About the Book
The present book 'Guidelines for
Yogic Practices' is a handbook which should work as a 'self-instructor' to
the beginners of Yoga practices. The book adequately describes many Hathayogic practices
such as Asanas, Pranayamas, Bandhas, Mudras, Kriyas and Meditation to help an
initiate to gain ground in the subject.
Each technique of Asana, Pranayama etc.
has been presented with proper sequence with a view to understand the practice
in an easy and smooth manner.
Moreover, principles of each group of
practice have also been lucidly placed to provide sufficient conceptual clarity
to a practitioner.
About the Author
[M.A., M.Ed.(Phy.), Ph.D.(Anthrop.)'
Ph.D. (Alt. Med.), D. Litt., D.Y.P.1, the Founder- Director of The Lonavla Yoga
Institute (India) was a direct disciple of Swami Kuvalayanandaji. He worked in
Kaivalyadhama in various capacities as Asstt. Director of Scientific Research,
Deputy Director of Phlosophico-Literary Research and Principal of G. S. College
of Yoga and Cultural Synthesis for 30 years.
After his retirement he established THE
LONAVLA YOGA INSTITUTE (INDIA) and worked tirelessly till his last breath
in service of Yoga in order to propagate this ancient Indian science in its
original and traditional form without any conscious deviation or distortion. It
is his matchless zeal and highly spirited endevour that produced a good number
of Yogic texts critically edited and published hitherto for the first time
which otherwise had been preserved in the manuscript libraries in India and
abroad. His noble efforts will certainly go a long way in spread the universal
message of traditional Yoga in all the times to come.
I have a great pleasure in presenting
this hand-book to the students of Yoga. Yoga is becoming increasingly popular
and there is a great need for the right guidance to the seekers of Yoga. Not
all books on Yoga available today fulfill this need. The present hand-book is
based on my personal experience and being in the field of teaching Yoga, the
necessary requirements of the students are taken into consideration.
The theoretical background of Yogic
practices has been explained first along their necessary principles to be borne
in mind by every student. Growing misunderstanding that Yoga means Asanas shows
a very partial outlook on Yoga and to give a comprehensive view various forms
of Yogic practices have been included in the present hand- book.
I hope, the students would appreciate
this effort and derive maximum benefit for their psycho-physical health.
I am thankful to Shri K. M. Gokhale, the
Manager of Shri Mudranalaya, Pune, for having taken immense pains while this
hand-book was going through the press.
Yoga is an ancient discipline having a
hoary past. The relics of Mohenjodaro excavations show its antiquity. The
importance of Yoga for spiritual development has been recognised through the
The discipline of Yoga passed through
several stages and in course of time different schools emerged and variety of
techniques were evolved. Every school of Yoga emphasised on specific practices
but the aim remained the same for all the schools, namely, to control the processes
Some schools use techniques that deal
with the mind directly and some use indirect means through body to tackle the
mental processes. For a common man the approach to mind through the body is
easier and within his limits. Therefore, such practices which emphasise the use
of the body are much favoured.
The practices enjoined in Yogic
literature and handed down in different traditions are called the Yogic
practices. These may be classified in the following groups--
Bandhas and Mudras,
Each one of these groups consists of
several practices. Apart from these groups of practices there are Yamas and
Niyamas which are in the form of self-imposed restrictions and codes of conduct
to form an adequate substratum for Yogic practices and are considered an
essential part of Yogic routine followed on whatever small scale.
Let us get acquainted with the various
groups of Yogic practices.
These are certain special patterns of
postures that stabilize the mind and body. They aim at establishing proper
rhythm in the neuromuscular tonic impulses and improving general tone of the
Asanas are not simply physical
exercises. Although they are one with body they bring tranquilizing effect on
the mind. Therefore, they are psycho-physical practices.
They may be classified into three
(1) Meditative Asanas : These are
sitting postures which maintain the body in a steady and comfortable condition.
By various arrangements of the lower and upper extremities different Meditative
Asanas are formed.
(2) Cultural Asanas : These are
static stretching procedures which bring about proper tone in the musculature
of the body. They are meant for giving flexibility to the spine and rendering
back and spinal muscles stronger on one hand and stimulate proper working of
the vital organs situated in the thoreo-abdominal cavity on the other. There
are innumerable varieties of cultural Asanas performed in varuous positions of
the body like sitting, lying, standing etc.
(3) Relaxative Asanas : These are
performed in lying position and are meant for giving rest to the body. These relaxative
Asanas are very few. The two widely practised are Shavasana and Makarasana.
These not only relax the body but also the mind.
Asanas form the basis for further Yogic
practices by contributing to physical well-being.
These are the practices in the control
of respiratory impulses. With gradual control of inspiratory and expiratory
phases one comes to the suspension of breathing for some time. Holding of
breath judiciously is the essential technique of Pranayama. In the initial stages
of practice the breath holding phase is altogether avoided and ephasis is put
on the controlled inspiration and expiration. This keeps the safety valve open
and possible harmful effects of injudicious breath-holding in Pranayama are
Respiratory activity is very vital for
the psychophysical functioning of the individual. It forms one of the main
channels of the flow of the autonomic nerve currents. By gaining control over
the autonomic nervous system Pranayama influences the mental function. Pranayama
is a potential technique for higher Yogic practices like meditation.
The three phases of controlled
inspiration, controlled expiration and controlled retention of breath are
technically known as Puraka, Rechaka and Kumbhaka respectively.
There are many varieties of Pranayama.
But the two most important ones have been dealt in the present book.
Considering the expected results of Pranayma for the common man, the retention
phase has been completely omitted. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that
after sufficient practice in controlled inspiration and expiration one attains
the ability to practise Pranayama with retention of breath.
Badhas and Mudras
These contain practices that consciously
control certain semi-voluntary and involuntary muscles in the body. In these
muscles there is integration of central and autonomic nerve supply. By bringing
these muscles under volition one could influence thereby the acivity of the
autonomic nervous system which functions as a whole. Bandhas and mudras help to
tone up the internal organs, decongest them and stimulate their healthy
A distinction is made between Bandhas
and M udras on the basis of their use in Pranayama. The Mudras that are used in
Pranayama are usually called Bandhas because they bind and channelise a
particular nervous activity in a particular place or direction. Uddiyana Bandha
is one of the most important Bandhas.
Mudras have similarity with many Asanas.
But all Asanas are not called Mudras. Mudras are specific in their effects.
These are purificatory processes usually
classified into six divisions and, therefore, these are often called Shat-
kriyas. These are Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli and Kapalbhati. Each one
of these consists of many sub-sections.
The Kriyas may be classified into two
(1) According to the mode of cleansing
(2) According to the region of cleansing
The modes of cleansing are:
The regions of cleansing are:
Kriyas have a great therapeutic value.
They bring about increased range of adaptability of the tissues forming the
various organs and systems, as also raise the threshold of their reactivity.
Autonomic and proprioceptive neuro-muscular re- actions seem to have an important
bearing in bringing about these results. Voluntary control is established on
different reflexes through the Kriyas. This is done through inhibition of the
reflexes during Kriyas like Danda Dhauti and Vastra Dhauti and through
stimulation of the reflexes as in Gajakarani or voluntarily controlled
vomitting. Thus the emphasis of Kriyas is on eastablishing psycho-physiological
The practice of meditation involves a
whole, peculiar and special process of absorption in which the individual turns
his attention or awareness to dwell upon a single object, sound, concept or
experience. Traditionally the aim of this practice has been 'enlightenment'.
There exists many techniques of
Meditation which are not confined to a particular religion. Meditation has long
been used as a necessary practice in all the religions. It is possible to think
of a non-cultic technique of meditation to be used by any individual.
Meditation is a continuum of the process of absorption with different degrees.
Recently meditaion has been
enthusiastically received in many countries in Europe and especially in United
States of America by a large number of people as an answer to the stress of
modern life. The technique of mediation that has become popular in the Western
countries is known as Maharshi's Transcendental Meditation or T.M. It is a form
of Mantra Meditation.
There is no doubt that meditation is a
However, it is not always so safer to at
once enter into the practice of Meditation. A preliminary background should be
prepared by the practice of Asanas and Pranayama. Even good results of
Meditation are obtained through the humble practice of selected routine of Asanas
In the hierarchy of Yogic practices
Meditation occupies a higher position than other practices. However, it should
be remembered that all Yogic practices are complementary to each other and each
practice contributes to similar effects on a greater or lesser scale.
Contents (variegated Asanas)
Introduction to Yogic Practices
Principles of Yogic Practices
Facts to know about Health and Fitness
Asanas, Bandhas and Mudras
ASANAS, BANDHAS AND MUDRAS
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