Each of us belongs to a specific country, but nowadays we have all become international. Finland is the land of saunas. In fact, they have more saunas than people! I have enjoyed the primitive type of sauna in Finland, in which the heat is built up by heating stones from outside. It was very difficult for me to understand this concept, because we Indians are used to heat. It is all around us; we don’t need to artificially heat our rooms, they are heated naturally. We are used to sweating and perspiring all the time.
There was an old friend of mine, a highly reputed yoga teacher in Belgium, Andre van Lysbeth. He said, “Swamiji, when I take you to Finland, I will give you a surprise.” The surprise was a sauna. He asked me how I liked it. I said, “In India I have it every day. Not only I, but millions of Indians have it every day. But they don’t have stylish rooms for that, they have a thatched hut and the heat and the sweat.”
A few days ago, when I went to Ludhiana, I stayed in a hotel and they had a sauna in the health club. The manager and owner wanted me to enjoy the sauna. I said, “Why do you have a sauna in your hotel? No! As an Indian I won’t accept it because I don’t need it. Millions of Indians have the experience of a sauna bath every day. If you want a sauna, go to a poor man’s hut for half an hour, you will have the experience of a nice sauna. And you can pay that poor man five hundred rupees. For him that will be a fortune, he will have his pension.” I told him frankly, just go to a poor man’s hut, pay him five hundred rupees, stay there for half an hour and come out, your desire for a sauna will be fulfilled at a fraction of the cost you will have to pay at a five-star hotel’s health club.
You see, the normal temperature of your body is 37°C. You know what is 37°C of heat? Maybe you don’t have that kind of a temperature in New Zealand or Europe. You can experience that temperature in India, Africa, South-East Asia and China. When the heat outside is 37°C, it is absolutely unbearable. However, your body temperature is 37°C all the time and you are bearing it. I am talking from the view point of yoga. The heat of your body is 37°C, the heat which is unbearable outside. If ever you are in India during that period, you will say, “Oh God, I want an air-conditioner.” You will get sunstroke, and look here, you have the same temperature, and are you feeling it? No, you are not feeling it. You are very comfortable. The moment that temperature of your body decreases, you will have a fever. If your body temperature falls to 35°C, you will experience the symptoms of a fever. Did you ever think of that?
It is in this country, India, where the temperatures soar to that of the body temperature of 37°C, that yoga was discovered. Yoga was not discovered in the Arctic or semi-Arctic countries. Yoga was discovered in a country where the outside heat and the inside heat of the body are more or less parallel to each other. Therefore, while practising yoga, you should always keep one point in mind: the external heat in the room where you practise should not be very different from or lower than the temperature of the body. That is the first lesson in yoga. If your body temperature is 37°C and you are practising yoga under a temperature of 23°C, there is a difference of 14 degrees. Your body of 37°C is exposed to a temperature which is 14 degrees below its temperature. Therefore, the body will have to adjust. After all, the body has to adjust with the external temperature, and when it cannot adjust, you have problems.
The room temperature for yoga practice should not be less than 25–28°C. But it is better if you practise in a room where the temperature is 30 or 35 degrees. It is hot here right now, but it is ideal for practising yoga. That is why the fans are off in your rooms, because I know that you will turn on the fans and practise, as you are all from semi-Arctic or Arctic countries. The fans are deliberately disconnected and there is a label there: ‘Switch Invalid’. Have you read it? Invalid. It doesn’t apply. The fan does not apply to your stay here. It is completely contradictory to your purpose of stay in the ashram. Your purpose of stay in the ashram will be defeated, contradicted, if you are provided air-conditioned or fan-cooled rooms for practising yoga, for you have come here to derive maximum benefits of yoga. Now you have the answer why the fans are disconnected. Providing fans is not a big problem for this ashram. The owners of fan companies visit this place every now and then. I can install a few hundred fans right now without paying a penny. That’s not at all the issue.
Yoga teachers must remember that the state of this body depends on its temperature. If your body temperature of 37°C falls down to 35°C, what will happen? You will experience delirium and faint, you won’t be able to walk or lift your limbs. If the temperature goes up to 40°C, your brain tissues will melt. This body is all about temperature and yoga practitioners have to be very aware of that. That is one point.
The second point is that this body is all about electromagnetic circuits. If there is a short circuit in the electrical system of your apartment, what will happen? Either the fuse will blow, if you have a good fuse, or all your equipment will be damaged. In the same way, if there is a short circuit somewhere in the body, what will happen? Either a fuse will blow and you will get a warning signal or that organ or part of the body will be damaged. It can happen in your heart, your brain, your liver.
You have to maintain a proper system to ensure that the electromagnetic circuit in the body has the right voltage. Where does this energy come from? It comes from simple food. Not the tasty food, no. Energy comes from a simple diet and pure atmosphere. In this village, for miles and miles, there are no buildings, houses, offices or traffic jams. What you find here is just trees and fields, grazing cows and goats, cool breezes and pure air, and simple village folk. The nights are silent, except for the sound of frogs and crickets. Have you heard them? The carol you sing for the birth of Christ is, “Silent night, holy night; all is calm, all is bright.” That must have been written with Rikhia in mind! That is how the nights are here – crisp, clear, calm and silent. The only sound is that of the crickets and nocturnal animals, they are the energizing agents of the electromagnetic circuits or energy circuits in the body. The energy circuits in the body recharge from the environment and atmosphere, the air, trees and animals, from the creatures God or Nature has created, perhaps to give more energy and sustain the electromagnetic field pervading within and around us.
—17 October 2006