Artwork by Dirk Czarnota

God created this world with the good intention of making all living beings lead a happy and peaceful life. All living beings seem to have the same intention. We don’t see any living being who doesn’t want to be happy. People work hard to have a long life of good health, happiness, and peace. We all know that good health is the foundation for all these requirements. There are some proverbs that remind us about the importance of good health: “When health is lost, everything is lost” and “Health is wealth.”

“There is no better strength than the Yoga strength
No better friend than the light of Wisdom
No worse bondage than the illusion
No worse enemy than the egotism.”
~Swami Satchidananda

America’s once wealthiest man and president of Ford Motors once said, “Though I was a multi- billionaire, I could not find happiness in my life. When I see an ordinary laborer working in my company enjoying eating some food, I am very jealous of him. At that time, I wished I could be an ordinary laborer rather than the king of automobiles.” The meaning and purpose of happy life is explained here.

Physical activity is the secret of a hale and healthy life. Even the newborn baby shakes and moves their hands and legs when hungry. Animals also do hard physical work. It is rare to see physical work in people who sit many hours in their place of work. Surprisingly, Yoga postures would help these people to have a healthier life.

In those days, it was thought that Yoga was meant for saints and monks or for those who would like to attain powers. Today, Yoga is meant for everybody, whether they are a farmer or a king. Yoga suits everyone. It helps one to have a healthy body. Yoga postures not only prevent diseases but also can cure them.

What is the significance of healthy life? Good appetite, good digestion, sound sleep, no disease in the body, always active, all the parts of the body doing their duty properly, good heart and pulse rates, happiness in the mind, interest to be of service. One natural force is responsible for all the body elements functioning properly. This natural force is running all through the minute nerves in our body. The ancient saints said that there were 72,000 nadis i(energy channels) in our body, to which the brain and the backbone are the primary connections.

Apart from these nerves, we have the endocrine glands: pineal, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, etc. that are very important to the body. These parts produce the hormones, which are necessary for our physical growth and maintenance. The glands control not only our body movements but also when the mental agitation affects our mind they produce excess hormone and disturb our health. Yoga postures treat the muscles, nerves, bones, nerves and the digestive parts with good exercise and maintain proper blood circulation.

Saints and sages describe the above mentioned branches of the nerves as the support to the body in the abode of the soul in which the Shakti or power of the Goddess (Devi) resides. The same Shakti is believed to help awaken the kundalini. For this to occur, the practitioner has to awaken the fundamental nerve plexus in the body. This plexus is described as a four-petal lotus—situated at the perineum—known as Kundalini, the Shakti principle in the form of a serpent abiding in the muladhara.

They also further elaborate that the awakened kundalini should be brought to the center of the head—described as the 1008-petaled lotus—and attain the intense contemplation of God (samadhi). The saints have experienced the kundalini awakening—sometimes known as the “goodness of the soul”—by practicing Yoga. Even if we don’t have the desire to awaken the goodness of the soul by practicing these methods, we could still practice Yoga for the sake of our general health.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda
Translated from Tamil by: Sesha Chakravati; Published in the mid-1950s by the Divine Life Society Thapovanam, Guruthenia, Kandy, Sri Lanka.