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Special Instructions

by Swami Sivananda


1. Asanas should be practised in a well-ventilated, clean room where there is free movement of fresh air. The floor must be even. Asanas can be practised on the sandy bed of rivers, open airy places and by the sea-side also. If you practise them in a room, see that the room is not congested so as to allow free movement of hands, legs and of the body.

2. Asanas should be done on empty stomach in the morning or at least three hours after food. Morning time is best for doing Asanas.

3. It is always better to start Japa and Meditation in the early morning at 4 a.m., as soon as you get up from bed. At this time the mind is quite calm and refreshed. You can catch the meditative mood now quite easily. Meditation is more important. In the early morning, as soon as you get up from bed, the mind is like a clean slate, free from worldly thoughts. The mind will enter into the meditative mood without effort or struggle.

4. The vast majority of persons waste their precious time in the early morning in answering the calls of nature for half an hour and washing their teeth for another half an hour. The sun rises before they sit for meditation. This is bad. Aspirants should try to defecate within five minutes and cleanse their teeth within five minutes. If the bowels are constipated have vigorous practice of Salabha, Bhujanga and Dhanur Asanas for five minutes as soon as you get up from bed. If you are habituated to answer the calls of nature late in the day, you can do so after finishing Asana and Pranayama, Japa and meditation.

5. Get up at 4 a.m. Answer the calls of nature. Wash your face. Then practise your Asanas, Pranayama and Meditation. This order is beneficial. If you are very particular to meditate from 4 to 6 a.m., you can do Sirshasana for 10 to 15 minutes and then sit for meditation. When meditation is over, you can take to other Asanas. If you are not in the habit of answering the calls of nature in the early morning, you can practise Asanas without answering the calls. After finishing the Asanas and Meditation you can go to the latrine. Then motion also will be free.

6. Those who suffer from chronic constipation, can practise GANESA KRIYA, removal of excreta by introducing the middle finger lubricated with soap or oil into the rectum. Occasional douching will be beneficial to empty the loaded stomach.

7. Spread a blanket on the floor and practise the Asanas over the blanket. Use a pillow or four-folded blanket for practising Sirshasana and its varieties.

8. Wear a Langoti or Kowpina or suspendary bandage when you practise Asanas. You can have a banian on the body.

9. Do not wear spectacles when you do Asanas. They may be broken and may injure your eyes.

10. Those who practise Sirshasana, etc., for a long time should take light tiffin or a cup of milk after finishing the Asana.

11. If you can devote half an hour or more to Sirshasana alone, you can cut short the time for other Asanas.

12. Be regular in the practice. Those who practise by fits and starts will not derive any benefit.

Mitaharam vina yastu yogarambham tu karayet,

Maharogo bhavettasya kinchid yogo na sidhyati.

(Ghe. S. Chap. V-10)

Without observing moderation of diet, if one takes to the Yogic practices, he cannot obtain any benefit but gets various diseases.

13. Before starting the practice of Asanas, take a dose of worm powder santonin, gr. 1 or 2 at bed time and castor oil 2 oz., early in the next morning. Float the oil in peppermint water, tea or pepper water and then take. Take oil alone if you like. Thorough cleansing of the bowels is necessary when you take to the Yogic practices.

14. Start with minimum time of doing Asanas and then gradually increase the period. You can do the Asanas as long as you can comfortably keep up the posture.

15. Asana is the third Anga in Ashtanga Yoga. When you are established in Asanas, then only you will derive the benefits of Pranayama.

16. Maximum benefits can be achieved if Japa also is done during the practice of Asanas and Pranayama.

17. If the foundation of a building is not properly laid, the superstructure will fall down in no time. Even so, if a Yogic student has not gained mastery over the Asanas, he cannot successfully proceed in his higher course of Yogic practices.

18. Regularity in the practice is very necessary if one wants to realise the maximum benefits of Asanas. Generally, people practise for two months in the beginning with great interest and enthusiasm and leave off the practice. This is a sad mistake. They want a Yogic teacher always by their side. They have got the effeminate leaning mentality. They are lazy, torpid and slothful.

19. Nowadays, outdoor games have become very costly. Nets, rackets, balls, inflators have to be purchased again and again. No expense is needed for the practice of Asanas.

20. Physical exercises draw the Prana out. Asanas send the Prana in, and distribute it quite evenly throughout the body and different systems. Asanas are not only physical but also spiritual, as they awaken the Serpent Power that is sleeping in the Muladhara Chakra. This is the third Anga (limb) of Ashtanga Raja Yoga of Patanjali Maharshi. A particular Asana removes a particular disease.

21. Asanas are not mere physical exercises alone. They are something more than that. They have a spiritual basis. They help a long way in controlling the senses, mind and body. Body-nerves and muscles are purified (Sarira Suddhi and Nadi Suddhi). Kundalini is awakened which gives Bliss, Power and Yogic Samadhi to the aspirant. If you do Dand and Bhaitaks (native physical exercises) 500 times a day or pumping marches on the parallel bars 50 times a day for 5 years, they will not in any way help in the awakening of this mysterious power, Kundalini. Do you see the difference now?

22. Ladies also should practise Asanas. They will have healthy and strong children. If mothers are healthy and strong, children also will be healthy and strong. Regeneration of the young ladies means the regeneration of the whole world. If ladies practise a course of Asanas systematically with interest and attention, they will have wonderful health and vitality. There is no doubt of this. I hope they will give patient hearing to my earnest and sincere prayer and start practising these Asanas from the very day they read these Yogic lessons. Glory to these new Yogic lady students who tread the path of Yoga. Children born of Yoginis will also be Yogins.

23. Japa and Pranayama should go hand in hand with Yoga Asanas. Then it becomes a real Yoga.

24. In the beginning you cannot perform some of the Asanas perfectly. Regular practice will bring perfection. Patience and perseverance, earnestness and sincerity are needed.

25. Sirsha, Sarvanga, Paschimottana, Dhanur and Mayura Asana are a good combination. Sirsha, Sarvanga and Paschimottana are the trinity Asanas. You can reduce the number of Asanas if you cannot spare time. These three Asanas will give you all the advantages and benefits of all other Asanas.

26. Four Asanas are prescribed for Japa and Meditation, viz., Padma, Siddha, Svastika and Sukha Asanas. Padmasana is the best for the vast majority. Those who attempt to keep up Brahmacharya should practise Siddhasana.

27. Never change the Asanas. Adhere to one set tenaciously. If you do one set of Asanas today and some other tomorrow and so on, you cannot derive much benefit.

28. The more steady you are in the Asana, the more you will be able to concentrate and make your mind one-pointed. You cannot get on well in your meditation without having a steady posture.

29. Common-sense should be used throughout your practice. If one kind of food is not agreeable to your system, change it after due consideration or consultation with your Guru. If a particular Asana is not suitable, select something else. This is Yukti. Where there is Yukti, there is Siddhi, Bhukti and Mukti (perfection, enjoyment and liberation).

30. If you cannot perform a particular Asana quite satisfactorily, do not lose heart. Where there is a will, there is a way. Rome was not built in a day. Remember the story of Bruce and the Spider. Try, try, try again. Continuous practice will make you all right.

31. No Samadhi or superconscious state is possible without awakening the Kundalini. Kundalini can be awakened by various ways, viz., Asanas, Mudras, Bandhas, Pranayama, Devotion, Grace of Guru, Japa, strong analytic will and Vichara Sakti. Those who attempt to awaken the Kundalini should have perfect purity in thought, word and deed. They should have mental and physical Brahmacharya. Then only can they enjoy the benefits of Samadhi. When Kundalini is awakened, the old Samskaras are loosened and the Hridayagranthi (heart-knot of ignorance) will be cut asunder. You will be freed from the wheel of Samsara (birth and death) and will attain Immortal Satchidananda state eventually.

32. Mild Kumbhaka (retention of breath) during the practice of Asanas augments the efficacy of Asanas and gives increased power and vitality to the practitioner.

33. Those who practise Japa can repeat the Mantra during the practice of Asanas. When you recite the Mantra for six months, a habit will be formed and the force of Samskara will keep up the uninterrupted practice even during the performance of Asana. There will be no difficulty. Business people who have very little time at their disposal, can have Japa during their practice of Asanas. It is something like getting four fruits by throwing one stone only. You will get many Siddhis.

34. Those who practise Sirshasana and its varieties should take some light tiffin, a cup of milk or fruit-juice after the Asana is over. Tiffin is absolutely necessary when they practise for a long time. They will have to keep up their Brahmacharya strictly.

35. Everyone should select a course of a few Asanas to suit his temperament, capacity, convenience, leisure and requirement.

36. It is advisable that Yogic students should practise all Asanas after attending to the calls of nature. If you are in a habit of defecating in the afternoon or evening only, you should change this habit anyhow. You must be able to get one clear motion in the early morning as soon as you get up from bed. Go to the closet regularly and sit there for a short time at 4 a.m. You may fail to get a motion for a few days at that time. After some days you will have a regular motion. A habit will be formed. Yogis can break any old habit in no time and establish a healthy, new habit. Drink some cold or lukewarm water at night and in the early morning also as soon as you get up. Regulate and adjust the diet also. You can meditate in the morning as soon as you get up and then you can do Asanas.

37. If you are careful about your diet, Asanas and meditation, you will have fine, lustrous eyes, fair complexion and peace of mind in a short time. Hatha Yoga ensures beauty, health, strength and long life to the Yogic students.

38. Avoid unnecessary worry. Do not be troubled. Be not anxious. Do not be idle. Do not waste time. Do not worry yourself if there is delay in your progress. Wait coolly. You are bound to succeed if you are sincere.

39. Never miss a day in your Sadhana, spiritual practices.

40. Do not shake the body unnecessarily. By shaking the body very often, the mind also is disturbed. Do not scratch the body every now and then. The Asana should be as firm as a rock.

41. Breathe slowly. Do not change seat very often. Sit in the same place at the same time every day. Have the right kind of mental attitude as taught by your Guru.

42. The Samsaric Vasana that has arisen through the practice of many hundreds of lives never perishes except through the practice of Yoga for a long time.

43. Never care for Siddhis. Shun them ruthlessly. They will bring your downfall.

44. Yama and Niyama are the foundations of Yoga. If you are fully established in these, Samadhi will automatically follow.

45. You must not give leniency to the mind. If you allow the mind to take one luxury today, it will demand two tomorrow. Luxuries will increase daily. It will become an overfondled child. "Spare the rod and spoil the child." This applies to the mind also. It is worse than a child. You will have to punish it by fasting for every serious mistake it does. Mahatma Gandhiji did like this. So he had become pure. He had made his will pure, strong and irresistible. Keep the organs at their proper places. Do not allow them to move even an inch. By practice, get a concentrated mind.

46. If you have a careful eye over your defects, if you are sincere and if you struggle, they are sure to vanish sooner or later. Destroy the impurities one by one, little by little, completely.

47. Drink water through the mouth, send it to the stomach and small intestines and make it pass through the anus at once as in enema. This is termed Sanga Pachara Kriya in Hatha Yoga. Even the smoke of a cigarette can be passed through the anus. Brahmachari Sambhunathji of Kishkindha did this. Yogi Trilinga Swami of Varanasi was very clever in Sanga Pachara Kriya. The help of Nauli and Basti Kriya is needed in Sanga Pachara. There is no difficulty at all in the path of Yoga for sincere practitioners.

48. Drink one seer of water through the mouth or nose. Keep it for 20 seconds. Then bring out slowly. This is Kunjara Kriya or Kunjara Yoga. This is a cleansing process of the stomach. This serves a free laxation for the stomach. All the decomposing matters that undergo fermentation in the stomach will come out. You will have no disease of the stomach. Do it occasionally. Do not make it a habit. This is a Hatha Yoga Kriya.

49. People do not want to remove Mala (impurity) by selfless service, and Vikshepa by Upasana (worship). They at once jump to awaken the Kundalini and raise the Brahmakara Vritti. They will only break down their legs. Serve and worship. Do Purushartha. Jnana or Moksha will come by itself. Kundalini will be awakened by itself.

50. A man can sit for 13 hours at one stretch motionless on one Asana and yet he may be full of desires. This is a mere physical practice like an acrobatic or circus feat. A man without closing the eyes, without winking, without turning the eye-balls, can practise Trataka for three hours and yet he may be full of desires and egoism. This is also another kind of physical exercise. This has nothing to do with spirituality. People are deceived when they see persons who can do the above practices. Fasting for 40 days is also another kind of training of the physical body.

51. Sow the seed of spirituality when you are young. Do not waste the Virya. Discipline the Indriyas and mind. Do Sadhana. Concentrate. Purify. Meditate. Serve. Love. Be kind to all. Realise. When you become old, you will be free from anxiety and fear of death. It is very difficult to do any rigid Sadhana in old age. Therefore, be on the alert during your teens.

52. Do not think any more of your worldly concerns than is necessary to determine your duty. Do your duty and leave the rest to God.

53. You will see for yourself in a short time the particular benefits you derive from particular kinds of Sadhana.

54. The practice of Asanas before starting Japa and Meditation is very good and conducive. It removes laziness and drowsiness of the body and mind. It steadies the mind. It fills the mind with new vigour and peace.

55. Nauli and Uddiyana alone cannot give you Moksha. It is a means for keeping good health. Do not make it the be-all and end-all. The summum bonum of life is Realisation of Atman. Purify your mind, concentrate and meditate.

56. You have got all the materials inside for wisdom, for becoming a Yogi or Jnani. Practise. Develop. Assert. Realise.

57. If a man wishes to prosper in life, he must give up gambling, drinking, excessive sleep, drowsiness, fear, anger, indolence and procrastination.

58. When you advance in spiritual practice, you must observe strict Mouna (vow of silence) for 24 hours continuously. This must be continued for some months.

59. Observe moderation in eating, drinking, sleeping and in everything. The middle path is always good and safe. Observe the golden medium. Then you can become a Yogi soon.

60. Sadachara (pure conduct), Sadvichara (right enquiry), and Satsanga (good company) are necessary during the practice of Yoga.

61. Abandoning all acid, bitter and saltish food, taking delight in drinking milk and Rasa, practising celibacy, being moderate in eating and ever bent on Yoga, the Yogi becomes a Siddha in a little more than a year.

62. Sattvic food is necessary when you practise Asanas and Pranayama. Take milk, Ghee, sweet curd, fruits, almonds, cream, etc. Give up garlic, onions, meat, fish, smoking, liquors, sour and pungent articles. Overloading must be avoided. Take Mithahara. Be regular and punctual in taking meals. Eating all sorts of things at all times is highly dangerous for a Yogi.

63. You must use only a few selected things for your food such as Dhall, Ghee, wheat-flour, potatoes or milk and fruits.

64. You must have Niyama in your food. Control of the tongue means control of the mind. You must not allow the tongue to run riot.

65. Practice of celibacy is very necessary. Food must be Sattvic. Chillies, tamarind, hot curries, Chutnies should be avoided.

66. Brahmacharya is very, very important. Evil thoughts are the beginning of adultery. The very idea of lust must not enter the mind. You can do nothing, nothing in the path of Yoga without Yama, Niyama, Viveka and Vairagya. Have faith and confidence, interest and attention. You will doubtless succeed.

67. You can never realise God, if you have not got rid of Kamini-Kanchana (lust for women and desires for money), if you are not established in mental Brahmacharya, Satya and Ahimsa.

68. A religious husband and a worldly wife always move in diametrically opposite poles. They cannot enjoy a happy home. The former goes upwards while the latter drags him down. There will always be a tug-of-war between them. There will be no chance for progress in the path of Yoga.

69. He who is attached to his sons, wife, lands and wealth will not derive even an iota of benefit. He is only wasting his precious life and energy. Those who are engaged in endless Sadhana are godly men.

70. Man thinks that he is imperfect if he has not got a wife. After he gets married he again thinks that he is imperfect so long as he has not got a son and a daughter. However much a man may gain materially there is always some sort of discontentment and dissatisfaction. This is universal experience.

71. Should we not try, therefore, to attain the thing more satisfying and eternally lasting? Or should we be content to lead a life of slavery and bondage obeying the impulses of our physical nature?-This question will ultimately arise in everybody's heart if he is a man of common-sense. Everyone must answer this question. It is the starting point of all religions.

72. If you develop Vairagya, if you subdue your Indriyas and sense-enjoyments and pleasures of this world as dung and poison, as they are mixed with pain, sin, fear, craving, miseries, diseases, old age and death, nothing can tempt you in this world. You will have eternal Peace and infinite Bliss. You will have no attraction for women and other earthly objects. Lust cannot take hold of you.

73. Lust is the greatest enemy on this earth. It devours a man. A great deal of depression follows after copulation. You have to exert a lot in earning money to please your wife and satisfy her wants and luxuries. You commit various sorts of sin in acquiring money. You have to share her pains, troubles and worries. On account of heavy loss of seminal fluid you will suffer from various diseases, depression, weakness and loss of vitality. You will have an early death. Longevity will be unknown to you. Therefore, become an Akhanda (unbroken) Brahmachari.

74. If one kind of Sadhana does not help you in keeping up your Brahmacharya, you should have recourse to a combined method of various Sadhanas, such as Prayer, Meditation, Pranayama, Satsanga, Sattvic food, solitude, Vichara, Asanas, Bandhas, Mudras, etc. Then only you will be established in Brahmacharya.

75. When you walk on the road, do not look hither and thither like a monkey. Loot at the tip of your toe and walk gently with majestic attitude, or look at the ground and walk. This is a great help in maintaining Brahmacharya.

76. Yoga consists in the complete suppression or restraint of the functions of the thinking principle (mind) and the mental modifications.

77. The term 'Yoga' in secondary sense denotes the parts of Yoga and the different actions that go to make up also, as these are the means to the accomplishment of Yoga and indirectly lead to Mukti (final emancipation). Japa, Prayer, Pranayama, Satsanga, study are all Yoga only. This is Gauna, secondary.

78. Asana and Pranayama remove all sorts of diseases, improve health, energise digestion, invigorate the nerves, straighten the Sushumna Nadi, remove Rajas and awaken the Kundalini. Practice of Asana and Pranayama bestows good health and a steady mind. As no Sadhana is possible without good health, no meditation is possible without a steady mind. Hatha Yoga is of immense use for Dhyana Yogins, Karma Yogins, Bhaktas and Vedantins as well.

79. The Yogi becomes the Master of all forces in nature and can utilise them at will. He has perfect control over the five elements.

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