If these words are well understood and translated in daily actions (Karma), they help to postpone death and remove Fear of Death.
"Jatasya hi dhruvo mrutum".
"Every born creature has got to die".
The Bhagavat Gita (Ch-2) declares this perfect and eternal law of Mother Nature or God. Death is the final and natural End of Life, yet it is also a common FEAR (Bhaya) in all living human beings and animals.
The name of first step is Yama.
Yama is an Imaginary mystic God of Death in Hinduism. The first step in Ashtang Yoga makes us aware of a definite event, surely going to occur in future life, namely Death.
This step teaches five moral words. These words are like commandments found in all world religions. If one does not observe these five principles in daily life, Death comes earlier. Its practice promises a Long and Healthy Life.
All animals and mankind have this natural fear of death. This fear of death vanishes and mind becomes fearless (Abhaya) when one reaches the last (8th step) of Samadhi by Yoga study.
In Samadhi one realizes that he/she is “Divine Immortal Soul”, always present in all living beings. One also understands true relationship between living and non-living Universal bodies, and knows the presence of “Absolute Reality (God)” as Immortal Soul within.
Each word needs some good discourses. Only a few points are given below.
Ahimsa = Non violence. No injury to any life or property. This is a common doctrine in all world religions. It is preached with great stress in Jainism and also in Buddhism and Hinduism. This is not a simple negative commandment.
Ahimsa teaches attitude of a positive universal love, and help people in need with compassion and sense of universal brotherhood and friendship. Do not kill lower forms of life like insects, animals and plants, or murder innocent people even if you do cannot love them.
Satyam = “God is Truth, and Truth is God”, Mahatma Gandhi said. Search God by search of “Holy Spirit” or “Immortal Soul” within all living beings. This changeless reality is called by various names in scriptures as Soul, Holy Spirit, Bhraman, Atman, Chetna, Tat, Saha, Tatva meaning pure essence, etc,.
Sat means Truth, Good, right, correct.Goonameans qualities. A man of good qualities is called Sat-jan, Sajjan (Jan = man), a noble gentleman, an angel.
Remember:Tatva Gyana means Spiritual Knowledge, and Atma Gyan means Self Knowledge.
Most Indian Gurus teach that this world (Jagat) and our physical bodies are "Mithya, false or unreal", because they are ever changing and perish one day.
But Patanjali and Lord Buddha teach that our body is made up of 5 basic elements (Panch-Mahabhuta). These are “Earth, Water, Air, Fire or Light (Energy) and Space”. This is also a reality and truth. Thus everything in Universe is True and not false. Truth is God.
Gandhiji had adopted “Nonviolence and Truth”, two moral words preached in Yoga and all world religions, in political fight for independence of India against the British Rule. He used it nicely and brought Freedom (liberty) for its people in 1947. He said. “There is no dispute, either in family, society or international issues, which cannot be solved by adopting “Nonviolence and Truth” .
Asteye = No thefts, no stealing.
Karma Yoga in the Gita teaches practical Asteya in family relations. Children are ever indebted to parents and teachers. If they do not return their debts by serving them in old age with respect, love and care with a sense of gratitude, they are thieves according to Gita. (Ch.3-V-12)
Mother-hood and father-hood are natural instincts of love and care for young ones in all species. Love is provided by both parents but more by the mother. Mother is respected as a living Goddess (Devi) in Hinduism. How to serve parents in old age is nicely indicated in story of Shravan in the Ramayan.
Aparigraha = No greed (Alobha). Do not be greedy about money and material things. Desires of collecting great material wealths, money, clothes, furniture, cars, houses, estates, kingdoms etc, is LOBHA. A Yogi has a mental attitude of detachment (Alobha) from all material things, because they give only short-term happiness and pleasures.
Brahma-charyam= Chastity or celibacy in sex life. Developing mental control of thoughts of sex desires is real celibacy. Brahmacharyam or mental control of sex desires (Kama) is an important aspect in Yoga study. All religions peach sex control. Unrestricted sex activity leads to diseases likes AIDS, Syphilis and early death.
Brahmaya Charati eeti Brahamchari. Brahamchari is a person who travels far and wide for spiritual quest. But by traditional usage this word means a girl or a boy who has not done any sex activity at all in life. (Virgin Girl or Man). A perfectly celibate individual is highly respected at all places. He is called a Brahmchari.
Lord Brahama is an imaginary creator God of “Life on earth” in Hindu mythology. Brahama symbolizes totality of spirits in all living creatures. A person who knows Brahman is a Brahmin, a living representative of God on earth. Brahmin is the highest class in the four-class system socio-political structure started by King Manu (approx. 2500 BC.). Manu Smruti dictates moral laws (Dharma =duties) for all men and women in all four classes.
All living beings want to live. The instinct of survival is an inborn natural instinct (vrutti) in all living beings, which drags them all to do many actions (Pravrutti, Karm) like eating, drinking, breathing, moving, etc,. for self preservation. Race preservation instinct is also another natural instinct. The Karma of sex act is done by all insects and vertebrates. All species try to create young ones at certain age period.
The desire of sex (Kama = passion) starts at teenage. In human families mental control of passion is needed for a happy and healthy family and social life.
The 5 moral vows and practice of the first step of Yoga keeps Yama or 'death' away. By translating the five moral codes in life one lives a long life of many achievements without any psycho-somatic problems and diseases.
“Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara”.
Be Truthful, Honest and Nonviolent.
Om Tat Sat. That is Truth.
Ashtang Yoga: 8. STEP NO 2 NIYAMA
Shaucham, Santosha Tapa, Swadhyaya, Ishvara-Pranidhanani eeti Niyamaha. Verse- 32. Sadhan Pada. Shaucham = Cleanliness of body, mind and intellect.
Santosha= Satisfaction, contentment, compromising attitude in any and all situations in life.
Tapa = Penance are done for purification of body, mind and intellect by restrains of senses and actions. It develops good human qualities like discipline, obedience, tolerance, endurance, etc,.
Swadhyaya= Self study and practices of unfoldment of inner self (Anter-Atma), Soul or Spirit (PURE ATMAN).
Ishvera parinidhani = Total surrender to God. Develop an attitude of accepting all events (including deaths of relatives) occurring in life, as destined by God or Laws of Mother Nature.
The 10 words of 'Yama and Niyama', can be compared with TEN commandments of Christianity and all religions. One will find great similarity of moral doctrines in all religions in first two steps of Yoga. Yoga practice starts with understanding of these morals.
The word Niyama means rules, regulations, laws or commandments. FIVE important rules or codes of conduct are indicated in this step.
1. Saucham: Cleanliness of body, food, water and air.
This means clean food, water, air, dress, home and land. In name of religion, many rituals are done e.g. “Fire worship by orthodox Bhramins”. This makes atmosphere and surroundings unhygienic. They pour milk, curd, honey etc as 'Abhisheks’ on Shiva Linga. The residual milk create an ideal breeding pot for bacteria, flies and mosquitoes.
People throw garbage near temples and on roadside. Epidemics like cholera, jaundice and typhoid break out. Orthodox Priests explain such events as anger of Lord Shiva. Thousands of people take bath in holy rivers like Ganges. This makes the water polluted. All such practices are wrong according to this step of Saucham. A Yoga student should not participate in such activities.
2. Santosha: A sense of Satisfaction with the present situation in life.
Events in life happen, as they must happen according to rules (Niyama) of Mother Nature (Prakruti). These bring either happiness or unhappiness. All human beings are limited by Time and Place (Desh-Kal). They SEE only the effects (of events) with senses and minds. Mostly they do not try to find the causes (reason) of such events. If something do not happen as one wishes, he/she gets upset, becomes unhappy, frustrated, depressed or angry.
After birth, the journey of all human beings and animals reach a day called Today. This is the Last Day of creation of Universe (!). According to Karma done in past- by every individual (Atma), he/she is either happy or unhappy.
Yoga teaches to develop a sense of satisfaction (Santosh) in material terms for whatever and whereever you are in life Today and Now.
3. Tapa: Austerities or penances.
Tapa teaches how to control sensual cravings arising in mind for objects of sensual joys, and demanded by five senses. Tapa is a religious training. It must be taught by parents and learned by children during young age. Tapa prepares mind for unexpected hardships likely to come in future life. All days are not green and rosy days. One must learn to endure some difficulties like pain, hunger, thirst etc,. for a few days.
Most people live at physical body level only. They get upset with slightest change in their comforts and surroundings. Their attachments to taste, smell and appearance of food make them miserable. Happiness or unhappiness arises in mind. It is mostly due to likes and dislikes for food items and drinks, clothes and comforts.
'Tapa' training creates “Will Power” for facing odds in life's journey. The purpose of penances is to gain control over mind and senses. By learning Tapa, the student develops mental control over natural instincts like thirst, hunger, sex desires, etc, and learns tolerance. In military training one learns many Tapas in hard training schedules.
4. Swadhyaya: Self study and self analysis.
Swadhyaya teaches realizing and accepting one's own mistakes.
One learns to confess, say “sorry” and apologize for one’s mistakes (Sins). A false ego of superiority or "I am always right" prevents such confessions. All kinds of false egos gradually (Mada) disappear by meditation. Real Swadhaya occurs when one reaches the last step of Samadhi in Yoga which comes by Self-Meditation (Adhiatm-Chintan) only. One becomes aware of one's limitations of Time, Place, Knowledge and Mistakes (sins) committed in the past life.
Surrender to God's wish. The art of surrendering to wish of God or as design of God is Ishvera-prainidhanai.
One may believe in God or not, but by Yoga meditation one learns that there is some perfect law and wonderful order in Mother Nature. Founder Prophets of all religions explain God as invisible maker of laws like gravity, bondage of time-place for all living beings and so on.
God is maker of the perfect laws of Mother Nature (Prakruti). This God could be realized in an indirect way by self meditation only. One gradually understands that the laws of Mother Nature work in an equal, just and perfect manner on all living bodies and non-living objects, on all material creations in the world and universe.
Ishvara is one of the many names for supreme God in the Upanishads. Ishvara is a fraction of the Holy Spirit ever present in the hearts of all living beings.
Ishvara sarva Bhutanam Hridaye tishti Arjuna.
In anatomical terms words of modern science one can say “God or Ishver” is sitting at AV node in heart and ‘Bundle of HIS'. Yoga books describe many Chakras like Kamal (Lotus) Chakra, Hridaya Chakra, etc,. These can be understood as AV-nodelocated in heart (AtmaVishuddhi-Chakra).
Wishes and desires of all human beings are endless. Niyama help to develop a mental balance of desires and give courage to face and endure any unhappy situation in life.
Love and compassion towards lower forms of life and preservation of living creatures including animals and plants is the divine quality and noble attitude of any pure hearted man. All acts mst be done as work of and for God.
Niyama step teaches strict discipline, moral conduct and good manners and behavior. Niyama lay great stress on purity of body and mind and help to remove negative thoughts. All this is achieved by self meditation.
Slogans like “do to others what you want them to do to yourself” come from understanding of a divine self within all of us.
PART-I. Seven golden rules of asana and pranayama.
PART-II. Savasan, Padmasana, & Surya Namaskara.
PART-III. (A) Asana for limbs.
(i) asana for backward bending of spine and neck.
(ii) asana for forward bending of spine.
(iii) side bending and rotation of spine.
PART-IV. (C). Asana for Vital Systems PART-I. Seven golden rules of asana and pranayama. Pranayama and Asana go hand in hand. A Good warning before doing any Asana and/or Pranayama.
Persons with history of diabetes, BP, heart attacks, lung, bones, brain, eyes, digestive problems, pregnancy, major illness, history of operations etc., must get their family doctor's opinion before doing ANY ASANA, except:-
(1) MAHA-PRANAYAMA (Step No 4) and
These two can be done by any one – even sick, and mastered perfectly. They are important steps of Yoga before learning any other ASANA. Their devoted practices bring wonderful mental and physical results.
SEVEN GOLDEN RULES OF ASANA AND PRANAYAMA.
1. ALL ASANA MUST BE DONE VERY SLOWLY AND WITHOUT JERKS. The slow movements create a great mind power, control of mind and will power.
2. Yoga Asana are like vaccine shots. They prevent many psycho-somatic diseases. Partial relief or complete cure in many psychosomatic diseases like blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, diabetes and many chronic diseases occurs to many people. When a disease is well established, one cannot not expect magic cures. But some relief in digestive diseases, BP, and arthritis etc., always occur.
3. Yoga Asana are Static Postural exercises. They cannot be compared with muscle developing Aerobic exercises or Fitness Gyms.
4. Learn and master Maha-Pranayama, inner Kumbhak and outer Kumbhak and Rachak. These are linked with many ASANA. Do relaxing Savasana in-between and/or after completion of Asana. In stead of doing many ASANA daily, master a few selected ASANA advised by the teacher which are useful for your age and other conditions. Do such Asana daily for longer times.
5. Do not spend more than 15 to 30 minutes for Asana and Pranayama at one time in a day. Surya-Namaskara, walking, Pranayama and Savasana are good for aged people.
6. Jogging or fast running is not advisable after the age of sixty or seventy. Avoid long standing Asana, if you are doing long standing jobs for hours, have high BP, hip, knee, ankle and leg problems.
7. Flex and extend toes and fingers in between ASANA, many times during a day, whenever possible, after removing shoes and stockings. Remember little fingers also do very important jobs.
STATIC BODY POSTURES.
"Shariram adyam khalu Dharma Sadhanam "
"Body is the first important tool for living a healthy, and happy long life. Correct practices of Dharma (religion) are indicated in the first two steps of Yoga".
The bliss state of mind (thoughtless consciousness) produced by Pranayama and meditation, cures many psycho-somatic diseases. In spiritual talks of Indian Gurus one hears like this:
“You are not body, not mind, not intellect, but pure Atma, soul or spirit. Body is mortal, perishable, ever changing etc,. You are immortal soul".
This takes very long time, daily meditation on Self, and devoted study of Yoga for years to reach this final point of Nirvana or Spiritual Consciousness.
Asana means a seat, a chair or a throne.
Asana are firm static body postures, usually combined with simple postural exercises and Pranayama .
The purpose of Asana is to maintain good health and mobility of all joints in limbs, spine and vital systems like respiration, circulation, excretions and digestive organs. The human body is wonderful design, highest creation and gift of God.
Patanjali and Lord Buddha had realized the importance of a healthy body, sound mind, and purification of intellect for higher mediation. Body is important and must be cared well.
The first four steps of Yoga teach Eternal Religion and how to keep Body and Mind in perfectly fit condition. Some simple Asana can be easily done for ten to fifteen minutes at home or in office if one finds a little “Free Time”.
Yoga meditation and Asana are time tested tools of pacifying mind. This leads to quick recovery from many diseases like digestive problems, BP, etc,.
Asana and Pranayama if done regularly, help to stop progress of many diseases. Some Asana cure digestive problems like loss of appetite, hiccups, flatulence, constipation, acidity, ulcers etc,. They also prevent and cure brain, bone and joint diseases like headaches, migraines, insomnia, back and neck stiffness and joint aches, cramps in legs etc., etc.
Always learn Asana under supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced teacher (Guru), preferably having background of modern medicine. People in old age and/or diseases like BP, history of heart diseases, have to avoid Asana like 'Shirsasana'. Some Asana are not advisable during pregnancy, in cases of injuries of spine and so on.
Nearly three hundred Asana are described in Yoga Books. One needs to learn only a few, suitable for his or her age period and need. The names of Asana vary in different books. Asana and Postures are named after animals, birds, insects, and geometric figures etc.,. For example the "Matsya-asana" is like a fish, the "Kukutta-asana" is like a cock, the "Salabhasana" is like a grass hopper, the "Sarp Aasana or Bhujang Asana" is like a snake and so on.
"A healthy body keeps the mind healthy and healthy mind keeps the body healthy. If both are well united (in Yoga) with intellect, a perfect human personality is created".
Good health of body and inner Vital Systems is important for long life and all happiness. Respiration is partly voluntary and partly involuntary. Any adult individual can easily control “rate and depth” of air intake at will. Pranayam teaches how to develop a partial control even for a few minutes, over this involuntary vital system of body.
Learn and master art of Maha-Pranayama before starting any Asana.
Longest Possible One Breath.
Take a very deep breath, (inhale); Hold the air in lungs as long as possible (Kumbhak). Then exhale as slowly as possible (Rachak), and lastly do not take next breath (outer Kumbhak), as long as posible. These 4 steps of one longest possible breath cycle make one Maha-Pranayam (MP).
Normal respiration rate is 15 to 18 breaths/minute. 500 cc. air is breathed in and out in 4 seconds normally. In one breath. any average person can easily breath- inhale, 3 times (1500c.c) air, hold it in for some time, and do one MP. This reduces the normal breathing rate of 15 to 18, to only 2 or 3 breaths per minute.
Measure your MPs with a wristwatch. Try to do 4 to 8 MPs of about 30 seconds, in two to five minutes. Do not try any more. By doing long in-holds (Kumbhak) more time is allowed for a larger volume of air for purification (oxygen exchange) in lungs. Mind soon becomes fresh and pacified immediately.
We will learn only a few common and useful Asana with important points and benefits.
PART-II. Savasan, Padmasana, & Surya Namaskara. General rule:
Before starting any Asana a student should learn and master Maha-Pranayama. In pregnancy and in case of injuries of back, spine twisting Asana should be avoided. Before trying any difficult Asana consult family doctor. Some Asana are good only for youth and not advisable for old people. Do all Asans slowly, without jerks and only to your capacity and age limits.
SAVASAN OR SHABASAN: DEAD BODY POSTURE.
Shab means a dead-body. Shava means sleep.
Lie flat on hard ground and pretend as if you are like a dead body. This sleeping posture or a dead body posture is called Savasana or Shabaasana. If one lifts the hand or leg of a person in real Savasana, and then releases it, the limb falls on ground like a lifeless block of wood.
SAVASANA IS A THOUGHTLESS WORRYLESS CONSCIOUS RELAXED STATE OF MIND DURING WHICH ALL OPPOSING GROUPS OF VOLUNTARY MUSCLES REMAIN IN A RELAXED STATE.
Lying on ground with face towards sky is called Supine position. Lying face down is called Prone position.
Savasana appears easy but it is a difficult Asana to master. Yoga teachers show various tricks to master Savasana. It should be done in a quiet and dimly lighted room if possible. Savasana can be done either in PRONE or in SUPINE positions. Savasana should be done in-between other Asana which require more KUMBHAKS, (breath-in holds).
Savasana brings great relaxation to joints, muscles, internal sphincters, all vital organs and creates immediate peace in agitated minds.
Savasana is very useful in relieving tensions, worries¸ insomnia and mental tensions. If well mastered Savasana can induce sleep at will. No sleeping pills will be needed. One gets a dreamless sound sleep within a few minutes, even in noisy places. A student must note that ‘dreamless sleep state’ and Samadhi, the 8th step of Yoga, are not similar mental states as many Yoga Gurus believe and teach.
A few minute Savasana done at any place during jobs demanding great mental attention and concentration helps to create new and fresh ideas. Savasana and Pranayama help Lawyers drafting important documents, Doctors performing many operations one after another, Business people making important decisions like buying or selling shares or property etc,. Similarly writers, poets, actors, singers, dancers, sportsmen and athletes during their spells of mental or physical fits demanding extra energy will be benefited.
A few minutes of Savasana will create new ideas, mental peace and physical energy for next important jobs. A few Maha-Pranayama, done prior to diving give a longer under-water time to all swimmers.
Steps for Mastering Savasan.
Lie flat on ground and close both eyes completely. Use a firm mattress and a rolled towel under the nape of neck, if the hard ground is uncomfortable for back and head. Make your self very comfortable at first.
Do two or three Maha-Pranayama. By altering normal breathing rate from 15 to 18 per/Min to 4 to 6 per/Min, or chanting in mind Long OM mantra, or any long Mantra, try to relax all body muscles. Count breathing by numbers from one to fifty, or chant name of God you like. But in final stage all chanting must stop. Try to develop a thoughtless consciousness or a total void in mind. Following tips will help.
Imagine that your body is very light and floating in a cloud of golden light.
Try to feel the temperature difference of exhaled and inhaled air at the tip of nose. The temperature of exhaled air is higher than that of inhaled air under normal circumstances. Try to feel this fine temperature difference.
Try to hear the sound and rhythm of your own heart beats.
Many such tricks are described in Yoga books and taught by different Yoga teachers. One observes that in a simple looking Asana like Savasana there is need of a teacher. The teacher suggests procedures and supervises performance of students. Indian Yogis knew such tricks since thousands of years.
Savasana is an important and preliminary Asana, which must be learned and mastered before practicing other Asana and higher steps of deep meditation like Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Learn Asana and Pranayama in small groups. Experiences of other students help when they discuss their own subjective experiences. Pranayama and Asana are correlated, complimentary and interdependent practices.
Padmasana, Siddhasana Sukhasan.
Most popular sitting Asana for Yoga is the “Lotus posture or Meditation posture”.
There are three main variations.
(1). Padmasan, (Lotus Posture); Two feet are firmly crossed over each other. Feet are placed on opposite thighs. The ten toes make a figure like a lotus in the lap.
(2) Siddhasana (Success posture). When any meditation posture is maintained for a long time it is called Siddhasana.
(3) Sukhasana (Comfort posture). Sit in any comfortable position, even in a chair or sofa. Meditation can be done by old, and people with leg joint problems in chair. Yoga Meditation is generally done in above postures according to ability and level of the student. Any comfortable sitting posture is called Sukha-asana.
Chant OM or some prayer Mantra. Combine them with deep breathing exercises. This practice immediately brings a short time mental peace to any fresh Yoga student. It relaxes body muscles, relieves tensions from confused and worrying thoughts in mind.
With more practice of Self Meditation (Adhiatma Chintan) newer ideas and positive thoughts of bright future are created in mind.
Surya Namaskaras. SUN SALUTATIONS.
Surya-namaskaras provides a full body exercise of all joints. It is combination of lift-ups and stretch-outs, familiar in West. It gives good exercise to both limbs and spine. Five to ten SUN Salutations is a very good daily exercise and a good daily Yoga routine.
Combine one SUN SALUTATION with chanting of one, two or three Gayatri Mantras of Sun worship. During one Surya-Namaskara, try to chant two or three Gayatri mantra. After some practice try to complete one Gayatri mantra with one Maha-Pranayama in one spell of a Surya Namaskara.
When Surya-namaskaras is combined with chanting Gayatri Mantra, it makes devotional ritual of Sun-worship. In Gayatri Mantra the student requests the Sun God to give him/her “Intellect as bright” as the Sun, so that he/she can shine in world with newer self uplifting ideas for entire mankind on Earth.