Train journeys in India can be quite long, given the country's dimensions. Combine that with a chronic tendency for delay and you find yourself in need of various forms of timepass.
An Indian railway platform provides a variety of timepass options: food and beverage carts and hawkers, little shops selling miscellaneous items (inflatable pillows, playing cards, board games, toys, etc.) and one or several book stalls.
In fact, there was a recent article on the man who launched these.
Early this year, we had to spend a lot of time at the Pune railway station, as our train was quite delayed. I spotted a book stall and struggled to select a reasonably priced book which might be interesting and worth my while.
I settled on Yogasanas and Sadhana and I find that I do not regret my choice at all. As a matter of fact, I tend to dip into it ever now and again for some brilliant tips on routines for a good life.
There are a lot of good and not so good books on Yoga out there. However, a great many are mainly good as coffee table décor while books by the likes of B.K.S. Iyengar may not be everyone's cup of tea. They're a bit too hard to follow for people like me and would better suit one with a more advanced interest in the subject.
Far too many Yoga books are by people of European origin. And these are mostly too costly, too glossy and, worse, just too much of nothing, half the time.
Yogasanas and Sadhana turns out to be quite handy with lots of useful tips on health, meditation and other things. An index would have been nice as, for lack of such a thing, I've dog eared the book all over.
Each chapter closes with a short piece in Sanskrit and its translation.
Flipping through, as I sit here, I discovered that the first chapter, which I'd skipped, assuming it was just a basic write-up on anatomy and physiology, also contains information on chakras and their relationships with the body as well as telling us which asana is good for a particular organ or system. Page 12, which precedes the chapter, has a table listing ailments and the corresponding asanas.
Chapter 2 discusses 6 types of yogic purification practices and their advantages. Some cautions are also provided. Though I've heard of the benefits of some of these from many of my acquaintances, I'm still a bit hesitant to try them out, as they sound quite extreme. I might try the Trataka Kriya one of these days.
But, then, I had a rather sheltered upbringing, sheltered from the mainstream Hindu Indian ways. In that sense, I find Indians take to yoga far more naturally than seems to be the case elsewhere, where many a caution has to be laid on thick and, despite which, the practice of yoga is known to cause this or that injury or something of the sort. Thus, this book might just be specifically for an Indian readership. And that, perversely, makes it exactly what the outsider should look carefully into in order to boast a more complete knowledge of the subject.
In the third chapter, Ashtang Yoga is explained. I wonder if Madonna did any of this! These eight pages cover a whole philosophy of life.
Chapter five explains the rules and techniques of the yogasanas. I have dog eared the page about Dhvani, a kind of Om meditation.
The Yogasanas themselves are dealt with in Chapter 6. While the illustrations are not only very basic but also not so attractive, the instructions are extensive and thorough.
I've dog-eared page 104 which provides an exercise made up of three kinds of laughter and the benefits. I've already started practising this one, often. Find below that section from the book:
Laughing without inhibitions is very essential for our health. In the present time we are in a condition of many tensions and mental worries. If we laugh with out restraint, both the tension of mind and exhaustion of body are removed. Laughter gives the body gets new strength, bad emotions and temper is relieved and we feel interested in our work. There are three different types of Laughing.
(a) Laughing with mouth shut;Keeping your mouth shut and with out making any sound, laugh internally. You will fell that each and every limb of your body is laughing. This has a special effect on toning up the intestines.
(b) Laughing with out sound:You will now laugh with your mouth open, but there would be no sound. This has also toning up effect on lungs and digestive system. Headache is cured.
(c) Laughing Loudly:Laugh loudly with open mouth in convulsive merriment. Do it five times. This will provide excellent exercise for your lungs and abdomen. This intestines will be toned up.
Laughter Yoga is a school in which I'm most interested. In India, in many places, you're bound to come across groups practising this hilarious exercise, in the early hours of the morning, in parks or other public green spaces. It is very infectious!
The next chapter is a very detailed section on Pranayama.
This is followed by Dhyana or meditation techniques.
Chapter 9 focusses on the eyes and chapter 10 on massage. Both offer very easy practices which I've found quite beneficial.
The eleventh chapter is about a way of life as a whole while chapter 12 covers food.
The thirteenth chapter is called Principles of Yoga Therapy and chapter 14, Cause and Cure of diseases.
The book is nicely rounded off with a Suggested Daily Routine.
For a mere Rs. 96, I hold a veritable and rather thorough guide to Yoga! I would advise it to anyone with an interest in Yoga that is more than the usual desire for an exotic workout but would suggest that non-Indians use it with extreme caution.
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