Column: Yogi Ashwani

Building the basics

The human body comprises various systems—the central nervous system, the endocrine system, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the muscular system, the skeletal system, the reproductive system, and the digestive system working together, and their proper functioning maintains health. 
When these systems work in harmony they compliment each other and result in a disease free body. One of the most important activities of the body is to absorb and eliminate, which is performed by the excretory system, a part of the digestive system. In our bodies, the faulty elimination of waste matter is the primary cause of disease. This waste is called ama, which, if not eliminated at the right time, begins to cause rotting of the colon, thereby creating an imbalance in the system and manifests in the form of a disease.

The excretory system is so important that even in ancient times herbs were used to purge the intestines, and enema was a part of medicine systems all over the world. 
Therefore it is very important to strengthen the organs, the muscles, and the force which leads to expulsion of waste matter from the body. 

It is important for the reader to understand this phenomenon in practical terms. The force for expulsion in the human body is provided by apana vayu, residing in the area below the navel, and in the organs present in this area. 

For this we need to develop the muscles in the lower part of our body. Before one begins with the digestive and eliminative organs it becomes extremely important to develop the lower part of the body.
Here are some asanas that were propagated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga. People who have practised them have found them very effective 

We start with our foot resting on the calcaneum (heel bone), which acts as a lever for the calf muscles when you tilt your foot down. Then we work on the knees which are the largest joints in the body, and then the thigh muscles.

The longest tendon in the body is the Achilles tendon which connects your calf muscles to your heel bone, is exercised with the goolf naman (toe bending), the goolf chakra (ankle rotation), and the goolf ghoornan (ankle crank). 

These seemingly simple rotations play an important role in removing the energy blockages in the anterior tibial vein, the hamstrings and the sole muscles. Removal of these blockages helps the excretory organs like the rectum to get their oxygen and blood as required. 

Further, being aware of the veins, joints, and muscles that are being rotated helps in general harmonisation of the muscles and tissues in the region. 

The shroni chakra (hip rotation) works on your hip joints and stimulates the muscles around the rectum and the bladder. In the next issue we will take up some more asanas that strengthen the lower part of the body, as it is the physical support for the higher body.

For all asanas in this series sit with your legs outstretched. The back and neck should be absolutely straight. The concentration should be on the body part that is being rotated. For this, it is advisable to keep your eyes closed during the exercises.

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March 2006

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