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Yoga for Perfect Health

Yoga for Perfect Health

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Yoga for Perfect Health

Lunghezza:
207 pagine
2 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 9, 2020
ISBN:
9781839745935
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

YOGA FOR PERFECT HEALTH gives you a unique approach to the hectic tempo, tensions and pressures of modern life. The exercises and postures will relax and rejuvenate both mind and body—and anyone from 7 to 70 can follow them without fear or alarm.

HATHA-YOGA, as described in this book, deals solely with the physical body. It is not a religion or a cult; it is a way to find better physical and mental well-being. Such famous people as Gloria Swanson, Yehudi Menuhin, Greta Garbo, Pandit Nehru, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Arden are enthusiastic Yoga followers.

YOGA FOR PERFECT HEALTH is your guide to revitalized living 24 hours a day. Here are the tension-relaxing asanas or Yoga postures...the marvelously effective breathing exercises...the conceptions of balance and harmony...which have made Yoga the most famous and fascinating of the world’s systems of self-improvement.

Yoga for perfect health uses the age-old wisdom of the East to give a practical method for achieving physical well-being. With the exercises and disciplines described here, the body is first brought into conformity with the laws of Nature, and then trained to be completely responsive to the commands of the mind.

As far back as history records, the Hindu mystics have used Yoga systems to make the body as nearly perfect as possible. Now their science has been adapted for Western readers in this concise, easy-to-follow work by a man whose own health was restored by the methods given here.
Pubblicato:
Oct 9, 2020
ISBN:
9781839745935
Formato:
Libro

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Yoga for Perfect Health - Alain

© Barakaldo Books 2020, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.

YOGA FOR PERFECT HEALTH

BY

ALAIN

Hatha-Yoga insures beauty; health, strength and long life.

—Sivananda

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4

Preface 5

Chapter 1—Yoga and Action 7

Chapter 2—Yoga—What Is It? 11

Chapter 3—Back to Nature 14

Chapter 4—Physical and Moral Conditions of Yoga Training 17

Chapter 5—The Idea of Balance 20

PERFECT POSTURE 22

Chapter 6—Balance in Walking 23

Chapter 7—How to Sit 25

Chapter 8—A Dynamic Conception of Life 27

Chapter 9—The Mudras 30

Chapter 10—Mastery of Prana 33

Chapter 11—All Flesh is Not Mortal 35

Chapter 12—Can the Human Life-Span Be Extended? 37

Chapter 13—The Technique of Long Life 40

Chapter 14—How to Relax 43

Chapter 15—Pranayama—The Art of Breathing 47

Chapter 16—The Asanas—Yoga Postures 61

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS TO HATHA-YOGA STUDENTS 85

HOW TO PRACTICE 86

SCHEDULE OF EXERCISES 87

Chapter 17—Karma-Yoga 92

Chapter 18—Bhakti-Yoga—The Yoga of Love 97

Chapter 19—Jnana-Yoga—The Yoga of Discrimination 100

Chapter 20—Raja-Yoga—The Royal Path 104

Chapter 21—The Inner Yoga 111

SELECTIONS FROM THE BHAGAVAD-GITA 112

SELECTIONS FROM THE UPANISHADS 115

WISDOM OF KAPILA 119

YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI 120

RAMAKRISHNA ON YOGA 123

SELF REALIZATION 126

REQUEST FROM THE PUBLISHER 127

Preface

I HAVE WRITTEN THIS BOOK in the hope to be of service. I would have been glad to find a book like this one when I sorely needed it. I looked for it everywhere, but could find the information and guidance I desired only piecemeal, some here, some there, never complete. I said to myself that others would have the same problem and that possibly I could make it easier for them than it had been for me to find the answer. And so I wrote this book.

Several years ago I was suddenly and without warning stricken with severe vascular spasms which made it impossible for me to walk more than twenty paces without stopping until the spasm had passed. It took me five minutes to go up a short flight of stairs. The city where I lived is famous for its picturesque hillside location with its winding and climbing streets and passages. To me they were sheer torture. I could be seen walking ten steps at a time, then stopping, while the spasm in the heart region seized me with a brutal hand, pretending to admire something in a shop window or perusing a particularly interesting item in the newspaper I was always carrying with me. My strange behaviour struck people as funny and eccentric and pretty soon I had an established reputation of queerness.

The condition remained stationary for a few months and despite the discomfort and pain it caused me, I accepted it and had almost become resigned to it. Such is human nature.

One day, however, the spasms got worse and did not yield to a short rest. They seized me ever more frequently, even when resting in bed. One night they became so severe that a doctor had to be called. He found me in bed, twitching like a fish out of water. The attack lasted for hours. In the morning I was transferred to a clinic, where I stayed—in bed—for six weeks. For several weeks after that I was allowed to get up and sit in my room or on the balcony, but was unable to walk more than a few steps. A whole winter went by and when spring came I could see from my balcony joyous crowds of people walking down to the lake, many with rucksacks on their backs, prepared for a mountain excursion. Walking, mountain climbing had been my pastime before I fell ill and it was hard for me to think that I would probably never make an excursion again.

The medical diagnosis had been angina pectoris, vascular spasms. The treatment consisted of absolute rest, strict diet, medication. I had been examined very thoroughly by two specialists who employed all the most modern methods of auscultation and diagnosis. They finally came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong, organically. Several more weeks went by until I was permitted to leave the clinic, with the warning that I must maintain diet and medication, rest as much as possible, and strictly avoid any physical or mental exertion. I was given to understand that a deviation from these rules would be most dangerous and that I should consider myself lucky to be able to maintain this mode of life for the rest of my days. (I was then over fifty.)

During my convalescence I had plenty of time to think and to read. Among the books friends brought me, I found one, in French, on Hatha-Yoga, with glowing promises of health, happiness and peace of mind. Somehow I was impressed, and besides, had nothing to lose. Slowly and gradually I took up some of the exercises prescribed by the book and was greatly surprised to note an almost immediate improvement. In time, I became bolder and worked out a little system of physical and mental exercises which I performed morning and night. Soon I was able to walk a little and, in secret, began to take short, then longer and longer walks. I threw away the remaining medicine and did not renew the prescription.

When, three weeks later, the doctor came to check up on me, I triumphantly announced that I thought I was well again. He examined me, made several tests, and agreed with me that I had greatly improved. It was plain to see that he thought it miraculous. Nevertheless, he urged me to continue the treatment and to be very careful. I had not said a word of my own method. I saw that he was very pleased with himself and I was only too glad to let him have all the credit.

It was not his treatment, however, which I continued, but my own. As I went along I felt the need for more thorough instruction in Yoga. That is when I ran into difficulties. I found all sorts of books and treatises; some were too primitive and downright silly, others too technical and esoteric. Besides, all of them treated only one aspect of the subject. What I wanted and needed was a clear, simple, not too technical, but nevertheless accurate, and above all, complete outline of the whole subject, adapted to western understanding. I was unable to find it and, therefore, determined to write it myself.

Now I walk again and am a different person, in more ways than one. A little less than a year after I was stricken, I climbed a 10,000 foot mountain near the Matterhorn. As I looked out on the hundreds of snowy mountain peaks glittering in the brilliant rays of the rising sun, I praised God and formed the silent wish that others like me would come to know and to practise this most ancient, most potent, most wonderful of remedies for all human ills—YOGA.

Having taken as a bow the great weapon of the Secret Teaching,

One should fix on it the arrow sharpened by Constant Meditation,

Drawing it with a mind filled with THAT,

Penetrate, O good-looking youth, that Imperishable as the mark.

The pranava (Aum) is the bow; the arrow is the self; Brahman is said to be the mark.

With heedfulness it is to be penetrated.

You should become one with it, as the arrow with the mark.

Mundaka Upanishad II-3-4.

Chapter 1—Yoga and Action

YOGA IS THE PATH—IT IS THE path shown us by age-old Hindu-wisdom to find health, happiness and peace of mind not in a nebulous beyond, but here and now.

The great Secret that has come down to us through the ages is as sublime as it is simple. And it is not the special property of Hinduism or indeed of any religion. It is something which is to be found, more or less buried in all religions, and which can exist apart from any formal religion.

The idea has sometimes been expressed that the union with the higher Self, which is the final object of Yoga, cannot be achieved by westerners using eastern methods. Such views are greatly exaggerated and usually based on ignorance of the real facts. They are mostly the product of a time when Yoga was practically unknown in western countries except by a few specialists of Hindu culture who were interested in Yoga mainly from a philological and philosophical viewpoint.

The situation is radically different today. The writings of many eminent teachers of Yoga have been translated, lecturers have disseminated the knowledge, and scores of Yoga-schools have been founded in America and in Europe. As a result of these activities, much of mystery formerly surrounding the theory and practice of Yoga has been dispelled. It has been shown that the differences dwelt upon by some writers are mainly imaginary when they are not the outcome of a desire to propagate a system of their own. Today, thousands of Yoga-students, all over the world, are here to testify that there are no physical or mental exercises in Yoga which a sound-bodied and sound-minded westerner cannot learn to perform. As far as the physical exercises are concerned, they are, in the main, far easier to execute than some western so-called physical-culture exercises. As for the mental and spiritual exercises, such as concentration, meditation and contemplation, they are by no means the exclusive apanage of eastern wisdom, but belong to all spiritual cultures, particularly to that of the Christian world.

But there is still a good deal of misunderstanding and consequent misinterpretation in regard to Hindu thought, even among otherwise great western minds. As an example, we cite the following statement taken from the book, Out of my Life and Thought, by the celebrated Dr. Albert Schweitzer, (Mentor Books, p. 119): To Indian thought all effort directed to triumphs in knowledge and power and to the improvement of man’s outer life and of society as a whole is a mere folly. It teaches that the only sensible line of conduct for man is to withdraw entirely into himself to the thought of ‘no more will to live’, and by abstention from action and by every sort of life-denial reduces his earthly existence to a condition of being, which has no content beyond a waiting for the cessation of being.

Withdrawal, no will to live, abstention from action, life denial, cessation of being,—these are to Dr. Schweitzer, and no doubt to other American and European thinkers, the mainsprings of Indian thought, so much so that this opinion has become the generally accepted one in these countries. This is a tragic misunderstanding of the real position, as can be verified by even a cursory examination of the sources of Indian wisdom.

The reason, or at least one of the reasons for the fundamental misunderstanding may be the external method of approach by western scholars to the spiritual classics of Indian thought. As a rule, they are mainly concerned with the history of the text under consideration, its classification and criticism, with who wrote it and to what school he belonged. The follower of the Path, on the other hand, is only interested in direct knowledge and the practical application of the teachings contained in the text and cares but little about who wrote it or with what school the writer was affiliated.

But even so, the meaning of the texts should be clear to everyone. One of the most important of these, and to which any critical appreciation of Indian thought must needs refer, is the Bhagavad Gita, which has been called one foot of the triple base on which the Vedanta is founded, the two other feet being the Upanishads and the Brahma—Sutras.

This fundamental text is rich in injunctions that the battle of life must be won, and not run away from. In order to attain the goal of Union with the Divine Ground (the ultimate goal of Yoga) the method recommended by the Bhagavad Gita is not abstention from action, but on the contrary, skill in action in a spirit of disinterestedness, of indifference to the fruits of action, not detachment from life, but only detachment from the rewards, thus transcending the limits of good and evil. This is the method of Karma-Yoga, one branch of the Path.

As beautifully developed by Sri Krishna Prem in The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, it is not to be understood that the sense-life is to be negated or outwardly discontinued; it is an inner, not an outer withdrawal that is to be practised. The mind should be purified by the practice of selfless action.

The very doctrine of what is known as Karma-Yoga starts from the fact that a cessation from all action is an impossibility. Not by mere cessation of activity shall the soul rise to the state of actionlessness, states the Bhagavad Gita. The only difference between action in the western sense and action such as Karma-Yoga envisages, is that for Karma-Yoga action is a sacrifice, a duty; it is right action which is to be performed, action in accord with the higher self, action with an ethical content. "As the ignorant act out of attachment to action, so should the wise act without attachment, desiring the welfare of the world (Bhagavad Gita, 3, 25). We thus see that the thought-basis for the reunion between the will to progress and the ethics which Dr. Schweitzer so passionately sought and finally found in the idea of reverence for life" was there all the time. Nowhere is life, in all its forms, held in greater reverence than in India, and nowhere has the notion of action a higher ethical content than in the teachings of Hinduism, or, for that matter, Buddhism.

The debate finally reduces itself to the question of the quality of action. Action in the western sense, deprived of its ethical basis most often, is action for selfish, material purposes, or at best, action for the sake of action. In early Christian times and in the Middle-Ages it was often action ad majorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God. And this is exactly the type of action taught by Indian thought, in particular by the Yoga of action, Karma-Yoga.

The two main

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