that some of those Wts are not aware. Some do not even know which asanas are for males and which are for females.

So you see, in some cases their knowledge and understanding is quite poor.

BABA’S RELATED TEACHINGS

““Ásana” means “a position in which one feels comfortable” – “Sthirasukhamásanam.” Ásanas are a kind of exercise by regular practice of which the body stays healthy and hardy and many diseases are cured. But ásanas 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 ásanas, so that sádhaná may more easily be done.
The relation between the physical body and the mind is very close. Mental expression is brought about through the vrttis, and the predominance of the vrttis depends on different glands of the body. 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 become excited. For this reason, we find that in spite of having a sincere desire to follow the moral code, many persons cannot do so; they understand that they should 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. Ásanas help the sádhaka to a large extent in this task, so ásanas are an important part of sádhaná.” (9)

“Proper attention should be paid to the physical, psychic and spiritual development of small boys and girls. Just as they sit and study to develop their intellectual capabilities, they should also sit to do their spiritual practices with their parents. That is the way they will develop their spiritual practices. They should take diikśá [spiritual initiation] from an ácárya(á) [spiritual teacher] when they grow up. They should practice the lessons of sádhaná – japa, dhyána, ásana, práńáyáma, etc. – along with their regular academic lessons. All that is necessary for their trifarious development, and it must be perfectly balanced. One should remember that the absence of a proper balance will harm not only the individuals, but also the society as a whole.” (10)

“We must develop the physico-psychic aspect of students through proper physical culture, which will include yoga ásanas, proper diet, games, sports, etc. And to develop the psycho-spiritual aspect, we must reorient the entire curriculum of all schools from kindergarten to postgraduate level according to the Neohumanist philosophy, and must incorporate the practices of Aśt́áuṋga Yoga into the curriculum in all grades. This will be the practical approach. And the guiding philosophy, the controlling philosophy should be: “This universe is ours” – and “we” means humans, animals and plants.” (11)

“By performing ásanas [postures for physico-psychic well-being] regularly, human beings can control the propensities attached to each cakra, and hence the thoughts which arise in their minds and their behaviour. This is because ásanas have a profound effect on the glands and sub-glands. How? All ásanas have either a pressurizing or depressurizing effect on the glands and sub-glands. For example, mayúrásana [peacock posture] has a pressurizing effect on the mańipura cakra. The secretions of the glands and sub-glands of the mańipura cakra and the propensities associated with them will become more balanced if this ásana is practised regularly. If someone has a great fear of public speaking, it means his or her mańipura cakra is weak. Through the regular practice of mayúrásana, this propensity will be controlled and fear will be eliminated. Other ásanas may have a depressurizing effect on the mańipura cakra, and if these ásanas are performed regularly the glands and sub-glands associated with the cakra will become less active. Increased glandular secretions generally make the propensities more active and vice versa. By practising ásanas regularly, one can control the propensities and either increase or decrease their activity. So spiritual aspirants should select the ásanas they perform very carefully. This effect of ásanas on glands and sub-glands has never been revealed before.” (12)

“Concentration is a major sádhaná, is a major intuitional sádhaná. But there are certain helping sádhanás. Ásana and práńáyáma, for example, are helping items. They are not sádhaná, they are called sádhanáunga.” (13)

“The indriyas are the controller of the body, the mind the controller of the indriyas, and the vital energy the controller of the mind. That’s why on the path of spiritual practice, and particularly in the practice of astáunga yoga (the eight fold path consisting of yama, niyama, ásana, práńáyáma, pratyáhára, dhárańá, dhyána, and samádhi) práńáyáma plays a very significant role.” (14)

“Question: What is the definition of ásanas?
Answer: Sthirasukham ásanam (Patanjali). Ásanas are calm, quiet and easy postures which are held with proper inhalation and exhalation. They exercise the nerves, tissues, glands and organs of the human body. While practising ásanas one enjoys physical comfort and mental composure.
The regular practice of ásanas keeps the body healthy and cures many diseases. Ásanas control the glands, the glands control the secretion of hormones, and the secretion of hormones controls the propensities. So ásanas help a sádhaka [spiritual aspirant] to balance the body and concentrate the mind.” (15)

“Question: Why do we practise ásanas?
Answer: We perform ásanas for the following reasons:
To increase the flexibility of the body.
To rectify glandular defects and balance hormonal secretions in order to control the vrttis [propensities].
To balance the body and mind.
To withdraw the mind from undesirable thinking.
To prepare the mind for subtler and higher sádhaná [spiritual practices].” (16)

“Question: How do we name ásanas?
Answer: We name ásanas as follows:
(1) Some ásanas are similar to animal movements so they are named after those animals; for example, matsyamudrá [fish posture], garud́ásana [bird posture], etc.
(2) Some ásanas have the characteristics of animal structures, so they are also named after those animals; for example, kúrmakásana [tortoise posture], etc.
(3) Some ásanas are named by the qualities of the ásana; for example, sarváungásana [shoulder stand; literally “all-limbs posture”]. The entire body is benefited by this ásana.” (17)

“Question: How many types of ásanas are there?
Answer: There are mainly two types of ásanas: svásthyásanas and dhyánásanas. Svásthyásanas are practised primarily for physical health and secondarily for spiritual elevation. Dhyánásanas are practised primarily for concentration of mind and meditation. Dhyánásanas include padmásana [lotus posture], baddha padmásana [bound-lotus posture], siddhásana [siddha posture, the posture of a perfected one] and viirásana [hero posture].” (18)

“Question: What is the difference between sarváungásana and vipariitakaranii mudrá?
Answer: While practising sarváuṋgásana the mind is fixed at the point between the tip of the two big toes, whereas in vipariitakaranii mudrá the mind is fixed at the tip of the nose or at the navel.” (19)

“Question: What are mudrás, bandhas and vedhas?
Answer: Mudrás are postures which exercise the nerves and muscles. Mudrá literally means “externalization of internal bháva [ideation]”. There are only a few spiritual mudrás where the internal ideation is not externalized.
The practitioner of mudrá may or may not enjoy physical comfort and mental composure. During the practice of mudrás one has to continue one’s conscious endeavour to remain in that posture, but in the case of ásanas one need not.” (20)

“The Paincakośas shall have to be perfected, but how is it possible? They can be consummated only through the practice of Yama and Niyama. The Annamaya Kośa is perfected through Ásanas (physical postures). Yama and Niyama Sádhana perfect the Kámamaya Kośa. The Manomaya Kośa is perfected through Pránáyáma. Through Pratyáhára the Atimánasa Kośa is perfected.” (21)

“After this, at the age of twelve, the child should take initiation from an ácárya/á in Sádhárańa Yoga, and at sixteen or afterwards, they should take initiation in Sahaja Yoga from the ácárya/á. If considered essential, ásanas may be taught before the age of sixteen.” (22)

At His feet,
Acintya

REFERENCES:
1. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
2. Yogic Treatments, Preface
3. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
4. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
5. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
6. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
7. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
8. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
9. Caryacarya – 3, Ásanas
10. Ananda Vacanamrtam – 22, Táńd́ava and Kaośikii
11. Prout in A Nutshell – 9, Pramá – 4
12. Yoga Psychology, “Glands and Sub-glands”
13. Ananda Vacanamrtam – 23, How to Concentrate
14. Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell – 6, Ekendriya – 6
15. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #4
16. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #5
17. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #6
18. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #7
19. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #8
20. Yoga Psychology, Questions and Answers on Meditation, #9
21. Subhasita Samgraha – 1, The Call of the Supreme
22. Caryacarya – 1, The Process of Initiation

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