Some Yogi Physical Exercises

Before telling you about these exercises, we wish again to impress upon you that exercise without interest fails in its effect. You must manage to take an interest in your exercise, and to throw some mind into it. You must learn to like the work, and to think of what it all means. By following this advice you will obtain multiplied benefit from this work.

Standing Position.

Each exercise must be begun by you standing in a natural manner, i.e. with your heels together; head erect; eyes front; shoulders back; chest expanded; abdomen drawn in a little, arms at the sides.

Exercise 1.
(1) Extend the arms straight out in front of you, on the level of the shoulder, with palms of the hands touching each other;
(2) Swing back the hands until the arms stand out straight, sideways, from the shoulders, or even a little further back if they will go there easily without forcing; return briskly to Position I, and repeat several times. The arms should be swung with a rapid movement, and with animation and life. Do not go to sleep over the work, or rather play. This exercise is most useful in developing the chest1 muscles of the shoulders, etc. In swinging the hands backward, it is an improvement if you will rise on your toes during the backward sweep, sinking on your heels as you move the arms forward again. The repeated movements should be rhythmical, backward and forward, like the swinging of a quick pendulum.

Exercise II.
(1) Extend the arms straight out from the shoulder, sideways, with opened hands; (2) With the arms so extended, swing the hands around in circles, (not too wide) keeping the arms back as far as possible, and not allowing the hands to pass in front of the line of the breast while making the circles. Continue making the circles until say twelve are made. It improves this exercise to inhale a full breath (according to the Yogi practice) and to retain the air until several circles are made. This exercise develops the chest and shoulders, and back. Put life into it, and take an interest in what you are doing.

Exercise III.
(I) Extend the arms straight in front of you, letting the little fingers of each hand touch each other, the palms being upward;
(2) Then keeping the little fingers still touching, bring the hands straight up in a curved circular movement, until the tips of the fingers of both hands touch the top of the head back of the forehead, the backs of the fingers touching, the elbows swinging out as the movement is made until (when the fingers touch the head, with thumbs pointing to the rear) they point out straight sideways.
(3) Let the fingers rest on the top of the head a moment, and then with the elbows pressing back (which forces the shoulders back) force the arms backward with an oblique motion until they reach the sides at full length, as in the standing position.

Exercise IV.
(1) Extend the arms straight out, sideways, from the shoulders.
(2) Then, still keeping the upper-arms extended in same position, bend the arms at the elbow and bring the forearm upward with a circular movement, until the tips of the extended fingers lightly touch the tops of the shoulders.
(3) Then keeping the fingers in the last position, force the elbows out to the front until they touch, or nearly so (a little practice will enable you to touch them together).
(4) Then, keeping the fingers still lightly touching the tops of the shoulders, swing the elbows as far back as you can get them. (A little practice will enable you to get them much further back than at the first attempt.)
(5) Swing the elbows to the front position and then back to the rear position, several times.

Exercise V.
(1) Place the hands on the hips, thumbs to the rear, and elbows pressed back;
(2) Bend the body forward, from the hips, as far as you can, keeping the chest protruding and the shoulders pressed back.
(3) Raise the body to the original standing position (hands still at hips) and then bend backward. In these movements the knees should not be bent, and the motions should be made slowly and gently.
(4) Then (hands still on hips) bend gently to the right, keeping the heels firmly On the ground, knees unbent, and avoid twisting the body.
(5) Resume original position, and then bend the body gently to the left, observing the precautions given in last movement. This exercise is somewhat fatiguing, and you should be careful not to overdo it at the start. Proceed gradually.
(6) With hands in same position on the hips, swing the upper part of the body around in a circle, from the waist up, the head describing the largest circle, of course. Do not move the feet or bend the knees.

Exercise VI.
(1) Standing erect, raise the arms straight up over the head, hands remaining open with thumbs touching each other when the arms are fully extended upward—palms to the front, of course.
(2) Then, without bending the knees, bend the body forward from the waist and endeavor to touch the floor with the extended finger tips—if you are unable to do this at first, do the best you can, and you will soon be able to do it properly-but remember that neither the knees or the arms must be bent.
(3) Rise—and repeat several times.

Exercise VII.
(1) Standing erect, with hands on hips, raise yourself on the balls of the feet several times, with sort of a springy motion. Pause a moment after you have raised upon your toes, then let the heels sink to the floor, then repeat, as above suggested. Keep the knees unbent, and the heels together. This exercise is specially beneficial in developing the calf of the leg, and will make it feel sore the first few times it is tried. If you have an undeveloped calf, here is the exercise for you.
(2) With hands still on hips, place your feet about two feet apart, and then lower the body into a “squatting” position, pausing a moment and then resuming original position. Repeat several times, but not too often at first, as it will make the thighs feel a little sore at the beginning. This exercise will give one well developed thighs. This last movement may be improved upon by sinking down with the weight resting upon the ball of the foot, instead of upon the heel.

Exercise VIII.
(1) Stand erect, with hands on hips;
(2) Keeping the knee straight, swing the right leg out about fifteen inches (keeping the toe turned a little out, and the sole flat-then swing back to the rear until the toe points straight to the ground, keeping the knee stiff all the time.
(3) Repeat the swinging backward and forward several times.
(4) Then do the same with the left leg.
(5) With hands still on hips, raise the right leg up, bending the knee, until the upper-leg (thigh) stands straight out from the body (if you can raise it still a little higher, you may do so).
(6) Place your foot again on the ground, and go through the same motion with the left leg.
(7) Repeat several times, first one leg and then the other, moving slowly at first and gradually increasing your speed until you are executing a slow trot without moving from the one spot.

Exercise IX.
(1) Stand erect, with the arms extended straight in front of you, from the shoulders, and of course on a level with the shoulders-the palms must be down, fingers straight out, thumbs folded under, and the thumb side of hands touching each other;
(2) Bend the body forward from the hips, stooping forward as far as possible, and at the same time swing the arms forward with a sweeping movement, sending them down, backward and upward at the back, so that when the body has reached the limit of the bending forward movement the arms are extended back and over the body-keep the arms stiff, and do not bend the knees.
(3) Resume standing position and repeat several times.

Exercise X.
(1) Extend the arms straight, sideways, from the shoulder, and hold them there stiff and rigid with hands open;
(2) Close the hands forcibly, with a quick motion, pressing the fingers well into the palm;
(3) Open the hands forcibly, and quickly, spreading out the fingers and thumbs as widely as possible, forming a fan-shaped hand;
(4) Close and open the hands as above stated, several times, as rapidly as possible. Put life into the exercise. This is a splendid exercise for developing the muscles of the hand, and for acquiring manual dexterity.

Exercise XI.
(1) Lie upon your stomach, extending your arms above your head and then bowed upward, and your legs stretched out full length and raised backward and upward. The correct position may be carried in the mind by imagining a watch-crystal or a saucer resting on the table on its middle, with both ends turning upward.
(2) Lower and raise the arms and legs, several times.
(3) Then, turn over on your back, and lie extended at full length, with arms extended straight out, upwards over the head, with back of fingers touching the ground.
(4) Then raise up both legs from the waist until they stand straight up in the air, like the mast of a ship, your upper-body and arms remaining In the last position named. Lower the legs and raise them several times.
(5) Resume 3, lying position flat upon the back at full length with arms extended straight out upward, over the head, with backs of fingers touching the ground;
(6) Then gradually raise body to sitting position, with arms projecting straight out in front of the shoulders. Then go back gradually to the lying-down position, and repeat the rising and lowering several times.
(7) Then turn over on the face and stomach again, and assume the following position: Keeping the body rigid from head to foot, raise your body until its weight rests upon your palms (the arms being stretched out straight in front of you) at one end, and upon your toes at the other end. Then gradually bend arms at the elbow, allowing your chest to sink to the floor; then raise up your chest and upper-body by straightening out your arms, the entire weight falling upon the arms, with the toes as a pivot-this last is a difficult motion, and should not be overdone at first.

Exercise To Reduce The Abdomen.

This exercise is for those troubled with a too large abdomen, which trouble is caused by too much fat gathering there. The abdomen may be materially reduce—by a reasonable indulgence in this exercise-but always remember “moderation in all things,” and do not overdo matters, or be in too much of a hurry. Here is the exercise:
(1) Exhale the breath (breathe out all the air in the lungs, without straining yourself too much), and then draw the abdomen in and up as far as you can, then hold for a moment and let it resume its natural position. Repeat a number of times and then take a breath or two, and rest a moment. Repeat several times, moving it in and out. It is surprising how much control one may gain over these stubborn muscles with a little practice. This exercise will not only reduce the fatty layers over the abdomen, but will also greatly strengthen the stomach muscles.
(2) Give the abdomen a good (but not rough) kneading and rubbing.

A “Setting-Up” Exercise.

This exercise is intended to give one a graceful and natural manner of standing and walking, and to cure him of the habit of “slouching,” and shambling along. If faithfully practiced it will cause you to manifest an erect, graceful carriage. It enables you to so carry yourself that every organ has plenty of “elbow-room,” and every part of the frame is properly poised and counter-poised. This, or a similar plan, is followed by the military authorities of many countries, in order to give their young officers the proper carriage, but its good effect in these cases is somewhat marred by other military practices which cause a stiffness which does not come to those who practice this exercise apart from the drill. The exercise is as follows—follow it carefully:
(I) Stand erect, with heels together, toes slightly pointed outward.
(2) Raise the arms up by the sides (with a circular movement) until the hands meet over the head, thumbs touching each other;
(3) Keeping knees stiff; the body rigid; the elbows unbent; (and shoulders bent well back as the movement is made) bring down the hands, slowly, with a sideway circular motion, until they reach the sides of the legs the little finger and the inner-edge (the “chopping-edge”) of the hand alone touching the leg, and the palms of the hands facing straight to the front. The soldier gets the right position by touching the little finger of each hand to the seam of his trousers.
(4) Repeat several times, slowly remember. With the hands in the last position, having been placed there by the motion stated, it is very difficult for the shoulders to warp forward. The chest is projected a little; the head is erect; neck is straight; the back straight and hollowed a little (the natural position); and the knees are straight. In short, you have a fine, erect carriage—now keep it. It will help you to stand in this position, and then, keeping the little finger along the trouser4eg seam place, walk around the room. A little practice of this kind will work wonders with you, and you will be surprised at the improvement which you have wrought upon yourself. But it takes practice, and perseverance—and so does everything else worth having.

Now this is about all of our little system of exercises. It is simple and unpretentious, but wonderfully effective. It brings every part of the body into play, and if faithfully followed will indeed “make you over” physically. Practice faithfully, and take an interest in the work. Put some mind into it, and remember always what you are doing the work (or play) for. Carry the thought of “STRENGTH AND DEVELOPMENT” with you when you exercise, and you will get much better results. Do not exercise soon after a meal, or immediately before one. Do not overdo things-start with a few repetitions of any exercise at first, and then gradually increase it until you have reached a fair number of repetitions. Better go through the exercises several times a day (if possible) rather than attempt to do too much at one period of exercise.

The above little “Physical Culture” system, will do as much for you as will many high priced “courses” of instruction–either personal or by mail. They have stood the test of time, and still are “up-to-date.” They are as simple as they are effective. Try them, and be strong.