Can yoga therapy help correct vision, in particular, long sightedness? If so, how effective is it?
There are certain conditions which perhaps yoga cannot help, but if the organs are functioning, certainly yoga can improve them. If the problem is organic, it will be much better if proper treatment is administered. Certainly through yoga, through trataka, or eye exercises, or through the practices of neti kriya, or sometimes even by quiet meditation, as many times as possible, you can improve the eyesight.
A few weeks or months after completing a teachers training course our intention and commitment diminish. Our practice and proficiency in yoga decreases rapidly. Could you please suggest specific steps to keep our interest active and alive?
In western countries, there are thousands of yoga teachers who have been teaching yoga for over two, three or even four decades. Yoga has become their philosophy, their life, their behaviour and their livelihood. There are many thousands of yoga teachers in European countries whose main subsistence is yoga; they do not do anything else. A compulsion has to be created in one’s life so that one will not be able to do away with yoga. It is so easy to learn yoga from the Bihar School of Yoga but in two or three months it will be forgotten. Teachers have to create a situation where yoga is a ‘must’. Yoga has to become a ‘must’. Without it one must feel unable to survive either physically or economically.
If in this ashram it was decided not to teach yoga, the ashram would be closed in a few months’ time. It could not survive. We have to teach yoga in order to survive. It has to be an economic as well as a philosophic compulsion. Yoga is a good, honest profession and one which has much to do with our ‘national indebtedness’. When I started the Bihar School of Yoga many years ago, fifteen days expenditure was twenty-one rupees. Now it is about four hundred rupees.
All over India, there was criticism for I was the first yoga teacher to charge. I decided that I had to do it. All my guru bhais (brothers), sannyasins and yoga teachers, said, “Swami Satyananda sells yoga!” Today there is hardly any yoga institution which does not charge. If you want something to become stable, you have to dig it deep so that it does not move or flow away. You have to create a base for yoga in your society. If you are a lawyer, a teacher or a doctor, practise your profession by all means, but why not teach yoga? There are people in India who are hairdressers and they teach yoga in the morning. They charge for it, but of course they are capable yoga teachers. A yoga teacher should know about the laws of the mind and human emotions. He should be able to deal properly with his pupils.
As a student how can I use yoga nidra for study?
A lot of experiments have been done on yoga nidra. One can learn a new language completely in about fifteen days. In fact, it is being done. In many western countries, when the boys and girls from, let us say, France want to go to Spain, live there and work at the same time as clerks, stenos or receptionists, they have to learn Spanish. How do they do it? There are lessons, proper scientific lessons recorded on tape, which you can get from shops. You can put these in the tape recorder at night, plug in the earphones and sleep. The tape recording plays all the lessons, rewinds, plays again, rewinds again, plays again. Then you get up in the morning, have your bath and listen to the lessons once. Do this for fifteen or twenty days, maximum one month. You will be able to speak the language of a receptionist, tourist guide or conductor of the public lorry service. You have the language to manage your job.
I have also done this experiment many times. Now, I do not have much time, but when I had the time I did. First, I tried these lessons on a dog. Unfortunately, he died, because I did not know how to look after an Alsatian. I used to play a certain tape in my room when he was in my room. The whole night the tape used to play and the dog did exactly what was played on the tape. Later, I repeated this experiment on Swami Niranjan with the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and many other things, including yoga. He was a very naughty boy when he was in the ashram; the young boys were considered as ‘bad boys’ in the ashram because they would not study at all. The moment I used to go into my room they used to make fun, Swami Niranjan, Swami Gorakhnath and many others. There was a bunch of these ‘bad boys’ in the ashram. I knew of that and I thought, there is no use admonishing them every now and then for this does not really work. Fear does not work, nor does threatening or admonishing. Nothing works in a man – he throws everything out! So I tried this method of yoga nidra. Swami Niranjan used to live with me. That did work. He has not been to any school, but he can definitely write better Hindi than any graduate, or even literary person – English, Spanish, or any other languages as well.
Yoga nidra can help you in your studies, but how to do it is the point, because you cannot prepare tapes. I know that it can be done. Perhaps the boys in the college would prefer to invest more money in pants, shirt, coat and shoes rather than in a good sophisticated piece of tape recorder. If you can sacrifice your whims about your fashion and other things, and if you can get a good set of tape recorders, you can record your lessons. Read the lessons in the evening, by yourself, or ask somebody to do it. While you are sleeping, to the right or to the left, whichever it is, put the earphones on. In the morning the chemistry lesson is ready. Just read it once again. It has gone into your subconscious mind.
The intellect belongs to the conscious mind. The subconscious mind is that area where an impression or an idea becomes a secret and is embedded, just as you sow a seed. The seed is embedded; you cannot see it. Now the whole process is taking place inside, an unseen process. Just take a fenugreek seed, wheat, or any seed. When you put it inside the earth what is happening? Something is happening, but you cannot see it. Gradually any impression, any idea, any samskara or any seed, which is planted in the depths of the subconscious mind, is sure to come out – that is the natural law. Good samskaras come out, and bad samskaras come out a little quicker. If it is a bad seed, it will come out very fast; if it is a good samskara, it takes time; wheat does not take time, but if you want to grow lady’s finger or spinach, it takes time.
When you listen to the instructions of the tape recorder a sound is going into your subconscious mind, because when you are sleeping at night, the brainwaves are silent. First there are beta, then theta, alpha and delta waves. During deep sleep the brain waves are minimum; that means the brain is now resting. There is no disturbance as such, so any samskara, impression or idea that is sent into the brain through the ears is bound to be registered there. Within your brain, in the subconscious mind, there is a recording and registering system like that of a computer, maybe more sophisticated than a computer. There is nothing which is not registered there.
The mind is all-pervading. You may be looking at me, but the mind is looking at everyone. The subconscious mind is all- pervading. If you know Sanskrit and have read the Yajur Veda there is a sukta, a hymn: Sahasra sirsha purushaha, consciousness has one thousand heads, one thousand eyes, sahasrapad, one thousand feet, sabhu nimvi shvato vritwa athya thishtad dashan qulam, your consciousness, your mind, your chetana which is operating even when you are sleeping is not only looking in front, it is looking all around. It has one thousand eyes; one thousand means numerous. In Sanskrit when it says sahasrar or one thousand, it means numerous, anekanek.
The subconscious mind is operating when you are meditating, one-pointed, sleeping, or in yoga nidra. When the external, the conscious, the gross, the objective mind is withdrawn, the subjective mind becomes operative. As long as the objective mind is operating the subjective mind does not work, because the law in science is: The higher the velocity the lesser the frequency. The objective or sthula mind represents velocity, speed; the subjective mind represents frequency. The subconscious mind is controlled by certain frequencies and these frequencies are very high. With Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF), velocity is reduced to a minimum. That is a law of science: when the velocity of mind is very high, the velocity of the subconscious mind is very low and therefore, in order to make your inner mind, the subconscious mind, more powerful, productive and responsive you will have to withdraw the outer mind.
This external mind depends on the five senses; if you are blind, you cannot see, if you are deaf, you cannot hear. This brain, this external, gross, conscious mind is totally dependent upon the object and the sensorial channels. Without the object I cannot experience. If you have no eyes you cannot see a flower; if you are deaf you cannot listen to me, but the subconscious mind can listen even if you are deaf. A deaf man can listen, a blind man can see. Surdas wrote, ja ki kripa pangu giri lange ne andhi ko sab kuch darsha aye – The blind can see and the lame can jump mountains by His grace. In the Ramayana it is written:
Binu pad chalai sunai binu kanakar binu karam karai bidhi nana. Anan rahitsakal ras bhogi. Binu bani bakata bad jogi.
Brahma walks without legs, hears without ears, works and performs different acts without hands, tastes everything without a mouth and is capable of speaking without speech.
This subconscious mind is called sukshma sharir in Vedanta. What you call the subconscious mind, in modern psychology, in Vedanta, Samkhya and many other Hindu philosophies is known as sukshma sharir, the subtle body.
In answer to this question, I must tell you to sacrifice something from your personal life and try to experiment on this. Get one good tape recorder and forty, fifty, sixty, seventy tapes. Then ask your teacher, professor or anybody to explain the chemistry, maths or geography lesson, whatever it is, and at night, turn it on. I assure you that you will have first-class sleep and first-class studies. You will be able to use the time; you are not even wasting the night. Your sleep has also become productive – that is the lesson of yoga!
What is natural or normal breathing? During yogic breathing both lungs are completely filled with air, what about normal breathing?
Natural breathing is effortless breathing, when you are only watching the breath. When you breathe in you make an effort; when you breathe out you make an effort – that is called pranayama but when you do not practise pranayama, when you do not make an effort, that is called ‘effortless breathing’ sahaj pranayama. In the night you are certainly breathing. Are you sure that you are breathing? Yes. That is called normal breathing or natural breathing or sahaj breathing. The point is, you are only breathing and not watching it. If you want to see this natural breathing, ask one of the members of your family to sleep at night and you sit down and note. You won’t find that they breathe in the same monotonous way throughout the night. No, they will change their breathing pattern after every ten or fifteen minutes. Sometimes it is faster and sometimes the breathing stops for a split second, two, three, four, five, and when it stops your sleep is broken.
Usually, one of the reasons you get up in the night is because the breath automatically stops for a period. This behaviour is controlled by the autonomic nervous system in the brain.
This is what we try for in ajapa japa; this is what we try for in antar mouna. Lord Buddha used to teach vipassana which is the same thing. Mahavir, the Jain saint, used to teach preksha dhyana and in the Upanishads they used to teach ajapa japa.
The jiva, individual soul, is repeating So Ham, So Ham, So Ham, all the time, you are practising the So Ham mantra day and night and the total number in twenty-four hours is twenty-one thousand six hundred. Fifteen breaths per minute is natural. It is here that the saints have said: che sau Swami Goraknath has said, 'aisa jap japo mana layi, So Ham, So Ham surat gayi’. Surata means ‘awareness’, api ap means ‘ajapa jap’. Banka nali main uge sur, banka means ‘lotus’, kamal and nali means ‘stem’, lotus stem, and sur means ‘sun’. It means that at a particular moment the whole spine becomes like a tube light, like a florescent lamp. The whole body produces a melodious tone. That happens after practising it for twenty-one thousand six hundred times.
The yogi tries to produce this because it is said in the hatha yoga shastras that the breaths are limited and fixed. You will take just so many breaths in a lifetime. So these breaths are fixed – fifteen per minute, twenty-one thousand six hundred in one day, in ten days, two more zeros, one hundred days, one more zero, one thousand days, one more zero, one hundred years, so many zeros.
If you want to change the ratio of the time span then bring the breathing process down from fifteen to fourteen to thirteen to twelve to eleven, you can definitely bring it down to ten rounds per minute. At first, you have to make an effort, later, it will become natural. Everybody breathes fifteen rounds per minute, naturally, but by yogic concentration, yogic practices, you can bring it down to ten per minute. Most people can bring it down to twelve or eleven. When you bring the rate of respiration to ten per minute then the brilliance in the brain increases.