“Asana practice renders correct blood circulation. The ligaments and various parts of the body will function at the perfect, ultimate level. It also causes all types of internal organ to function properly. We all know the connection between good blood circulation, good nadi granthi, healthy body and good health. Hence it is not necessary to further emphasize the benefits of practicing asana daily for at least a few minutes. What more does one need after seeing this? Only after aquiring these benefits can one expect to look forward to others.”
Sri T. Krishnamacharya
Many years ago I did not pay any attention to my health. This changed drastically when I suddenly decided to become a vegetarian as I became averse to eating flesh. This came as a shock to my friends and workmates who assured me that I would become an anaemic, sickly wimp if I gave up meat, as there was no iron and protein in vegetables. (At the time I was living in New Zealand, a country with the highest per person meat consumption in the world). So I went and got some books on nutrition to check this out. Basically I found out that you can promote good health and longevity through diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Leslie Kenton was a great inspiration to me in the early nineties. Her book ‘Ultra Health’ said, ‘This is a book about wellness – that state of being where you feel great and look good – not illness and how to cure it.’ This has been my passion ever since. My interest in holistic health for body, mind, spirit and planet evetually led me to Yoga and Ayurveda.
The ancient Yogis developed the techniques of Yoga to ensure independent healthcare. In his book ‘Yoga Beneath the Surface’ Srivatsa Ramaswami says, ‘The yogi who was after “truth” and thence spiritual freedom, had to find ways and means to be free from ailments so that he could pursue his goal without let or hindrance. By following yama niyamas, he attempted to make complete peace with the external world. Since he sought freedom, he depended upon himself completely to take care of his health needs. He did not want to be dependent upon physicians, surgeons, or a regimen of pills, injections and Ayurvedic concoctions.’
So the asana system was developed with pranayama and meditation, which arose from a profound insight into nature and the human system. It is not surprising that many asanas are named after animals and aspects of nature.
You can practise all the yoga methods yourself to maintain perfect health. No therapist is involved in administering treatments. Of course a teacher trained in the therapeutic application of Yoga is required if you are unwell and at this stage doctors and medicine may be essential. AG Mohan says that Yoga therapy is a therapy without medicine, a surgery without tools.
Yoga, far from being an adjunct therapy or a bit of stretch and relax, is a complete independent healthcare system. To attain and maintain optimum health it is also required that diet and lifestyle recommendations according to Yoga are adhered to.
Please give some attention and priority to your daily practice and explore the possibilities that Yoga has to offer. As the saying goes, ‘If you don’t make time for health, you will have to make time for illness’.
May you have an auspicious journey. Shanti