SRI NATHAMUNI'S YOGARAHASYA
Presented by Yogacharya T. Krishnamacharya
(English Version by TKV Desikachar)
Shiva loaned this obscure 1998 book to me awhile ago. It's time to give it back.
It is a text attributed to the Vaishnavite saint and disappeared from the yogic heritage more than a thousand years ago. It was revealed in a vision to Krishnamacharya the sixteen year old pilgrim on the banks of the River Tamraparni in South India.....
Here are some highlights....
Through the practice of pranayama, the koshas are rid of impurities. When the koshas become clean, the body in turn will be rid of impurities. Through proper intake of food, the indriyas [ten senses], including the mind, will be rid of impurities.
If the mind is controlled, there is said to be happiness and peace. All yogi achievements are possible for one whose mind is strong and calm. For people whose minds are disturbed by the objects of the senses the practice of pranayama is the best remedy.
Tiredness is removed by uddiyana bandha. All the benefits of uddiyana bandhas can be obtained only when a proper diet restriction is maintained. The food taken should be sattvic in nature, limited in amount and should be appealing and agreeable to the individual.
Now we will talk about what is called Jalandhara Bandha
Through a nadi between the nose and the throat flows the essence of life which is responsible for the sustenance of life. It is called amrtam or jama. The essence of nourishment which is stored above the throat slowly trickles down, being consumed by jataragni. The jalandhara bandha regulates this.
This bandha earns the name jalandhara in yoga. The flow of this amrta pervades all over the body and regenerates the body and senses which depend on this. Therefore it is called jalandhara.
This essence if not regulated, will reduce the life span. Jalandhara bandha controls this movement so that the essence is distributed to the different parts of the body. The world jala here means the 'essence of the life.' this is supposed to be in the center of the head. Bandha is the term given in yoga for the technique that regulates the flow of this amrta.
According to the capacity and faith of the person, he should think of different mantras while doing the pranayama. Pranayama done along with a mantra has a role to play in the therapy of all kinds of diseases.
The teacher must first examine the movement of breath and the physical strength of the sick or afflicted person before teaching him anything. Emphasis is on a thorough and complete examination of the person prior to introducing pranayama. Otherwise, there will be no benefit. The mantra should be careful designed and introduced into practice.
Breathing should be done by the student in such a way that a subtle sound passes from the throat through the nostrils. The mouth is kept closed.
Breathing should never be done through the mouth, but should be done only through the nostrils. Breathing should be smooth with a hissing sound.
Srstikrama consists of the asanas in the following slokas: different variations of sirsasana, sarvangasana, mahamudra, tadakamudra, baddhakonasana, baddhapadmasana, dandasana and pascimatanasana.
Mahamudra is usually followed by baddhakonasana.
A person must practice pranayama in a quiet place four times a day. It must be done before sunrise, at midday, in the evening and at midnight.
Pranayama must be practiced according to the instructions given by a teacher - with or without a mantra respecting one's family tradition.
If a pregnant woman has disturbed sleep, regular practice of ujjayi pranayama in the padmasana posture with a short retention is suggested.
Kapalabhati and bastrika pranayama must be generally avoided. All the other pranayamas can be done without uddiyana bandha and mula bandha.
Kapalabhati and bastrika reduce the fluid in the body. Uddiyana bandha and mula bandha will disturb the normal bowel and urine functions. Sleep may also be disturbed.
Jalandharabandha is very important for a pregnant woman for it will reduce the formation of gas. That is why all the sastras have approved of the practice of jalandharabandha for pregnant women.
After five months of pregnancy, the most comfortable pranayama will be sitali and naidosodhanam. When there is a stomach upset, suryabhedana must be done.
Only the correct practitioners of pranayama can purify the koshas. Disturbed breathing patterns lead to diseases.
It is through the proper praccice of asana and pranayama and proper discipline that one can master breathing. There is no other way.
Favorable or not favorable is only in the mind. The mind itself is a changing entity.
This vast world which consists of many visayas undergoes changes every moment, leading to duhkha and sukha.
Some people sit quietly in the belief that all that happens is God's will. Why then do they take the trouble of complaining of what is happening around them?
Therefore instead of being adamant and spending time wastefully describing whatever is happening around them, they must take to abhyasa (kriya yoga).
Through the practice of yoga one realizes that the association with the senses leads to sukha and dukha.
When his/her body becomes strong on account of yoga practice, a person will be inclined to do those things that will give him sukham.
Yoga sadhana can never encourage tamas (laziness). The alertness that yoga practice provides can give little room for dullness.
If a person becomes even a little weak on account of yoga sadhana, he must examine the various causes with great attention and remove them.
Such weakness could arise out of wrong practice (which is not guided by a teacher), and one's own habits and food.
Just as an idle person cannot cross the river sitting in a boat which is leaking, so too a person who follows the instructions of an ignorant teacher cannot attain moksha.