One of the cardinal principles of the Hatha Yoga Philosophy of Health is the intelligent use of Nature’s great gift to living thingsâ€”Water. It should not be necessary to even call the attention of men to the fact that Water is one of the great means of maintaining normal health, but man has become so much a slave to artificial environments, habits, customs, etc., that he has forgotten Nature’s laws. His only hope is to return to Nature.
The little child knows, instinctively, the use of water, and insists upon being furnished with it, but as it grows older it gets away from the natural habit, and falls into the erroneous practices of the older people around it. This is particularly true of those living in large cities, where they find unpalatable the warm water drawn from faucets, and so gradually become weaned away from the normal use of fluids. Such persons gradually form new habits of drinking (or not drinking), and, putting off nature’s demands, they at last are not conscious of them. We often hear people say, “But why should we drink water-we do not get thirsty?” But had they continued in Nature’s paths they would get thirsty, and the only reason why they do not hear Nature’s calls is because they have so long turned a deaf ear to her that she has become discouraged and cries less loudly, besides their ears have ceased to recognize the vibrations, being so much taken tip with other things. It is astonishing to find how people neglect this important feature of life. Many drink scarcely any fluids, and even say that they do not think it is “good for them.” This has gone so far that we know of one so called “health teacher” who puts forth the astounding theory that “Thirst is a Disease,” and counsels people against the use of fluids at all, stating that the use of them is unnatural. We will not attempt to argue with such teachings-their folly must be apparent to any one who will look at the natural life habits of man and the lower animals. Let man go back to Nature, and he will see water-drinking all around him, in all forms of life, from the plant up to the highest mammal.
So much importance does the Yogi attach to the proper use of drinking water, that he considers it one of the first principles of health. He knows that a large percentage of sick people are sick because of their lack of the fluids which the body requires. Just as the plan needs water, as well as the food derived from the soil and air, to bring it to healthy maturity, so does man require the proper amount of fluids to keep him in health, or to bring him again to health in case he has lost it. Who would think of depriving a plant of water? And who would be so cruel as to fail to provide the faithful horse with the requisite amount of water? And yet, man, while giving the plant and the animal that which his common sense teaches him they require, will deprive himself of the life-giving fluid, and will suffer the consequences, just as would the plant and horse under similar conditions. Keep this example of plant and horse before you when you consider the question of drinking water.
Let us see what water is used for in the body, and then make up our minds whether or not we have been living normal lives in this respect.
In the first place, about 70 percent of our physical body is water! A certain amount of this water is being used up by our system, and leaves the body, constantly, and every ounce that is used up must be replaced by another ounce if the body is to be kept in a normal condition.
The system is continuously excreting water through the pores of the skin, in the shape of sweat and perspiration. Sweat is the term applied to such excretion when it is thrown off so rapidly that it gathers and collects in drops. Perspiration is the term applied when the water is continuously and unconsciously evaporated from the skin. Perspiration is continuously being evaporated from the skin, and experiments have shown that when it is prevented the animal dies. In one of the festivals of ancient Rome a boy was covered with gold-leaf, from head to foot, in order to represent one of the gods-he died before the gold-leaf could be removed, the perspiration being unable to penetrate the varnish and the leaf. Nature’s function was interrupted and the body being unable to function properly, the soul threw off its fleshly tenement.
Sweat and perspiration are shown by chemical analysis to be loaded with the waste products of the systemâ€”the refuse and filth of the bodyâ€”which, without a sufficient supply of fluids in the system, would remain in the body, poisoning it and bringing disease and death as a consequence. The repair work of the body is continually going on, the used-up and wornout tissue being carried off and replaced by fresh, new material from the blood, which has absorbed it from the nutrition in the food. This waste must be cast out of the body, and Nature is quite particular that it shall be gotten rid ofâ€”she does not favor the storing up of garbage in the system. If this waste matter is allowed to remain in the system it becomes a poison and breeds diseased conditionsâ€”it serves as a breeding place and a feeding ground for germs, microbes, spores and bacteria, and all the rest of that family. Germs do not bother the clean and healthy system to any great extent, but let them come around one of these water-haters, and it finds his or her body full of uncast-off refuse and filth, and they settle down to business. We will have something more to say along this line when we come to the subject of Bathing.
Water plays a most important part in the everyday life of the Hatha Yoga. He uses it internally and externally. He uses it to keep healthy, and he teaches its value to bring about healthy conditions, where disease has impaired the natural functioning of the body. We will touch upon the use of water in several parts of this book. We wish to impress upon our students the importance of the subject, begging them not to pass it by as unimportant because it is so simple. Seven out of ten of our readers need this advice. Do not pass it by. THIS MEANS YOU.
Both Perspiration and sweat are necessary, also, to dissipate the excessive bodily heat by their evaporation and thus keep down the bodily temperature to a normal degree. The perspiration and sweat also (as we have stated) assist in carrying off the waste products of the systemâ€”the skin being, in fact, a supplementary organ to the kidneys. And without water the skin would, of course, be unable to perform this function.
The normal adult excretes about one and one-half to two pints of water in twenty-four hours, in the shape of sweat and perspiration, but men working in rolling-mills, etc., excrete much greater quantities. One can endure a much greater degree of heat in a dry atmosphere than in a moist one, because in the former the perspiration is evaporated so rapidly that the heat is more readily and rapidly dissipated.
Quite a quantity of water is exhaled through the lungs. The urinary organs pass off a large quantity, in performing their functions, about three pints in twenty-four hours being the amount voided by the normal adult. And all this has to be replenished, in order to keep the physical machinery going right.
Water is needed by the system for a number of purposes. One of its purposes (as above stated) is to counteract and regulate the combustion constantly going on in our bodies, arising from the chemical action of the oxygen extracted by the lungs from the air, coming in contact with the carbon arising from the food. This combustion going on in millions of cells produces the animal heat. The water passing through the system regulates this combustion, so that it does not become too intense.
Water is also used by the body as a common carrier. It flows through the arteries and veins, and conveys the blood corpuscles and elements of nutrition to the various of the body, that they may be used in the building up process, which we have described. With-out fluids in the system, the quantity of blood must decrease. On the return trip of the blood through the veins, the fluids take up the waste matter (much of which would be a rank poison if allowed to remain in the system), and carries it to the excretory organism of the kidneys, the pores of the skin, and lungs, where the poisonous dead material and waste of the system is thrown off. Without sufficient fluids this work cannot be accomplished as Nature intended. And (this a most important matter) without sufficient water the waste portions of the foodâ€”the ashes of the systemâ€”cannot be kept sufficiently moist to easily pass through the colon and out of the body, and Constipation, with all of its attendant evils, result. The Yogis know that nine-tenths of the cases of chronic constipation arise from this causeâ€”they also know that nine-tenths of the cases of chronic constipation may be speedily cured by the returning to the natural habit of drinking water. We will devote a special chapter to this subject, but we wish to direct the attention of the reader to its importance, as often as possible.
Yes, a sufficient supply of water is needed to aid in the proper stimulation and circulation of the bloodâ€”in the elimination of the waste products of the systemâ€”and in the normal assimilation of nourishment by the system.
Persons who do not drink sufficient fluids almost invariably are deficient in their supply of bloodâ€”they are often bloodless looking creatures-pale, sallow, bloodlessâ€”looking anemic creatures. Their skin is often dry and feverish, and they perspire but little. They have an unhealthy appearance, and remind one of dried fruit, needing a good soaking to make them look plump and normal. They are nearly always sufferers from constipationâ€”and constipation brings with it a myriad of other disorders, as we will show you in another chapter. Their large intestines, or colon, are unclean, and the system is continually absorbing the products of the waste stored away there, and endeavoring to get rid of it by means of foul hr earth; strong,. sweaty perspiration, and unnatural urine. This is not pleasant reading, but it is necessary to use plain words when calling your attention to these things. And all this for the lack of a little waterâ€”just think of it. You who are so particular to keep yourselves clean on the outside, allow yourselves to remain filthy within.
Man’s body needs water all over its inner parts. It needs constant irrigation, and if that irrigation is denied the bodies suffer just as does the land, denied its natural supply of water. Every cell, tissue and organ needs water in order to be healthy. Water is a universal solvent and enables the system to assimilate and distribute the nourishment obtained from the food, and to get rid of the waste products of the system. It is often said that the “blood is the life,” and if this is so, what must the water be calledâ€”for without water the blood would be but dust.
Water is needed also for the purpose of enabling the kidneys to perform their functions of carrying off the urea, etc. It is needed in order to be manufactured into saliva, bile, pancreatic juice, gastric juices, and all the other valuable juices of the system, without which digestion would be impossible. Shut off your supply of fluids, and you decrease your supply of all of these necessary things. Do you realize that?
If you doubt these facts, thinking them to be but theories of the Yogis, you have but to refer to any good scientific work upon physiology, written by any of the Western authorities upon the subject. You will find all that we have told you fully corroborated there. A well-known Western physiologist has said that so much water exists in the tissues of a normal system, that it may be asserted as an axiom that “all organisms live in water.” And if there is no water, there can be no life, or health.
You have been shown that the kidneys secrete about three pints of urine in twenty-four hours, which is passed off from the system, carrying in solution waste products and poisonous chemical substances which have been gathered up from the system by the kidneys. In addition to this, we have shown you that the skin excretes from one and one-half pints to two pints of water, in the shape of sweat and perspiration, in the same time. In addition to this there is a moderate quantity (average ten to fifteen ounces) given off by the lungs in exhalation during the same time. Besides a certain amount passes off through the excretions from the bowels. And a small amount is passed from the system in the shape of tears, and other secretions and excretions of the body. Now, how much water is needed to renew this waste? Let us see. A certain amount of fluids is taken into the system with the food, particularly when certain kinds of food are eaten. But this is only a comparatively small portion of what has been thrown off from the system in its cleansing functions. The best authorities agree that from two quarts to five pints of water is the amount necessary to be taken daily by the average, normal man and woman, in order to make up the waste. If that amount is not supplied to the body it will withdraw fluids from the system until the person assumes that “dried-up” state of which we have spoken, with the consequence that all the physical functions are impaired, the persons being “dried-up” inside as well as on the surfaceâ€”the machinery of the body being deprived of its lubricating and cleansing material.
Two quarts a day! Just think of that, you people who have been taking about one pint, or even less, each day! Do you wonder why you are afflicted with all sorts of bodily ailments. No wonder you are dyspeptic, constipated, bloodless, nervous and generally all out of sorts. Your bodies are filled with all sorts of poisonous substances which Nature has not been able to eliminate and throw off through the kidneys and skin, because you have shut off her water supply. No wonder your colons are filled with impacted waste matter, which is poisoning your system, and which Nature has been unable to pass off in the regular way because you did not give her water with which to flush her sewers. No wonder that your saliva and gastric juices are deficientâ€”how do you suppose Nature can manufacture them without sufficient water? No wonder your blood is deficient in quantityâ€”where do you suppose Nature is going to get the fluids from to make the blood? No wonder that your nerves are out of condition, with all this abnormal going on. Poor Nature does the best she can, even though you be foolish. She draws a little water from the system in order that the machinery shall not entirely stop, but she dare not draw too muchâ€”so she compromises. She does just as you do when the water in the spring is nearly exhaustedâ€”you try to make a little do the work of much, and must rest content with doing things only half-way right.
The Yogis are not afraid to drink a sufficient amount of water each day. They are not afraid of “thinning the blood,” as are some of these “dried-up” people.
Nature throws off the surplus quantity, if it be taken, very readily and rapidly. They do not crave “ice water”â€”an unnatural product of civilization (?)â€”their favorite temperature is about 60 degrees. They drink when they are thirstyâ€”and they have a normal thirst which does not have to be restored as does that of the “dried-up” people. They drink frequently, but mark ye this: they do not drink large quantities at any one time. They do not “pour the water down,” believing that such a practice is abnormal and unnatural, and injurious. They drink it in small quantities, though often during the day. When working they often keep a vessel of water near them, and frequently sip therefrom.
Those who have neglected their natural instincts for many years have almost forgotten the natural habit of water drinking, and need considerable practice to regain it. A little practice will soon begin to create a demand for water, and you will in time regain the natural thirst. A good plan is to keep a glass of water near you, and take an occasional sip from it, thinking at the same time what you are taking it for. Say to yourself: “I am giving my body the fluids it requires to do its work properly, and it will respond by bringing normal conditions back to meâ€”giving me good health and strength, and making me a strong, healthy, natural man (or woman).”
The Yogis drink a cupful of water the last thing before going to bed at night. This is taken up by the system and is used in cleansing the body during the night, the waste products being excreted with the urine in the morning. They also drink a cupful immediately after arising in the morning, the theory being that by taking the water before eating it cleanses the stomach and washes away the sediment and waste which have settled during the night. They usually drink a cupful about an hour before each meal, following it by some mild exercise, believing that this prepares the digestive apparatus for the meal, and promotes natural hunger. They are not afraid of drinking a little water even at meals (imagine the horror of some of our “health-teachers” when they read this), but are careful not to “wash-down” their food with water. Washing down the food with water not only dilutes the saliva, but causes one to swallow his food imperfectly insalivated and masticatedâ€”makes it go down before Nature is readyâ€”and interferes with the Yogi method of masticating the food (see chapter on same). The Yogis believe that only in this way is water harmful when taken at mealsâ€”and for the reason given, alone-they take a little at each meal to soften up the food mass in the stomach, and that little does not weaken the strength of the gastric-juices, etc.
Many of our readers are familiar with the use of hot water as a means of cleansing a foul stomach. We approve of its use in that way, when needed, but we think that if our students will carefully follow the Yogi plan of living, as given in this book, they will have no foul stomachs needing cleansingâ€”their stomachs will be good, healthy ones. As a preliminary toward rational eating, the sufferer may find it advantageous to use hot water in this way. The best way is to take about one pint, slowly sipping it, in the morning before breakfast, or about one hour before other meals. It will excite a muscular action in the digestive organs, which will tend to pass from the system the foul matter stored tip there, which the hot water has loosened up and diluted, as well. But this is only a temporary expedient. Nature did not contemplate hot water as steady beverage, and water at ordinary temperature is all that she requires in healthâ€”and that she requires to maintain healthâ€”but when health has been lost through disobedience to her laws, hot water is a good thing with which to clean house before resuming natural habits.
We will have more to say about the use of water in Bathing, outward application, etc., in other parts of this bookâ€”this chapter is devoted to its internal offices.
In addition to the properties, offices and uses of water, as above given, we will add that water contains Prana in considerable quantities, a portion of which it parts with in the system, particularly if the system demands it and extracts it. One often feels the need of a cupful of water as a stimulantâ€”the reason being that for some reason the normal supply of Prana has become depletedâ€”and Nature, recognizing that it may obtain Prana rapidly and easily from water, causes the demand. You all remember how at times a cup of cool water has acted as a powerful stimulant and “refresher” to you, and how it enabled you to return to your work with renewed vigor and energy. Do not forget Water when you feel “used up.” Used in connection with Yogi Breathing it will give a man fresh energy quicker than will any other method.
In sipping water, let it remain in the mouth a moment before swallowing. The nerves of the tongue and mouth are the first (and quickest) to absorb the Prana, and this plan will prove advantageous, particularly when one is tired. This is worth remembering.