Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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A good place for rest and change of air named Mussourie is situated near Dehradun in the north of Uttar Pradesh in Bharat. At Mussourie one institution named Shree Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration is situated. There used to be one director Gurucharanlal Juneja. Prior to this appointment he was chief secretary of Govern­ment of Orissa as well as food secretary of Government of India. Even in superannuating, recognizing the efficiency and suitability, government used to reappoint him on jobs one after the other and kept him engaged. The day he reached Mussourie; it rained heavily. One cannot vouchsafe the reliability of cooked meals, varying seasons on the mountains and living human beings. These three can get spoiled any time. Shree Juneja slipped as a result of sudden rain and had suffered three compound fractures. He attended his welcome programme in a wheel chain Within two days only, in the whole academy, steps on staircases slopes were provided. Shri Juneja went on moving on wheel-chair for almost six months.

One of our devotees Shri Nayanaben had been to Haridvar. The friends had entrusted a number of items to be delivered at destination. Hurriedly, as Haridvar station approached she observed that the luggage was found to be missing; she hurried up but the train started moving. While alighting from the train in a hurry, she fell down on the platform. Three months were spent in bed, then a walker and thereafter crutches. Even now she needs a walking stick.

One Shri Malaya, grandson of late Shri P.S.Patel of Ahmedabad went up on terrace along with his friends and cousins for flying kites. While running after a kite he fell down. There was a shout, oh! Malaya has fallen down! Malaya did fall, got up, approached grandma and started asking: “Grandma, I fell down; will I suffer?“ Grandma asked, “Wherefrom did you fall down?” Malaya replied, “From the terrace!“ Grandma looked in his innocent eyes and said “Oh, never mind; go and play” All the children went back on the terrace for the kite flying.

These are three instances. Shri Gurucharan Juneja Saheb had no difficulty in getting food and drinks. Daily on two occasions, he was served meals at specified times. He had tea and breakfast in the morning and evening. He used to be supplied milk, fruits etc. meals full of nutritive items but he did not exercise at all. How much did this officer walk? From bed room to bathroom and there from to dining table then to the car! The car was run by a driver The office bag would be lifted by a peon; the orderly would give the shoe shine; how much exercise the officer got? The officer had to shave himself, that is all!

Oh but Naynaben remains very busy, she would visit the Ashram and go round cleaning and sweeping. Wash bathrooms and latrines. She would clean the latrines and make them clean like a pooja room! Idleness could not even touch her. But for food she was absolutely zero. Today is Monday therefore a fast, Tuesday would be spent without a drop of water, even on Wednesday she will take salt less diet, Thursday was one meal day, over and above these on the fourth of a month she will observe Ganesha Puja, on the Ekadashi she will observe fast, only drinking water. Her daughters would go on complaining but she would hardly listen! For her husband she had even donated one of her kidneys but looking at her satvik tendency, efficiency and enthusiasm in all jobs, her body was not fed with enough fuel and vital energy.

Malaya was a young child, he would eat, drink and run about in full mood, go on mock-fighting. He was therefore strong!

The main reason for osteoporosis, brittleness of bones, is paucity of exercise. Although one may, take exercise, if one keeps the habit of not performing one’s own personal jobs, even then if the food intake is not having sufficient calcium, bones can get weak and can break. Therefore to keep human body, specially the bones, in efficient condition one should consume proper food, take walks and take proper and necessary exercise also.

There are two parts of the word osteoporosis --- osteo and porosis. Osteo means bones and porosis means porous. This ‘porous’ means it becomes full of miniature holes and hence it becomes brittle. Due to’ osteoporosis bones become thin, weak, and strength less. Because the bones gradually lose the main elements, on a long run bones get weak and osteoporosis results. Ladies are affected more than the males by osteoporosis. This difficulty is noticed more among ladies who cross the age of 50 to 55. I

Because of the bones becoming thin, possibility of breaking and cracking of the bones increases in the three parts of the body. These  are 1. Spinal column 2. Thigh bones in the waist 3. Wrists of the hands.

Pain in the waist, bending from the back, formation of hump can take place.

As the thinning out of the bones starts the vertebrae of the spinal column gets affected first. Slowly the strength of bone, shape and efficiency goes down gradually With the increase in age the capacity of the bone performing work, lifting weight, and the working efficiency of joints of bones get reduced. Because of the paucity of exercise, as a result of insufficient and improper food, the complete bone structure starts getting immobile. No new supply of strength is made available from outside, the stream of ‘power which is stored in gets reduced due to deduction of calcium. This results in the complete bone structure getting deteriorated and we start proclaiming that “now the health has started going down hill.” Besides, with the increase in age the production and working efficiency of living cells decrease, resulting in decrease in efficiency of the body to a huge degree. The living cells play an important role in maintaining the strength of bones. As the level of estrogen gets reduced, osteoporosis and similar conditions increase. The specific reason for such a situation is that we do not take sufficient exercise. It is the paucity of exercise that is mainly respon­sible. As the bodily activity gets reduced, the strength of bones decreases. Only regular exercise can rejuvenate bones and muscles. When we perform exercise; or we go on long walks, swimming or horse riding; or if we do jobs which calls for bodily labour, the muscles force the bones to perform works. Because of this compulsory duty, bones become more strengthened and also add to their dimensions. The cells of the body structure and the bones need proper food, which is supplied by increase in blood supply and oxygen by faster blood circulation.

Complete test and absolutely insufficient exercise and allowing life to be spent for a long period without exercise creates big deficit of calcium in the body The deficit can push our body causing unimaginable strange situation of trouble and difficulties.

By insufficiency of calcium in the food, complete paucity of exercise in life and over consumption of alcohol, puts a big cut in the production of calcium in the body

Under such circumstances if one consumes milk, curds and milk products in nutritive food and if one consumes vegetables and different items where from sufficient calcium can be had and if people also practice Yogasana and Pranayama; bodies can be rebuilt in a solid way and the structure of bones can be rejuvenated.

One cannot look at osteoporosis both in America and India from the same point of view. In India people are accustomed to get all the household and allied works carried out by servants and hence Indians have to be instructed to become self-reliant by lifting up their mattress after arising from the bed and cleaning and mopping one’s own room, cleaning the bathroom by a broom after finishing bath, drying out bathroom; washing and cleaning own utensils after breakfast, washing clothes after bath, walking to bus stand, sitting in Vajrasana after meals, going for a walk in the morning and evening for long distance, working by oneself in the garden, watering lawn, mowing, cutting and cleaning vegetables, preparing Chatni etc.

People need a maidservant for sweeping and mopping; for washing of clothes, Maharaj as a cook, separate Gardner and driver, a different ‘Aaya’ for looking after children. Every house, at least needs one maidservant for works small and big! This is not as in America. There, each one looks after jobs pertaining to one. In India we are short of milk supply now days because of shortage in availability of milk from cows, buffaloes or goats; milk prepared chemically is made available. Only those who are sick hardly get sweet-lime (Mosambi). In America it is not possible to live unless you load your fridge by cans of skimmed milk, milk with 4 and 8% fats and juices of a variety, packed in tins. Even then those in America who suffer from osteoporosis have of necessity to seriously take medical treatment, food with full awareness and take exercises.

We have earlier discussed flexibility exercises at length. Any one can without any fear sit on the ground with legs stretched out straight on the ground, and exercise the parts of thumbs of legs, soles, ankles, leg muscles, knees, back­bones and thigh bones, waist, spinal column, fingers of hands, palms, wrists of hand, elbows, shoulders, chest, belly and stomach, neck, eyes and muscles of the face.

In addition to these flexibility exercises even when no food is consumed one can no doubt sit in Vajrasana, by sitting in the posture similar to posture occupied by Muslim friends while they sit for “Namaj”keeping the legs turned behind, the bones of knees and bones in the leg with its muscles including tibia-fibula and other bones as well as ankles of the legs and fingers of the legs get a good advantage.

To perform the flexibility exercise known as butterfly exercise, one has to sit with legs extended in front. Thereafter bend both the legs from the knees. Thereafter widen both the knees. Thereby heels are nearer the body now hold paws of both the legs by both the hands. Now move the knees in such a manner that it resembles the butterfly moving its wings up and down. Heels must remain touching each other and as near to the body as possible. This exercise helps bones of the thighs, pelvic girdle; cover bones of the knees and joints of the paws of legs.

Now repeat this exercise by holding the knees. Heels and paws should remain touching each other and remain very near to the body now hold the knees and press both the knees downward as well as upward position.

In the third process of the exercise stretch left leg forward; raise and lift right leg and put it on the left thigh. Now move the right knee initially from top to bottom and bottom to top and thereafter in a round circular motion. This process must be repeated at least 10 to 16 times.

In the above-described manner now straighten the right leg; put the left leg on the right thigh. Thereafter left knee should be moved alternatively up and down, as well as down to up. Thereafter move the left knee in a circular movement. This process should also be repeated to 16 times.

This flexibility exercise is very simple. Young and old alike can perform this exercise without any danger.

In the same manner flexibility exercise, rolling of abdo­men and hip rolling can also be performed.

Sleep on the ground with face upward. Put both the hands under the buttocks. Keep the head raised; supporting by elbows keeping the hands right from the shoulder straight up. And shoulders should rest on the hands, that much portion of the back should not touch the ground. Now raise both the legs together to 30 degrees and take them in clock­wise and thereafter anti dock-wise directions for 7 to 10 times on both the sides.

Now bring the head and shoulders on the ground keeping both the hands under the buttocks. Then turn the body lying under navel round and round. You can also sleep with face up on the ground. Keep both the hands in line with the shoulders in straight line and try to touch the right leg by the left palm and left leg by the right palm. This will give proper exercise to all the vertebrae of the spinal column, waist and bones of thighs as well as scapula, humerus, upper arms, elbow, ulna, radius, joints of wrists of the hands.

The patient of osteoporosis can also practice Asanas called Kati-utthana and Setubandha. 

Setubandhasana (Fig-59)

Spread a fourfold blanket on the ground. Lie with your back on the ground in a face up position. Keep both the legs together, keep palms of both the hands on the ground. Now bend both the knees. Keep the knees touching each other. Both the heels and paws should also be kept touching each other. Now take the weight of the body on the hands and lift the waist. Maintain this position for sometime; this Asana is named Kati-utthanasana (see Backache). Here the back remains lifted up. Now support the waist by both the hands. Keep both the upper hands up to the elbow from the shoulders parallel to the ground; the hands from the elbow to the wrists should be straight at right angles. The support of the hand will be given to the waist from down under. Now straighten both the legs on the ground slowly; knees should not be bent, heels and paws should be touching the ground, legs should touch each other. In this fashion the shape of the body will resemble a fly-over bridge. This Asana is named Setubandhasana. This Setubandhasana if practiced will give exercise to the joints of bones of the shoulders, bones of the elbows, and joints of the bones of wrists, fingers, whole of the spinal column, bones of the waist pertaining to the thighs, knees and ankles of the leg.

After performing the above light exercises one should perform one after the other, Kati-chakrasana (see Diabetes

- 3), Trikonasana and different types of Trikonasanas, Suryanamaskara, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Chakrasana, Halasana, Paschimottanasana, Ushtrasana, Supta-vajraasana etc.


Shalabbasana  (Fig—60)


Supta-vajrasana (Fig—61)  

All the Asanas should be performed for a short time without any haste and Omkar and Bhramari should also be executed. If one takes in enough milk, consumes raw shredded cabbage and keeps the mind happy avoiding fickleness of mind, can definitely have a body which is undoubtedly strong.



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