September 21, 2013 Comments Off on HALASANA
HALASANA – The Plough – All Levels
Continuation of the forward bend movement in Shoulder stand/Sarvangasana,
Caution: If you have slipped disc or other painful neck condition, seek advice
Begin either from a lying down position on back, or taking legs over the head
from the shoulder stand.
From mat: Raise legs and hips in 2 stages. Inhale and raise legs together to 90
degree angle. On next inhalation lift hips and support lower back with hands.
With control bring the legs over the head and point the feet to the floor.
Tip: Keep legs straight and back supported with hands.
If feet not on floor yet: Keep supporting lower back with hands. Breathe through
the nose. Practice abdominal breathing. Hold the position 5 breaths and roll
If feet on floor, Extend arms flat on the floor behind back to increase
flexibility of shoulder girdle. Keep arms close to each other as possible. Now
interlock fingers and press palms against each other.
Variation: Take arms next to ears and try to touch toes. Move very smoothly.
Tip: Keep knees straight and legs together with toes pointed to head. Keep spine
straight and focus on slow abdominal breathing. Think of the stretch as
extending from fingers to neck and over back to feet in the plough shape. Hold
up to 1 minute or half the time of shoulderstand.
Coming out of pose: Release hands, arms are flat on floor palms down to brake
the descent. Raise the legs till parallel to floor. Then slowly roll the spine
down to the floor.
Relax in corpse pose at least 8 breaths.
Keeps spine youthful, strong and elastic.
Stretches entire back of body.
Helps flexibility of shoulder joints.
Increases blood supply of spinal nerves.
Mental Benefit: Soothes stressed nerves and tired brain. Helps better coping
with any claustrophobia.
Those who practice Halasana can never become lazy. – Swami Sivananda
The self-effort of today becomes the destiny of tomorrow. Self-effort and
destiny are one and the same. – Swami Sivananda
September 17, 2013 Comments Off on Life or death, which is more dreadful?
Q 1: Life or death, which is more dreadful?
A: Life and death are both processes of gaining more and more fresh experiences
in the progress of evolution tending towards the fruition of the wishes of the
experiencer. Life is a scene where the individual puts on the dress or the form
of a certain amount of desires special environment which can be fulfilled in the
special environment afforded by it; and death is the time when the individual
goes behind the screen and puts on a new dress to appear in another scene of
life in order to fulfill another quality of desires which cannot find the
required atmosphere for fruition in the present life, but demand a fresh
suitable environment. Hence, when properly understood, neither of them is
dreadful. Both are necessary processes of breaking barriers and tearing the
veils in the path to Perfection. To the ignorant man, however, both are dreadful
experiences. He imagines death to be more dreadful.
Q 2: If an individual is a Perfect Master, he is capable of functioning on all
planes at the same time. He possesses to a remarkable degree the powers of
clairvoyance and clairaudience. Can he not read the thoughts of the student
before the student has time to utter them, before the student can bring out his
questions? Can one who has such powers, even of thought-reading, be regarded as
A: Clairvoyance and clairaudience are not always automatic processes. Unless the
Master directs his attention towards someone, he need not necessarily be aware
of the seeker’s mentality and doubts. Imagine a seer or a Perfect Master who is
ever aware of what everybody thinks! A Siddha does see and hear everything in
Samadhi. This everything comes then to mean the Self or Atman or Supreme
Consciousness where the individual thoughts and words cease to exist as such.
Powers like thought-reading do not necessarily connote perfection; and
perfection cannot be vetoed by the absence of these powers. A Perfect Master can
acquire these powers if he so wills; but you cannot force him to.
Q 3: After one of the most complicated series of dialectics in “The Life
Divine”, Aurobindo finally concludes with a straight face: “And all these
explanations explain nothing”. Is there any point, then, any real benefit, in
following through the thin thread of this tapestry?
A: In the ultimate sense, words do not explain Truth. But they give a hint by
which one can know Truth directly in experience. Words have a relative value and
they must be made use of, though they do not constitute our real aim. Relative
obstructions to the knowledge of Truth can be removed through relative means and
thus the absolute Truth can be realized.
The real spiritual progress of the aspirant is measured by the extent to which
he/she achieves inner tranquillity. – Sri Swami Sivananda
September 16, 2013 Comments Off on Guru-Bhakti Yoga
Just as Kirtan-Sadhana has been made the special
Kali-Yuga Sadhana for quick God-vision, even so
herein you have the New Yoga, a Yoga most eminently
suitable for this age of doubt and scepticism,
pride and egoism. It is Guru-Bhakti Yoga. This Yoga
is marvellous. Its power is tremendous. Its
efficacy is most unfailing. The true glory of Guru-
Bhakti is indescribable. It is the Yoga par
excellence for this age, which makes God appear
here before you in flesh and blood and move with
you in this very life. The hard Rajasic ego is the
arch enemy of the Sadhaka. Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the
surest and best Sadhana to destroy arrogance and to
dissolve the vicious ego. Just as a particular
deadly germ can be annihilated only by a certain
specific chemical germicide, even so, to destroy
Avidya and Ahankara, this unique Guru Bhakti-Yoga
is the peerless specific. They are the gravest
‘Mayacide’ and ‘egocide’. They become quite
powerless and no longer afflict the fortunate soul
who saturates himself with the spirit of Guru-
Bhakti-Yoga. Blessed indeed is the man who
earnestly takes to this Yoga; for he will obtain
crowning success in all other Yogas. To him will
accrue the choicest fruits of perfection in Karma,
Bhakti, Dhyana and Jnana.
The qualification for taking to this Yoga is the
simple trio of sincerity, faith and obedience. Be
sincere in your aspirations for Perfection. Be not
vague or half-hearted. Then have perfect faith in
the one you have accepted as your Guru. Do not
allow even so much as a shadow of doubt to approach
you. When once you have reposed absolute faith in
him, then know that what he instructs you is indeed
for your highest good. Therefore, obey his word
implicitly. Follow his teachings to the letter. Be
earnest in doing thus, and take my word: you will
attain Perfection; I assure you emphatically.
– Swami Sivananda
September 14, 2013 Comments Off on The Golden Era is at Hand
Power is an intoxicant. Under its sway man will cut his own throat, bring about his own ruin. O Man! Have you not yet realised this patent truth? Have you not had enough of the poisonous fruits of power-politics, a mad hunt for power in national, international, social and even in domestic fields? Have you not yet realised that it will only produce disharmony, wars, riots and misery?
Power is an intoxicant. Even superhuman Tapas, even the Darshan of Lord Siva (for which aspirants engage themselves in life-long Sadhana) proved to be the ruin of Ravana who had surrendered himself to the lust for power.
Nothing can save you, except Dharma. Nothing is of any use, except Dharma. Nothing avails here except Dharma. Nothing, nothing can bring about harmony, universal peace and prosperity, except Dharma. Peace will remain unknown where Dharma remains unknown. Happiness will desert that house, village or nation in which Dharma has not been enshrined.
With Dharma as the sovereign ruling principle, everything acquires meaning. Based on Dharma, Tapas acquires Divine Power. Founded on Dharma, politics and nation-building activities ensure prosperity. Anchored in Dharma, family life will be happy and blissful, ennobling and divine.
The universe is maintained by Dharma. The planets are held together by Dharma. O Man! Wake up! Wake up now at least and walk the glorious path of righteousness.
You will attain what you want only if you seek for it where it is. If you want happiness, seek for it in the Self, in God, the fountain-source of the highest bliss, not in the little sensual objects. If you aspire for power, get omnipotence in Self-realisation; you will become One with the Supreme power that governs the universe; but not in petty positions, in empires and colonies, in wealth and machine-guns. If you want prosperity acquire it in righteousness, not in artificial living, bungalows and motor cars. If you seek happiness, prosperity, power and glory in the things of this earth, you will suffer the fate of the drowning man who got on the crocodile’s back mistaking it for a log of wood that would take him to the shore. Remember this. Be not deluded. Wake up, wake up, this very moment.
Remember: Adharma cannot survive for long. It will ruin its adherents and then suffer defeat at the hands of Dharma. That Golden Era, that Age of Dharma, that Satya Yuga, when Dharma will reign supreme is not far off. No power on earth can hold it back. If you co-operate with the divine forces that work for the ushering in the Golden Era, you will enjoy unalloyed bliss, peace and prosperity.
Beloved Children of Immortality! Arise, awake! Lead the Divine Life of truth, purity, love and goodness. Attain peace, perfection and Eternal Bliss. May God bless you all with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Atma-Jnana! – By Sri Swami Sivananda
September 13, 2013 Comments Off on YOUR FOREMOST DUTY – CONCENTRATION
Sri Sankara writes that a man’s duty consists in the control of the senses and the concentration of the mind. As long as one’s thoughts are not thoroughly destroyed, through persistent practice, a man should ever be concentrating his mind on one truth at a time. Through such unremitting practice, one-pointedness will accrue and instantly all the hosts of thoughts will vanish. Concentration is opposed to sensuous desires, bliss to flurry and worry, sustained thinking to perplexity, applied thinking to sloth, and torpor and rapture to ill-will.
You are born to concentrate the mind on God after collecting the mental rays that are dissipated on various objects. This is your foremost duty, but you forget it on account of delusion for family, money, power, position, name and fame. Concentration of the mind on God after purification can give you real happiness and knowledge. You are born for this purpose only. Fix the mind on Atman, the all-pervading. pure intelligence and self-luminous effulgence. Stand firm in Brahman, then you will become established in Brahman.
Attention plays a great part in concentration. It is the basis of will. The force with which anything strikes the mind is generally in proportion to the degree of attention bestowed on it. Attention on any object may be either subjective (internal) or objective (external). Practise concentrating your attention on unpleasant tasks, upon uninteresting objects and ideas. Then many mental weaknesses will vanish and the mind will become stronger and stronger.
Do a thing that the mind does not want to do. Do not do a thing that the mind wants to do. Don’t fulfil your desires; don’t hope; don’t expect. Destroy vicious desires through virtuous desires and then destroy the virtuous desires also, through one strong desire for liberation. Practice of pranayama destroys rajas (activity) and tamas (dullness) and makes the mind steady and one-pointed. – Swami Sivananda
September 13, 2013 Comments Off on YOGA OF SELF-SURRENDER
Repeat this formula very often and with intense faith: “The Lord is my strength, my support and my stay.” Thus you will derive strength, power and peace.
God knows what is best for you and He does what is best for you. His ways are mysterious – know His ways and become wise.
Slay egoism and desire, they are the enemies, the obstacles of self-surrender. You may accuse God and say: “He is not just; He is cruel. Vicious persons are thriving I am virtuous and yet I suffer. There is no God.” Later on you will realise that He has done the best thing for you. Do not pray to the Lord for the removal of sufferings. Pray to Him to grant you power of endurance and patience to bear all calamities.
A devotee remains unaffected by adversities, trials and tribulations. He knows and feels that they are all karmic purgations and are the real messengers of God. He welcomes them calmly. A devotee alone gets troubles and adversities; because this is his last birth, many karmas have to be worked out and he must be united with the Lord in this very birth.
God gives immense strength and patience to His devotee to bear troubles and calamities. The devotee is ever calm and cheerful – he is not affected by them as his mind ever dwells in the contemplation of the Lord. He is not body-conscious.
Murmur not. Grumble not. Even a leaf cannot fall without the will of God. What is destined to take place as willed by God, takes place. Face the difficulties, the battle of life with a smile. Become a brave soldier. Difficulties come to intensify your faith, to strengthen your will and power of endurance and to turn your mind more and more towards God.
Pain is the great eye-opener. It is your silent teacher. It will make you remember God. Kunti prayed: “O Lord Krishna, give me pain always so that I may ever remember you.” The more troubles and adversities you get, the stronger and firmer will be your faith in God. They will mould you into a divine being. Welcome them.
Seek God’s grace through self-surrender and He will show you the way. Transient are all mundane things! Evanescent are all earthly forms! Seek the immortal and attain bliss eternal. – Swami Sivananda
September 13, 2013 Comments Off on YOGA ASANAS
Health is wealth. Good health is a valuable asset for one and all. It can be achieved by the practice of yoga asanas, which control the emotions and produce mental peace. It also distributes prana evenly throughout the body and different systems. It helps in maintaining the healthy functioning of the internal organs. It gives internal massage to the various abdominal organs.
Physical exercises draw the prana out but asanas send the prana in. The practice of asanas cures many diseases and it awakens the kundalini shakti. These are the chief advantages of the yogic system of exercises advantages which none of the other systems have.
Practise a few asanas daily – at least for fifteen minutes. Soon you will possess wonderful health. Be regular in your practice – this is of paramount importance.
Asanas should be done on an empty stomach in the morning or at least three hours after food. Morning is the best time to do the asanas. Do not wear your spectacles whilst doing them. Wear a langotee and a singlet if necessary.
Be moderate in your diet. Practise brahmacarya (celibacy). Begin with a minimum time and gradually increase it. Answer the calls of nature before you begin doing the asanas.
The endocrine glands play an important part in the economy of nature. The practice of sarvangasana keeps the thyroid healthy and this means a healthy functioning of all the organs and systems in the body.
The diaphragm, the muscular partition between the chest and the abdomen, is also developed by certain exercises such as – dhanurasana, mayurasana, and pascimottanasana. The movement of the diaphragm massages the abdominal viscera and organs. There will be daily evacuation of the bowels in the morning. Constipation, dyspepsia and a host of other ailments of the stomach and intestines will disappear.
Four asanas are prescribed for the purposes of japa (repetition of God’s name) and meditation. They are padma, siddha, svastika and sukha. Be able to sit in any of these for three hours without shaking. Then only you will be able to control the breath and do meditation. If you can be steady in the posture for even an hour you will acquire a one-pointed mind and feel infinite peace. – Swami Sivananda