Yoga in Space

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Can you say something in connection with the yogi who has been in space?

He is a yoga teacher. He was sent into space to conduct research on yoga and space-sickness. Cosmonauts who go into space develop many problems. They suffer from nausea, digestive and nervous disorders. The practices of yoga try to control these negative aspects of weightlessness.

This man was sent into orbit to work with other astronauts. I consider this an important step, as India is a deeply religious country and Russia is not. It believes in dialectical materialism. Naturally, when this participation occurred, I considered it a conquest of yoga over the Soviet mind or ideology.

Russia has been working on this project for a long time, and the research results, which will be produced soon, will bring out a set of yoga practices for the cosmonauts. The main question is, how to manage the weightless body.

In meditation one gradually trains the mind to face the experience of lightness. Therefore, when a person has already practised meditation and experienced lightness, if he experiences the same in space, he won't have any problem. However, when the body becomes weightless, many psychic experiences manifest, and the astronauts cannot face them. They may have nightmares, see shadows, lights and hallucinations.

This physical body reacts differently in different places. People on an expedition to Mount Everest have particular reactions. Gravity controls one's experience, the behaviour of the nervous system and brain. Once out of the field of gravity, no one can handle the changes, if they have not undergone yoga training. Therefore, the future cosmonauts will practise yoga before going into space.

—24 May 1984, Il Ciocco, Italy