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Bihar School of Yoga Publisher - 41 works / 1 ebook published between & Common Subjects Search for books published by Bihar School of Yoga . Owned by Bihar School of Yoga Editor: Swami Shaktimitrananda . From Conversations on the Science of Yoga – Hatha Yoga Book 1. Taming the Kundalini by Bihar Yoga Publications. Hatha Yoga Pradipika Swami Muktibodhananda. Yoga - Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.
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The use of the same in this book is with permission and should not in any way be taken as affecting the validity of the marks. Published by Bihar School of Yoga. Bihar School of Yoga has a research library specializing in spiritual literature from a wide range of traditions with a collection of over books, periodicals . Fellowship in and the Bihar School of Yoga in Over the next 20 years. Swami Satyananda toured internation- ally and authored over 80 books. In.
Make meals attractive and tasty to stimulate the appetite and digestive enzymes. Keep meals simple. Remember, all the different foods you put on your plate will mix in your stomach. Take meals at regular intervals. Do not eat in between meals. Bathe before meals or not until half an hour after meals, as bathing diverts the blood from the stomach and intestines to the skin. When eating always take small mouthfuls. Chew each mouthful carefully and chew fried foods a little longer.
Eliminate problems from your mind during the meal. Do not eat food when you are tense or angry. Calmness is conducive to good digestion. Take food with the attitude that it is health-giving, the gift of God or nature. Only take as much as you need; never overburden the digestive system. The body needs a little food and little fasting if it is to gl ow in a balanced way, just as a plant will die if it is watered too much, and does not get enough sun.
Talking and eating rank amongst the hardest body processes to control. Indeed it is the tongue which is responsible for many of the quarrels and misunderstandings in the world, as well as for much of the dietary indiscretion which leads to indigestion and further ill health. The tongue is a channel by which the mind communicates with the outside world, satisfying inner needs and desires as well as expressing thoughts and feelings.
The tongue is so powerful an organ that some people eat only to satisfy it, without even thinking of the other 32 feet of digestive tract.
Protected by the teeth, the tongue is potentially a dooiway to higher, blissful experience. With control it can produce gentle speech and beautiful song. It can savour tasty dishes, or in a yogic sadhana can taste the nectar of immortality amrit. Directed outward towards the world, or upward and inward as in khechari mudra, the tongue can be a useful and amazingly intricate tool for exploring both the outer and inner worlds. The tongue is also a sensitive mirror of body health.
A perfectly healthy body will have a rosy pink tongue with no coating. Any digestive upset, no matter how mild, will produce a fine white fur on top of the tongue. In more obvious disease the coating becomes thicker and darker, as in fevers. Taste receptors The sense of taste is mediated by taste receptors situated on the upper portion of the tongue and also to a lesser extent on the palate, pharynx and tonsils.
Medically speaking, the receptors are said to send four different kinds of taste sensations to the brain and mind, though the exact mechanisms are not known.
The taste sensations are scattered mainly over the surface of the tongue. The tip of the tongue is sensitive to all four modalities: The sides of the tongue are sensitive mainly to sour acid things but also to salt. The back of the tongue is sensitive to bitter. The taste we experience is a result of the combination of these primary tastes and various smells, as all foods have different quantities and qualities of the basic types.
Sensations of heat, cold, touch and pain are also sent from the tongue to the brain, and these play an important role in the evaluation of taste. Ayurvedic analysis Ayurveda describes six different tastes, adding pungent and astringent to the medical four.
It states the nutritive power of food depends to a large extent on taste. The ayurvedic classification of taste is: Sweet increases energy in the body and stimulates the senses. It produces moisture, cold and heaviness, and can therefore be said to increase tamo guna. It is composed of the earth and water elements. Saline helps digestion, removes excess wind vata , secretes phlegm kapha and is moist and warm.
It is composed of the water and fire elements. Bitter is unpalatable to the mind but it sharpens the appetite, assists the digestion and helps eliminate toxins. Foods with this quality are karella, wormwood, quinine 30 and hops. It is dry, cool and light, being composed of the air and ether elements, and increases sattwa guna. Sour is the acidic, tart taste found in vinegar, lemons, the juice of unripe fruit sour apples, sour grapes and products of fermentation unsweetened yoghurt or curd.
Pungent is more a quality of taste than a taste itself and is said to be the product of irritation. It is a sharp, hot, pricking, biting quality as found in chilli, radish, ginger and other spices. Having the elements of fire and air, it is said to increase the digestive fire and rajo guna. Astringent qualities restore harmony by contracting the soft organic textures and binding the body elements together. Lemon peel has this effect, making the mouth feel dry and contracted; it is also found in unripe fruit.
Having the elements of earth and fire, it is dry, cool and heavy. From this classification of taste we can see that certain foods will have specific effects on the body. We can affect our temperament, body-type and so on just by the food we eat.
For example excessive amounts of sweet food, when not balanced with the other aspects of taste, increase the heaviness of the body and make the senses function more strongly.
Thus the material nature begins to predominate and to affect the mind, making it heavy and tamasic. Of course, the desire for sweet food reflects a certain state of consciousness, but by indulging in our desires we only increase the tendency. A desire for chillies, on the other hand, reflects a different state of consciousness. Chillies and other hot food tend to make the body more rajasic and energetic. Bitter foods balance the diet and increase sattwa by purifying the body.
Bitterness takes the mind away from the senses so that it is able to objectify them. A sattwic or pure diet is a balanced, bland diet. However, we can use chillies and sweet food if desired, and maintain sattwa as long as we are not excessive in any direction.
When we practise yoga, diet is an adjunct to the raising of consciousness, but this does not mean that strict limitations must be imposed.
Control over the senses is a spontaneous outcome of regular yoga practice. Taste provided the sensory cue by which these discriminative selections were made. Animals whose taste nerves are cut are no longer able to correct deficiencies by regulating diet. The sense of taste is therefore a means of tuning into our deeper instinctive and intuitive side. It can point out what we need and what we want, but it is up to our own inner sense of discrimination to decide what is the correct way to proceed.
Of course, what we experience depends to a large extent on our previous mental conditioning. These experiences clutter our perception and make it difficult to discriminate between truly harmful food and imaginary danger or individual dislike. A system is required to find our way out of the morass of past experiences and conditioning so that we can sense and feel clearly without an intervening screen from the past. Yoga provides techniques which increase sensitivity and mental clarity.
These methods uncork the bottle of the past and release the hold which past experiences have on us; they are then able to bubble out by themselves leaving us free from their impressions. Some authorities maintain that pleasant tasting food is essential for life and is the first prerequisite for good digestion because of its effects on the mind. For the gastric and intestinal secretions to flow, complex interactions of the 32 brain and nervous system are required and this determines the quality of digestion.
Eating tasteless, monotonous food becomes a stress rather than a pleasure. Tasty, pleasant, nourishing food stimulates and encourages a plentiful outpouring of the digestive juices. Therefore, the nutritive properties of food depend not only on the quality of the food itself, but also upon the way in which it is prepared and the atmosphere in which it is eaten. We judge the world around us by how it tastes to us. For example: Sweetness is associated with those things that are pleasing and agreeable - sweet words.
We may enjoy the sweetness. A sweet person is gracious, sympathetic, amiable and understanding. One may by sweet-spoken, sweet-souled. Sour is the opposite of sweet. Sour people are cross, crabby, morose, unpleasant. Bitterness is said to be a disagreeable taste and some people associate it with medicine. A bitter experience is painful and distressing to the body, mind and soul, but from it we learn some of the most valuable lessons in life.
We speak of bitter grief, bitter feelings, bitter tears, bitter scorn, the bitter side of life. Salt implies earthiness and a practical nature. In food, salt is added for flavour and seasoning, and a salty nature is full of the wit and piquancy which seasons life. As an exercise in awareness, pick out the different tastes of your next meal and enjoy, savour and watch them fully.
That is the tantric approach to conquering the sense of taste and bringing it fully under our control. Instead of trying to cut off the senses forcibly as is enjoined by some spiritual aspirants, tantra tells us to enjoy all those things we like and not to suppress.
By maintaining awareness while we are stimulating our senses, we trace their origin back to the mind.
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In this way, detachment develops and we learn to control our senses, turning them on and off at will. Awareness also provides the solvent for desires, ambitions and frustrations that too often manoeuvre and lead us to misuse our taste buds. Taste, according to yogic psychophysiology, is associated with swadhisthana chakra, the centre of pleasure gratification and preservation of the species. Pleasure gratification, which is a strong motivating force in all of us, can manifest in two main ways - through food and through sex.
If either of these aspects is overactive because of an imbalance in hormonal secretions, excessive stimulation of the nervous system or strong subconscious desire, then it may overpower our will and result in overindulgence.
We can, however, practise yogic techniques which balance the swadhisthana chakra system and thereby regulate excessive desire. Meditation allows us to become aware of the role of craving for tastes and other associated pleasures in our lives.
In this way we gain knowledge about ourselves, which is the first step in developing control. Taste sadhana The tongue is used in many yogic practices to help control the fluctuations of the mind.
The technique of khechari mudra, folding the tongue backwards, is used to stimulate the brain and to signal the mind that we wish to turn our 34 attention inwards, creating a psychic gesture. Khechari is a tantric technique allowing us to transcend the senses and the mind through the sense of taste itself. We use the tongue, which is usually pointed outwards towards the external world, as a means to travel in and up to the spiritual heights.
In the full form of khechari mudra, the tongue is folded back into the pharynx and then reaches upwards to touch a gland at the back of the nose, just below the eyebrow centre, which secretes either a poison or a nectar, depending on our state of consciousness. By practising khechari mudra we can actually taste this secretion.
Most people practise nabho mudra, the simplified version of khechari mudra, in which the tongue is held against the soft palate. Over a period of time it becomes more and more supple so that it can slowly approximate the advanced form.
In the ancient yogic scriptures it is stated that: When the yogi now curls his tongue upward and back, he is able to close the place where the three paths meet. The bending back of the tongue is khechari mudra and the closing of three paths is akasha chakra.
The yogi who remains but half a minute in this position is free from illness, old age and death. He who has mastered khechari mudra is not afflicted with disease, death, sloth, hunger, thirst and swooning. Hatha Yoga Pradipika 8: Gherand Samhita 3: In heightened states of consciousness definite changes occur in the brain, endocrinal and chemical structure of the body.
The glands mirror this change, so that when khechari is performed we taste the sweetness that is within us. This state is actually monitored in the brain and the experience is said to be so overwhelming that one drop of this nectar confers bliss and immortality.
Albert Einstein The most controversial issue regarding diet is whether or not to be vegetarian. The generally understood and accepted definition of vegetarianism is abstention from animal flesh and related products. Strict vegetarians, or vegans, do not eat eggs or fish, while many people who consider themselves to be practising vegetarians do. Thus the definition of vegetarianism depends on individual interpretation. There are many arguments for and against vegetarianism.
Most people go to one extreme or the other and the subject is generally discussed dogmatically and with too much emphasis on the moral aspects. Therefore, in order to gain a balanced perspective, we must examine the question from both viewpoints.
Here are some of the arguments in favour of meat. Amino acids are the building 37 blocks for all body proteins. Vegetable is a second class protein because it does not contain all the essential amino acids. However, if we mix grains and legumes in the ration of four parts grain to one part legumes, all the amino acids are available. For example, rice and dal or baked beans on wholemeal toast in the correct ratio supply the body with all it needs in the way of protein.
Meat is high in vitamin B12 while a vegetarian diet is considered to be low'. However, it has been shown that there is sufficient B12 in green vegetables to supply the needs of the body. Vitamin B12 is also found in yeast, yeast extract, eggs, milk, yoghurt and fermented food such as bean curd or pakhal fermented rice. These people state that a meat diet is detrimental to the vitamin B12 production in the body.
Among the arguments against meat, one of the most thought-provoking is the fact that many modern methods of slaughter result in meat that is contaminated by various chemicals such as the hormone adrenaline. Animals are highly stressed at the time of slaughter and large amounts of adrenaline are released into the bloodstream.
This chemical remains in the blood and meat and is ingested into our system, charging us with stress and creating a nervous, aggressive, fearful state. Antibiotics, hormones, vaccines and other substances are given to animals by mouth or injection. These also remain in the meat and when consumed they unbalance the neuroendocrine system. The flesh of dead animals can be a breeding ground for many different types of bacteria. It is known that bad meat and flesh produce some of the most powerful poisons known.
Meat must be cooked properly, especially w'hen there is inadequate refrigeration. Expelling these toxins and waste products consumed in meat products imposes an extra burden on our organs of elimination.
Surveys in various countries have shown that those with high levels of meat consumption, particularly New Zealand, USA, Australia and other industrially developed countries, have the highest rate of colon cancer. In countries that did not consume much meat, such as Nigeria, the level of colon cancer was negligible. Demographical studies are difficult to interpret, so these results are not conclusive, but they suggest that excessive meat plays a role in causing cancer.
Many other conditions have been associated with meat intake, for example arteriosclerosis, rheumatism, haemorrhoids and constipation. The body requires a certain amount of protein to build up and rejuvenate all the worn out cells. If more than this amount is ingested, the excess is utilized for providing energy needs.
This is not very economical in terms of energy expenditure however, as the total amount of energy spent on turning protein into energy is more than the amount of energy gained from the extra protein.
Thus we lose energy in the process, which is why protein diets are good for losing weight. These have to be eliminated by the kidneys, lungs and skin, thus placing a greater load on these organs. This is also the reason why people who eat meat have a strong body odour and when they change over to a vegetarian diet this odour leaves them. Throughout the ages, sages and philosophers have advocated vegetarianism as the preferred way of life.
Archimedes and many other Greek philosophers urged people to become vegetarian. George Bernard Shaw told people that if they wanted to eat meat they should first be able to watch their food being slaughtered and made ready for the dinner table. Vegetarianism has been shown to promote inner calmness and harmony between the body and the mind, while eating meat has been linked with internal tension, disharmony and arousal of passion.
This does not mean that vegetarianism will immediately give you a peaceful mind, but it will definitely aid the process while yogic techniques perform the main work. Vegetarianism and digestive problems Vegetarianism is the basis of a sattwic diet which increases vitality as it is light and easy to digest. Meat, on the other hand, is heavy, rajasic and takes a lot of energy to digest.
From the point of view of digestive problems a vegetarian diet goes a long way in aiding therapeutic techniques.
In some cases diet alone is therapeutic and the yogic exercises only act to speed up the natural healing processes. Constipation, for example, is due in many cases to a low residue meat diet, which does not have the necessary bulk to stimulate movement of the intestines.
If you do not have any digestive problems and you are eating meat, then perhaps this is the correct diet for your occupation and lifestyle.
However, a meat-eater with indigestion will greatly benefit from at least a short-term vegetarian diet. Of course many vegetarians also get indigestion, but from our experience it is much easier to cure these people with minor dietary changes than it is to cure those who eat meat. This seems to be because vegetarians are used to lighter, more easily digestible food and thus have more reserve energy in their system.
Vegetarianism combined with regular and sensible eating habits and the appropriate yoga practices will definitely relieve digestive problems. Try to adopt a vegetarian diet while you are using the techniques given here, even if it is only for three months.
As a staple diet vegetarianism does not have to be strict and rigid. Eating meat occasionally on social occasions or with friends does no harm in the long term. Manu, the codifier of laws in ancient India, summed up the sensible approach to the whole subject as follows: Soya beans are known to be richer in protein than meat, weight for weight. This is often a surprise to many people. Soya beans have been used by the Chinese and other oriental people for centuries.
This is about twice that of meat and four times that of eggs, wheat and other cereals. There are many other fine foods that contain a high percentage of protein, the most widely known being nuts of all types, lentils, sunflower seeds, milk, yoghurt, cheese, as well as all other dairy products.
People often say that vegetarian food is tasteless and monotonous compared to non-vegetarian food. This is only true when there is lack of imagination and unskilful preparation on the part of the cook. There are various vegetarian cookbooks available which give a wide variety of meals that are every bit as tasty as non-vegetarian cooking.
Phis is only partially true however, for while yoga views vegetarianism as the most beneficial system of 41 nutrition, it does not for an instant insist that practitioners of yoga become vegetarians.
Although becoming vegetarian is preparation for higher forms of yoga, non-vegetarians are heartily accepted as practitioners of yoga. Yoga advises but does not preach vegetarianism. Yogic practices in themselves have nothing whatsoever to do with diet, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
The aim of yoga is to expand the awareness and awaken the prana shakti which can sustain the body even in the absence of a so-called nutritious diet. By practising yoga, both mental and physical health are improved, regardless of whether one is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. At the same time yoga recognizes that food is as much a necessity for the aspirant as mental, emotional and spiritual nourishment.
In yoga a simple diet is used to fuel the physical body annamaya kosha , and hatha yoga to remove its impurities. Pranayama charges the vital energy body pranamaya kosha while meditation develops the mental and psychic bodies mano - maya and vijnanamaya koshas.
As far as making food a path to higher consciousness however, no diet on its own has yet succeeded, and the yogic diet is no exception. Many people are surprised to find that there is no fixed yogic diet; it varies from climate to climate, season to season and sadhana to sadhana.
Perhaps the ideal yogic diet can be summed up as the most natural and simplest to purchase, to prepare and digest. Sattwic diet That diet which augments the balanced state of the body and mind is said to be sattwic. In India this diet consists of fruits, nuts, milk and milk products , steamed vegetables, cooked grains, beans and lentils. These foods are said to increase sattwa in the body because they are light, simple and supply all the correct nutrients.
At the same time they increase our mental and physical vitality so that we can more easily experience peace, bliss, lightness and clarity of mind. It is made of rice or wheat, lentils and vegetables all cooked together into a light, easily digested meal which provides all nutrients except vitamin C and gives us plenty of energy.
Rajasic food differs from sattwic food in that it is prepared with many spices and plenty of ghee or oil. This food is heavier and creates restlessness in the mind. Meat and fish are rajasic. Some yogis also say that milk is rajasic because it excites the sexual hormones and makes one stronger physically but not mentally. Tamasic foods are old and stale, lowering the energy and producing inertia.
Foods which are not cooked or chewed well also fall into this category as do dead or highly processed foods. By avoiding rajasic and tamasic foods as far as possible and sticking mainly to a sattwic diet, we can gradually alter the inner body chemistry.
All the digestive enzymes and nutritional properties are renewed when the foods consumed are light and full of energy. Discipline Why are so many people sick today? Why are so few in control of their bodies, minds and lives? Probably the main cause is a lack of willpower, discipline and common sense. Many people let their tongues rule their lives. The desire for sattwa develops from discipline. When we control the mind we control the physical body.
Vitality is conserved and concentrated. The nervous system is calmed and the hormones of the pituitary are stored and then used more effectively and appropriately.
These energy reserves are available for sensual activity but can also be 43 transformed into spiritual energy, prana shakti or ojas. As we begin to concentrate our mind and become more sattwic, the body processes become balanced and fewer precious nutrients are wasted.
When, through samadhi, we transcend sattwa altogether, the actual energy source changes and the body no longer requires food. Diet and metabolism We are constantly taking food in and expelling wastes as part of the metabolic process. The sattwic diet maintains an even metabolism - input equals output; absorption of nutrients equals elimination of wastes. No excess or heavy demands are made on the body and thus health is maintained.
A rajasic diet increases metabolism and activates the nerv ous and endocrine systems. It demands a lot of attention as one must constantly satisfy the desires and cravings that arise from this overactivity.
A tamasic diet, on the other hand, makes one underactive, lazy and dull. Parts of the physical organism may actually shut down due to it. Both rajasic and tamasic diets lead to disease. When they are replaced by a sattwic diet the metabolism and the whole body function are rebalanced.
Changing with the seasons The ancient yogic scriptures have given us extensive advice on how to maintain a sattwic diet. The recommendation vary with climate, season and personality type.
Whatever foods nature provides will allow us to adapt best to that climate. For example, in the tropics more cooling light foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables will be available.
In the Arctic there will be more heavy, heat producing foods - plenty of animal products and fats. Tropical foods, if consumed in the Arctic, may even act as poison, as they contain the elements which the body requires for coping with extreme heat.
Similarly, if large amounts of animal fats are 44 consumed in the tropics, the digestive system will surely give trouble as the body does not require them or know how to utilize them. In hot climates, grains and legumes are used as the staple food to provide sufficient protein and carbohydrate, then fruits and vegetables are added to complete the nutritional requirements. In cold climates, however, many people find it difficult to eat grains and lentils in a sufficient quantity to supply all their protein needs.
They usually feel a need for something heavier, which can be met by taking more dairy products, eggs and nuts. During summer certain foods may make the body too hot, but if used in winter, these same foods may maintain the body heat at just the right level. In the extreme summer heat of India a light diet is needed. Cold weather increases the food requirement as we need to heat the body.
This means that heavier and more nourishing foods should be eaten. The ayurvedic texts give extensive advice for maintaining a sattwic diet based on the Indian climate, the six divisions of the year and the foods available in India. Hernant winter - 15th November to 15th January. Shirsha season of dew - 15th January to 15th March. Vata wind is aggravated and one should avoid pungent cold food and drink. Vasanta spring - 15th March to 15th May.
Accumulated kapha can provoke many diseases and this can be remedied by emetics such as kunjal and the avoidance of heavy, sour, oily and sweet food. Barley and wheat are recommended.
Grishina summer - 15th May to 15th July. Pitta bile predominates and one is advised to take tasty, cold, fluid, oily things. Avoid salt, sour, pungent and hot foods. Varsha rainy season - 15th July to 15th September.
Vata predominates and the digestion is particularly weak. Barley, wheat, and fermented rice, boiled sauce, honey, rainwater or boiled water are recommended. Sharad autumn - 15th September to 15th November. Pitta predominates and one should eat a moderate quantity of sweet, light, cold foods. Rice, barley and wheat should be taken.
Pure water should be obtained from a well or spring. Bitter foods and drinks, ghee, fat and oil should be avoided. These basic recommendations have to be modified according to the temperament and constitution of the individual. For example, a person who has a predominantly vata constitution should eat those foods which do not produce wind in every season.
The same applies to kapha and pitta. People who always practise meditation tend to develop excess vata and can therefore use milk, a rajasic and kapha-producing food for balance. Karma yogis who perform heavy physical work can digest any food, even meat. Heavy foods, however, would be poisonous to the jnani who sits and meditates each day.
The same principle applies to the labourer and the sedentary worker. Suitable food must be selected, otherwise our system will be upset. The tantric way The beauty of tantra is that it accepts everything. Tantra says: If you eat meat, enjoy it.
If you eat rich, fatty foods and enjoy them, then continue. It is better to do this than to suppress your desires. The only thing that tantra suggests is that you remain aware of what you are 46 doing.
Watch what is happening to your body and mind when you eat meat, rich foods or when you eat excessively. See what is actually going on and experience all there is to experience, good and bad. It vibrates through all life from the earth and flowers to human beings, from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy. It is through manipulation of the mind and the pranic body that yoga can so effectively remove digestive problems.
Yogic physiology transcends the physical body and puts it into its correct perspective in relation to prana, the mind and spirit. It is also dependent on subtler forms of energy from the other bodies: Each subtler body gives energy to the body beneath it, thus the pranic body infuses energy into the physical body. This energy can be divided into five main pranas according to location and function - apana, samana, prana, udana and vyana.
Of these, the two mainly concerned with digestion are samana and apana. Samana from the navel to the diaphragm activates and controls the digestive system - stomach, liver, pancreas 48 The Pranic Body Udana Prana Samana Apana Vyana pervades the whole body and small intestine. It promotes the secretion of juices and the assimilation of nutrients. Samana is the force or energy which prepares the rasa essence or juice of food and distributes it to its respective place in the body, for example, to the nervous system, brain, heart, etc.
The water element is said to predominate in samana, which tends to make it white in colour and light and cool in nature. Samana therefore mixes liquid into the digesting food and depending on the nature of each liquid the quality of the interaction is determined.
These two combinations work together in balancing digestion and the gastric fire which should neither overheat lest ulcer or diarrhoea form, nor should it go cold, producing such conditions as asthma. Samana also regulates the spleen, kidney and urinary process.
It is a finer force than apana. Apana below the navel throws out impurities via the process of elimination and expulsion. The earth element predominates and thus apana is characterized by heaviness and a downward movement.
It results in defecation, urination, ejaculation, menstruation and expulsion of the foetus. Apana aids the flow of digestive juices in the intestines and pulls undigested matter towards the anus in the same way as a magnet attracts iron. Apana also aids in locomotion from the hips to the toes. The colour of apana is yellow or smoky. In terms of digestion, these two aspects of energy function in coordination with the other pranas: Prana diaphragm to throat creates hunger and thirst, moves from the mouth to the stomach and maintains body heat.
The fire element is dominant, giving it the colour of gold and an upward movement. Udana throat and above functions in the processes of vomiting and belching, and is the upward force that keeps the body upright. Associated with air, it is said to be blue-green in colour. Vyana whole body keeps the sensory nerves active, thus helping us to perceive and taste. It aids circulation of nutrients in the blood, lymph, etc.
Associated with ether, it is visualized as sky-blue in colour. As well as the major divisions of prana, there are also the sub-pranas: Devadatta nostrils - yawning 2. Krikara throat - sneezing, hunger and thirst 50 3.
Kurma eyelids - winking, eyelid movement 4. Naga mouth - belching and hiccuping 5. Good digestion depends on a well balanced body and mind. One of the best ways to achieve this is through awareness and regulation of the pranas. Cycles of prana Food must be taken into the body at times when samana and apana are working best.
Most forces of the body work in diurnal daily cycles, peaking and ebbing at certain times. Meals must be eaten within natural and harmonious times of body function. Most people, however, being unaware of their inner cycle, do not understand this. Thus they eat at any time, according to social convention rather than in accordance with the dictates of nature.
According to the school of thought of acupuncture, the following periods of maximal functioning of the body organs occur as follows: Lungs am Large intestine am Stomach am Spleen am Heart 11 am-1 pm Small intestine pm Bladder Kidneys Heating components Metabolic processes Gall bladder 11 Liver pm pm pm pm pm-1 am am This list represents the times when prana is maximal in the organs.
The opposite time represents the lowest pranic content. We can see from this that there are certain times when digestion will be easiest. The stomach is most receptive to food in the morning and least receptive in the evening. Thus the morning meals should be taken some time between 7 and 11 a. In this way food will reach the small intestine at the best time for absorption of digested food, from 1 to 3 p.
The morning meal should 51 therefore be the largest as it fuels us with energy for the busy day. The evening meal should be light and taken before sunset. As the low point of stomach prana is around 8 pan.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world people take their main meal between 7 and 11 p. This habit is detrimental to health and maybe one of the most important reasons for much of the digestive trouble facing us today.
At least four hours should pass between each meal and sleep so that the little digestive fire present can adequately start off the processes of digestion. It is healthier to eat the main meal before mid-day as food is not required while sleeping.
By eating only at the correct times we flow with the natural body energies. If we take food when the pranic level is high, digestion is carried out with maximum efficiency. In this way neither energy nor nutrition are wasted and health is maintained. By eating at the wrong time, however, we swim against the current and pave the way for disease. The nadis In order to better understand the cycles of prana, it is necessary to gain an accurate knowledge of the nadis, the pathways of prana.
This will help to regulate digestion. The three most important nadis or nerve channels in the pranic body are ida, pingala and sushumna. Sushumna flows up the centre of the spinal cord and ida and pingala wind around it in opposite directions.
At the intersections of these three nadis, whirling vortices of energy called chakras manifest Ida represents the parasympathetic nervous system; the passive, introvert and mental aspect. It emanates from the left side of mooladhara and is dominant when the breath is flowing through the left nostril. Pingala represents the sympathetic nervous system; the active, extrovert and physical aspect. It is dominant when the breath is flowing 52 Ajna through the right nostril.
Sushumna represents the fusion of mind and body, the state of equilibrium that occurs when both nostrils are flowing. This science of internal rhythms, called swam yoga, can be applied to all the strata and phases of life. When we eat, for example, pingala nadi in the right nostril should be open.
After this, ida nadi opens in accordance with the natural flow of cycles. Mental energy and introversion then increase while the food is actually being absorbed into the body. However, if we eat while the left nostril is open, food is hurried through the intestines by increased peristalsis that results and does not have time to properly digest. Tension is not demanding energy for its release. As the sympathetic system is conserv ing energy the other aspects of its dynamic nature such as the positive link with manipura chakra can manifest and the energy is then utilized for natural and creative body processes such as digestion.
Stanley Friedman of the Mt Sinai School of Medicine, USA, has postulated that stress disturbs this 90 minute cycle called ultradian in scientific terminology and that this disturbance desynchronizes the body. He has gained preliminary evidence in neurodermatitis, pointing out the necessity for harmony and balance in all bodily cycles if we are to remain healthy. Manipura chakra The pranic body can be energized by concentration on the chakras, especially mooladhara and manipura.
This is because they represent the intersection of all the subtler bodies and therefore their manipulation, when performed correctly under proper guidance, can release large amounts of energy as well as rebalance function and even structure. Digestion is governed by manipura chakra, the home of prana, situated in the spinal cord behind the navel.
This psychic centre is concerned with the fire of the body, which is used in digestion and metabolism of food; it coordinates the nerves of the stomach, intestines and other abdominal organs. This ten-petalled chakra is bright yellow in colour. The seed mantra is ram. Its symbolic animal is the ram, a fiery 54 aggressive animal, and its weapon is the thunderbolt, symbolic of power and energy. When manipura is awakened the following powers are said to manifest: When manipura is weak the digestive system is sluggish, blocked or unbalanced.
The digestive fire, dependent on a supply of prana from manipura, becomes less intense because it has less energy to function. Through yogic sadhana, manipura chakra is activated. The oven gets hotter and food is digested better and more quickly. This sun-like fire burns up all the toxins of the body and eliminates indigestion. It is said that a person with a fully awakened manipura can digest anything. The power of manipura chakra is fully illustrated by the story of the great sage Agastya, who lived many thousands of years ago.
Agastya once visited a demon named Atapi and his brother Vatapi. These two enjoyed disposing of their guests in a most extraordinary way. Atapi would magically turn Vatapi into a goat, which he then prepared and served to his guests. Agastya enjoyed the feast and when he had finished the meal, sat back well satisfied and patted his stomach.
It is better for everyone if I digest you in my stomach. Agastyam kumbhakaranam cha shamincha vaadavaanalam Bhojanam pachanaarthaaya smaredabhyaam cha panchakam 55 Loss of prana We all know that after an excessively large meal we feel heaviness in the abdomen and lethargy throughout the whole body. Overloading the stomach and intestines results in loss of energy rather than gain.
Blood is redirected from the brain and other organs to aid in the process of digestion, leaving most of the body with only the minimum supply of oxygen and nutrients. Blood is required to carry the absorbed products from the intestines to feed the cells of the body, but if it is concentrated in the digestive system for too long then the rest of the body suffers. A light meal of grains or vegetables usually remains in the stomach for about two hours, while a fatty meal may stay in the stomach for six hours or more and its passage through the rest of the digestive tract may take a full 24 or even 36 hours.
All this time the body continues working hard to digest the food, expending energy even when the peak time for digestion is well past. Eating the wrong sort of food leads to over-secretion of one type of digestive juice, which creates imbalance in the whole digestive tract.
For example, too much sugar results in excessive secretion of mucus and as a result the digestive fire is cooled, weakened, and the body becomes dull, tamasic and prone to disease.
Hot, spicy, oily foods result in excessive secretion of bile, which leads to indigestion. Moreover, these mental states reflect into the physical body and disturb the digestive process. Constant worry and anxiety produce gas and excessive acid secretion which leads to ulcers. An anxious person or someone burdened with a heavy load cannot enjoy their meal and this loss of satisfaction also lowers prana.
Eating with the hands rather than with forks and spoons also increases 56 prana. The palms and fingers radiate large amounts of prana. The hands are also an extension of the heart, a sensitive means of externalizing and expressing our inner nature. It is through the hands that psychic healers transfer prana to a diseased part of the body in order to regenerate and heal the tissues.
When we handle food, we infuse it with subtle energy. The use of spoons, knives and forks blocks this energy transfer. Taking food to the mouth with the hand is a natural way of closing a circuit of energy. When the circle closes, energy flowing out from the hands is directed back into our being through the mouth. When we touch the fingers to the lips we are performing a mudra, a gesture that reflects a psychic attitude. When we use a fork or spoon we cannot close this circuit and therefore prana is lost.
Another way to increase prana is to take meals in a happy relaxed atmosphere. Prana flows best when we are relaxed. Kirlian photographs show us that the aura of a relaxed person is stable and even, usually blue and white in colour. A tense person has an uneven, spiky emanation of smaller diameter, usually red in colour and often associated with disease.
Preparation of food is also important.
You can actually taste it. After a meal that is well prepared and served with goodwill one feels more alive and energized. Probably the best way to generate prana and maintain a high level of subtle energy is the regular practice of yogic techniques. The cleansing practices and asanas tone all the digestive organs, while meditation harmonizes the body with the mind.
When we eat in response to a healthy appetite the tendency to overeat or undereat is also reduced. Yoga 57 synchronizes our energies and brings about a state of optimum digestive functioning. Many spiritual aspirants regard the taking of food as a sacrament. In India, for example, the stomach is thought of as the havan, sacrificial fire, and food as the offering. In many homes the following verse from the Bhagavad Gita 4: Brahman is the oblation, Brahman is the clarified butter.
By Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman. Brahman verily shall be reached by he who always sees Brahman in action. Those who take food with this attitude will increase their digestive prana and will not suffer from indigestion and other digestive disorders. In India, many Hindus, especially ladies, practise regular fasting as part of their religious customs. Sometimes they fast once a week or on full moon days. If not a complete fast, they may take only fruits and other light foodstuffs.
Fasting is also an integral part of the Muslim faith, with daylight fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
In Buddhism and Christianity fasting is also of great importance. Christ and Buddha both fasted for 40 days before reaching enlightenment and starting their missions. Saints of every order have used fasting with prayer or meditation to reach higher spiritual states. Other people have used fasting solely as a practice to improve physical and mental health, while natural therapists have suggested that fasting is at the basis of curing many diseases.
Fasting combined with yogic practices has been found to be very useful for digestive problems, helping to eliminate even long-standing conditions such as amoebic dysentery.
What is fasting? Under no circumstances does fasting mean starvation. In effect, the point where the body 59 starts to starve because it has depleted its nutritional reserves is the end of the fast. From the outset it is important to realize that the fasting stage only takes place so long as the body can support itself on the stored reserves within the body.
Fasting, like all other natural cures, is based on the principle that the body itself contains the most efficient healing agents. Fasting gives these systems a much needed rest and releases energy for the elimination of toxins and for restoring the body to health. In the optimum state of health there is no need to fast, however this is rarely the case. Most people continually overtax the body by eating too much, drinking too much and living in a continual state of tension. Instead of an adequate supply of natural nutrients, the body often receives a mixture of denatured and devitalized foodstuffs which tend to clog it up.
Bodily efficiency is continually impaired by the surplus of food which it is unable to use up or throw off. Fasting gives the body time for thorough cleansing and expulsion of accumulated wastes. In the digestive tract there is a continuous build-up of waste material such as undigested or partially digested food particles, bacteria and so on.
If a person habitually overeats or suffers from constipation, this build-up will be greatly increased. This is the breeding ground for many more serious illnesses as well as general ill-health. The simplest way to clean out the whole digestive system is to miss a few meals. When no food is being ingested the body can concentrate fully on what is already there. The build-up of waste material is more effectively expelled via the bowels, kidneys and skin, bringing about a marked purification of the blood.
This in turn gives a wonderful feeling of lightness and freshness. The fact is however, that Western people today suffer mainly from diseases of excess obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. They dig their grave with their teeth. Life insurance statistics reveal that a trim body is conducive to a longer life span.
Fasting and disease Have you ever observed an animal, such as your pet dog or cat, when it is not feeling well? In most cases it will try to go somewhere where it will not be disturbed, lie down and take a complete rest. Even if you give it food it will refuse to eat. Human beings, however, find it very difficult to rest and recuperate, and for most fasting is nearly impossible. Many people think that energy comes from food and so tasty dishes are prepared for the sick person to induce him to eat.
When bacteria invade the body the immune system is mobilized. All available energy is required and therefore physical activity should be avoided. Eating requires a lot of metabolic energy and this energy must be kept in reserve for fighting the disease. Fasting speeds up the catabolic breakdown process which occurs in illness, thereby helping to eliminate toxins.
This appears to be the opposite view to that proposed by medical science, which offers drugs and chemicals to reduce discomfort and suppress symptoms. However, if we allow the disease to complete its natural course, it will be finished and the body will be purified. Taking food is said to allow poisons to be reabsorbed back into the body, as eating food stops catabolism and starts anabolism, the build up of the body. Fasting is more important for those who have been on a high meat diet.
Those who only take animal products such 61 as cheese, milk and eggs require less fasting. For vegans, people on a pure vegetarian diet, fasting is not necessary, but it can be used occasionally in disease to rest the body, or to increase the digestive fire. Fasting is a science and it must be practised under expert guidance, especially when utilized as a therapeutic technique. The age of the sufferer, the nature of the complaint whether acute or chronic and various other considerations will all have to be taken into account.
If an organ is structurally defective, fasting is a simple, direct and effective method of cure. It attacks disease at the roots by expelling poisons and also by increasing willpower and inducing a relaxed, meditative state of mind, which is very important in the removal of the tensions that cause disease. Psychology of fasting Fasting must be practised under the right circumstances and in the right frame of mind. If one is worried about toxins building up in the body or about becoming too fat, then the fast will be ineffectual.
There will be tension instead of complete rest and relaxation. It is better to call this sort of process starvation instead of fasting. You will know intuitively when it is the right time to fast.
Something inside says it is better to miss a meal or two. Perhaps hunger is absent or you feel that you may be getting sick. Self-imposed fasting can also be used as a meditative sadhana. If the hunger is great, you can practise antar mouna and observe everything that goes on in the body and mind. Through this you will learn many things about yourself and the importance of food in your life.
You will see the psychological pull that hunger and taste exert as well as 62 your habitual approach and attitude towards food. This is a method not only to discover the inner workings of the body and mind but also to develop mental strength and willpower. Fasting, when approached correctly, is very relaxing. As the body slows down the mind does also and this can be felt in the following ways: It is not advisable to make an abrupt transition from your usual diet unless you are very ill.
In this case all solid food should be eliminated from your diet and plenty of fluids consumed so as to flush the kidneys. If you are well and able to prepare for the fast, first abstain from meat and heavy foods, then over the next few days switch over to a light fruit diet.
After this you can commence the fast.
The following suggestions will help to make your fast more successful: If possible, fasting should be undertaken during the warmer periods of the year. During cold weather food is converted into energy to keep the body warm.
Fasting at this time makes the body more susceptible to cold. Of course, in the case of acute disease a fast can still be undertaken, but the house should be kept warm and whenever you go outside be sure to wear plenty of warm clothing.
Few people are aware of the benefits of fasting, so before you begin make sure that your family and friends understand the basics of fasting and your goal. Fasting in the early stages is difficult enough without having nagging relatives trying to force food down your throat.
Exploring Yoga and Cancer
A positive, 63 encouraging atmosphere amidst family and friends is most helpful. If you wish to fast for a long period of time and your surroundings are not suitable, we advise you to stay in an ashram or similar institution where fasting is regularly undertaken with the aid of expert guidance. Most people are a little uncertain during their first attempt at fasting so it is essential that the environment be as congenial as possible.
The body itself is the most reliable indicator of how long the fast should be. This applies whether one is fasting for cure of disease or for general cleansing. Also the severity of the disease may determine the length of the fast. As the constitution of each of us is slightly different, the duration of fasting must suit each individual.
Rely on what the body tells you rather than on the experience of others. The duration of the fast depends largely on the purpose for which the fast is undertaken. For a general cleanout, one to three days per month is sufficient. If fasting is practised once a week the benefits will be greatly enhanced. For more specific purposes the standard duration is three days if one is without guidance. The ashram accommodation is moderate, designed to meet the basic requirements of a spiritual aspirant.
The residential buildings contain rooms with light, windows and fans. The rooms are clean, airy and simple, double or triple occupancy, with shared bath and toilet facilities. The ashram diet is simple Indian style vegetarian food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as tea are served in the kitchen area.
The nearest airport is Patna which is 5 hours travel by rail via Jamalpur or six hours travel by road. Direct daily flights operate from the major Indian metropolitan cities Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
There are direct trains to Jamalpur station from the major Indian metropolitan cities Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. From Jamalpur station taxis are readily available for transport to the ashram. Bihar School of Yoga has been publishing books and articles on all aspects of yoga for over 40 years through its publishing house, Yoga Publications Trust  All the publications are written under the guidance of the preceptors and inspirers of the Bihar Yoga tradition.
The principal authors include Swami Satyananda and his spiritual successor Swami Niranjanananda.
Bihar School Of Yoga Books
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There are five main components of food: Undigested particles of food are expelled from the rectum and anus. Few people are aware of the benefits of fasting, so before you begin make sure that your family and friends understand the basics of fasting and your goal.
This applies whether one is fasting for cure of disease or for general cleansing. When the yogi now curls his tongue upward and back, he is able to close the place where the three paths meet. We must discover our own capacity and set ourselves a standard amount to eat at each meal. For example, in the tropics more cooling light foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables will be available. In this way we gain knowledge about ourselves, which is the first step in developing control.