How to Exercise

In exercising aim at rhythm of motion. Let your movements be easy, regular, rhythmic and graceful. Take an interest in your work. Do pay attention. Put Will-Power and Mind into your work. Think of all it means. Do not fatigue yourself unduly. After exercise towelling or a spray-bath is advisable. Wet your towel, pass it over your body, rubbing thoroughly. Raise the towel and repeat. After exercise and towelling, you should be in a splendid glow. Be sure to keep the windows open when exercising. Fresh air is an absolute necessity. Never mind about cold and so forth. Remember the Positive Denial will fill you with Power of Resistance. Say “Cold cannot affect my body” and believe what you say. You can face anything in this way and remain untouched.

BATHING AND LINEN.

The student should bathe daily, using plenty of water, rubbing and cleaning the body from top to toe. I myself bathe very early in the morning, in all seasons, in cold water. Cold water stimulates circulation and is a wonderful tonic internally and externally. Warm water is soothing and relaxing in its effect. If you can bathe in the flowing water of a river, so much the better. Swimming is a wonderful bracer, besides being an enjoyment in itself. There is Prana in water and your body extracts this Prana from air, water and food. I cannot give you instructions as to different forms of bathing, as this is not a “doctor” book. As far as possible bathe twice a day, mornings and evenings; if not, once in the morning, using the towel at other times. Bathing is not merely pouring water on body but cleansing it out and out with water rubbing and scrubbing with hands and towels. Aim at perfect cleanliness. Cleanliness is Godliness and Health is Holiness.

Then again while bathing if you let the water flow over your body and try to “appreciate the sensation” and dwell on the idea of Prana-absorption from water, you shall get double benefit.

About linen–«Be neat«, for God’s sake. I have seen orthodox people who bathe twice and wash their hands hundreds of times in the day, but whose clothes are sticky with dirt, sweat and oil. Whatever else it may mean, Religion does not mean squalor, offensive odours in body and clothes and general neglect of external clean linen and dirt. The Yogi is a man of supreme REFINEMENT. Read that word and understand all it means. The clothes you wear in day-time should not be worn at night. Be clean internally as well externally. Be clean. Be clean. Be clean, within as well as without.

DRINKING WATER AND SWALLOWING AIR.

Your body needs a reasonable supply of water and air. Water is used by nature in different ways. Form the habit of drinking pure water from 5 to 8 tumblers a day. Drink slowly and form a mental image of Prana-absorption from the water.

The student needs fresh air too in plenty. If your heart and lungs are in sound condition they will draw in air naturally and extract oxygen in proper quantities. If not, perform the following exercises carefully one by one in the open air every day. They are quite reliable.

THE YOGI CLEANSING BREATH.

(1) Inhale a complete breath.
(2) Retain the air a few seconds.
(3) Pucker up the lips as if for a whistle (but do not swell out the cheeks) then exhale a little air through the opening with considerable vigor. Then stop for a moment retaining the air and then exhale a little more air.
Repeat until the air is completely exhaled. Remember that considerable vigor is to be used in exhaling air through the opening in the lips. This breath will be found quite refreshing when one is tired and generally “used up.” A trial will convince the student of its merits. This exercise should be practised until it can be performed naturally and easily, as it is used to finish up a number of other exercises given in this book and it should be thoroughly understood.

NERVE VITALISING BREATH.

(1) Stand erect. (2) Inhale a complete breath and retain same. (3) Extend the arms straight in front of you, letting them somewhat limp and relaxed, with only sufficient nerve force to hold them out. (4) Slowly draw the hands back towards the shoulders gradually, contracting the muscles and putting force into them, so that when they reach the shoulders the fists will be so tightly clenched that a tremulous motion is felt. (5) Then keeping the muscles tense push the fists slowly out and then draw them back rapidly (still tense) several times. (6) Exhale vigorously through the mouth. (7) Practise the cleansing breath. (8) The efficiency of this exercise depends greatly upon the speed of the drawing back of the fists, and the tension of the muscles, and, of course upon the full lungs. This exercise must be tried to be appreciated. It is without equal as a “bracer” as our western friends put it.

THE VOCAL BREATH.

(1) Inhale a complete breath very slowly, but steadily, through the nostrils, taking as much time as possible in the inhalation. (2) Retain for a few seconds. (3) Expel the air vigorously in one great breath, through the wide-opened mouth. (4) Rest the lungs by the cleansing breath. This would give you a good, rolling voice.

THE RETAINED BREATH.

(1) Stand erect. (2) Inhale a complete breath. (3) Retain the breath as long as you can comfortably. (4) Exhale vigorously through the open mouth. (5) Practise the cleansing breath. At first you will be able to retain the breath only a short time, but a little practise will also show a great improvement. Time yourself with a watch, if you wish to note your progress.

CELL STIMULATION.

(1) Stand erect with hands in sides. (2) Breathe in very slowly and gradually. (3) While inhaling, gently tap the chest with the fingertips, constantly changing position. (4) When the lungs are filled, retain the breath and the chest with the palms of the hands. (5) Practise the cleansing breath.

RIB STRETCHING.

(1) Stand erect. (2) Place the hands one on each side of the body as high up in the armpits as convenient, the thumbs reaching towards the back, the palms on the side of the chest and the fingers to the front over the breast. (3) Inhale a complete breath. (4) Retain the air for a short time. (5) Then gently squeeze the sides at the same time slowly exhaling. (6) Practise the cleansing breath.

CHEST EXPANSION

(1) Stand erect. (2) Inhale a complete breath. (3) Retain the air. (4) Extend both arms forward and bring the two clenched fists together on a level with the shoulder. (5) Then swing back the fists vigorously until the arms stand out straight side-ways from the shoulders. (6) Then bring back to position (4) and swing to position (5). Repeat several times. (7) Exhale vigorously through the open mouth. (8) Practise the cleansing breath.

WALKING EXERCISE.

(1) Walk with head up, chin drawn slightly in, shoulders back, and with measured tread. (2) Inhale a complete breath, counting (mentally) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, one count to each step making the inhalation extend over the eight counts. (3) Exhale slowly through the nostrils, counting as before 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, one count to a step. (4) Rest between breaths, continuing, walking and counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, one count to a step. (5) Repeat until you begin to feel tired. Then rest for a while and resume at pleasure. Repeat several times a day. You may vary the exercise by retaining the breath during a 1, 2, 3, 4, count and then exhale in an eight-step count. Practise whichever plan seems most agreeable to you.

MORNING EXERCISE.

(1) Stand erect in a military attitude, head up, eyes front, shoulders back, knees stiff, hands at sides. (2) Raise body slowly on toes, inhaling a complete breath, steadily and slowly. (3) Retain the breath for a few seconds, maintaining the same position. (4) Slowly sink the first position at the same time slowly exhaling the air through the nostrils. (5) Practise cleansing breath. (6) Repeat several times, varying by using right leg alone, then left leg alone.

STIMULATING CIRCULATION

(1) Stand erect. (2) Inhale a complete breath and retain. (3) Bend forward slightly and grasp a stick or cane steadily and firmly, and gradually exerting your entire strength upon the grasp. (4) Relax the grasp, return to first position, and slowly exhale. (5) Repeat several times. (6) Finish with the cleansing breath. (N. B.–«The above are from the Yoga Teachings«.)

MEDITATION EXERCISE No. I.

Retire into the silence. Say: I AM FEARLESS. Concentrate calmly on that idea. Think it out in all its bearings. See yourself in your mind’s eye as possessing the desired quality and acting it out in actual life. Let your mind indulge in a good, strongly-dramatized day-dream. Only insist upon its sticking to the particular text of thought and always showing you successful at the end. Finish up with a vigorous affirmation of the “I am.” Practise at the same hour daily for 6 months at least.

Exercise No. II.

Retire into the silence. Concentrate earnestly thus: »I send out strong, positive, healing thought-waves of love to all mankind. Let the disease-ridden become healthy. Let the weak become strong. Let the needy ones become prosperous and happy. Let the fearful ones become filled with courage. Let the cruel become kind and merciful. Let the hateful and hating ones become loving. Let the impure ones become pure. Let the bereaved, deserted, sorrow-stricken ones become soothed and comforted.«

Picture to yourself strong waves of Thought-Force passing out of you and encircling the whole world. Picture the world as peopled with men and women manifesting the desired conditions.

The more friends sit together in union of will and soul concentrating as above-indicated the better. Practise alone if you can find no earnest and serious-minded ones to join you.

Believe in your power to so help humanity. The power of thought is unlimited. In blessing others bless yourself. The effect of this exercise will be far-reaching. It shall follow and be a blessing to you even after death. Practise regularly at the same place and time as far as possible.

Be earnest in your work.

Do not talk of your exercises to others.

The above exercises will wonderfully develop and strengthen anyone who tries them. The deep breathing exercise already given is known as Pranayama or Controlling the Psychic Breath. Its main purpose is to give you control over your Prana and unfold the Psychic Force latent in you. Practised on an impure body and weak lungs it may do harm. Hence students are advised to undergo the above 10 breathing exercises first and then, when their lungs have developed the power of endurance, they should take that up. It will take time, patience, and serious work. But if the student is sufficiently energetic he will perfect all these exercises in six months. But follow nature’s plan and be slow and steady.