Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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Shree Ravikumar from Sandiago (USA) had been for shopping. He parked his car in the car parking area, booked the order and directed to dispatch the material to his house. He went to another shopping complex and returned to his house by a taxi. In the evening the family had some program for outside tour. They joined together but when they came out they found that the car was not there in the garage. Oh! The key is in the pocket, where is the car then? The wife found out a solution, she tried to remember the various places visited. Oh! Yes! Our car must be in the parking plot, the ticket also is here; payment for seven hours parking charges is a bonus!

Professor Narendra Shukla with his wife came to see me at Daskaka’s house in  Amdavad (Gujarat), India. They must have spent almost an hour with me. When they left I joined them up to the gate of the bungalow. I requested them to close the door. Both alighted the scooter. Mrs. Shukla got down and closed the door; during that time the professor had already left. On reaching the house professor did not find his Mrs. About fifteen minutes must have passed and when we phoned his residence professor was in a flurry; where is she? She is nowhere, you have left her here! One knows professors to be absent minded. This was one unique example. One can narrate so many such instances. Mrs. gave a long list; kindly bring these items in the evening, but in the evening no material is brought. Why? The list itself was forgotten.

As an advance preparation for an operation instruments are counted and kept well arranged in the theatre. On completion of the operation a count is taken of used pieces and those that are left behind. Why? Exactly to satisfy that through oversight no item is left inside the opened part of the body, which is ultimately sutured. So many stories of scissors for operation and cigarette stubs left over in the person operated are a source of cartoons in our country as well as abroad. We read about this so often.

These incidents of forgetting, not remembering, are some­thing like a ghost of family problem. We have so many times observed persons trying to remember something and explor­ing in their heads; this goes to indicate that the memory is stored in the brain. The head contains two important organs-cerebrum and cerebellum that is a large brain and a small brain. Besides these there is a pituitary gland situated behind the eyebrows in the forehead and a penal gland situated behind it. There are so many other centers for sensitivity and knowledge. If all these organs get enough food continuously by our awareness, these organs can remain active. Physical knowledge about the exact spot where memory is stored in the brain is known to a very limited extent. So many research scholars maintains that memory is stored in a particular part of the brain. Where as others say that most of the brain is employed for storage of memory. Both these researchers are to a smaller or greater extent, correct. Medical people working on brain system say that storage of memory in the brain is divided out in two parts. Initially the matter is remembered for a short time where as the second part deals with storage for longer duration. In the beginning the matter to be remembered gets deposited in the compartment where the same is stored normally for short period, but thereafter if this stored information is not transferred from short time memory storage section to long time memory storage area, that information is lost to memory.

The research scholar and Pundits of science of the body maintain that there are separate sections in the brain for storing items to be remembered for different subjects. For telephone system there is only one main wire but the numbered connections to each house are different. Programme of different channel is receivable on the same screen; similarly power for memory about different subjects is stored in different parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain known as hippocampus and thalamus mostly store the vibrations of the capacity for memory this part is situated on the outer side of the brain. This is similar to the bark of a tree. Spatial memories are mostly laid in this storage house. On the other side of the brain more sensitive elements amygdala and thalamus get stored. Research students also hold that such of the memories which when stored add to the working efficiency or intuition is stored at a special place in the brain. Our body contains energy in the form of Prana, Apana, Udana, Vyana and Samans. The Manas or subconscious element is supervised by the Prana energy this is the high cadre psychological capacity of the brain. It is known as the heart of the head where higher psychical activities are carried out. Its constitution or construction is in the front rounded portion of the cerebrum. The memory is stored in this knowledge preservation part of the brain. The sub-conscious mind is also a principal place for storage of memories.

This faculty of memory or remembrance power does the job of storing a thought process about on object or subject in a subtle way and when necessary it does the work of supplying the desired information. This retentive power is a center for education and contemplation. Psychologists describe the power of remembrance or the power of reten­tively in four sections: (1) Recollection (2) Recall (3) Recognition (4) Relearning. Memory or remembrance is one where on occurrence of any event or any fact, the same is retained in the brain to a greater or smaller extent. When we meet a certain person after a lapse of thirty five to forty years, what is the basis of our recognizing him? During the long period that person must have gone through so many ups and down as well as ebbs and tides, his form and physiognomy may have turned either black or white, the physique may have gone obese or may have been absolutely thin, he might be wearing good clothes, must be using scents, must be well groomed if he is happy or if he has lost in his business he may be wearing a downiest face, deep-set eyes, dry flying hair, slip-shod clothes, torn shoes, and husky voice; with all the above changes suffered by a man in the thirty five to forty years, can recognize him? Yes, a man may change his physique or even the color but a man hardly changes his nature. Tamarind may be raw or ripe, it may even go rotten but it does not lose its sour taste. An onion can be opened out layer by layer, yet it will not lose its smell till end. Sugar can never be bitter. A lime cannot be sweet. Ice is always cold. Heat up milk and it will surely boil out. In summer you will always have hot air blowing. Sand will feel very hot in summer and cold in winter. The principal cause of all these is the physical nature of those materials. A palace may have gone dilapidated; even then on having a look at that broken down edifice we can always visualize the magnificence of the building. Similarly even after thirty five or forty five years if a person does not purposefully, with full awareness, remaining fully alert; if he does not make efforts to change his nature, he can never achieve any change. That is why in Gujarati we say    Lab cannot change his nature    a monkey may get old but does not lose his capacity to jump etc. The power of memory works by method of association. This capacity of remem­brance does the job of sporting out the past and quickly bringing out occurrence without any dilution. Recognition as well as evaluation is the special capabilities of the mind. Mind does not commit any type of mistake and can remember events which have happened in the past about what one may have eaten, drunk or seen or even known and can bring out the exact repetition as if man is very much known to us. Finally relearning is an element where once a man hears or sees or learns a thing, he understands it half heartedly but when the same matter again comes before his mind, he can revive the faint remembrance and from that subject can be known and understood.

Psychologists have carried out ample research in con­nection with remembering whatever one should remember or failing that a man shows of forgetting the matter with which the consciousness of mind comes in contact. Most of the time if we forget anything immediately the same results in a harmful effect in our life at the first instance. Whatever is stored in memory can be improved upon only if we try to remember that subject or material over and over again. We should continue our association with the particular material or event by ever remembering the same from time to time; one can master this subject only by entertaining the desire to know or learn about a subject more and more with internal enthusiasm and drive.

Generally one formula known as IRA can be used to remember any event or item. I mean impression. R stands for repetitions and A stands for association. Whenever we read, hear and see anything if we keep our mind completely concentrated then a very good impression could be formed on the mind.

If we repeatedly ruminate over the subject, we have repetition. If after a long period only similar matter or man is referred to, we can due to proper syntax remember the matter of man fully you may properly listen to same interesting talk about a drama or a cinema. Thereafter visit the drama or cinema and repeat the story with interest to another fellow; that story will now take a strong hold in the mind. It will dig a groove in the mind. The most important aspect in the development of memory is to find out what amount of interest does we have in remembering that thing or event.

There are four main reasons traditionally described as causes for forgetting all that we may have memorized. The first is the dimming out of the background of memory. The reason is that with the passage of time chemical changes affect nervous system as a result the memory gets blurred out. Even then, in spite of the background of memory getting erased out, the storage of memory does retain the slight effect of memory the second point is that with the passage of time whatever is stored in the memory would be scattered or a big dilution may occur. Therefore if the stored memory is not utilized or repeated for a long period then it is likely that everything can get topsy-turvy The third stage is reached by learning up or knowing new items which disturb the old memories or even new knowledge may occupy the place of old memory. In Tamil language this third process is named as “Adhika Prasanga — Extra event”. In Gujarati we say it by calling a man wise, over wise or even otherwise! One would not prohibit a man from picking up new knowledge but it would not be proper if a camel enters while you try to drive out a goat. The last and fourth matter is that a man may have many such events or situations, which he would like to forget altogether, and the man therefore will fully draw the mind to other circumstances and works whereby the memory is lost.

Thus in short, element of memory is hardly clear, in addition to whatever is known and is hardly fully discussed. Now and then discussions and conferences are organized on this subject but ultimately everything is forgotten. The young children on special occasions learn by heart passages, poems or even full lectures, but with the passage of time they also forget these details. That is the reason why Upanishad declares, “Swadhyayanama pramadita yam”. Do not delay self-study for the delay also it is said that “Pramaado nityamrityuh” laziness or delay is equivalent to darkness and death.

Is there any connection of all the above descriptions with Yoga? Yes! Form a habit of sitting in Padmasana. If we sit in Siddhasana or Swastikasana, Vajrasana or simple cross-legged posture, keeping back and spinal column vertically straight, if one starts with five minutes and gradually increase practice to sit for three hours, then supply of blood to the muscles of the legs and thighs gets reduced. This reduc­tion results in greater proportion of blood reaching stomach, heart and head. Thereby the nervous and infor­mation system of the head gets stronger. This is equally possible by deep recitation of “Omkar-Pranava”.

Postures of progressively I to VIII for Shirshasana









The head gets plenty of blood supply if four times a day in the early morning, at the lunch time, in the evening and before going to bed at night, deep Omkar recitation is carried out for a period of 10 - 45 minutes  




             (Fig --74 ix)

It is an indisputable truth that the practice of Shirshasana and Sarvangasana makes a man highly intelli­gent. In both these Asanas whole body gets into an over­turned (inverted) posture, thereby with the least efforts heart can pump blood towards the head.

The memory power depends very much on conversation of vital power along with the need for Asana, Pranayama and meditation. One who has conserved his semen will be a most intelligent person. A person who has spent his semen to a great extent and therefore initial power has almost died down will have a peevish nature, digestive power and eyes will be weak and mind will be tossing. Hence there is no reason for his memory to be sound. Every man has a brain, which has immense power and capability this small brain can contain innumerable megabytes and gigabytes of computer elements. We hardly make use of one or two percent of the same. If we can properly and by heart understand the limitless capability and control contained in our head, we can with the least effort tap great source of power. Our forefathers had achieved this power why should we remain devoid of this power? 



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