Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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 Shree Vamanbhai Pandya from Gainesville (Texas) has written a very emotional letter He informs that he has sorted out and separately collected all the columns of Gujarat Times where articles on ‘Yoga and Arogya are found. He has found the columns on problems and solutions very interesting. He has suggested that all these columns be printed in a book form and thereafter they should be videoed for VCB so that more people can be benefited thereby.  

One should thank Vamankaka. We ‘will give a final chapter in these columns which we initiated earlier Can the Yoga-abhyasa be helpful to aged patients of blood pressure to relieve them of the condition of hypertension? If this is possible, what are the Asanas that elderly persons can under­take? In the earlier columns we have discussed in details about Shavasana, Naditanasana, Pavanmuktasana, Nabhisanchara, Pachnasana, Baddhapadmasana, Manduk­asana, Koormasana and Paschimottanasana.. On this occasion we will try to learn the Gomukhasana first.


In this Asana the body assumes the figure of the face of a cow (Gomukh). That is why Maharshis thought it fit to name this Asana Gomukhasana.

Sit on a blanket, spread over the ground with legs extended. Bend the left leg from the knee. Bend it from the front and take it to the backside. Keep the heel near the right thigh and bend the right leg from the knee, take it on the left side on the hind part. With the heel of the right leg touch by the left thigh, place both the knees one over the other.

Take the right hand from behind the right shoulder and behind the head; thereafter from the left side take the left hand from behind the back towards the top and hold the upper hand. The hand should be held so that the elbow remains exactly in the center of the head in the hind part of the head. Thereafter in a similar position left hand from above and right hand below, behind the body, touching the head should have the fingers or the palms of the bands locked in such a manner that both the hands could be pulled in opposite directions. This very process can be perfomed in the opposite direction by bringing the left hand from above and the right hand from below and locking the fingers or palms.

While performing this entire process the heel of the leg, which remains underneath, should be placed near the anus. By this type of arrangement in the first instance, the heel of the right leg will be near the anus and on the next occasion, the heel of the left leg will remain near the anus.

Let the respiration be normal and concentrate on Muladhar Chakra. The practice of Gomukhasana brings out poisonous elements from the legs, knees, waist, and kidneys. This helps bringing down the blood pressure to its normal level.


This Asana acquiring the form of the] Alligator (Maker) is so named after the shape, the Asana assumes. There are various methods of performing this Asana. Spread a blanket on a leveled ground; lie prone on the blanket with belly touching the ground and lie down with legs wide apart. The paws of the legs should be in the outer direction and the heels of the legs should remain opposing each other. Keep a distance of 2.0 to 2.5 ft. between the legs. Now on a pillow formed by keeping right hand on the left shoulder and left hand on the right shoulder with head on either left or right direction. It is essential that the belly, chest, thighs remain touching the ground fully.

In the second mode of Makarasana both the legs are not kept wide apart but one leg is bent from the knee and paws, heels etc. are brought upto the thigh of the other leg. This mode is easier.

In the third mode both the legs are kept touching each other the paws are kept together almost resembling the tail of a serpent, they are pulled on the downward side. The heels, muscles of the legs and knees are touching the thighs. Bring both the hands in front of the head very much straightened and pulled out. Keep the right palm of the hand on the left hand. Touch the ground with the head.

By practice of this Asana there is development of subtle power of the body Gradually after long period of practice the body and its internal parts become firm like those of an alligator by regular and long-term practice of Makarasana the movement of oxygen is slowed down. Unsteadiness, hot-tempered nature and uneasiness reduce. Mind becomes quiet and composed. The lazy nature is transformed into pure (Sattvik) nature. This aspect is important for a patient of blood pressure. Normally patients of blood pressure get angry very quickly, but the practice of Makarasana makes the mind happy, quiet, humble and internal feelings of self-satisfaction is generated.


Urdhva means on the upper side. Hasta means hand, Uttan means to pull and Asana means position or pose. Urdhvahastottanasana requires both the hands to be pulled up with force.

Stand with both the legs kept together on a leveled ground. Take a deep breath, take the two hands on the two sides of the head, straight up: Lock the fingers of both the hands and, turn them towards the sky i.e. palms pointing upwards. Bend your body towards the right side as much as you can. Similarly repeat the process on the left side. This exercise should be repeated on both the sides three times each. When we perform Shankh-prakshalana the above ex­ercise is known as Tiryak-tadasana (see Diabetes - 3)

This Urdhvahastottanasana is useful in the process of Gunashodhana where both the intestines of the belly get cleaned. Hence this exercise is also known as Varisara. This Asana reduces the constipation and makes the body light. It is also considered very useful for control of blood pressure.


Performance of this Asana resembles the shape of Palm tree (Tada) hence it is known as Tadasana. The form also resembles the lower part (Thada) or stem of a tree. Therefore this Asana is also named Thadasana. (See Diabetes - 3)

Stand on a leveled ground keeping both the legs touching each other Breathe deeply and raise both the hands on both the sides of the head in upward direction. Hold the breath inside and pull whole body towards the top standing on the paws of the legs. This way entire weight of the body will be shared by the fingers and the thumb of the paws of the legs. This Asana looks very simple, but when the entire weight is borne on the fingers and thumbs of the leg it does the good job of well-known acupressure. It helps head with its cerebrum, cerebellum, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary and pineal glands. It also increases the working capacity of the important elements of neck, forehead, and the head. There fore whatever the age, if the elderly persons can easily go about; they can easily perform this Asana This makes the body shapely, reduces obesity, makes the body weightless and ‘eventually controls the blood pressure.


The meaning of word Nadishodhana is purification or cleaning of the Nadis (blood vessels). This covers group of blood vessels pertaining to body as well as heart.

Sit erect with waist, back, head, chest and spinal Colum vertically straight. Sit in any Asana like Padmasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana, Swastikasana or Sukhasana (simple cross-legged posture).

Keep the right hand thumb on the right nostril. Bend the next two fingers inside. Thereafter place the last two fingers on the left nostril. Open the left nostril breathes in deeply. Close the left nostril and hold the breath inside. Release the breath through the right nostril. Hold the breath outside. Now breathe in through the right nostril, close the right nostril and hold the breath inside. Thereafter open the left nostril and through the left nostril breathe out and hold the breath outside. This process of breathing in, is called Puraka, the holding in, is called Kumbhaka and release of the breath is called Rechaka. The process of holding the breath inside is known as Antar-kumbhaka and if the breath is held outside it is known as Bahya-kumbhaka. The rule governing times for breathing in, holding in, breathing out, and holding out, is 1:4:2:4. This means time of holding the breath should be four times of the time required for inhalation and the exhalation will be at half the speed and will take twice the period of inhalation. After exhaling hold the breath outside for the same period for which you now held it inside, this will execute one Pranayama.

Normally we breathe in and out 15 to 18 times in a minute. If we take the basis of 15 breaths in a minute one breath would take 4 seconds for both coming in and going out. If we breathe in, hold in, breathe out and hold out, in the above indicated proportion the period spent will be 22 seconds for one breath or 3 breaths will be taken in and out in one minute and six seconds.

By practicing respiration process in this manner, the complete Nadi (veins and arteries) system gets cleaned. This Pranayama is named Suichapurvaka Pranayama or Nadishodhana Pranayama (see Hyper-tension) 

In order to maintain time schedule of 1:4:2:4, one can also adopt a rule of mental Jape. If we chant one Mantra while inhaling, we should repeat mentally Mantra four times when you retain the breath inside. The breath should be breathed out in a period of mental recitation of Mantra twice and again Mantra Japa four times mentally repeated should be the period if you will hold the breath outside. The remembrance of the name of God in this manner will automatically but unknowingly endow you ‘with the form, quality power, capacity, luster, brightness, steadiness, patience and vitality of God.

By practice of Nadishodhana Pranayama all the veins and arteries of the body are cleaned and lungs are cleared of toxins. The solution to mental tension, blood pressure and other ‘similar problems is especially arrived at. Shree Mann Maharaja, the author of science of ethics has written

“Dahyante dhamayamananam, dhatunam hi yatha malaha,
tatha indriyanam dahyante, doshaha pranasga nigra hat.”

By heating gold or silver metal in a cupola all the slag of the metal could be removed out as a scum, similarly by the practice of Pranayama persons can clear all the toxins in their bodies.

Pranayama removes the toxins of the body and reduces the unwanted fat in the body the body and the face become bright shining, happy and attractive. One earns a long span of life. Kumbhaka makes the senses and mental leanings introspective and draws them in depths of the soul as well as concentrates the mind. The well-known Dr Fisher writes· about this issue as under

“All the five systems of our body (the nervous, circu­latory, respiratory, alimentary and genito-urinary systems) work properly as a result of regular deep breathing.’ 


 It is essential for the treatment of diseases that allowable and ‘proper food should be taken. One should avoid food that will increase illness. Ayurved declares


“Path ye sati kadarthasya kimaushadham nishevanam,
  Path ye asati kadarthasya, kimaushadham nishevanam.”

 A person who follows the rules of proper allowable life and food will not be either sick or suffer disease. He has no need for any medicine.

A patient of blood pressure will remain healthier the lesser the food intake. Blood pressure falls down steeply if a person fasts. Fickleness of mind, disturbance in the mind, quietness down by fast, hence blood pressure gets controlled. If one proposes to fast for longer duration, the same must be undertaken only under the supervision of a doctor a diabetic, however, should not remain completely without food. Such diabetic should take any one type of juice either sweet lime (Mosambi); oranges, carrots, or cucumber the stomach should not be kept vacant. Those persons who does not have diabetes can perform two or three fasts taking only water but after the fasts for 2-3 days they must also feed on juices of fruits and thereafter 2 to 3 days they must only consume fruits and steamed vegetables without salt.

For the regulation of blood pressure papaya fruit has proved a boon. Obese people should eat wheat bran, papaya fruit, and juices of fruits, cucumber and such fruits without any salt for a period of 4-6 weeks. When salt is disallowed no condiments, tea, coffee, all alcoholic drinks must also be disallowed.

Use of garlic by a patient of blood pressure is under­stood to be the best. One can surely use fresh hog-plum (Amala) and lemon. Normally Gujaratis have a feeling that use of buttermilk, bananas, and lime causes cold but this does not seem to be a correct belief. Bananas increase the weight and contain good amount of glucose and therefore are not allowed for patients of blood pressure. Consumption of fresh buttermilk prepared out of skimmed milk, honey and lime make a welcome food. Use of balsam and mint leaves also is allowable. 

Whenever the food item contains protein, the same is not allowed. Protein should be consumed the least as a part of daily meals. Nitrogenous food increases hyper-tension hence meat, alcohol and preparation of starch (all purpose flour should be prohibited.

In short “Win over taste; and control tongue and you will be an emperor of the world”. High blood pressure patient should take proper exercise, proper food and in the initial stages also rely on essential medicines. Gradually the fat on the body will reduce by honest efforts and by remaining aware.

Blood pressure does not increase by working for 20 hours a day, but it increases only if work is done in a tension filled atmosphere:

The key to blood pressure free life is self-confidence and living a life based on truth. Remain without worries and in a happy mood. Keep away anger, emotionalism and mental tension. Remain joyous, share happiness, never be unhappy1 nor make anyone unhappy God is with you, you are healthy and composed. Entertain this feeling. Perfect physical health will definitely be yours.


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