Paschimottanasana

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

There are different machines which measure the stress of muscles. Not EMR, EMG, but other electrodes which are put over the body and measure the stress level as you are performing an activity. Once that experiment was done with asanas. The entire body was covered with electrodes and people were made to do asanas to measure the stress level. The measurement used to happen in units, so many units of stress. We did paschimottanasana, touching the toes. While doing paschimottanasana the muscular stress, the physical stress reduced by 90 units. Visually, it is a difficult asana as you are stretching every part, every muscle, and trying to touch your toes. So your whole body is in a state of chronic tension, but what is perceived as chronic tension or difficult, what is perceived as aches and pains in the back, stretching out and grabbing the toes, is actually relaxing the muscular system of the body. When you release and lie down in shavasana, the whole body suddenly fops and relaxes more than what it was used to before – like you stretch a rubber and then you release.

Connecting to the intention and spirit

So you stretch your muscles, then you release it. If you use this knowledge to create a specific condition in your body which can counteract stressful situations, then no matter where you are in life, in profession or in renunciation, you can manage the psychological effects of stress and anxiety in a much better manner.

This is an indication of understanding and applying the yogic practices to create a definite change in the pattern of the body and psychology. Then yoga does not remain only a mechanical practice that by habit you are doing morning or evening, but it is a conscious practice to create and alter something in your life, and that is how we had learnt.

It is that teaching of Sri Swamiji which again we are presenting, for in the last 50 years there has been lot of dilution of yoga teaching according to the teacher who is teaching. Practices are remembered but not the original intention nor the instruction that Sri Swami Satyananda gave.

We are reviving that and connecting with the spirit with which he taught us the practices – not to become a teacher but to become the experiencer of yoga.

—30 September 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger, Hatha Yoga Training – Module 1 (Extract)