The science of yog is the oldest known science to mankind and probably the only science whose theories have never been refuted even with the passage of time no one has claimed to have bettered upon them.
The founders of this science were not some uncivilised barbarians, but beings with a very high level of intellect and belonging to a very highly developed culture. They were beings who had risen above their need for food and shelter; and were fully in control of the functions of the physical body. So then they spoke of yog, i.e. atmasakshatkar.
It is generally assumed that yog is the science of the physical body only. But in reality it is not so; it is a science that permeates all five koshas of the being —
- Mano Maya,
- Vigyan Maya
- Anand Maya.
But in today’s world it is difficult to find the level of evolution required in a being to truly understand yog. One can safely draw this inference as majority of the present day students and teachers are focussing on asanas and certain pranayams aimed solely at the physical body only, that is, maintaining a good figure, a youthful glow, physical strength, and longevity. Nothing wrong in all the above, but this was not yog as per the ancient rishis. According to them, yog is something much deeper it was union with yourself, or atmasakshrakar. Where the above attributes did occur but were a by product of the practice.
Physical body: The physical body is a very complex structure which consists of many systems, all working in coordination and harmony with each other, viz, the endocrine system, the nervous system, the circulatory system, the digestive and excretory system, etc. If we look at the physical body we find that it is the muscular and skeletal system which is supporting the physical body, so let us first critically observe this aspect of the body and understand how we can strengthen this and remove ailments associated with this aspect of the physical self or the Anna Maya Kosh.
A human being stands erect because of the spinal column. It is the strength of this column that has been emphasised upon in our ancient texts where asanas have been prescribed for keeping the spine strong and healthy.
According to the ancient rishis, “The person whose spinal column is erect and strong shall never age”. A bent or weak spine is a symptom of ageing. As this is used in the majority of locomotion of the whole body and also in nearly all the resting positions, it becomes of utmost importance to first attend to its health. In order to maintain a strong spinal column it becomes imperative that its flexibility is retained and the muscles supporting it are strong and healthy. The asanas that are useful for this purpose are bhujung asana, sarp asana, and chakra asana. In the human body the skeleton acts as a frame to which muscles are attached. These muscles allow the body smooth movement of these parts. These four asanas strengthen the trapezius muscles that connect the head, shoulders, and neck and provide support to the clavicle. These asanas also strengthen the scapula muscles for shoulder movement. The gluteal muscles, which start from the bottom tip of the spine and connect the hip bone to the thigh bone and allow flexible movement in these areas get strengthened with these asanas.
Here I must add that chakra asana is not advised in the initial stages. Another important thing to remember while doing these asanas is to be aware of the lower back where the muscles give support to the spine at the sacrum and coccyx and enable us to stand erect.
—- to be continued