Ra-Hoor-Khuit Network's
Magickal Library



What is Yoga all about?

Now that you are advancing with Yoga you will have soaked up, almost incidentally, some of the many other elements of Yoga. 
Perhaps you are even into meditation and are slowly discovering its great joy, its marvelous resting qualities; or, your new body awareness has sparked an interest in natural nutrition. But surely you will have realized that, no matter what your original goal, you have received numerous other benefits. If it was beauty you were after you will also have received better health suddenly the annoying bursitis, which you hadn't especially concentrated on correcting, was gone as well. Or, while you were successfully slimming, you gradually began noticing that lately you also seemed to have boundless energy. Since Yoga yokes the mind, the spirit and the body, physical health improvement also spells better mental health, greater energy, a more positive outlook on life and a relaxed and peaceful state of mind. By bending and stretching the spinal vertebrae, you not only give them a rejuvenating massage, you also increase the circulation to the spinal cord which in turn favorably influences the central nervous system. The ancient Yogis believed that our psychological and spiritual well being is closely connected with the spine. By performing the inverted postures, which truly seem to be the panacea for most ills, you receive benefit after benefit too numerous to mention here. You are offsetting the gravitational pull, relieving congested blood vessels in some areas, and improving circulation where it normally tends to be shut off. 
why did I write this book? to guide you gently towards greater relaxation, towards awakening your dormant powers through exercise and Yoga nutrition, to lead you a little further on the royal path of self awareness. If you have done little or not Yoga before, but find that these exercises are not too difficult, if you can touch your fingers to the floor immediately or perform a beautiful lotus on your first try don't feel smug, you may simply have long arms or an inherently wide scope in your hip socket. The true test of flexibility is to touch your head to your knees eventually. That comes with slow but persistent efforts to release tension through stretching, with lubricating "rusty" joints, with oxygenating tired blood. Anyone of any age can start Yoga and have spectacular results. One does not "tackle" Yoga, one embraces it. The art and science of it was devised 5000 years ago to realize each individual's full potential. Yoga is highly individual personally progressive it is never competitive. The man who came to one of my classes, saw me sit in the Lotus position and took an attitude of "if she can do it, so can I" had not grasped the true Yoga spirit. And he suffered for his senseless competition. For, as he quickly forced his second leg onto the first thigh, he let out an enraged yell and shortly after was lifted up by the ambulance attendants, still locked in his Lotus position, and ignominiously carried away.

the essence of physical Yoga practice, then, is not to stain, but instead to bring out the natural beauty, the natural strength of your body slowly. With Yoga there is grace, balance, poise. One moves into the poses gently, holds them for as long as comfort permits, releases the position slowly and then relaxes for as long as is necessary, breathing abdominally. The advanced student simply holds a position longer and then has to do it only once. 
What energy is thus released from its prison of tense muscles and joints, once they are warmed up and stretched! Yoga is a "miracle drug" for out "instant", "super", "now" society. Instead of popping a pill to "maybe" relieve a headache, a pain in the neck or indigestion in an hour, doctor yourself up for truly instant relief with Yoga. I mean just that. Have you tried it at all? 
Have you relaxed into a Forward Bend for your pounding head, performed a Chest Expander for tight, tense shoulders, or the Knees to The chest for stomach gas? Have you practiced Deep Breathing immediately on the onset of the trouble instead of sobbing with misery? Such therapy is what Yoga must be used for as well, besides its other functions. "Pop" Yoga, not pills, for instant relief!

My personal experience with Yoga is closely connected with the energizing and, paradoxically, the calming properties of Yoga breathing. People are incredulous, hearing that I was once twenty pounds overweight, horribly depressed and quite the hypochondriac. 
With the help of the Alternate Nostril Breath I was able to rid myself of the tired House wife syndrome, with the aid of Yoga postures such as the Shoulder stand I reduced the excess weight, with the Triangle and similar postures I trimmed and firmed all over.
Of the three main areas of Hatha Yoga body cleansing practices, physical exercises and breathing the latter is of the greatest importance, because air is our most important food for both body and mind. In the sanskrit language of the ancient Yogis, breath control is called PRANAYAMA. Prana means "breath" or, more accurately, "life force", and ayama means "pause" or "control". 
The Yogis believe in an invisible cosmic force around us, the mysterious essence which gives us life, a kind of universal energy. Without prana you are dead; the more you have of it, the more alive and energetic you are. By mastering proper breathing techniques, you increase your "living potential". You can become more alert and aware master of yourself. With the help of different kinds of breathing exercises you can actually decrease appetite, soothe tied feet, or regain the spring of youth; you can "take a tranquilizer" of several breaths; you may make yourself wide awake and alert or overcome insomnia; oxygenating the bloodstream purifies it, aids the digestion, slows down the heart beat. I remember well the thin young woman of thirty three who was sent to the resort hotel in Harrison Hot Spring by her doctor as a last ditch insomnia and nothing seemed to help. I was teaching there at the time and carefully instructed her in the Alternate Nostril Breath. She was skeptical but so desperate that she earnestly followed instructions at bedtime. That night for the first time in months she slept! From one day to the next she bloomed her insomnia was gone and its psychological pressure was off.

The benefits of Yoga are very much to the mind as well as to the body. How can the two possibly be separated? Yoga seeks to unite them with the spirit. All three will then work together towards the common goal of samadhi; the ultimate bliss consciousness, a sort of super joy, peace of mind, self realization or whatever you wish to call it. I enjoyed the answer of my beloved guru Swami Shyam Acharya when he was asked; "But what is the kind of Yoga meditation you are teaching if it is not 'Transcendental Meditation'?" With a mischievous twinkle in his wise eyes he replied "Super Transcendental Meditation." All meditation is transcendental. The techniques are as numerous and as various as the Yoga postures. One of the most common is the use of a "mantra". This is a mystical syllable or one of the holy names of God used to set up good vibrations and as a tool to keep the restless mind from wandering. Such a word is soundlessly chanted over and over in the mediator's mind. However, no unnecessary energy is expended in pushing away persistent thoughts. One simply watches them drift past and then resumes the chanting of the mantra.
Half an hour of such practice has wonderful resting properties similar to several hours' sleep. The objective is to awaken Kundalini power which is a form of energy coiled in the base of the spine. As the Kundalini rises in the spine it next moves through six centers of spiritual energy and after years of persistent efforts with the help of a competent teacher, it finally reaches the highest center in the brain. Cosmic Consciousness, eternal love, and absolute joy have then been achieved.
It remains now to speak of a more neglected but highly pertinent aspect of Yoga; nutrition. Most true Yogis are vegetarian. This ties in with their non violent attitude to all life. To the Yogi meat products are a secondary protein source. He maintains that the biggest and longest living animals, such as the elephant, are vegetarian. He is very careful to get lots of protein in the form of Soya beans, nuts and dairy products a matter which many a new" vegetarian neglecdts. If you stop eating meat, you must substitute with another protein source! Generally speaking a Yoga diet is simply a totally natural attitude towards permanent good health and towards the upkeep of the perfect weight for YOU. 
Nutrition is discussed in eye opening detail in a later chapter and excellent nutrition books are available inmost health food stores. You cannot be interested only in a losing diet, however. 
Once the weight is off, your whole attitude to food, to calories and towards the refrigerator must change as well, or you will simply commit yourself to a horrible not so merry go round of "off", "on", "off", "on". Since I became nutrition conscious through Yoga, I constantly amaze myself with what I don't want to eat any more. Chocolate, was a must before. Life could not be imagined without it. Now, I do not deny it to myself entirely but the times of indulgence are few and far between, and one or two small pieces satisfy the craving that only a whole bar or two could fulfill before. My favorite snack from morning to night is mild Danish Tilsit cheese, with grapes if possible. By looking at most woman's Magazines we can see how weight conscious our society is; the perfect, New diet is constantly advertised. how ever, deep down we know that there is no cure all, no easy way out without common sense. "FASTING" is a dirty word to many people I remember recoiling with fright from the very thought. Now I know from conversations with doctors, from my reading and personal experience with fasting tht its effect are nothing short of miraculous. Fasting has a fantastic body cleansing effect, it has marvellous resting qualities for the body, it rids the body of toxins, clears the mind as well as the skin, deflates a paunch like a burst balloon and despite its bad reputation is not at all harmful for most people. Look at any sick animal. it crawls into a hole and refuses to eat. Look at the great teacher and reformer Gandhi fasting was a way of life for him, and he was so full of energy that he rarely slept. Closer to home, look at the Doukhobour women who fast for weeks on end, none the worse for it. 
Listen to Dick Gregory on the talk shows. He fasts for months yet feels wonderful. If you are weak willed you can start with a compromise fast; water the first day, fruit juice the second, fruit the third. A slight headache at first is the only discomfort. Fasting is an excellent way to start a diet, but what happens next? Balanced diet... light meal before sleep. plenty of time for digestion and work of energy... and right combination foods to help with natural digestion... Your body tells you what you need ...

Nutrition, meditation, breath control, relaxation and beauty are only a few of Yoga's aspects. Anoher is a feeling of good will towards one's fellow man. no one book did more towards making me a better Christian than Paramahansa Yogananda's "AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI". After reading it I understood for the first time the significance of the story of Adam and Eve. Yoga seems to be a sort of gospel, something that really fulfills what it promises, and one wants to spread the good word. Anyone could, after proper study, be a Yoga teacher, just as anyone can invent a new Yoga pose for his own particular need, as long as the Yoga principle of slow movement and a holding position is adhered to. Marcia Moore, whose book started me on Yoga, can be credited with a new and excellent posture which she discovered through a misprint of an original pose. Yoga does not only make you flexible, it is adaptable in itself. Intelligence is the ability to adapt yourself to new situations on the basis of your experience. Be intelligent experience Yoga up all its many steps to higher awareness of self.

This page last updated: 02/27/2018

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