Practical Guide to Yoga
by Swami Chidananda
Salutations to the primal Yogishwara Lord Siva and to the Great World Teacher Yogeshwara Lord Krishna. Reverential prostrations at the feet of my Yogi Guru Late Revered Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj of sacred memory. My loving good wishes to all Yoga students upon the path of self-development for their fullest success in their Yoga practice.
It gives me much happiness to write this brief Introduction to this present book which is an excellent, hand manual for ready reference to all sincere students of the Yoga science. This book is specially meant to serve as a day-to-day home guide for those who are practising a daily course of Yoga Asanas for their physical and mental health, strength and well-being. Yoga is a system of physical, vital and mental culture and spiritual unfoldment. Much valuable information and instruction is contained in the pages of this volume regarding all aspects of daily Yoga Sadhana. The inclusion of Suryanamaskara as well as meditation will confer great deal of additional benefit to the reader. Well-selected illustrations further enhance the utility of this Yogi's Companion.
Study this volume completely from start to finish, when you take up the practice. Take special note of Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 21. Approach your daily practice with right attitude and spiritual Bhava. Proceed gradually. Do not go to extremes in your Yoga practice. There should be no hastiness. Keep your attention steadily fixed upon whatever posture or process you are doing at the moment. Such steady attention increases the value of the practice. Maintain a pleasant frame of mind. Be poised and relaxed. The Yoga practice place must always be clean, neat and tidy. The clothes you use and the blanket. etc., that you spread during the practice should not be used for other purposes. Please remember that Yoga is a sacred science and its practice is primarily a spiritual process though based upon physical body, breath and mind-control. Then you will be fortunate enough to obtain the maximum benefit from this science which is meant to help all mankind to attain health, peace and joy.
Be regular. Try to be punctual. Do perfectly even if you do only a little every day. If you have no time according to your present daily programme then I suggest that you wake up one hour earlier in the morning. This will give you an hour's time which is absolutely your own and when you are free to use it for Yoga. Observe the important instructions given in Chapter 3. Maintain sincere interest and steady enthusiasm. When you do the postures do not try to immediately assume it in its acute and extreme form. Gradually proceed until you master it in due course of time. This will save your body from too much extreme strain and the physical pains resulting from such strain. You must be wise and use your common-sense all throughout.
One word is necessary in connection with Yoga practice. There is a tendency nowadays to frighten Yoga students by alarming statements that practice of Yoga exercises may result in incurable diseases or other harmful effects to body and mind. Students are discouraged from taking to the practice by the statement that practice should be undertaken only under an expert and adept as otherwise harm would result. I wish to clarify this matter here. While it is true that for the whole-timed practice of Hatha Yoga or Kundalini Yoga as the main Sadhana of a Sadhaka it is imperative to have an adept Guru, nevertheless no such strict regulation applies to the practice of a select few Asanas and Pranayama undertaken as a daily health culture course by the ordinary layman. A short daily course of half-an-hour or one hour's practice of a select few postural exercises can be undertaken by any person in normal health without fear or risk of any sort of untoward harmful effect. On the contrary the results will be entirely beneficial, helpful and healthful. There is no need for any unnecessary baseless alarm or hesitation in taking up such a limited practice as a daily routine provided the instructions given in this connection are kept in mind and observed.
Swami Yogaswarupanandaji is mainly responsible for this careful compilation of the entire text of the book. I congratulate this very earnest student who has shown great sincerity in his pursuit of knowledge. The book is the result of his attentive hearing of my explanations and instructions during talks he had with me on Sadhana in general and on Yoga Asanas, Pranayama, etc., in particular. After attentive listening, he took down notes diligently and later developed them into this manuscript. I am very happy that the fruit of his labours now comes to all Sadhakas and students of Yoga in the form of this present compact and attractive volume which will prove of definite use to every student of Yoga. I wish this volume widest possible circulation and pray to the Lord to confer health, strength and success to all those who take up to the practice of Yoga.