Guruji On PRANAYAMA, YOGASANA AND SADHANA
Man is always searching for happiness. In his pursuit of happiness, he gets caught up in the pleasures of the world and finds himself far away from God. He gets entangled in the ups and downs of life, in the cycles of pleasure and pain, good and bad, life and death. At such times, he feels an intense need for the divine protector – God. Belief in God – in the Divine – is a must for every human being. Money and power cannot give us happiness. What we mistake as pleasures of this world are in fact ‘pain’. The world is full of trials and tribulations. The ultimate aim of every human being is to be free from this cycle of birth, death, old age, disease and sorrow. Even an emperor of an entire world is not free from this endless cycle. Worry and anxiety follow man everywhere, unless he is deeply rooted in God-consciousness.
Yogasana helps man to search for the divinity within. It is a systematic method to discipline the mind, senses and body. Yoga trains one to tame the body and mind by practising yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, etc. Yogasanas help in improving blood circulation. It also helps in overall development of the muscles, nerves and the internal organs. Yogasanas act as preventive as well as curative exercises. They prevent diseases from attacking the body by maintaining natural health. Prana is ever present in creation. Pure air is necessary for life and health, not just for the purpose of oxygen but also for supplying the required prana.
Pranayama helps to refine and transform the prana. It consists of controlled inhalation (puraka), exhalation (rechaka), and retention of breath (kumbaka). The inhalation stimulates the entire body system, the exhalation throws out the stale air and toxins from the body, and the retention of breath distributes the energy throughout the body. This systematic disciplined breathing practice helps the ‘sadhaka’ to concentrate better, and to attain good health. Pranayama purifies the ‘nadis’, it tones the nerves, brain and the cardiac muscles. Daily practice of Pranayama brings the ‘sadhaka’ to a state of serenity and God-consciousness.
We have taken life on this earth in order to evolve through intense ‘sadhana’ – dedicated spiritual practices. Sadhana usually differs according to each one’s nature and capacity. One should be able to select and adapt to the sadhana that is most suitable for one’s own spiritual advancement. Sadhana is the key to human liberation or ‘mukti’. It is a life-long discipline that one must follow. Without sadhana it would be difficult to attain to God. It is only faith in God and the consequent God-realisation through meditation and sadhana that can bestow upon us true happiness, and free us from all anxieties and hardships that torment us as we live in this world.
It is only faith in God that can save us from the troubles of this world. When one has no faith in God, one tends to undergo considerable miseries and troubles. One loses the power of discrimination and is forced to take birth after birth, until one has learned the cosmic lessons. Always remember, God helps those who help themselves. God’s grace is showered on a sadhaka, in proportion to the degree of surrender to God. So, more the surrender to God, the more is the grace one experiences. Pranayama, Yogasana and Sadhana, are pre-requisites for a sincere sadhaka. They are the ladders to quick and effective development of the physical, mental, moral and spiritual entity of man. As a guideline, it would be beneficial if sadhakas could adhere to the following routine as a scheduled ‘Sadhana Practice’.
- Try to wake up every morning at 4 a.m. or 4.30 a.m., during the Brahma muhurta and prepare yourself for Sadhana.
- Practice Meditation or Kriya for about half an hour to one hour. Schedule yourself to do Pranayama and certain required Yogasanas such as Surya namaskar, Sarvangasana, etc.
- If you are fond of chanting ‘bijamantra’ or some other mantra, incorporate the same in your ‘sadhana’ discipline for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Give up consumption of non-vegetarian food and foods that include chillies, garlic, tamarind, onion, etc. Consume satvik food in moderation.
- Whenever you have spare time, engage in meditation. Prepare a place for yourself so that you can experience your meditation without disturbances.
- Take up reading of scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Ramayan, Upanishads etc. so that your thoughts are purified on a regular basis.
- Take up the practice of ‘Agnihotra’ during the dawn and dusk hours and chant the shlokas or prayers along with the agnihotra practice.
- At no point of time should you engage in frivolous talk or gossips, for it would tarnish the purity of the soul. Take a vow of silence, at intervals.
- If time permits engage in the service of others, in any small way you can.
- Associate with the ashram and pledge yourself to do some activity on a regular basis, at the ashram. Be self-reliant always. Be loving and serving.
- Conduct regular ‘satsangs’ at your homes or in your vicinity, so that more and more people are associated in such spiritual activities.
- Practise integrity and authenticity in all your thoughts, words and deeds. Conduct self-analysis every night before you go to bed.