Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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Q. I read ‘Yoga and Arogya’ column with interest but my mother prohibits me from practicing Yogasana and Pranayama. I am 13 yr. of age. My mother opines that Asanas are to be performed by sick people, is this a fact? Which are the Asanas and Pranayama that I can safely perform? Which are not permitted? Please let me know. Jaymin and Pinky Patel  (Corpus Christie, Texas)

A.   Dear brother Jaymin and sister Pinky,

All children of your age can without any fear perform all the Asanas. In our country m the past only those who suffered from typhoid and were weak were drinking sweet lime (Mosambi) juice. Now in America every week you consume 4 to 5 tins of juice, therefore it is a misunderstand­ing that sick persons only could perform Asanas. Really speaking all normally healthy people should perform a few exercises. In order to live a good life it is necessary to have food, water and air Similarly to maintain mechanism of this body properly and to extract more good work, Yogasana and Pranayama are very essential. You can perform all the Asanas that you know of; there is no Asana in prohibited list. (In the past in India people prohibited ladies from performing Siddhasana, Padangusthasana but now in America all Yogacharyas teach these Asanas to ladies) You can therefore without any fear perform Asanas yourself and also train others after you first obtain proper training from a Yoga teacher

Q. I had to wear spectacles from young childhood. I am 7 years of age. Which are the Asanas that can help? Himanshu Vadera (New Jersey)

A. Undertake exercises of the eyes. First take the eyeballs up, then bring them down, thereafter up on the right and there from down to the left. Again go up on the left and come down on the right. Thereafter go from right to left and left to right with eyeballs moving parallel to the ground. Thereafter describe a semicircle from right to left and then from left to right on upper side of eyes. Similarly take a semi circle on the downward side from right to left and then from left to right. Next take the eyeball in a complete circle in clockwise and then anti-clockwise directions. Now straighten the right hand and look at the first finger by the eyes. Bring the finger slowly and gradually right up to the nose. By this process the eyes will move in mutually opposite directions whereas the exercises so far undertaken used to move eyes parallel to the ground. It is very essential that between each of the above exercises a rest period of 10-15 seconds be allowed.

Besides, the eyes could be endowed with better sight by performance of Jala neti process. It is very essential to sneeze out 40-50 times all the water from the nostrils after performance of Jala neti. You should use tepid water with common salt added in small quantity and perform Jalaneti after finishing your morning bath. One should learn this process from a proper Yoga teacher in the first instance. It is not difficult, therefore do it without any hesitation.

But if you continue playing video games for 2, 3 or 4 hours sitting in front of television set no exercise will be useful. You should also ensure that you have no constipation. It is also necessary for the care of the eyes that you consume green leafy vegetables, salad, fresh fruits and milk. You must not read in insufficient light, do not read in a sleeping posture. Even then it is essential to get proper eye exami­nation carried out by an ophthalmologist so that the matter may not go out of control.

Q.      I am a chronic patient of headache, could you suggest suitable Yoga-abhyasa? 

Ashaben Gandhi (Orlando -Florida)

A. My dear Sister!

Headache could be due to many reasons. Constipation brings headache. If one reads by straining the eyes in insufficient light, headache would be caused. We may have headache if we are tired physically or mentally. Mental tension is also one of the causes. If we have no interest in a job and yet it has to be performed headache can result. There are many such reasons. If you introspect and think a little with peace and composure the remedy for headache will be easy to explore. (see chapter 17 Headache)

Q. I get lot of pain in the knee. Kindly suggest Yoga -abhyas.  Manjula Patel (Atlanta)

A. My dear Sister!

If ladies of elderly age has pain in the knee, backache and the eyes also have a burning sensation; it is necessary to give proper thought. Is the monthly period regular? Do you find leucorrhoea in the menses? Do you suffer from constipation, are the stools cleared regularly? Do you suffer too much at the time of menstruation? Are the stools sticky? If the answers to these questions are in the positive you should consult and get treatment from a proper gynecologist. You should specially take treatment and medicines for chronic colitis. Consume only skimmed milk (without cream) morning and evening. Take fresh curd, vegetables, salad in a big proportion, reduce chilies and sour items, stop at least temporarily use of onions and garlic. You may now sit up on the ground or in a chair, extend the legs in the front, pull the thumbs and fingers of the legs away from you in the downward side. Similarly now pull the legs towards you. This will exercise the cover bones of the knees. Move the legs vertically as well as laterally in circular motion as if you are cycling. This will help you. If you are over weight remain aware of it and start reducing.

Q. Our young child has a variety of allergies. He becomes breathless while he breathes. How can Yoga be helpful?  Ramagauri Vaidya (Los Angeles)

A. Consult the Doctor immediately for allergy Practice Sukhapurvaka Pranayama, Ujjayi, Kapalbhati. Bhastrika (see chapter VI Asthma)

Q. I am a retired person. Can I start practice of Yogasana? I am 63 years old. Muishankara Dave (Springfield - Illinois)

A. Definitely You can perform all the Asanas. Begin with flexibility exercises. If you have no ailment and you have an able healthy body, you can perform all Asanas without any fear. But if you have some disease does consult a doctor and begin Yoga-abhyasa under the direct supervi­sion of a Yoga-teacher.

Q. I am getting bald. Do you have any treatment for this baldness? Abhaysinh Jadeja (Virginia)

A. Bapu! Do not feel slighted. Your question is abso­lutely correct but is posed before a wrong person. We Sannyasi are fully shaved and now you talk to us of retaining the bunch on the head ! Really enjoyable ! However you can perform Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, Sheetali, Bhramari and deep recitation of Omkar. This will surely arrest the hair from falling.

Q. My son is 14 years of age, his height does not increase. What are the Yoga-asanas helpful for this purpose? Hemanginiben Ghiya (New Jersey)

A. By swimming, horse riding, parallel bar exercises one can increase the height. Performance of Yogasanas like Suryanamaskara, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana, Paschimottanasana, Dhanurasana, Chakrasana, Usthrasana can help building the body and increasing the height. Normally every male adds to the height and builds up body as to an age of 20, 21 or 22. However, children stop adding to their height if there is shortage of hormones. Your son can surely increase his height for a further period of six years if proper medical treatment, proper food and proper exercises are given.

Q.      My husband is very forgetful. Can power of memory be increased? 

Sunanda Mistry (Detroit - Michigan)

A. Sunandaben ! A man would remember those jobs or subjects where he has interest. Even if you repeat 10 times to carry out a job if the man has no interest in the subject he cannot remember it or will forget it. In the conjugal life a trio of mutual co-operation, good wishes and sympathy can render warmth to each other. If you go on repeating to Mistry Saheb that he is a forgetful man then he will only add to his forgetfulness. He can surely increase his mental power by performance of Omkar, Bhramari Pranayama, Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, meditation and Shavasana. Over and above the details given above it is necessary to bear in mind one fact. A person who eats more, who sleeps more, weakens his brain more and more. Memory, endur­ance, thinking power, mental power, remembering power, concentration, meditation - all these require a habit of rising early in the morning in Brahmamuhurta. Take some little exercise, perform Asanas, Pranayama and Suryanamaskara. Go to bed early do not gorge food. One should perform any work undertaken with full interest and liking. Do not try to meddle with a subject or a thing which is of no use in your life, Therefore those who sleep like a dog, who take bath like a crow, who meditate like a crane, one who eats and speaks very little as well as one who has left his house gets a boon of memory and remembering power.In addition if you form a habit of reciting Shree Hanuman Challisa or Shire Vishnu Sahasranama, Shire Saraswati Mantra namely Om Ain Saraswatyai namah, then also you will strengthen your memory. If in the morning after bath daily a student recites the following mantra three times

 “Om medham me Indro dadatu Medhain Devi Saraswati
   Medham me Ashwinavubhavadhattaam Pushkarasrajam.”

And then recites “Om Am Saraswatyai Namah.” 108 times then also your memory retention power will increase. The Mantras given above means, “Oh! Indra Devata! Please give me power of retention of memory. Oh ! Saraswati the Devi of knowledge, kindly bestow on me mental power. Oh! Aswinikumars both of you are standing with a garland in your neck, which will never wither, kindly give us remem­bering power. We bow down before Saraswati. By so doing you can have memory; there is nothing impossible if you have the liking. These two Ashwinikumaras had approached Prajapati seeking Brahma-vidya. Prajapati replied, “You are not fit, if I teach you Brahma-vidya, your head will burst.” (This is similar to an electric bulb bursting due to high voltage), but Ashwinikumaras were very keen to attain Brahma-vidya. They replied “Kindly cut down our heads and deposit them on the side. You may thereafter give us knowledge with heads of horses on our necks. On getting the knowledge those heads will no doubt burst, but knowledge will stay m. Thereafter replace our original heads; we will thus get boon of knowledge”. Prajapati was very much pleased observing their courage. Prajapati gave the knowledge and also garlanded them with never withering flowers. That is the reason why in the Medha Sooktam of Vedas, Ashwinikumaras are also offered prayers along with prayers to Indra and Saraswati while requesting for boon of retentive memory.

Q.       Doctors have advised me to get by-pass surgery done. It is learnt that we can avoid by-pass surgery by practice of Yogasana and Pranayama. I seek your advice. 

Sukumar Jam (Walnut California)

A. If the blockage of arteries in your case is due to hereditary reasons, Yogasanas and Pranayama will not give you enough relief but if the problem has arisen due to increase of cholesterol, worry, excessive smoking, addiction to alcohol, extra high blood pressure, carelessness in food habits and deficiency of exercises then by taking proper medical treatment, honestly and carefully limiting food where you will avoid fat, take less salt and reduce sweets to a minimum, and practice Yogasana as well as Pranayama regularly you will definitely get enough advantage. You must make a habit of remaining lively, joyful and live a full blown life, cultivate habit of creating light heartedness in the evening by light games and get sound sleep at night. A habit of going to bed after Bhramari Pranayama, a regular long walk in the morning will allow you to by-pass the need for by-pass.

Doctor Dean Ornis, the well-known American physician who has settled at Virginia can be approached for detailed directions. Many doctors are working under the guidance of Shree Swami Satchidananda Maharaj of Virginia Yoga Ashram. Please refer Doctor Bharat Naik Phone No. (630) 530- 5950, fax (630) 834 - 5279 at 807, Wild Wood Court, Oakbrook, Ill. 60523. God bless you.

Q. I have undergone by-pass surgery in India six months back. Can I practice Yogasana now?  Mukund Kotecha (New York)

A.  Oh! Yes. You can perform all the Asanas. Do not be in a hurry for performance of any Asana. You should not be haphazard in this performance. Do not start undertaking all the Asanas at once. Start with flexibility exercises and gradually add Asana one by one. After practicing for about a month you can practice fearlessly, easily and naturally all the Asanas. Mukundbhai, Good Luck

Q. Can diabetes be really controlled fully by Yoga? Praful Pandya (Austin - Texas)

A.  Full details are discussed in chapters 14, 15 and 16 of this book about diabetes. With proper care of the phy­sician, proper medicine, proper food and proper exercises diabetes can surely be controlled. Diabetes is not a danger. It is like a cyclone which when it visits it can cause destruction. If from the initial stages itself, we carefully take proper steps, we can avert big damage. The most important point about diabetes is that one should honestly decide to improve oneself. Cultivate self-control. If this much is achieved there is nothing impossible.


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"Yoga and Health" - a complete book with Question & Answer section by Sri Swami Adhyatmananda  


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