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The Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System

The Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System


Item Code: IDF181

by Swami Shankardevananda

Paperback (Edition: 2003)

Yoga Publications Trust
ISBN 9788185787251

Language: English
Size: 8.4" X 5.4"
Pages: 294 (Illustrated Throught with B & W Figures.)
Weight of the Book: 387 gms
Price: $30.00
Discounted: $24.00   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 5th Jan, 2013


About the Book:

Faculty diet, tension and lack of exercise are the chief causes of most digestive disorders. This book explains how the practices of Yoga and Yogic diet can be utilized to balance these factors and eliminate digestive problems. Written by Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati under the guidance of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, The Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System combines the traditional medical view with the ayurvedic and Yogic views of healthy digestion.

Includes practical information on food and digestion; a medical section on digestive disorders, their causes and cures; and a practice section complete with detailed illustrations and diagrams.

Swami Satyananda was born at Almora, Uttar Pradesh, in 1923. In 1943 he met Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh and adopted the Dashnami sannyasa way of life. In 1955 he left his guru's ashram to live as a wandering mendicant and later founded the International Yoga Fellowship in 1963 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964. Over the next 20 years Swami Satyananda toured internationally and authored over 80 books. In 1987 he founded Sivananda Math, a charitable institution for aiding rural development, and the Yoga Research Foundation. In 1988 he renounced his mission, adopting kshetra sannyasa, and now lives as a paramahamsa sannyasin.


The digestive tract is one of the great paradoxes of life. On the one hand it lies within our bodies, controlled by the unconscious aspects of the mind and autonomic nervous system. On the other hand, most people do not realize just how much of their waking live is concerned with this unknown entity; how much of their time is consumed in the various food-related activities of buying, preparing and eating three or more meals each day.

Hunger comes; we become aware of the gnawing feeling, though we are not always fully aware of what is really happening inside; then we satisfy our need. Some time later we feel the urge to empty our bowels, so once again the digestive tract comes into the field of our awareness. What happens in between these times is a mystery of the workings of the body. Things just seem to happen inside and they do not really need our conscious attention or do they? Occasionally the thought does come into our awareness as to what does go on inside this box we call the body.

Even during times when we become aware of our digestive process, we are not fully conscious or able to have complete conscious understanding of the body's workings. For most of us, activity concerned with the digestive tract is habitual, routine, repetitive and subconscious. We rarely enjoy food with the gusto of one eating for the first time and we are taught to regard defection as anything but pleasurable. King Akbar was enjoying a great feast as he sat on a bed of cushions, entertained by beautiful dancing girls.

"What is the most enjoyable pleasure in the whole world?" he asked Birbal, his cleverest minister.

Birbal replied, "Going to the Toilet."
"What! You mean to say you enjoy sitting on the toilet more than all this beautiful food and all these beautiful dancing girls?"

Birbal replied, "Without a doubt, your Majesty, going to the toilet is one of my greatest pleasures."

Everyone laughed at his reply, and so Birbal, determined to prove his point, made a plan. The next evening, as Akbar was being entertained, he put a potent laxative into the king's wine. The laxative quickly took effect and a short time later the king felt a pressing need to relieve his bowels. Just as he started to get up, Birbal ordered one of the king's most beautiful girls to perform his favourite dance, so the king was forced to sit, torn between his two desires.

"I must leave you for a moment, Birbal," he said, once more starting to rise.

"But Your majesty," Birbal protested, "They are just bringing out your favourite meal. Don't you think you should eat it while it is hot?"

Again the king sat down, this time looking a little worried, for the inner pressure was building up slowly but surely. At last, with one mouthful of his favourite food still in his mouth, the king stood up quickly and ran out of the room. A little while later he came back, a big smile on his face.

"You were right, Birbal. There is nothing more pleasurable than that."

The digestive system can be the doorway to some of our most enjoyable moments and, if we treat it sensibly, to dynamic, vital health. Using yoga we can extend the basic functions of the digestive process so as to gain even more pleasure and fulfillment in life, for yoga allows us to become fully aware of the unconscious aspects of digestion. This is a part of the awakening of manipura chakra and results in an incredible injection of power, vitality and dynamism into our lives.

Many people claim to have perfect digestion. However, even these people can improve the quality of their conscious control over the digestive tract and thereby are better able to tap the vast source of energy and good health within the natural processes of the body. The hatha yoga shatkarmas (cleansing techniques), for example, open the door to the immense treasure of energy that remains dormant within each human being.

It is our aim in this book to help open the doorway to the digestive process to all. The first step in the awakening of our dormant power is to gain access to the knowledge of the inner workings of the body and the mind. This is found in the first part of the book (The Digestive Process). Then we must know what can go wrong with the delicate, sensitive but resilient machinery, in the form of disease, as found in part two (Digestive Disorders). Equipped with this theoretical knowledge plus the practical technique of yoga, we can begin to remove the first layer of dirt and impurities which cloud our health in the form of disease. Then we can begin to relax the inner tension until eventually a point is reached when an explosion of awareness and energy takes place.

This book has been written from personal experience, under the training of our guru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati. In becoming able to deal with the yogic lifestyle, each person in this ashram has had to totally re-evaluate their understanding of life. To achieve anything in yoga we must start with the basics, and diet and food are amongst the most essential aspects of our survival. Only when we have gone through the first layer of needs, desires, instincts and intuitions, can we start to really live yoga from moment to moment, opening the doorway to the higher life at the physical, emotional, mental, psychic and spiritual levels.

Swami Satyananda's approach to diet is pure and simple and is the basis of all the material in this book. Most people, who attempt to follow the ashram diet, find that there is always some difficulty in adjusting from a more complicated western diet or the richer, spicier and heavier India diet. Occasionally, diarrhea many occur, or indigestion, or severe and unremitting craving may drive some desperate soul to the local market in an attempt to drown his internal suffering with his favourite food. Whatever the obstacle that comes up, there is a method by which it can be surmounted, and that is by maintaining awareness and a positive attitude.

Whenever an ashramite gets a bout of ashram diarrhea, it is not looked upon as being a disease process but as a cleaning one. All the malfunctions are traced back to the mental scenery. Many cravings arise; hunger may be absent at one time and later we may be ravenous; tastes change; the senses become sharpened; our conscious appreciation of food deepens; our realization of the place of food in our lives is put into perspective with all the other phases of existence. All the so-called problems of life become transformed into the means of expanding our consciousness.

It is our hope that after you have read this book and have started to apply it in your life, your digestion, in all its phases, will become one of the great pleasures in your life.

Preface IX
The Digestive Process
1. Introduction 3
2. The Digestive System 8
3. Ayurvedic Philosophy 17
4. Food for Thought 23
5. All in Good Taste 29
6. Vegetarianism and Yoga 37
7. Digestive Prana 48
8. Fasting 59
9. Am I Hungry! 68
Digestive Disorders
10. From Darkness to Light 77
11. Digestion and the Mind 83
12. Pass the Antacid, Please 92
13. Wind 98
14. What's Eating You? 101
15. Feeling Constipated? 109
16. Painful Piles 118
17. Diarrhoea 123
18. Obesity 140
19. Poor Nutrition 148
20. Diet and Disease 154
21. Commentary on Diet 159
Practical Digestion
22. Path to Good Health 181
23. Daytime Sadhana 184
24. Relaxing the Abdomen 191
25. Hatha Yoga 194
26. Pawanmuktasana Series 208
27. Surya Namaskara 224
28. Major Asanas 231
29. Pranayama 245
30. Mudra and Bandha 254
31. Meditative Practices 259
Appendix A: Internal Organs 271
Appendix B: Sutras on Digestion 272
References 276
Index of Practices 278

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