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Archive for May 3rd, 2013

Baba

This entire email is composed of 3 parts:

(1) Posting: How to Make the Body Proper for Sadhana;
(2) Trailer Quote: Why Infants Laugh & Cry For No Apparent Reason;
(3) Prabhat Samgiita #4116;

Each section is demarcated by asterisks (***).

== HOW TO MAKE THE BODY PROPER FOR GOOD SADHANA ==

Namaskar,
All the practices in Ananda Marga have their special purpose – none should be skipped – including our yoga asana practice. Asanas are a key element of 16 Points as well as instrumental in balancing the glandular system and preparing the mind for meditation. Thus asanas are so critical for our physical, psychic and spiritual advancement.

SPECIAL ASANA SYSTEM IN ANANDA MARGA

In the wide world of yoga there are more than 50,000 known asanas. And among those 50,000, Baba has graciously compiled approximately 42 which we use in our Ananda Marga system.

“There are more than 50,000 ásanas; among them a few are named here which are most necessary for the path of meditation.” (1)

TWO ASANAS THAT CURE ALL DISEASES

In particular, in Ananda Marga yoga, there are two asanas Baba has given which cure all the diseases.

(a) The first one is sarvaungasana [shoulderstand]. As the derivation of its name denotes sarvaungasana purifies the entire body. ‘Sarva’ means all; ‘aunga’ means limbs and organs; and ‘asana’ means position comfortably held. So by performing this asana the whole body– all the limbs and organs – gets rejuvenated and cured from all types of diseases and ailments.

(b) The second asana with this cure-all quality is matsyendrasana [spinal twist]. As noted, in sarvaungasana the name itself denotes that it is beneficial for all the organs etc. But the same is not the case with the name – matsyendrasana. Reason is that matsyendrasana is named after one prince who became a great yogi. That prince’s name was Matsyendranath. And since he was the one who created this asana, that asana was named: matsyendrasana.

(c) But it should be clearly known that both these asanas positively effect the entire body. But the name of one asana expresses this idea whereas the other asana does not. Even then, the all-round benefits of these two asanas are nearly identical.

(d) In sarvaungasana even the eyes get proper exercise by focusing up towards the big toe. Similarly, in matsyendrasana, the eyes derive tremendous benefits from looking to the far left and far right during the twisting motion.

(e) So both these asanas exercise & revitalise the entire body from head to foot. Specifically these asanas benefit the arms, legs, mouth, nose, eyes, head, ear, tongue as well as all the cakras of the body.

(f) For sarvaungasana, a complementary asana also needs to be done. That is matsyamudra, a.k.a fish posture. So first one should do sarvaungasana, then one should rest for 15 seconds by doing shavasana (corpse pose), and then one should do matsyamudra. In general, sarvaungasana will be done twice as long as matsyamudra. Directly after completing matsyamudra one can again begin sarvaungasana. But each time in between Sarvaungasana and Matsyamudra, shavasana should be performed.

(g) Those suffering from high blood pressure should refrain from doing sarvaungasana.

(h) In our AM system, asanas have not been selected just on the basis of physical exercise only. Rather Baba has perfectly selected those asanas which are helpful in maintaining good health as well as proper glandular secretions – which help make the body fit for spiritual practice. Such types of asanas have primarily been included in our AM system. That is why Baba has included and approved only 42 asanas for Ananda Margiis.

SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ASANAS

Here below are a few of Baba’s direct guidelines regarding asanas.

“‘A’sana’ means ‘a position in which one feels comfortable’ -‘Stirasukhama’sanam’.” (2)

“A’sanas are a kind of exercise by regular practice of which the body stays healthy and hardy and many diseases are cured.” (3)

“[Specifically] those diseases which create trouble in the path of meditation may be cured by the help of specific a’sanas, so that sa’dhana’ may more easily be done.” (4)

HOW TO PERFORM THESE ASANAS:

BABA’S GUIDELINES DIRECTLY FROM CARYACARYA

(I) Sarva’unga’sana (all-limbs posture):

(a) Lie down on your back. Gradually raise the entire body and keep it straight, resting its weight on your shoulders. The chin must be in contact with the chest. Support both sides of your trunk with your hands. The toes must remain together; the eyes must be directed at the toes.

(b) Lie down in padma’sana. Gradually raise the body and rest its weight on your shoulders. Support both sides with the hands. This a’sana is also known as u’rdhvapadma’sana (inverted lotus posture)’.

Practise three rounds, up to five minutes.

(II) Matsyamudra’ (fish posture): Lie down in padma’sana. Rest the crown of the head on the floor and grasp both the big toes with the hands. Practise three times. Maximum time for practice is two-and-a-half minutes.

(III) Matsyendra’sana (Matsyendra’s posture): generally for males:

(a) Press the mu’la’dha’ra cakra with the right heel. Cross the left foot over the right thigh and keep it to the right of the thigh. Grasp the left big toe with the right hand, keeping the right arm along the left side of the left knee. Reach backwards from the left side with the left hand and touch the navel. Turn the neck to the left as far as possible.

(b) Then press the mu’la’dha’ra with the left heel and reverse the process. One round means completing the process on both sides.

Practise four rounds, half a minute each time. (5)

RULES FOR ÁSANAS

Here are Baba’s rules for performing yoga asanas from Caryacarya.

(1) Before practising ásanas, do vyápaka shaoca or take a full bath. Vyápaka shaoca must also be done before daily meditation; if ásanas are done with daily meditation then it is not necessary to do vyápaka shaoca separately.

(2) Do not practise ásanas in an open place, because it may result in sudden exposure and thereby you may catch cold. While practising ásanas 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) Males must wear a Kaopiina (laungot́á), and there should be no other clothing on the body. Females must wear tight-fitting underwear and a bra.

(5) Practise ásanas on a blanket or a mat. Do not do ásanas on the bare ground, because you may catch cold, and some secretions which come from the body while practising ásanas may be destroyed.

(6) Practise ásanas only while breath is flowing through the left nostril or both nostrils; do not practise ásanas when the breath flows only through the right nostril.

(7) Take sáttvika food. But a person for whom it is difficult to give up rájasika food can for the time being take a small piece of myrobalan (it is better to use the small type of myrobalan), or something of a similar nature, after meals. However, this procedure does not apply in cold countries.

(8) Do not cut the hair of the joints of the body.

(9) The nails of the fingers and toes must be kept cut short.

(10) Do not practise ásanas on a full belly. It is prohibited to perform ásanas for two-and-a-half to three hours after a meal.

(11) After practising ásanas, you should massage your arms, legs and entire body, especially the joints, very well.

(12) After the massage is finished, remain in shavásana (corpse posture) for at least two minutes.

(13) After shavásana do not come in direct contact with water for at least ten minutes.

(14) A practitioner of ásanas should not massage his or her body with oil. If you like you may rub oil lightly over the body.

(15) After practising ásanas, it is desirable to walk in a solitary place for some time.

(16) Just after ásanas práńáyáma is prohibited.

(17) If it is necessary to go outdoors after practising ásanas 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.

(18) It is not prohibited for the practitioner of ásanas to practise free-hand exercise, running or sports, but just after ásanas all these are prohibited.

(19) There is no restriction of nostril for the following ásanas: padmásana (lotus posture), siddhásana (siddha posture), ardhasiddhásana (half siddha posture), bhojanásana (cross-legged sitting posture), viirásana (viira posture), diirgha prańáma (long bowing posture), yogásana (yoga posture) and bhújauṋgásana (snake posture).

(20) For all those ásanas where there is no restriction of nostrils, there is no restriction on food either.

(21) During menstruation, pregnancy and within one month of delivery, women must not practise ásanas or any other exercise. The ásanas for dhyána can be done under all conditions – padmásana, siddhásana and viirásana are the proper ásanas for dhyána and dhárańá. (6)

SENTIENT FOOD

In point #7 above, Baba clearly guides us that a practitioner of yoga asanas should be strict in following a sentient diet. As as reminder, here below are Baba’s guidelines on sentient food.

“Sáttvika Áhára: All the staple food-grains such as rice, wheat, barley, etc.; all the pulses except masúr [an orange-coloured lentil] and khesári; all fruits and roots; all kinds of vegetables except violet-coloured carrots, white brinjals [white eggplants], onions, garlic and mushrooms; milk and milk products; all green and leafy vegetables except red puni and mustard. All varieties of spices except garam masalá(1) and all kinds of sweets, can be taken.”
“A sáttvika diet is required for those who practise ásanas. Those who find it difficult to give up the habit of rájasika food all of a sudden may eat a piece of haritakii [myrobalan] after the meal. Those who take sáttvika food should avoid taking a large quantity of mustard or mustard products. Rájasika food-eaters should gradually try to change over to sáttvika food and támasika food-eaters should try to give up such food as early as possible.” (7)

“Sentient food: Food which produces sentient cells and is thus conducive to physical and mental well-being is sentient. Examples of sentient food are rice, wheat, barley, all kinds of pulses, fruit, milk and milk products.” (8)

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON ASANAS

The following are Baba’s direct teachings from Yoga Psychology book)

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.

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].

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, sarváuṋgásana [shoulder stand; literally “all-limbs posture”]. The entire body is benefited by this ásana.

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].

Question: What is the difference between sarváuṋgásana 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.

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.
Bandhas are also postures of a special type which exercise the nerves only. The practitioner may or may not derive physical comfort and mental composure. In bandha also one has to continue one’s conscious endeavour to remain in the particular posture. Bandhas also influence the váyus [vital-energy currents] in the body.
Vedhas are almost the same as bandhas. Vedhas exert some influence on both the nerves and the vital airs [vital-energy currents]. (9)

Namaskar,
In Him,
Harideva

REFERENCES
1. Caryacarya, part 3
2. Caryacarya, part 3
3. Caryacarya, part 3
4. Caryacarya, part 3
5. Caryacarya, part 3
6. Caryacarya, part 3
7. Caryacarya, part 3
8. Yoga Psychology, Food, Cells, Physical and Mental Development
9. Yoga Psychology, Questions & Answers On Meditation

NOTE 1: LINK TO EARLIER LETTERABOUT ASANAS

http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-asana-is-must-for-proper-sadhana.html

The section below demarcated by asterisks is an entirely different topic,
completely unrelated to the above material. It stands on its own as a point of interest.

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Why Infants Laugh & Cry For No Apparent Reason

“After death the disembodied mind floats in the vast space with its unexpressed saḿskáras. Later on, with the cooperation of the mutative principle, the disembodied mind finds a suitable physical base. The memory of its past life remains awake for approximately the first five years of its new life. Although the child remains in a new physical environment, mentally it continues to live the joys and sorrows of its previous life. That is why children sometimes laugh and cry in their sleep, and their mothers often think they are talking with God. In colloquial Bengali this is called deola kát́á. In actual fact this laughter and crying is nothing but the reappearance of past memories. To re-experience past events one does not need the cooperation of the old brain. The newly-born mind has not yet had time to build a close relationship with the new brain. The revival of experiences of past lives is what we call “extra-cerebral memory”, and is principally the task of the causal mind.” (Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell – 4, Cerebral and Extra-Cerebral Memory)
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************ Prabhat Samgiita

“Tumi kato liila’ kare calecho…” (P.S. 4116)

Purport

O’ Parama Purusa, Your divine liila is unimaginable. It does not have any beginning or end – You go on playing endlessly. You have created soft & tender flowers full of fragrance and nectar. And the sky You have decorated with the shining cool moon. Baba in Your creation You did not leave any place unattended or uncared for. Everything is full of sweetness and charm. Baba Your liila is incomparable.

O’ my Lord, the flute of my heart which never got played, the heart which never felt longing or crying for You, You have aroused that very dry heart with devotion and filled it with bliss. It is Your divine grace. Now that very dry heart of mine is filled with bhava.

Baba, those who were drowned in cimmerian darkness and were submerged in dogma, they were not able to recognise their real status – what they are and what they have come for. Even without their desire or asking, You blessed them with awakening and divine truth. In the their burning hearts, You poured nectar – even without their expressed desire or asking.

Baba You have graciously blessed one and all. Baba Your divine liila is unique and incomparable…

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