Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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This is a happening which took place 25 years back. I was then attending Mumbadevi Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay to study Sanskrit. My residence was at Babulnath temple on the Chowpaty In those days also the Satsang organised by Divine life society of Malad, Bombay was held on Saturday night itself. There was a Satsang hall situated at the hospital of late shree Nandlalbhai V. Suchak. During those days both Smt. Sharana and Shree Han Om Sharanaji used to stay at the hospital of Dr. Suchak. Hence the saturday night satsang was full of nectar-ifiled Bhajans and Bhakti. During one such nectar full Satsang where Bhakti (devotion) was continuously pouring in; Dr. Suchak had an emergency call.  

One couple had brought in a youth for emergency treatment. The youth was quite healthy, yet he could not control his restlessness. He was suffering from an inexpress­ible, indescribable, un-understandable grief. The doctor had a heart to heart talk with the youth after asking the couple to sit outside. In short this is the narration:  

The youth was coming from a small village of Kachha, a district of Gujarat. He was very happy seeing the grandeur of Bombay Both his sister and brother-in-law would go out for work in the morning and would return late at night. Khimjibhai (youth) used to live in the 13th story flat of an 18th multistory building and used to eat and drink cold materials every morning, noon, and evening. All this was a one-way traffic. The huge flat had three rest rooms but this chap had never seen latrines at his village with no water taps. In this building provided with corner to corner carpets, this American styled restroom did have everything from flower-vase, scented flowers, properly fixed paper rolls, a small library with magazines etc. Everything was beautiful but this did not look like a country latrine. This poor fellow got overwhelmed. He went on eating for three days. But where should one go for evacuation? It was not fair to ask !!! Can any one be bold to ask such queries?  

Dr. Suchak had moved around the world. He took the youth to his private rest room and asked the compounder to inject enema. The bowels moved and the youth was all right. When he came in the hospital he was absolutely out of mood but he went back fully happy You may say that I am joking; is it not? But that youth while leaving the Satsang repeatedly thanked Dr. Suchak.  

One could thereafter gather that the youth could not contain his curiosity He said, Oh! This Bombay! One has to accept! There are buildings over buildings and shop over the shops! A bus is fitted above one ground floor bus! Oh God! One whole train is seen running over another! Well that is O.K. But this doctor, oh! His treatment! It was a terrible job !!! Oh! One cannot even describe it. But how can I stop narrating it! Oh God! My head was severely aching. I was shouting and collected people around me but this doctor is so adept, he performed a miracle! My head was giving me pain but he injected me at the bottom. And the pain in the head could not stay for a minute more! What a treatment !!!  

This is neither a drama nor even a farcical story. There is one truth; one cannot have pain in the head; pain in head is no disease but one can get pain in head as a result of so many diseases!  

Pain in the head is felt all over the forehead from one end to the other You can have light pain. There may be terrible pain and one can feel throbbing pain also. Half of your head may also give pain and the complete head can feel solid tight. It can remain for a few moments and can extend for hours and days together. There are umpteen reasons for pain in the head.


One can describe the main reasons and types of pain in the head as under:  

  1.  One can have pain in the head as a result of ligaments of the neck or the jaws having been strained. As a result of influenza, sensory nerves and arteries of the brain get affected.

  2. One can have half the head giving pain as a result of migraine  

  3. The sensory nerves of the brain gets weakened as a result of over intoxication as well as smoke of the intoxicants, cigar smokes, intoxicants entering and going down the throat or the nose by snuffing or consumption of drugs or chemicals which have intolerable effect.

  4.  pain in the head could be intolerable and terrible if gets pus in the ears.  

  5. There can be pain in the forehead if one gets conjunctivitis of the eyes.  

  6.  It is quite possible that pain in the teeth may result in the pain of the head.  

  7.  If something hits the head, if one is dead - tired or if one’s feelings gets hurt.  

  8.  One can have a temporary bout of headache if one has had no sleep in the night, or one may get wet in rain and one catches cold.  

  9.  One can feel pain in the head when we do not find any interest in conversation, or if a drama or a cinema is not found attractive or if the circumstances are not of our liking and interest.  

  10.  And in the end we may mention the matter discussed in detail in the very beginning where we talked about indigestion or constipation, which can result in very painful effects in the head at least for a short period.  

In short we can say that pain in the head can result because of the disturbance in the system of any organ. It can result due to disturbance in working of eyes, nose throat, teeth, ears, brain, waist, spinal column, kidney etc. Really the trouble may be found somewhere else but as a result of the difficulties one can have pain in the head. If patients suffering from headache get medically examined then 75% to 80% of the patients will notice no big difference on the normal living standards. We can divide headache into three classifications:

  1. Vascular headache.  

  2. Tension headache.

  3. Psychogenic headache.

One cannot diagnose a disease by learning about headache. We are normally habituated to take aspirin, anacin, aspro, or “avedana” an ayurvedic tablet to have an imme­diate effect on sensory nerves but such tablets do not permanently solve the problem of headache. These tablets relieve ordinary headache. But it is necessary to get complete medical check up if headache is being suffered for a long time or if a headache is chronic. One should try to find out main root causes and proper diagnosis is required. For example if there is some defect in the brain, if lumber puncture has been restored there is some other ailments, then the headache resulting from these is different from headache one feels when blood pressure is increased. In the case of migraine one-half side of the forehead and temple goes on paining. One can have headache due to fever or due to vomiting and if the pain is due to effect of bites your headache will subside if one vomits. A variety of conditions result in headache. The conditions and reasons for headache in males and females can be different. As for example, ladies suffer more headaches through migraine. One should not try to alleviate headache in case of pregnant ladies. Pregnant women, who suffer from eclampsia, result in increase in death rate very heavily This condition can only be known if one observes headache in pregnant women. If one comes to know of that headache in time, blood pressure can be treated quickly and that lady can be saved from getting unconscious or getting convulsions. This way both mother and child can be saved. Thus for pregnant women this type of headache is known as eclampsia. Therefore on knowing about the complaint of headache in pregnant ladies, proper, essential and immediate treatment should be undertaken.  

Besides this, very young children can have headache due to very weak eyesight. This complaint can be solved by proper examination of the eyes and fitting spectacles with correct numbers. Sometimes it so happens that eyes do not call for very strong glasses and the doctor may not advise but it is found helpful to wear glasses when headache is noticed. Young girls feel that putting on spectacles could result in reduction of beauty hence they do not use spec­tacles. Now it is possible to get lenses which can be fitted on the pupils. But people do not welcome such a use fearing infecti6n. But this will definitely weaken the eyes and it is possible that headache may become chronic.  

Headache can result by habit of reading for long periods, reading in moving vehicles like cars, buses, trains or in flights. Besides the habit of reading or writing in insufficient light can also result in headache.  

By the practice of Yogasana and Pranayama sensory nerves of the brain can be made quiet and peaceful. When a man feels peace in the sensory nerves the amount of headache can be reduced. Headache which you feel repeat­edly will be less and it is possible that headache may hardly be felt.  

Yoga is one very useful treatment. There is effect felt on blood pressure by the faulty habits of getting up and sitting down, sleeping as well as bending backwards and forward and the effect of this blood pressure is felt on headache. Therefore in the event of headache, one should not do any process by jerking the body The process of taking deep long breaths can greatly affect and give rest without any end to the sensory nerves of the brain.  


For this Pranayama, sit on crossed legs keeping the waist erect and head, neck and back in a straight-line vertically Sit steadily and peacefully As far as America is concerned; you are not accustomed to sit with crossed legs. It is no use getting disappointed for this failure. Sit on a chair keeping the back straight. I)o not cross the legs but hang them straight so that heels and paws remain on the ground and parallel to each other. Keep the waist belt loose. Also keep the tie in the neck loose. If you have put on a coat, take it off and put it on a hanger. Sit peacefully without any tension feeling light. Breathe deeply and slowly Exhale also very slowly Carefully observe that belly expands forward when you inhale and the same is contracted in when you exhale. If we breathe in and out in this manner maintaining full awareness it will be possible to keep the sensory nerves free of tension. You will feel relief in the headache (see Hypertension).

Sivananda Pranayama exercises can also be carried out in sleeping posture on the ground. This Pranayama is named by us as Sivannda Pranayama. Sleep with your back on the ground. Now bend both the legs from the knees so that both point upwards. Concentrate your mind on the solar plexus (navel). Now start breathing deeply and slowly You should be aware that you are inhaling and exhaling. One reaps full benefit if this exercise is practiced on empty stomach. The performance of this Sivananda Pranyama for a period of ten to fifteen minutes with mind fully quiet and composed will relieve headache and is known to be a very useful panacea for blood pressure, mental tension, and irregularity of the stomach (see Hypertension).  


One can reap advantage of Shirsasana and Sarvangasana by this Mudra. It is a rule applied to the Shirshasana and Sarvangasana that if you have pus in the ears or eyes are weak and those children who are younger than 12 years should not execute these Asanas. But under all these condi­tions one can lie in Viparitkarani­mudra.  

  1. Lie flat on the ground with face upwards and back on the ground.  

  2. Keep the legs together. Keep the palms of the hands facing the ground, keep the eyes open.  

  3. Take a deep breath and raise both the legs. You should breathe out when your belly is pressed and hold the back from a bone which resembles a ring known as ilium-pelvic. This way the head will lie on the ground. The portion from the shoulder to the waist will lie at 45 degrees and the portion from the waist to the thumb of the legs will make a 9O* angle, that is, a right angle to the ground.  

  4. Go on breathing normally In this position your head will get plenty of blood supply.  

  5. This Mudra or Asana gives you long life and helps the heart to send enough blood to the brain.

  6. If it is not possible to lift the back you can get partial advantage by keeping face up on ground and raising the legs either on a table or a cot or up along the wall.

Viparitkarani- Mudra (Fig-56)


  1.   One should sit in Padmasana to perform Matsyasana.

  2.    Lie down. Sleep on the ground with body supported on both the hands and maintaining Padmasana.  

  3.   With the support of both the hands keep the scalp of head touching the ground in the reverse direction.

  4.  Hold both the thumbs of both the legs kept in Padmasana, with both the hands.  

  5.    Breathe normally  

  6.    If you cannot perform Matsyasana while sitting in Padmasana, you can sit in Vajrasana also.  

  7.     If you can neither sit in Padmasana or Vajrasana, you may lie down flat on the ground face pointing upwards. Keep both the hands under the buttocks and take the head on the back side so that the scalp touches the ground. This is an easier pose of Matsyasana (see Asthma -1)  



  1.    Sit either in Padmasana or Vajrasana.  

  2.    Keep the hands on the back. Hold the left hand wrist by the right hand.  

  3.     Now inhale slowly  

  4.   Lower the head in the front. Let the forehead touch the ground.

  5.   Try to hold the breath outside. Do not strain. It is essential to see that while you perform this exercise both the knees and buttocks keep touching the ground. (refer Hypera­cidity)  


This Asana is similar to Yogamudra and is performed while sitting in Vajrasana.  

  1.   Sit with your legs folded behind in a manner similar to position occupied by Muslim friends while they sit for ‘Namaj’.  

  2.   Raise both the hands while you inhale deeply  

  3.   Raise both the hands at 9Q0 to the ground.  

  4.    Now lower down the hands, head and the torso in front of the waist, slowly  

  5.   Keep the palms of both the hands on the ground. Keep the elbows on the ground. The head will thereby ouch the ground.  

  6.  This position is found to be very easy.  

  7.  While you come up, breathe in. (see Hypertension)

In addition to the above you can, of course, perform chanting of Omkar. Bhramari Pranayama and Yoganidra also. While you are chanting Omkar your mouth remains open. While you carry out Bhramari Pranayama mouth is closed. But in both positions we are getting ample blood supply to the brain. In addition,the heart suffers less labour in circulating. blood to the brain. It is better if both the exercises could be preformed while sitting in Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana, Siddhasana or Swastikasana. But if none of the above sitting postures are easy for you, stretch the legs in the bed. Keep the back erect and practise the above exercises while sitting. There is no error in above description. Even if you carry out regularly daily, methodically, scientifically and with full interest, you will save yourself from great dangers.  

Nehabhikramanashosti pratyavayo na vidyate,  

Swalpamapyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat.

(Gita 2/40)

People are known to eat hot Jalebi and milk in early morning when they suffer from migraine. God alone knows how far this can help. But if after cleaning of the teeth in the early morning, six to eight glasses full of ordinary drinking water is taken in and if after cleaning the teeth while you clean tongue you press inside of the tongue all water will be belched out. This process is known as Gaj­karani process. Practice of this process is definitely helpful in curing migraine. 


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