FIRST there was prescribed for me a group of ãsanas calculated to bring a rich supply of blood to the brain and to various parts of the spinal cord.
Asanas for Beginners
Be gentle with yourselves
A little pain is better than a lot. Find a slightly painful position and breathe into it. Practise your breathing into the abdomen in position. As you relax you can go further. Feel you can hold your posture for 20 minutes. If you want to come out of it you have gone too far.
No Pain no Gain. There is a good pain as you ease out tension and a bad pain where you are damaging yourself. It is your body and you will know yourself which is which. Never damage yourself. A healthy stretch is good.
We use asana to find our energetic blockages. Where we are stiff and where there is pain.
We use asana to gain flexibility and strength.
We use asana to practise our breathing. Breathing is more important than the asana itself.
When we have found some stiffness use all techniques to get rid of it. Breathe into the pain (pranayama). Visualise light flowing with the out breath into the pain (meditation). Use Reiki. Move the area to squeeze out the blockage.
Hold the asana for as long as possible but come out of the posture when you want to. In the same way as you came into it. With beauty and with grace.
It is good to build up to holding the postures for 20 minutes. It takes 10 minutes to relax the muscles. 10 Minutes to relax the tendons and another ten minutes to relax the bones.
Asana is a steady and comfortable position!! The body is an automaton, a diving suit, a car, a donkey. ("Alas after so many years of carrying me, my donkey is tired." Francis of Assisi, taught from sufi sources, as he was dying). It should stay where you put it without tension.
The relaxation between the postures is even more important than the postures themselves. How to relax? Breathe consciously into the abdomen, and when necessary due to hard work, into the center of the chest and then the upper chest, at all times. Concentrate on the breathing rather than the stretch.
Sequences of postures lead us to a certain state. For meditation we can work from the lower chakras to the top.
If you have short time then do the Halasana, Sarvangasana combination just before sleep. Just slip into bed for the relaxation. As these postures work on the ether chakras, you will work during your sleep on the astral plane.
Sequence for beginners
Bhujangasana the cobra.
First lie on front. feet together. chin to the front. Forehead to the front. Hands underneath the shoulders, fingers forewards. Raise head. Raise hands. raise elbows. Squeeze, Ease out the tension in the shoulderblades before holding the posture again by moving the head from side to side and up and down to squeeze out the tension. By resting the hands on the ground and moving the shoulders in a circle. Hold the posture again and Relax. Try this and shalabhasana at the same time as you get stronger and hold as long as you can. Relax.
Stretch the arms out on the floor above our heads. Move the hands back one palms length. raise the head. Straighten the arms. Move the shoulders back. Push the chest forwards. Breathe into the tension. Flex the belly and chest down to the ground. Flex the spine as much as you can. When the tension eases move the hands back one more palms length and continue. Half way up you can rest the arms by putting the elbows on the ground. Works into all areas of the spine from the top to the bottom. (Assana educates the bottom. We want a taught bottom. Joke!!) Come up as far as you can. Strengthens arms and chest. Flexes the spine. Relax.
Shalabhasana the locust. First lie on front. feet together. chin to the front. Forehead to the front. Raise both legs and knees by two centimeters and hold for a long while. Let the body warm up and breathe into it. Finally, just before you give in, raise the legs as high as you can. Raise the hips by pushing the weight of the body onto the chest with the hands. Relax.
Danurasana the bow. And relax.
Janusirshasana single leg stretch. Sit up and move one heel into the perineum or vulva. Relax the knee out to the side. Both hands on the ground behind the hips and move the belly forwards onto the thigh. As you relax move the opposite hand forwards onto the leg and move further into the stretch. Both hands onto the toes forwards!! Both hands around the heels and the elbows on the ground, belly to thigh, head to shin. Or Paschimottanasana forward bend (leave both out of the sequence until stronger, not at first)
Pose of the child. Hands under the shoulder. Push chest and bottom upwards and back onto the heels. Kneel, head on the ground, arms by the feet. Relax. Come out first raising head slightly, head onto double fists to release blood pressure.
Ustrasana the camel. Raise up out of the Child onto the knees. Hands on the hips lean backwards, head up. As ease out back and legs put hands onto heels, push hips forwards and drop head back onto shoulders. Relax forwards into the pose of the child.
Ardha Matyendrasana the half spinal twist (better maltese cross at first)
or the Maltese Cross floor spinal twist. Lie on your back. bend your left knee and put the left foot onto the right knee. Raise your arms akimbo above your head. Move the left knee over onto the right side raising the left hip. Help the movement of the left knee onto the right side by using the right hand. Move the head to the left and stretch from the left knee to the left hand above the head. Bring knee and shoulder to the floor as you relax. Breathe. You may get some slight osteopathic adjustments here if you are lucky!! Move knee back to center and relax out. Do the other side.
Halasana the plough
Sarvangasana the shoulderstand
Relax for a while after the halasana, sarvangasana combination. Yoga nidra, guided relaxation, can be good here but personally I always go somewhere else.
to supply the cervical region of the spine; halãsana
Lie in a supine position as in sarvãñgãsana and then slowly lift the legs and extend the feet beyond the head. This bends and stretches the entire spinal cord and should be done cautiously. This posture is not given in the texts being compared. See Srîmat Kuvalayãnanda, Asanas, pp. 78-81.
flat on the back and then lift the legs up in the air until the body is in a "shoulder stand." The trunk can be supported with the arms raised from the elbows. There is no mention of this posture in the traditional literature. For complete details see the volume on Asanas, by Srîmat Kuvalayãnanda, pp. 73-5.
A complementary posture given to me to be practised with sarvãñgãsana was matsyãsana (Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 21: "Make the Padmãsana posture without the crossing of the arms; lie on the back, holding the head by the two elbows. This is the Matsyãsana (Fish posture), the destroyer of diseases."
See Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 30-1: "Having stretched the legs on the ground, like sticks and having grasped the toes of both the feet with both the hands, when one sits with his forehead resting on the thighs, it is called Pascimottãnãsana. This foremost of Asanas, Pascimottãnas, carries the air from the front to the back part of the body (i.e. to the susumnã). It kindles gastric fire, reduces obesity and cures all diseases of men."
Compare Gheranda Sumhitã, ii, 26: "Stretch the two legs on the ground, stiff like a stick (the heels not touching), and place the forehead on the two knees, and catch with the hands the toes. This is called the Pascimottãnãsana."
Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 92-4: "Stretch out both the legs and keep them apart; firmly take hold of head by the hands and place them on the knees. This is called Ugrãsana (the stern-posture), it excites the motion of the air, destroys the dullness and uneasiness of the body, and is also called Pascimottãnãsana (the posterior crossed posture). That wise man who daily practises this noble posture can certainly induce the flow of the air per viam posteriori. Those who practise this obtain all the Siddhis; therefore, those, desirous of attaining powers, should practise this diligently. This should be kept secret with the greatest care, and not be given to anybody and everybody. Through it, Vãyu Siddhi is easily obtained, and it destroys a multitude of miseries."
The lumbar and sacral regions; mayûrãsana
Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 32-3: "Place the palms of both the hands on the ground, and place the navel on both the elbows and balancing thus, the body should be stretched backward like a stick. This is called Mayurãsana. This ãsana soon destroys all diseases and removes abdominal disorders, and also those arising from irregularities of phlegm, bile and wind, digests unwholesome food taken in excess, increases appetite and destroys the most deadly poison."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 29-30: "Place the palms of the two hands on the ground, place the umbilical region on the two elbows, stand upon the hands, the legs being raised in the air, and crossed like Padmãsana. This is called the Mayurãsana (Peacock posture [ The Peacock posture destroys the effects of unwholesome food; it produces heat in the stomach; it destroys the effects of deadly poisons; it easily cures diseases like Gulma (enlargement of the spleen) and fever; such is this useful posture." I found this posture particularly useful when flushing the colon after doing basti (a mudrã to be described later). When I used it for this purpose the legs were spread apart in order to relax the anal sphincters.
The upper lumbar and dorsal sections. I was also given a series of reconditioning ãsanas to stretch, bend, and twist the spinal cord in different ways, giving it a sort of massage which is intended to promote the health of the nerves rooted there. They were salabhãsana (
Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 39: "Lie on the ground face downwards, the two hands being placed on the chest, touching the ground with the palms, raise the legs in the air one cubit high. This is called the Salabhãsana (Locust posture)." A variation of this posture is described in ibid., ii., 40; "Lie on the ground face downwards, the chest touching the earth, the two legs being stretched; catch the head with the two arms. This is Makarãsana, the increaser of the bodily heat."
Ibid., 42-3: "Let the body, from the navel downwards to the toes, touch the ground, place the palms on the ground, raise the head (the upper portion of the body) like a serpent. This is called Bhujañgãsana (Cobra posture). This always increases the bodily heat, destroys all diseases, and by the practise of this posture the serpent-goddess (the kundalinî force) awakes."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 18: ". . stretching the legs on the ground like a stick, and catching hold of (the toes of) the feet with the hands, and making the body like a bow, is called the Dhanurasana (Bow posture)." The posture taught to me as the bow posture is described here as ustrãsana. See 41: "Lie on the ground face downwards, turn up the legs and place them towards the back, catch the legs with the hands, contract forcibly the mouth and the abdomen. This is called the Ustrãsana (Camel posture)."
Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 28-9: "Having placed the right foot at the root of the left thigh, let the toe be grasped with the right hand passing over the back, and having placed the left foot on the right thigh at its root, let it be grasped with the left hand passing behind the back. This is the ãsana, as explained by Sri Matsyanãtha. It increases appetite, and is an instrument for destroying the group of the most deadly diseases. Its practice awakens the Kundalinî, and stops the nectar shedding from the moon in people." I was given this posture as the complete lotus posture (baddha padmãsana).
Compare Gheranda Sumhitã, ii, 22-3: "Keeping the abdominal region at ease like the back, bending the left leg, place it on the right thigh, then place on this the elbow of the right hand, arid place the face on the palm of the right hand and fix the gaze between the eye-brows. This is called the Mãtsyendra posture." The posture taught to me under this name was different from those described in the texts. Place the left foot at the root of the right thigh, then put the right foot on the other side of the left thigh, and catch hold of the left knee with the left hand. Next rotate the body to the right and arrange the upper portion of the left arm so that it is on the right side of the right knee, which is used as a fulcrum to help twist the body. Place the right arm around the back as far as possible, looking out over the right shoulder. The reverse of this is also practised.
The full Matsyendrasana instead of the half or Ardha Matsyendrasana.
At first it was almost impossible to execute these positions; however, by the end of the first month, I was able to assume them without any effort. Several months passed before I was able to hold them with ease. I was permitted to vary the order in. any way I found suitable. For the most part, I began with pascimottãnãsana, because it warmed up the system quicker than any of the other ãsanas; however, I did not attempt the full posture until the perspiration began to flow. For the first few minutes I was satisfied to place my hands on my ankles and let my head come as close to the knees as was comfortable without forcing it. I tried to hold each posture ten seconds and then repeated the practice five times. This was enough in the beginning. Later I increased the time until I could hold each position comfortably for one minute, repeating them ten times without fatigue. After I developed sufficient strength to hold sarvãñgãsana, I raised the time to fifteen minutes instead of repeating it several times, as I did with all the other ãsanas.
Having performed the reconditioning ãsanas, I undertook the meditation ãsanas themselves, in order to acquire the necessary flexibility to do them with ease. The most outstanding of these, which I used exclusively, are siddhãsana and padmãsana. Every student is required to learn them. Siddhãsana ( is described in the text.
See Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 37-45: "Press firmly the heel of the left foot against the perineum, and the right heel above the male organ. With the chin pressing on the chest one should sit tight, having restrained the senses, and gaze steadily at the space between the eyebrows. This is called Siddhãsana, the Opener of the Door of Salvation. This Siddhãsana is performed also by placing the left heel on the Medhra (above the male organ) and then placing the right one on it. Some call this Siddhãsana; some Vajrãsana. Others call it Muktãsana or Guptãsana. Just as sparing food is among Yamas, and Ahimsã among the Niyamas, so is Siddhãsana called by adepts the chief of all ãsanas. Out of the 84 ãsanas Siddhãsana should always be practised, because it cleanses the impurities of 72,000 nãdis [energy channels or nerves].
By contemplating on oneself, by eating sparingly, and by practising Siddhãsana for 12 years, the Yogi obtains success. Other postures are of no use, when success is achieved in Siddhãsana, and Prãna Vãyu [breath] becomes calm and restrained by Kevala Kumbhaka [a form or breath suspension to be discussed later]. Success in Siddhãsana alone becoming firmly established one gets Unmanî [mindlessness] at once, and the other three seats (Bandhas) are accomplished of themselves. There is no ãsana like the Siddhãsana and no Kumbhaka like the Kevala. There is no Mudrã like the Khecarî and no Laya like the Nãda (Anãhata Nãda-Heart Sound)."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 7: "The practitioner who has subdued his passions, having placed one heel at the anal aperture should keep the other heel on the root of the generative organ; afterwards he should rest his chin upon the chest, and being quiet and straight, gaze at the spot between the two eyebrows. This is called the Siddhãsana which leads to emancipation."
Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 85-7: "The Siddhãsana that gives success to the practitioner is as follows:- Pressing with care by the heel the Yoni, the Yogi should place the other heel on the Lingam he should fix his gaze upwards on the space between the eyebrows, should be steady, and restrain his senses. His body particularly must be straight and without any bend. The place should be a retired one, without any noise. He who wishes to attain quick consummation of Yoga, by exercise, should adopt the Siddhãsana posture, and practise regulation of the breath. Through this posture the Yogi, leaving the world, attains the highest end and throughout the world there is no posture more secret than this. By assuming and contemplating in this posture, the Yogi is freed from sin."
It was not very difficult; being a simple cross-legged posture, I mastered it quickly. The three ãsanas mentioned below in the quotation from Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, namely, vajrãsana, muktãsana, and guptãsana were taught to me as separate postures.
In Gheranda Samhitã they are described separately. See ii, 12: "Make the thighs tight like vajra and place the legs by the two sides of the anus. This is called the Vajrãsana (thunderbolt posture - see . It gives psychic powers to the Yogin." This posture may also be done in the supine position (see . A further development of this posture is to incline the trunk backward until the head rests on the floor then return the body to an erect sitting position. In the beginning I used my arms to let the trunk down slowly, finally resting on my elbows. After ten seconds in this position, I returned my body to its former position with the aid of my arms. I repeated this exercise ten times, and after a few weeks I was able to execute it without the use of the arms.
Ibid., 11: "Place the left heel at the root of the organ of generation and the right heel above that, keep the head and the neck straight with the body. This posture is called the Muktãsana (free posture). It gives Siddhi (perfection)."
Ibid., 20: "Hide the two feet between the knees and thighs, and place the anus on the feet. This is known as the Guptãsana (hidden posture)." Some teachers call it samãsana, or the symmetrical pose.
The names suggest what the posture looks like or emphasizes. I learned these three as separate postures and found them highly efficacious. According to the instructions given to me the only difference among the meditation postures is the point in the body at which pressure is exerted in order to stimulate or check the flow of nervous energy. With these I also used simhãsana, bhadrãsana, goraksãsana, and svastikãsana which have been described in previous references; other associated postures which were required in my schedule are given below.
Ibid., 28: "Placing the left foot and the leg on the ground, surround the left foot by the right leg; and place the two hands on the two knees. This is the Samkatãsana [
Ibid.: "Place the heels contrariwise under the scrotum, stiffen (or keep at ease) the head, neck and body. This is called the [Kûrmãsana] Tortoise posture." Compare Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 24: "Placing the right ankle on the left side of the anus, and the left ankle on the right side of it, making what the Yogis call Kûrmãsana."
Ibid., 34: "Carry the feet towards the back, the toes touching each other, and place the knees forwards. This is called the [Mandukãsana] Frog posture."
Ibid., 35: "Assume the Frog posture, holding the head by the elbows, and stand up like a frog. This is called the Uttãnamandukãsana."
Ibid., 37: "Place the legs and the thighs on the ground press it, steady the body with the two knees, place the two hands on the knees; this is called the Garudãsana [Garucda is a mythical bird]."
Ibid., 38: "Place the anus on the right heel, on the left of it place the left leg crossing it opposite way, and touch the ground. This is called the [Vrsãsana] Bull posture."
Ibid., 16: "The two feet to be placed on the ground, and the heels to be placed contrariwise under the buttocks; the body to be kept steady and the mouth raised, and sitting equably; this is called the Gomukhãsana: resembling the mouth of a cow." Compare Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 22: "Placing the right ankle on the left side of the back and the left ankle on the right side, makes Gomukhãsana, causing the appearance of the mouth of a cow."
Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 46-51: "Place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh, and grasp the big toes firmly with the hands crossed over the back. Press the chin against the chest, and gaze on the tip of the nose. This is called Padmãsana, the destroyer of the diseases of the Yamîs (practisers). [This was given to me as the perfected lotus posture, called baddha Padmãsana -
"Place the feet on the thighs, with the soles upwards, and place the hands on the thighs, with the palms upward, gaze on the tip of the nose, keeping the tongue pressed against the root of the two upper central teeth, and the chin against the chest, and raise the air up, i.e. pull the apãna-vãyu gently upwards. This is called the Padmãsana, the destroyer of all diseases. It is difficult of attainment, but can be learned by intelligent people in this world. Having kept both the hands together in the lap, performing the Padmãsana firmly, keeping the chin fixed to the chest and contemplating on Him in the mind, be drawing the apãna-vãyu (performing Múla Bandha) and pushing down the air after inhaling it, joining thus the prãna and apãna in the navel, one gets the highest intelligence by awakening the Sakti (kundalinî) thus. The Yogi who, sitting in Padmãsana, can control breathing, there is no doubt, is free from bondage."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 8: "Place the right foot on the left thigh and similarly the left one on the right thigh, also cross the hands behind the back and firmly catch hold of the great toes of the feet so crossed. Place the chin on the chest and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. This posture is called the Padmãsana (Lotus posture). This posture destroys all diseases."
Compare Siva Samhitã, iii, 88-91: "I describe now the Padmãsana which wards off (or cures) all diseases:- Having crossed the legs, carefully place the feet on the opposite thighs (i.e., the left foot on the right thigh, and vice versa); cross both the hands and place them similarly on the thighs and sight on the tip of the nose; pressing the tongue against the root of the teeth (the chin should be elevated, the chest expanded), then draw the air slowly, fill the chest with all your might, and expel slowly, in an unobstructed stream. It cannot be practised by everybody; only the wise attain success in it. By performing and practising this posture, undoubtedly the vital airs of the practitioner at once become completely equable and flow harmoniously through the body. Sitting in the Padmãsana posture, and knowing the action of the Prãna and Apãna, when the Yogi performs the regulation of the breath, he is emancipated. I tell you the truth. Verily, I tell you the truth."
An associated posture is vîrãsana (hero posture; see , Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 23: "One foot is to be placed on the thigh of the opposite side; and so also the other foot under the opposite thigh. This is called Vîrãsana."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 17: "One leg (the right foot) to be placed on the other (left thigh, and the other foot to be turned backwards. This is called Vîrãsana (Hero posture)."
Many months were required for the perfection of this posture. By perfection I mean the state of accomplishment given. by Vyãsa, "posture becomes perfect when effort to that end ceases, so that there may be no more movement of the body."
The requirement that the posture must be held for three hours is the chief difficulty and makes intelligible why it took so long to achieve it. At first it seemed impossible, but it was not long before the results of my efforts began to appear. I started by holding the posture for one minute and added a minute each week. At the end of the first month I felt comfortable in the posture for five minutes. By the end of the second month I was able to maintain it for fifteen minutes. From this point on I made it a practice to assume padmãsana whenever there was an opportunity. This enabled me to repeat it several times a day. The real stumbling block was reached when I was able to hold the position half an hour, for it seemed impossible to go beyond this point without suffering. In order to increase the time I made it a habit to sit in the cross-legged position whenever I was studying. Only in this way was I eventually able to raise the time limit. It is not absolutely necessary to develop padmãsana to this degree; however, there is no doubt about its importance in the advanced breathing practices. For all practical meditation purposes, I found siddhãsana to be sufficient; so there is no need to be over anxious if padmãsana seems impossible.
When I was able to execute padmãsana, I was instructed to practise the following series of allied postures: kukkutãsana (
yogãsana (, Or the yogic seal, good to finish your asanas with this. Satch.
and pãsini mudrã
Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 25: "Taking the posture of Padmãsana and carrying the hands between the knees and the thighs, when the Yogi raises himself above the ground, with his palms resting on the ground, it becomes Kukkutãsana."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 31: "Sitting on the ground, cross the legs in the Padmãsana posture, thrust down the hands between the thighs and the knees, stand on the hands, supporting the body on the elbows. This is called the Kukkutãsana (Cock posture)."
Hatha Yoga Pradîpikã, i, 26: "Having assumed Kukkutãsana, when one grasps his neck by crossing his hands behind his back, and lies in this posture like a tortoise, with his back touching the ground, it becomes Uttãnakúrmãsana."
Compare Gheranda Samhitã, ii, 33: "Assume the Cock Posture, catch hold of the neck with the hands, and stand stretched like a tortoise. This is the Uttãnakúrmakãsana."
Ibid., 44-5: "Turn the feet upwards, place them on the knees; then place the hands on the ground with the palms turned upwards; inspire, and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. This is called the Yoga Posture assumed by the Yogins when practising Yoga."
Ibid., 45: "Place the two palms on the ground, raise the legs in the air upward, the head not touching the earth. This awakens the Sakti, causes long Life, and is called Vajroli by the sages."
Ibid., iii, 84: "Throw the two legs on the neck towards the back, holding them strongly together like a Pãa (a noose). This is called Pãsini Mudrã; it awakens the Sakti (Kundalinî)."
I was told to develop the last two at this time so that I should have sufficient strength to use them in the more advanced stages. The photographs explain them sufficiently.
One of the most important postures that I was required to perfect is called sirsãsana (
and deserves special comment. This posture is not listed in the texts as an ãsana, but it is described among the mudrãs under the name viparîta karanî (inverted body). of the name used, it is one of the preliminaries that students are required to learn. Since it was assigned to me when I was learning the ãsanas, I choose to speak of it here. As in the attainment of all ãsanas, I was advised to proceed with due caution. My teacher assured me that there is no danger for anyone in a normal state of health who is mindful of every change that takes place and allows ample time for the system to accommodate itself to the inverted position. At first it seemed hopeless, especially when I found that the standard for perfection is three hours. To accomplish this goal without any setbacks, my teacher advised me to start with ten seconds for the first week and then to add thirty seconds each week until I brought the time up to fifteen minutes. This required several months. At this point I was advised to repeat the practice twice a day, which gave me a total of thirty minutes. After one month I added a midday practice period and increased the duration to twenty minutes, which gave me one hour for the day. Thereafter I added five minutes each week until I brought up the time to a single practice period, which amounted to three hours for the day. In order further to increase the time for each period, I was advised to stop the midday practice and increase the duration of the other two periods. Eventually I abandoned the evening turn and held the posture for three hours at one time.
Immediately after standing on my head my breath rate speeded up; then it slowly subsided, and a general feeling of relaxation was experienced. Next came a tendency to restlessness. I had a desire to move my legs in different directions. Soon after this my body became warm and the perspiration began to flow. I was told that this was the measure of my capacity and that I should never try to hold the posture beyond this point. As my body grew stronger, a longer period of time was required for the manifestation of this nervousness. When this tendency was overcome, I was permitted to increase the duration.
One of the most trying problems I encountered when building up to the higher time standards was what to do with my mind. The moment I began to feel the slightest fatigue, my mind began to wander. At this point my teacher instructed me to select a spot on a level with my eyes, when standing on my head and direct the attention of my mind to it. Shortly this became a habit, and my mind adapted itself without the least awareness of the passage of timein fact, I was eventually able to remain on my head for an hour and longer with no more knowledge of time than when I was asleep.
I was given a series of practices to be used when standing on my head. Interlock the feet, as in padmãsana, then slowly lower the limbs until the knees touch the arms (
and then return the interlocked legs to the original perpendicular position without losing balance. performed this ten times and can highly recommend it for developing the abdominal muscles. In order to maintain one s balance during this exercise, each movement must be done with care and caution. I went through the same motions without interlocking the legs. While standing on my head, with feet together, I bent my legs forward until my toes touched the floor in front of me and then returned them to the perpendicular position. I was also allowed to stretch my legs while on my head. Separate them by doing a split, and then revolve the trunk until the legs completely reverse their first position. These practices are to relieve the monotony and at the same time to develop other muscles of the body. The entire routine requires only a few minutes, and I found it an excellent help in the early stages to build up my strength. The greatest need in all posture work is a capacity for endurance, and such measures are highly advisable.
All that is needed in the way of apparatus is a small mat or rug. Anything that is solid will serve the purpose, for the seat must be firm and the spine erect. It is not advisable to practise after eating; so a period in the day should be selected when the stomach is empty. Midafternoon meets this requirement. The body should be warm, so that there is no danger of straining the muscles. It is even recommended that one practise in warm water; however, in the United States it will be sufficient to practise after a sun bath, when the perspiration has begun to flow. According to Yogic theory, if all excess moisture is eliminated from the body and the joints, the postures can be taken more easily and the body will be subject to less pain.
For all ãsanas it is enough merely to assume the posture in the beginning. Repeat this three to five times and then take another ãsana. After a week or so it will be possible to hold each ãsana for ten or fifteen seconds. From this point on take measured steps and always stay far within the bounds of caution.
No special order seems to be required. I was permitted to vary the ãsanas according to my own desire. In general I followed the sequence in which they have been here related, doing the head stand last. When working on the ãsanas I was in the habit of devoting from an hour to an hour and one-half to this. As I became more proficient and strove to maintain a particular posture for an extended period, as in the case of the head stand, the time had to be lengthened. For the sake of variety and to insure the development of all the muscles, I included in my schedule from time to time some of the associated ãsanas. Eventually I became familiar with all of them, but at no time did I do them all in one session.
Since my training has not been done under laboratory conditions, I can only report general observations. The most noticeable effect was an excellent physical tone. The muscles became solid, all fat disappeared, and I enjoyed a feeling of well-being, with the mental results of such a condition. Undoubtedly scientific investigation could reveal many physiological factors that would help to explain the effects which in this work I must be content merely to describe.