Satsang on 7 June 1988

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Should asana practice always start with shavasana?

You can start your asanas either with shavasana or with kaya sthairyam. Kaya sthairyam means sitting in siddhasana with chin mudra or, if in padmasana, then in yoni mudra. Do not move the body for three minutes. Just keep your mind in the passage between the navel and the throat and follow the breath up and down for forty-five rounds. Then you can start your asanas, whichever ones you like.

Under what conditions should one not practise yoga?

When you are suffering from an acute illness like acute typhoid. In chronic and constitutional illnesses you can practise, but in acute illnesses you should not practise. The book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha tells you everything about it and also the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is a very ancient book written by a great yogi, Swatmarama.

How does yoga affect the young and old?

To the young it gives the energy to become more active and lead a fruitful life. To the old people it can give peace, one-pointedness and freedom from the reflections of the past and anticipations of the future.

Which asana can help the mind and which are suitable for peace?

According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other yogic texts, and according to the Yoga Darshan of Patanjali, the primary purpose of asana is to still the mind. Indians, in olden days, did not practise yoga for high blood pressure because they did not have it. They lived in a pure atmosphere, ate simple food, did a lot of exercise and work the whole day. They used to expose themselves to every rigorous situation of life, and practise austerity, tapasya. They did not practise yoga for diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Then why did they practise asana?

The definition of asana is sthairyam sukham asanam – hold yourself in a steady and pleasant posture and sit quietly. Therefore, the purpose of all asanas, not only of padmasana or siddhasana, was to still the mind, to make the mind peaceful so that you could engage yourself in spiritual contemplation and philosophical thinking. It is very difficult to say which asana can confer peace and stillness of mind – every asana! The main purpose of asana is that, and if you want to study more you will have to study the concepts of Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, because he says that when you practise asana it balances the influence of the opposite forces in the body (2:48):

Tato dvandvanabhighatah.

Thereby the pairs of opposites cease to have any impact.

What is the difference between yoga and physical exercise?

Yoga is a system in which there is minimum stress on muscles; exercise is a system where there is insistence on muscular exercise. In all exercises, whether they are aerobic or any other form, you burn the muscles, you exercise them, but in yoga you use muscles the least. Yoga practices or asana work on the nerves, endocrines and the pranic forces inside the body.

What does it indicate if someone sleeps deeply in yoga nidra?

It means you are full of tensions; your nerves are tired and because of yoga nidra they have gone into a deep state of depression due to the intensity of delta waves in the brain.

Is any type of exercise advisable after meals, like yogic or abdominal breathing?

After lunch and dinner, when your stomach is full or half full, you must practise vajrasana and sometimes, if necessary for those who are suffering from backache, they can practise makrasana but no other asana.

What is the difference between the effects of asana and pranayama?

Asanas prepare the body and when the body is prepared, the pranas can penetrate every nerve and every pore of the body. The body becomes efficient in order to assimilate the pranic forces within.

Which are the best asanas for concentration?

It has been proved that the best asana for concentration is siddhasana for male members, and siddha yoni asana for females. One of the most eminent doctors of the world, Christian Barnard, the first doctor of South Africa who did heart transplants, open heart surgery, has written about siddhasana. He says that through siddhasana a man can control the wild behaviour of testosterones. Testosterone is a particular hormone in a man’s body which is secreted by the testicles, and if you can control the wild behaviour of testosterone, it will not assimilate and build up in the circulatory system.

As a result, you can avoid heart attacks, because when testosterones become mingled up with the blood vessels in the blood stream, the blood goes to the heart and creates an extra pressure on the heart.

In meditation we need that pressure. If you can practise siddhasana you can have control over a particular nadi which is directly connected to the heart. In siddhasana you are pressing shukra nadi which is the nadi of the perineum or coccyx. This shukra nadi is responsible for ejaculation when it is stimulated. If you can control this particular stimulation you can have fine control over the brain, because shukra nadi, the perineum, is the seat of mooladhara chakra. Mooladhara chakra is the seat of kundalini and kundalini is directly connected with sahasrara chakra. There is a ‘Hot Line’ between sahasrara and mooladhara. Therefore, I consider siddhasana to be the best.