|The science of yog is the oldest known science to mankind and probably the only science whose theories have never been refuted nor with the passage of time has anyone claimed to have bettered upon them. The founders of this science were not some uncivilized barbarians, but beings with a very high level of intellect and belonging to a highly developed culture.
Today, it is generally assumed that yog is about the physical body only. But this was not yog as per the ancient rishis. They were beings who had risen above their need for food and shelter; and were fully in control of the functions of the physical body. So then they spoke of yog, i.e.
atmasakshatkar. According to them, yog is something much deeper; it is union with yourself. Where the above attributes do occur, but as by-products of the practices.
Before we try to understand what yog is, we do need to understand the physical body (the Anna Maya kosha) because the body is said to be the vehicle of the soul and it is only this vehicle that can take the soul on the journey from here to eternity.
Now if we look closely at our physical body it becomes obvious that the human being stands erect because of the spinal column. The ancient rishis also took the spinal column as the core of the body because everything originates from its core and it is the core which suggests the external aspects of any form of manifested creation.
Consisting of 33 vertebrae this curved column is symbolic of evolution in human beings. It is said that the journey of the spirit is upwards and depending on the level of evolution of the specific being the vertebrae are crossed, one by one. It was understood by them that everything in the physical world is a reflection of the etheric and the spinal column is a reflection of the Sushumna nadi (in the etheric). It was apparent to them that a strong Sushumna nadi is indicative of a highly evolved person and a highly evolved person has to have a very strong physical body; that is his vehicle should be in perfect order so as to allow the subtler forces to move through it. They even went to the extent of stating that “the person whose spinal column is erect and strong shall never age”.
In order to maintain a strong spinal column it becomes imperative that its flexibility is retained and the muscles supporting it are strong and healthy. The asanas that are useful for this purpose are bhujang asana, sarp asana, and chakra asana. In the human body the skeleton acts as a frame to which muscles are attached. These muscles allow the body smooth movement of these parts. The above asanas strengthen the trapezius muscles that connect the head, shoulders, and neck and provide support to the clavicle. These asanas also build up the scapula muscles for shoulder movement. The gluteus muscles, which start from the bottom tip of the spine and connect the hip bone to the thigh bone and allow flexible movement in these areas, get toughened with these
Here I must add that chakra asana is not advised in the initial stages. Another important thing to remember while doing these asanas is to be aware of the lower back where the muscles give support to the spine at the sacrum and coccyx and enable us to stand erect.
A word of caution—It is important that all asanas are done under direct supervision of a trained and competent instructor.
—The author is a well-known practicing yogi, and heads Dhyan Foundation in Delhi. He can be reached on +919313748401