Physical control is merely a preparation for mental control; only when the mind calms down does the process of becoming one with the Reality begin.
A week should now have gone by since you started your first Yoga exercises, and you may have already noticed their effect—provided, of course, that you have been doing them regularly. Let us check and see whether you can detect any results so far.
Are you sleeping better, or falling asleep more quickly? Has your elimination improved? Do you feel more relaxed, experience a sense of lightness? Are your personal problems a little less nagging than they used to be?
On the other hand, your habitual aches and pains may have increased, your limbs grown suffer, your body more bloated. Perhaps you feel drowsy and sleepy all day long. If this happens to be the case, please do not get alarmed. In certain rather rare instances students of Yoga do experience discomfort in the beginning, and I always make it a point to warn my own pupils that a change for the worse may occur during the first few weeks of exercises. But this is nothing to worry about.
Some people go "down" before they can start going "up." Especially if the organism is in a very toxic state, the poisons which exercise stirs up make themselves felt. It is like shaking a glass of water with sand settled on the bottom—the water gets muddy before it can be strained and the sand eliminated.
So do not feel discouraged should this be happening to you, but give your system a chance to go through the cleansing process. You will feel like a new person afterwards. I remember one of my new students actually crying with pain in class while she was doing her exercises. She didn't give up, however, and as a result she is now free of arthritis, asthma, and sinus, all of which had been plaguing her. My own initial experience with Yoga was equally unpleasant. You may recollect that in the autobiographical notes in my previous book I mentioned how I swelled up instead of slimming down, until I could hardly get into my clothes, in spite of taking very little food. That, of course, was at a time I was not yet wearing saris exclusively, as I do now.
As suggested in the general rules in the first lesson, you should help the body to get through the cleansing process faster by drinking plenty of water and taking a daily enema for about a week.
Regarding the performance of the Asanas, I suggest again that you re-read all instructions carefully at this point and check whether you are doing the exercises properly or whether you have injected your own interpretations and are improvising without being aware of it.
Do not forget to do deep breathing with every posture and do not hurry any of the exercises—do them SLOWLY! Avoid being like the old lady I once knew who allotted herself fifteen minutes every morning for her exercises, rushed through them at whirling speed, immensely pleased to have accomplished so much in so short a time, and then complained of being out of breath. When corrected and slowed down she was amazed at feeling relaxed and revitalized afterwards.
Before we begin our second lesson, let us first go over your exercise schedule. You must have worked one out by now and decided which time of day is best suited for your Asanas— whether morning, midday, or evening. As a matter of fact, it is also permissible to work out a divided schedule—for example, to do one set of exercises in the morning and the rest at night. I do suggest, however, that once out of bed, you always begin your day with Rocking.
After the Rocking is done, go over the new postures given for the current week, and then continue with those exercises from the previous week which you personally need most. For instance, if you have sacroiliac trouble, don't fail to do the breathing exercise with the crossed-over foot. If constipated, practice the Head-to-Knee Posture or the Squatting Posture, and also Yoga Mudra, which you will learn today. If you are troubled by a sore throat or bad tonsils, do not omit the Lion Posture, which is given in Lesson Three. For the rest, you can either choose those exercises you like best or do a number of them alternately, depending on the amount of time you have at your disposal. But under no circumstances should you skip the basic Asanas.
Now let us begin the actual lesson. Remember, the new postures which you will learn in this lesson are meant to be practiced every day for a week before going on to Lesson Three. Remember also that they are meant to be added to last week's basic postures, not substituted for them.
Last week we started with the alternate stretching of the legs before getting out of bed. This you should continue to do mornings or evenings, or both. You may add to it the Toe-Twisting exercise, which helps correct falling arches and even in some cases flat feet.
This exercise is very simple: Stretch out the toes of the right foot and then, without moving the foot, bend them downward, the way you would if you tried to pick up something from the floor with your toes. Hold the toes in this position for a few seconds, then relax them. Repeat this several times. Now, instead of bending the toes downwards, pull them upwards. Keep them in this position for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat this several times. Then repeat both exercises with the toes of the left foot. Should you get a cramp while doing these or any other exercises, simply massage the affected place a bit. The cramp soon will disappear. Ultimately you will be free of cramping altogether.
Once you are out of bed and have done the Rocking, which you are probably enjoying by now for its bracing, invigorating effect, we will go on to the Half-Headstand. This is a simple pose which will help you later on to do the full Headstand without much difficulty.
Even if you have no intention ever to stand on your head, try this safe and easy upside-down position, which even babies take delight in doing. Small children probably know instinctively what is good for them. It is good not only for them but also for you and me and anybody else who cares to try it.
We shall come to the benefits of the full Headstand in our next lesson. For the time being just try the following: Get down on your knees, clasp your hands together, interlocking the fingers, and place hands and forearms on the floor, taking care not to keep your elbows too far apart. Then place your head, about an inch above the forehead, on the pad—not on the hands—cupping the palms so that the thumbs hold the back of your head. Now, keeping your head on the floor, get up from the kneeling position, and stand on your toes. Then take a step or two forward, bringing your toes that much closer to your head. Hold this partly upside-down position for several seconds while doing deep breathing. Then relax and lie down. This is enough for your first attempt.
You have just completed the easy version of the Headstand. Did you enjoy it? It really was not too difficult—probably easier than you imagined. Often the mere thought of attempting the Headstand seems terrifying to beginners. "Me! Stand on my head! Never!", I have heard repeated again and again over the years and in all the places where I have taught. Yet often there was a gap of only a few minutes between this "Never!" and the full Headstand actually being done. Here I must repeat, however, that you should not try this exercise more than once in a single lesson. You have a whole week's time to practice it before we try the next movement.
The Half-Headstand, good preparation for the full Head-stand later on. (a) Preliminary pose: Be sure your fingers interlock and your elbows are not too far apart for comfort. (b) Second step: Place head on practice pad, not on the hands. Use thumbs to support the back of the head. (Photos by Jim Buhr)
CAUTION: Never do the Half-Headstand if your blood pressure is too high (above 150) or too low (below 100); if you get palpitations when you attempt it; if you are troubled by constipation and are passing an excessively dry stool; if you suffer from pus in your ears or from chronic nasal catarrh; or have very weak eye capillaries. The Half-Headstand should also be avoided if you have organically defective pituitary, pineal or thyroid glands.
Yoga Mudra (Symbol of Yoga)
Having taken a rest after the Half-Headstand, sit up in order to do the exercise called Yoga Mudra, or Symbol of Yoga. In some English books it is also referred to as The Stoop.
The practice of this posture is considered very important for its spiritual value in the higher stages of Yoga training when the pose is maintained for as long as one hour or more. The physical effect of the Yoga Mudra is mainly internal purification, as it helps keep our system clean by promoting a good elimination. To do the Yoga Mudra you must first sit down in the Lotus Posture. If you are lucky enough to be able to assume this without practice so much the better, but for most Occidentals this posture presents quite a problem in the beginning. Don't let this worry you, however, as I shall give you an easy variation of this Mudra which you can practice until the time when you are able to do the Lotus Posture.
TECHNIQUE: Sit up straight, keeping both legs crossed tailor-fashion. Clench your fists and place them on both sides of the abdomen, a little below the navel. Now take a deep breath, and while exhaling bend forward as low as you can, firmly pressing the fists against the abdomen.
TIME: Stay in this position from five to ten seconds, holding your breath, then slowly straighten the back, returning to the original posture. Eventually you should increase the time to three minutes, adding one second per week.
In order to do the Yoga Mudra in the classical manner you should first assume the Lotus Posture. Keeping both hands behind the back, clasp the left wrist with the right hand, take a deep breath and while exhaling bend forward until your forehead touches the floor. Remain in this posture for a few seconds, holding the breath, then slowly return to the upright position. Take a short rest and repeat. As you keep advancing in your studies, you will find that you can hold the Yoga Mudra longer and longer. When you do, you no longer hold your breath, of course, but breathe deeply while maintaining this posture.
BENEFITS: The Yoga Mudra is an excellent exercise for people troubled by constipation, as it increases the peristaltic movements of the bowels. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles, tones up the nervous system and the colon, and massages the pelvic region. It helps men to overcome seminal weakness. In the higher stages of training it helps the awakening of the Kundalini, which is explained at the end of Lesson Four.
CAUTION: If you suffer from constipation, you should practice the Yoga Mudra very gently. Always release the posture slowly, without any jerking movement.
Lie down and rest before doing the next posture.
The Yoga Mudra, or Symbol of Yoga: (Top Left) Yoga Mudra may first be practiced tailor-fashion. (Photo by Jim Buhr) (Top Right) Traditionally, Yoga Mudra begins with the Lotus Pose. Posed by author. (Bottom) The Yoga Mudra strengthens the abdominal muscles, tones the nervous system, and awakens the Kundalini Power. (Photo by Jim Buhr)
The Body-Raising Pose
We now go on to the Body-Raising Pose, or Arohanãsana.
TECHNIQUE: Start by lying flat on the floor. Interlock your fingers and place your hands behind your head, just above the neck. Take a deep breath, and simultaneously raise your head, shoulders and legs off the floor, keeping the knees straight. Maintain this posture for a few seconds while holding the breath, then exhale while slowly returning to the original position.
TIME: Repeat this posture once more. Increase the number of times, very gradually, from two to eight.
BENEFITS: This is an excellent exercise for strengthening the abdominal muscles, the pelvic region, the back and the shoulders. It helps reduce abdominal fat and relieves constipation.
The Body-Raising Pose, or Arohanãsana, excellent for reducing abdominal fat and relieving constipation. (Photo by Jim Buhr)
CAUTION: This posture is rather strenuous and should not be done by women suffering from serious female disorders.
After finishing the Body-Raising exercise, lie down and rest until your breathing returns to normal. Then take a few deep breaths before standing up for the next exercise, the Bending-Forward Posture, whose Sanskrit name is Hastapadãsana from hasta, which means hand, and pada, foot. You will notice its English name is not a literal translation.
TECHNIQUE: Stand straight, keeping the feet together and the arms hanging loosely along your sides. Inhale deeply and raise the arms above the head with elbows straight. Exhale while bending forward until you can grasp your toes with your hands. Get hold of the big toe by hooking it with the second and third fingers from inside and the thumb outside. If you cannot reach the toes, get hold of the ankles or calves. When exhalation is completed, press your head to your knees, keeping the knees straight. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then return to standing position and take a deep breath. Repeat this exercise twice.
Here is another version of the same posture. Place your hands on the floor, palms up, then step on your fingertips with your toes. Straighten, or try to straighten your knees, and press your head against them.
TIME: Hold this position for two to ten seconds. At first do it only twice but gradually increase up to five times.
BENEFITS: The Bending-Forward Posture is a very invigorating exercise. It gives lightness to the body, does away with sluggishness and with abdominal fat and relieves constipation and gas. It also gives a good pull to the sciatic nerves and hamstrings.
CAUTION: This posture should be done slowly, without any jerkiness. After finishing it you can lie down for a moment, if you wish, or proceed with the next posture.
The Bending-Forward Posture, or Hastapadãsana, invigorates the entire body. (Photo by Jim Buhr)
The Footlift Pose: First Movement
Next you will try the first version of the Footlift Pose. Its Sanskrit name is such a long one, Ardha-baddha-pada-uttanãsana, that we nicknamed it "The Stork."
TECHNIQUE: Stand up straight, then raise the left foot, bending the knees. Using both hands, place the left foot on the right thigh, as high as you can. Hold it with the right hand. Keep the knee down to the level of the right knee so that it does not stick out. Your spine should be erect. Stand steady on your right foot as long as possible and do deep breathing. Repeat the exercise with your right foot up on the left thigh.
To remain standing steady for as long as possible is easier said than done, of course. Usually during the first few days one does everything but stand still—hopping around on one leg and desperately trying to grasp for support. But it can be done.
The Footlift Pose, or Ardha-baddha-pada-uttanãsana, nicknamed "The Stork," is easier than it sounds or looks. (Photo by Mischa Pelz)
Gloria Swanson, who, as you can see, posed for the illustration of the Footlift Pose, didn't have any difficulty in keeping still after only a few days of practice.
This, as I have said, is the first version of the Footlift Pose. At this stage it serves only to develop balance. In the next lesson you will learn the second movement of this posture. In the meantime, lie down and relax before going on to the next posture.
The Reverse Posture
Your next exercise is the Reverse Posture. In Sanskrit it is called Viparïtakarani Mudra (pronounced Veepareetakãrani Moodra). The Asanas, postures, are supposed to give strength, while the Mudras, gestures, are supposed to give balance and steadiness.
According to the yogis, within the human body, "The sun dwells at the root of the navel (the solar plexus) and the moon at the root of the palate." In the Reverse Posture the position is reversed and the sun raised above the moon.
TECHNIQUE: TO assume the Reverse Posture presents little difficulty for most people. Simply lie down on your back, take a deep breath and raise both legs and the buttocks off the floor. While doing this, quickly put your hands on your hips to support the back. Keep your thumbs just under the hip bone and place your elbows on the floor about a foot apart. If the elbows are too wide apart they will not give adequate support to the body, which should be resting on them. Do not bend the knees. Keep the legs straight up and toes pointed, but without straining. Close your eyes and remain in this position while doing deep breathing, even if you feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning.
TIME: At first, keep this posture for a few seconds at a time, gradually increasing its duration to about ten minutes.
The Reverse Posture, or Viparitakarani Mudra, known as the restorer of youth and vitality. (Photo by Jim Buhr)
BENEFITS: The Reverse Posture is known as a restorer of youth and vitality. It is supposed to keep the glands, organs, and skin in a youthful condition, to banish premature wrinkles and prevent untimely aging. This posture is especially recommended for women who suffer from female disorders, irregular or painful periods and physical or mental discomforts during menopause. Manly vigor is also said to be preserved or restored by the practice of this Mudra. It affects partly the thyroid gland, but mainly the gonads, or sex glands, which control the aging processes in our bodies.
First, sit on the floor with legs under a table. Next, lie down flat, pressing the middle of the soles against the edge. Using the feet for leverage, raise buttocks and back, keeping the elbows flat.
Practice Steps for Reverse Posture (Photos by Jim Buhr)
The Reverse Posture is very popular in various beauty culture establishments and gyms, but there it is seldom, if ever, accompanied by deep breathing.
If you happen to be either afraid of doing the Reverse Posture, or are convinced that it is far beyond your capacity, try it first with the aid of a table, and you will be surprised to find that you can do it within a few minutes. Do it as follows:
Sit down on the floor with legs extended under a table and the forehead touching the edge of the table; now lie down on your back, raise both legs to the height of the table and press the middle of your soles against the table's edge, so that your heels are below the edge and the toes above it. Now raise your buttocks and back off the floor and support your body with both hands under the back, keeping the elbows on the floor. Stay in this position for a while and breathe deeply. Next try slowly to straighten first one leg, then the other. It will be easier if, until such time as you are able to keep them erect, you first sway your legs a little over toward your head rather than keep them straight up.
After finishing this posture lie down and take a brief rest. Then get up for the breathing exercises.
A Breathing Exercise for Good Posture
Stand straight with feet together. Put your hands behind your back and interlock the fingers, palms upward. Now turn the palms down. This will automatically give a twisting movement to your elbows.
Inhale deeply, then bend forward, while exhaling, at the same time raising the arms until they are stretched out. Do not bend the elbows, which should remain straight throughout. Keep your head down, trying all the while to swing your arms a bit higher and higher.
Remain a moment in this position, holding your breath; then exhale and return to the standing position without unlocking your fingers. Repeat the whole exercise two or three times.
Another version is done in a kneeling position, as shown in the illustration. The procedure is the same, except that here you bend over until your forehead touches the floor.
This is an excellent exercise for the waistline or a weak back, but even more for stooped shoulders. It should be taught to all children at home and at school to counteract their tendency to slouch, for slouching, in addition to being ugly, develops a bad and unhealthy posture as it prevents the lungs from expanding as they should.
If people could only see for themselves how ugly bad posture makes them look, they would quickly get to work to remedy it. This is especially true of women who wear swim suits and bareback dresses. I am reminded of an incident on the street in Honolulu, when I saw a lovely young woman in front of me take off her stole, suddenly baring a shockingly unattractive back with bones protruding like wings. A little later, at the beach, I received a second shock. The friends I was with prepared to go into the water, and I discovered that they too all had such "wings." Looking around, conscious now of the problem as a whole, I could see very few women or even young girls with really straight spines and a beautiful, dignified carriage. Later, up in my room, I promptly reached for a hand mirror to inspect my own back. It passed muster. Yet I am sure that years ago, before I had started on Yoga exercises, I would have been distressed by the results of this self-examination, since I too used to have the awful habit of slouching, much to the chagrin of my mother who was always keeping after me to stand up straight.
The Breathing Exercise, done in kneeling posture: (a) Begin with the hands clasped behind the back, (b) This motion of body and arms is excellent for a sagging waistline, weak back, and especially for stooped shoulders. (Photos by Jim Buhr)
And now, before we finish our lesson with some relaxation, you will learn rhythmic breathing.
In India they say that by practicing rhythmic breathing you become attuned to the rhythm of the Universe; that by establishing a direct contact with the whole world you come to experience a sense of oneness with it. Then the feeling of separateness disappears and with it fear, loneliness, frustration, doubt, despair and other miseries.
Rhythmic breathing, as well as correct concentration and meditation which we shall discuss in our last lesson, can bring about a great change in both your physical and mental state and serve as a step toward spiritual unfolding. Through rhythmic breathing one also becomes aware of one's own rhythm. Each person functions according to his individual rhythm and when thrown off, whether by shock, a nerve-taxing job, strained family or business relations or any alien tempo, he loses his inner equilibrium. If the situation is allowed to continue, and a person does not regain his inner balance, he either becomes a nervous wreck or ends up in a state of collapse. The practice of rhythmic breathing could doubtless avert or remedy many such unhappy occurrences.
Rhythmic breathing can help you to acquire self-confidence, optimism, a calm mind or any other desired quality. The power one begins to develop with it is neither positive nor negative-it simply "is." It is up to us to use it for good or evil, and one must be very careful never to misuse it.
TECHNIQUE: Rhythmic breathing is done in the same way as deep breathing, but it is timed to the rhythm of your heartbeat. Inhalation and exhalation should be done to the same number of beats, as this establishes an even rhythm.
First assume the correct posture. If you cannot comfortably remain in the Lotus Pose, get into an easy cross-legged position or even sit on a chair. Remember to open your belt, unhook your bra, loosen your girdle or tie if you happen to be wearing any of these items. Keep the spine straight, with hands on knees, and start by taking a few deep breaths as you did before, and then stop.
Now put the second, third and fourth fingers of your right hand on the left wrist to find the pulse. Carefully listen to the pulse beat, and after a short while start counting 1-2-3-4 several times, to the rhythm of the beats.
Continue mentally counting 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 until you fall into this rhythm and can follow it without holding your pulse. Then put your hands on your knees and take a deep breath while counting 1-2-3-4; hold the breath while counting 1-2; exhale while again counting 1-2-3-4.
Repeat this two or three times, no more. This is rhythmic breathing.
Should four beats prove to be too much for you, count three. Should it be too little, count five or six for breathing in, and the same for breathing out. When you inhale, do not merely stop at the end of the count before you have actually finished the inhalation: adjust the breathing so that both inhalation and exhalation become rhythmic. Always take an equal time for breathing in and breathing out.
TIME: YOU may repeat this exercise again in the evening, but do not overdo it in the beginning. Start with three or four rounds, adding one round per week until you finally reach the desired number, perhaps sixty or more.
You may also assume any one of the other meditative poses for your rhythmic breathing if the Lotus Pose is still too difficult for you. For instance, try the Accomplished Pose, called Siddhãsana from the Sanskrit word siddha, which means adept and accomplished yogi. It is done as follows:
The Siddhãsana, or Accomplished Pose (Top) is often used by Yogis for meditation. The Swastikãsana (Bottom) is only slightly different. Both are recommended for persons who find the Lotus Pose too difficult. Posed by Bala Krishna. (Photos by Jim Buhr)
Sit down with both legs outstretched. Bend the left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the right thigh so that the heel touches the perineum. Then bend the right knee and put the right heel against the pubic bone. Keep hands on knees with palms open if you do this between sunset and sunrise; after sunset reverse palms. The spine should always be held erect.
Here is another classic pose for meditation, called Swastikãsana in Sanskrit. Sit on the exercise mat, bend the right knee and place the sole of the right foot against the left thigh, the heel against the groin. Now bend the left knee and push the toes of the left foot between the right thigh and calf. Hold the spine straight. Hold your hands as you did in the Accomplished Pose.
Still another is the Symmetrical Pose, Samãsana in Sanskrit. The only difference between this and the previous pose is in the position of the heels: in Swastikãsana both heels press against the opposite groins, whereas here both heels should be set against the pubic bone—first the right, then the left. The toes of the right foot are pushed under the left thigh and the toes of the left foot are placed on the right calf, with the sole upturned. The spine and hands are kept in the same position as in the previous postures. If you cannot assume any of these postures, choose any comfortable position in which your head and spine will remain straight.
It is from the mastery based on the liberty to choose between the satisfaction of the appetites and the flight toward Spirituality that human dignity is born.
—LECOMTE DU NOÜY,
Human Destiny 1
The colon is the mirror of mind—when the mind gets right, the colon gets right.
Concentration and Meditation 2
No course in Yoga can be regarded as complete without the mention o£ diet, so let us here start our discussion of some of its most essential aspects.
We all know that next to air and water, food is most essential for keeping our bodies healthy, young and strong. Doesn't it then seem like a paradox to learn that America, the richest country in the world, is suffering from malnutrition, starving in the midst of plenty?
According to our leading scientists and nutritionists, one of the main causes for this is over-eating; the other is eating the wrong kinds of food. Our organism is nourished only by the food which it can break down and assimilate. Food which is not properly broken down turns into poison in the body. Far too much devitalized, unnatural, unwholesome food is being consumed by our population. The result is that our health picture looks sadder and sadder all the time. Diseases, especially degenerative diseases, are reaching such proportions that even people who are apparently healthy, or believed to be so, are found upon examination to be carrying one or another kind of illness which one day unexpectedly sends them into a hospital bed, onto an operating table, or into a grave.
We often hear that one or another of our friends has suddenly developed diabetes, asthma, coronary thrombosis; has been stricken with cancer, polio, arthritis or some other degenerative disease. We also frequently read in the papers about someone who has been taken to a mental hospital or dropped dead of a sudden heart attack in the prime of life—usually between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five—although apparently there had been nothing wrong previously. It seldom occurs to us that whatever happened was not really sudden, but in all probability the inevitable result of poisons accumulating over years of wrong eating and living habits. Reading such news may frighten us—yet what do we do about it? At best, we decide upon a physical checkup, but seldom, if ever, do we resolve actually to change our living and eating habits. In spite of the many warnings constantly appearing in various newspapers, books and magazines, not to mention health publications, we simply go along as we did before.
Let me here give just a few pertinent quotations along with my own and other people's comments:
POOR DIET LINKED TO MENTAL ILLNESS
Improper Food Cause of Many Diseases, Nutrition
Adequate diet is not only an effective remedy for any stress ailment but for much mental illness as well. . . .
1 New York: Longmans, Green & Co., Inc., 1947.
2 Cohasset, Mass.: The Vedanta Centre.
The slowing down of the metabolic process (changing food into energy, tissue and body secretion) is caused by poor diet-too much white sugar and flour and not enough fruits, vegetables, meat and milk. 8
EATING LINKED TO GALLSTONES
There's better than one chance in three that modern care can cure gall bladder trouble without surgery, according to the Minnesota State Medical Association.
The association said that the quiet daily control of diet, habits and exercise can accomplish a great deal for the one adult in five who has gallstones.
Burning up fat—
The materials which go to produce most gallstones are made when the body burns fat. In turn, the way the body burns fat depends on the glands, and the amount of fat it has to burn depends on the diet. If anything is wrong with either, gallstones are likely to form.
To stay clear of gallstones, the association suggests that everyone drink eight or more glasses of water each day, eat plenty of lean meat and avoid ice-cold drinks. Also avoid too much fried food, salad dressing, butter, oil and cream. Fruit three times a day is recommended.4
DOCTOR SEES DIET—CANCER TIEUP
. . . Dr. E. Vincent Coudry of the City of Hope Medical Center said that by reducing the intake of calories the incidence of cancer is also reduced. During World War II in Germany and other occupied countries the reduction of cancer cases was very marked because people were on low-calorie diets.5
3 The Los Angeles Times, May 20, 1956.
4 UP, Minneapolis, July 14, 1955.
5 Chris Clauson in The Los Angeles Examiner, November 29, 1955.
6 New York: Whittier Books, Inc.
It is interesting to note that Dr. Max Gerson, in The Cancer Therapy,6 also speaks of fifty cancer cases cured by a special saltless, protein-free, fresh-vegetable, fruit-and-juice diet. He emphasizes that juice must be freshly prepared and consumed immediately, that is, not later than ten or fifteen minutes after it has been pressed, as otherwise it loses its enzymes—those minute particles which are the carriers of life activity in the body. And by the way, the juice of vegetables and fruit grown in organically-treated soil is immeasurably richer in enzymes than that from produce raised in chemically-treated soil. I have seen this fact conclusively demonstrated by means of the Nemeoscope, so far the only existing instrument that is able to project on a screen the resolution of the enzymes and show them in their uniform structure and in action.
"Our Starving Teenagers" is the title of a dramatic article in the Reader's Digest of December, 1955, which has subsequently been reprinted for distribution in separate leaflet form. This article deals with malnutrition among teen-agers, which has become nation-wide. They fill up on the useless calories of the so-called "jitterbug diet"—a hot dog, a bag of potato chips, a candy bar and a bottle of pop—and they leave no room for wholesome nutritious food. The result: the health of the boys is so poor that the majority of them do not: pass their army physical examinations. The condition of the girls, the future mothers of the nation, is still worse.
Worst of all, most of the damage is permanent. It affects not only the offenders but also their future children: "What a woman eats during the period of pregnancy and nursing directly affects the intelligence of her child." 7
Another recent news item reads as follows:
Animal Fat Diet Blamed For Heart Ills Increase
A diet high in animal fats is the villain in the mounting rate of heart and blood vessel diseases," according to Dr. C. M. Wilhelmj of the Creighton School of Medicine. . . . "A normal diet of a well-to-do family today is from fifty to sixty-eight per cent fat. Our diets have been going higher in fat content the last ten to fifteen years, so has our rate of heart and blood vessel diseases.8
When one considers that the daily food intake of a normal healthy adult should contain only about twenty to thirty per cent fat, including fats derived from eggs, dairy products, nuts and baked goods, it is small wonder that doctors are worried about the nation's eating habits.
An important factor to consider is not only the quantity of fat but also its quality. Unsaturated fats, mostly derived from plants and oils, are regarded as essential because they are low in cholesterol. The best sources of these are: saf-flower oil, sunflower seed oil, soya bean oil, corn oil and sesame seed oil.
7 Columbia Teacher's Report, released in 1955.
8AP, Omaha, Nebraska, March 10, 1955.
The saturated fats, mostly derived from animals, eggs and dairy products, are regarded as unessential as they are high in cholesterol. Highest in cholesterol is brain, egg yolk and liver; the lowest is milk, cottage cheese and fish. All fruits and most vegetables are low in cholesterol.
Unsaturated fatty acids move about swiftly in our organism, whereas the saturated settle and become deposits. Professor G. J. Schoepfer, of the University of Minnesota Hospitals, Minneapolis, reports9 that even one meal with too much saturated fat can cause a heart attack in a susceptible person. Also:
At the 20th session of the American Academy of Nutrition Dr. Eugene H. Payne said that cooking fats like lard and butter which are popular in the United States, England, Sweden and Holland, cause in these countries more deaths from circulatory diseases than any other illness. "Excess fat leads to premature degeneration of the liver, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. . . . Putting on fat we must consider a serious metabolic disorder, no matter whether the individual still feels healthy or not. . . .
"Fat is continuously in circulation; that is: some is put away in storage but, at the same time, storage fat is again put into circulation. Continuous turnover is a sign of health; with reduced turnover, metabolic disorder begins." 10
I could go on and on like this, quoting report after report from newspapers, medical journals, magazines and books.
Their number is ever increasing. Yet in spite of these warnings most people still think that there is nothing wrong with their diet. "We always eat this way," they usually argue.
Probably because the damaging effects of an incorrect diet do not produce immediate ill results, we seldom blame our diet for our increasing ailments. How many otherwise well-informed persons would attribute a cold, fever, asthma, arthritis, polio, heart diseases and mental disorders to a toxic condition? Very few. Fewer still would stop overeating, or go on a cleansing diet or a fast, or practice deep breathing in order to get more oxygen when they need it to remain healthy.
9 The New England Journal of Medicine, December 26, 1957.
10 The Los Angeles Times, May 21, 1956.
For some curious reason, even constipation is rarely linked with faulty diet, although so many of our physical troubles originate in the stomach. Many of us might well join in a little prayer inscribed at the entrance to a l5th-Century cathedral in Chester, England, which reads, "O Lord, give me a good digestion, but also something to digest." But we in America should probably pray for fewer things to digest.
Dr. Ehrenfried E. Pfeiífer, Professor of Nutrition at Farleigh-Dickinson University, said in one of his lectures that to build and keep up good health, "one has to maintain a balanced diet which must be planned before the food enters the mouth." In other words you must first decide upon a menu, then stick to your decision.
It is not easy to suggest a diet that would suit everyone, since diet is a very individual matter. Much depends upon each person's physical condition, morphological 11 structure, weight, height, age, even one's occupation and mode of life. The food intake of a brain worker confined to his desk would, for instance, be inadequate for a physical laborer, while an expectant mother would hardly thrive on the menu of a dieting model. Moreover not only the amount but also the type of food varies with the age of the individual. Both quantities and quality of food needed for a baby, a child, a teen ager, an adult, and an older person are completely different.
In Dr. Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer's still-unpublished Balanced Nutrition—Know What You Eat and Why, we read that during the period of growth one needs more calories in one's diet, with a large amount of carbohydrates, which should be balanced. The adult between the ages of about twenty-five to forty-two needs a lower calorie diet, with fewer carbohydrates and more proteins, also well balanced. In the declining years one needs a diet low in calories and low in fat; good proteins should be prevalent.
But even within an age bracket there are fluctuations. There are people who are old at forty, others who just start living at this age. My own mother at seventy-seven looks and feels more like fifty-five. She does her daily Yoga exercises, including the Headstand, runs the household, dances at parties, and still has the clear, beautiful singing voice of a young woman.
11 Morphology is the science of human structure and build.
In order to determine what to eat and what not to eat, you should study your own particular condition, then begin experimenting with various foods and combinations of foods to find out what suits you best. Remember, one man's food is another man's poison! Only, please don't turn into a food faddist who talks of nothing but his meals, his digestion, his elimination. And avoid the wrong kind of experimenting, like the man I once saw at a health lecture, who kept loudly agreeing with everything the nutritionist was saying while gorging on cheap candy bars. When, unable to suppress a smile, I suggested that he was doing the exact opposite of what the speaker was preaching, the man grinned sheepishly, showing a row of shockingly bad teeth, and said apologetically: "I am only experimenting!"
Health lecturers in this country have done much to make the public diet-conscious, but they are also responsible for creating considerable confusion with their contradictory theories. For instance, one of them will advocate drinking milk, while the next runs it down. One recommends raw foods; the next thunders against them. Still another is all for meat-eating while his colleague condemns it as ghoulish. And so it goes all along the line, until the poor listener is so mixed up he returns to his old—and generally bad—eating habits.
There are, however, a few "musts" on which almost everybody does agree. Personally, I learned them from my Yoga teacher in India. Here they are: Do not overeat; avoid dead foods; take plenty of fresh fruits, salads, and vegetables, or fruit and vegetables juices, provided you don't suffer from any ailment where raw food is prohibited; drink lots of fresh water during the day; finally, inhale a sufficient quantity of fresh air.
The best foods—those that are fresh, pure, clean and natural, such as vegetables, greens, fruits, whole grains, honey, oils, nuts, milk, eggs, fish and meat—contain all the necessary vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, the life-chemicals which control our metabolism. And metabolism, remember, is the rate of life.
The "dead" foods are those that have been robbed of their natural vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes by processing of various kinds. They include everything canned, preserved, pickled, bottled, bleached, polished, refined and otherwise devitalized. White flour, white rice, and white sugar also belong in this category, since they have been bleached, polished and refined almost to nothing. They should be replaced in the diet by whole grain flour, brown rice and raw sugar—not white sugar mixed with molasses to color it, and then sold as "brown sugar."
Natural honey, obtainable from private bee-owners or from health-food stores is the best sweetener of all. The label will tell you whether it is unheated and unprocessed, "with nothing added and nothing taken away." Here is what German scientists have discovered about this kind of honey:
Honey-Eating Gets Support
Bonn, April 7 (Reuters)—The West German Research Society has discovered that thousands of years ago Roman wrestlers were fed on large quantities of honey to increase their fighting power. Now they have heard that Russian athletes regularly eat honey for the same reason. As a result, the society is advocating the eating of more honey—only it emphasizes that it should be in its natural state, not honey which has been heated to make it keep longer. 12
So much for honey. As for white sugar, the dental authority Dr. Melvin E. Page, in his book, Body Chemistry in Health and Disease/3 describes for us how white sugar disturbs the sugar-calcium-phosphorus balance in the body. As a result it leads to dental decay. And while we are on the subject of tooth decay, let us mention that starches, too, help create favorable conditions for it by affecting the saliva in the mouth.
Another bad effect of white sugar is that it interferes with the maintenance of an even blood-sugar level and robs the system of Vitamin B. Long before the development of the Salk vaccine, in 1948, another medical authority, Dr. Benjamin F. Sandier, author of Diet Prevents Polio, 14 was able to check a polio epidemic threatening North Carolina by advising parents over the radio not to give children sweets in any form until after the danger was over. He had linked the consumption of soft drinks and sugar to polio.
White flour, which is concentrated carbohydrate, is converted into sugar in the liver. The bleaching and processing deprive it of its natural vitamins and minerals. Therefore all items made of this flour, such as bread, macaroni, noodles, cake, biscuits, pies, soups, and gravies, have very little nutritive values and are mainly "empty calories."
In her book, Feel Like a Million, 15 Catharyn Elwood tells of a group of school children who were preparing an exhibit of mice for a fair in Long Beach. Some of the mice were fed on puffed wheat and some on whole-grain wheat. A few days before the opening, the puffed-wheat-fed mice died, and the youngsters thereupon refused to eat puffed wheat at home. Here was an example of visual education of a kind the advertisers don't bargain for!
Let me also mention an experiment made in school with a human tooth: The tooth was dropped into a bottle containing one of the most popular soft drinks. Within three weeks it had completely dissolved. Only then did the youngsters fully realize why the school authorities had prohibited the sale of soft drinks on the grounds.
12 The Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1956.
13 St. Petersburg, Florida: The Page Foundation.
14 The Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1951.
At least one government I know of, the German, has forbidden the bleaching of flour; I am also told that the governments of Japan and China are considering the prohibition of rice-polishing. According to a sportsman from Finland, Russian Olympic team members owed their physical fitness to their wholesome food and special breathing exercises. In an interview given to the Swiss magazine Volksgesundheit in May 1954, this same Finn said that while he was trying to find out the real reason for the phenomenal success of the Russians in the Olympics, he began observing them closely during the games in Helsinki and Falun. A perfect knowledge of their language permitted him to engage in friendly conversation with his Russian colleagues and to spend a great deal of time with them. In his opinion, they had two great advantages over the other participants in the sports. First, they used a special breathing technique that enabled them to feel at ease while others were puffing and panting. The second was their healthy mode of life and natural diet consisting mainly of fresh vegetables, greens, fruits, and milk products. All these were of a quality unfortunately unobtainable in the "civilized" countries of the West, for fruits and vegetables in Russia are still raised in healthy soil treated with natural fertilizers, not with chemicals. They are also free of poisonous sprays and gases. Consequently milk, too, comes from healthy cows whose grass and fodder are not grown with the help of chemicals.
Vegetables grown with chemicals, incidentally, are over-rich in potassium and too poor in magnesium; this imbalance produces toxicity in the human body. But the craze for systematically poisoning foodstuffs is still unknown to the majority of Russians. The interviewer concluded that his findings should lead not only all sportsmen, but also all other people the world over to do some serious thinking on the subject.
Judging from the Volksgesundheit article, the diet of the Russian athletes is very similar to that recommended by Indian yogis. Both give ample proof of the truly astonishing results of natural diet combined with special breathing techniques and a healthy mode of life and exercises. A shining example of this is the Hunzas 16 of India. These people have recently caught the attention of the world because of their exceptional good health and longevity. Men over a hundred years old are still strong enough to do heavy work and till the soil, and their teeth show no signs of decay. I myself have seen almost miraculous transformations and recoveries in people who have taken up the practice of Yoga postures and changed their food habits. This includes my own case.
15 New York: The Devin-Adair Co.
16 An interesting book, The Hunza-Land, has recently been written by Dr. Allen E. Banik, who has made a study of these people, their mode of life and eating habits. Whitehorn Publishing Co., Long Beach, California.
On our pantry shelves at home you will never find anything canned, preserved, bottled, bleached, refined or processed.
Whole grain flour is substituted for white flour; brown rice for white rice; honey for white sugar, for table and kitchen use, as even raw sugar is used sparingly. Cocoa and chocolate are also absent and carob powder substituted in desserts or beverages. Personally I do not care for desserts, and I generally drink coffee-substitutes made with raw goat's milk or soya bean milk, various herb teas, buttermilk, fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and plenty of fresh water with or without lemon. We also use lemons instead of vinegar. For seasoning we use all types of vegetable, mineral, and sea salts plus fresh and dry herbs, onion and garlic. Onions and garlic, by the way, were forbidden by my Yoga teacher for the duration of my training, just as were all other vegetables that do not ripen under the direct rays of the sun, such as beets, carrots, radishes and potatoes. For during the time of the discipleship a pupil must lead a sexless life and must therefore avoid all passion-exciting foods.
It goes without saying that as a Yoga disciple I was not to touch alcohol, cigarettes or meat, none of which made any difference to me, since I was already a teetotaler, a non-smoker, and a vegetarian. But I did enjoy coffee, which I also gave up, along with tea, chocolate and cocoa, because my teacher branded them as poisons.
Alcohol is avoided by the yogis because it lowers the vibrations of their astral body, whereas the purpose of Yoga is to heighten these vibrations. They do not smoke because it congests and poisons the lungs, and Yoga aims to cleanse the organs. Smoking is also supposed to coarsen and make breakable the astral web, which in a developed individual should be thin and strong enough to protect him from the lower influences. Meat is not eaten for several reasons. To begin with, the yogis don't believe in killing; moreover, the idea of eating a dead corpse is repulsive to them. The astral vibrations of the slaughtered animal have an effect on the astral body of the person eating the meat.
One of our friends, a university professor from Europe, had to give up eating meat because he began to see the astral bodies of the killed animals he was about to eat. He told me, for instance, that oysters, scallops, and crabs, so rich in protein, were the worst for our own astral bodies and fish the least harmful.
You, however, need not exclude all these from your diet, since you are not subject to the strict disciplines of a Yoga aspirant, and can make your own decisions. If you are a smoker, however, at least do deep breathing exercises often to keep your lungs cleaner.
But in order to obtain better general results from following these teachings you should, for your own benefit, revise your eating habits. Every American would benefit by a more sensible and more balanced diet than his present one, for our eating habits are slowly but surely damaging the health of the entire nation. So if you are anxious to regain or retain your health don't neglect the following diet suggestions to which I personally adhere in my daily life.
(1) Never drink iced water, especially not with meals, as this interferes with the free flow of digestive juices and impairs digestion. The drinking of iced water is America's national sin against proper digestion.
(2) Drink a glass of fresh, pure water, at room temperature, the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. It should be taken hot only when one is troubled by constipation. In that case a little lemon may be added. Hot water, or herb tea with lemon—and honey if you wish—taken on a hot summer day makes you feel cooler afterward.
(3) Drink five to eight glasses of water a day, or one glass for every fourteen pounds of your body weight. In those parts of the country where fluoride is added to the water, drink distilled water to be on the safe side. Even President Eisenhower is known, on occasion, to have carried his own drinking water.
Next to air, water is one of the bodily supplies most urgently demanded by nature. Eight-tenths of our physical body consists of water and we eliminate about two quarts of it a clay. An insufficient intake of water is often responsible for constipation and a congested colon, for malfunction of the liver and kidneys, and for clogged bowels.
(4) Don't drink water with your meals, but take it a half hour before or two to three hours after meals, so as not to disturb the processes of digestion by diluting the digestive juices.
(5) Sip the water slowly, never gulp it down all at once.
(6) In order to restore to water the life-elements lost in boiling or processing, pass it through the air, pouring it from one glass into another several times. You will soon notice that this gives a slightly invigorating and stimulating effect, which is absent in lifeless and devitalized water.
(7) It is better to eat fruit than to drink fruit juices.
(8) When making fresh vegetable juices from carrots, radishes, beets, etc., add some of the green tops.
(9) Don't keep juices standing, as they will lose their precious enzymes. Orange juice, for instance, loses one third of them after a half hour, and all of them after two hours.
(10) Alcohol, tea, coffee, cocoa and chocolate are not recommended, because tannic acid, theine, caffeine and theobromine are stimulants.
(11) Milk is a food, not a drink. It should be taken in small sips, otherwise it is likely to produce indigestion.
(12) It is not the amount of food you eat that nourishes your body, but only the amount the body itself can assimilate.
(13) Choose carefully the foods that suit your system; choose them just as carefully as you choose a dress, a hat or a tie. At first you will have to experiment, trying various foods and various combinations, until you find out which suit you best.
(14) Avoid all devitalized foods such as canned goods, polished rice, white flour and refined sugar; use unpolished rice, whole-wheat flour and brown sugar or honey instead. Try to cut down on candy, pastries and vinegar, cider vinegar excepted.
(15) Chew your food carefully, especially if it is the starchy kind, so that it may be properly mixed with saliva; unless converted into glucose by the saliva in the mouth, starch will lie putrefying in the stomach for several hours.
(16) Toasted or dry bread is better than fresh, but do not eat bread together with any liquid—let the teeth work on it properly. Better have whatever you want to drink before eating the bread, as starch should be converted into glucose by the saliva.
(17) Eat only one starch to a meal. For instance, if you take rice omit bread, potatoes, macaroni, starchy pudding, thickened gravy and so on.
(18) If you suffer from gas, it is advisable to plan your meals so that you do not eat starch and protein together, and especially not with cooked sulphur foods like peas, cabbage, cauliflower, eggs, turnips and so on, because gas is produced by sulphur working on the starch. (See the Hay Diet in Appendix I.)
(19) Don't throw away the water in which vegetables have been boiled, but use it for soup, gravies, or for drinking. Potato water is very good as it alkalizes the body. See recipe in Appendix I.
(20) Don't throw away the green tops of carrots, beets (beet tops should be first scalded with boiling water before being cooked), parsnips, radishes etc.; add them tied in a bundle to soup, then throw them away when the soup has cooked.
(21) Vegetables should be boiled in very little water over a slow fire, or better still without any water, in special vapor-sealing stainless steel utensils.
(22) Fried foods as well as rich dishes should be avoided altogether, because these digest more slowly than fat itself. Fat is the last to leave the stomach, carbohydrates coming first and then the proteins.
(23) All saturated fats, like lard, margarine, eggs, butter and dairy products tend to increase the blood cholesterol level and can be classified as unessential fats.
(24) Highest in cholesterol are brains, egg yolk, and liver; the lowest are milk, cottage cheese, and fish. All fruit and most vegetables are also low in cholesterol.
(25) Any diet which is high in saturated fats is dangerous. So eat balanced meals: a high fat and low protein diet inhibits the function of enzymes.
(26) All unsaturated fats, such as oils, keep the blood cholesterol level low and can be classified as essential fats. The best sources are saf-flower oil, sunflower seed oil, soya bean oil, sesame seed oil, and cornflower oil. Cottonseed oil is not a good source.
(27) Remember it is not only the calories and the amount of fat that decides the issue of nutrition and health, but the quality of the fat. Bacon, for instance, has caloric fat value only. It contains nothing else, neither vitamins, nor minerals.
(28) The warming up of meals containing any kind of fat, oil included, renders them more and more indigestible with every reheating. Both deep frying and re-using fat left in the frying pan are not recommended either, for the same reason. Try to use only oils labeled "cold pressed," usually obtainable in health food stores.
(29) Any of the oils mentioned in paragraph 26 as well as old fashioned cod liver oil are very good lubricants for the system and a help to better elimination if taken at night; take one tablespoonful three or four hours after the last meal.
(30) Six glasses of fresh raw cabbage juice a day keep peptic ulcers away.
(31) One of the best strength restorers is the "Calcium Cocktail." According to Professor Carl Albin, calcium, lemon, sulfur (egg yolk), honey and a little alcohol will restore the normal balance and activity of the gonads, or sex glands, within thirty to sixty days. It is prepared as follows: Put 8 raw eggs into a jar without breaking their shells. (The eggs should be fertile and must come from chickens that are allowed to run free. The commercially distributed eggs lack certain vitamins.) Cover with the juice of about 16 lemons, preferably grown organically without any poisonous spray on them, and keep in refrigerator for 4-6 days, until shells are dissolved by the lemon and reduced to powder. Take out the eggs, being careful not to break the thin membrane, separate the yolks from the whites which are not to be used, and put the yolks back into the bowl. Press its contents through a sieve or put into a liquefier, add raw honey to taste and pour in 2-3 ounces of brandy. Keep in refrigerator. Take a tablespoonful 3 times a day before meals, shaking well before using.
In spite of being a teetotaler, I must give this cocktail recipe in full—the brandy in it is supposed to extract the active ingredients. It also acts as a natural preservative.
(32) The richest source of protein is soya bean. Two pounds of soya bean flour contain as much protein as four pounds of cheese, or five pounds of boneless meat, or six dozen eggs, or fifteen quarts of milk. Soya bean is the only non-acid forming protein.
(33) The most essential rule about food, however, has nothing to do with its quantity, quality, or preparation, but with your mental attitude at the time you are eating it.
Aside from the fact that a meal should never be eaten hurriedly, it is most important that it be taken with enjoyment, in congenial company and with pleasant surroundings. Food eaten in a state of anger, aggravation or displeasure produces a toxic condition in the body. Therefore it is better to skip a meal when in a bad state and wait until one gets back to normal.
Try to make your mealtime harmonious by avoiding upsetting discussions. A nicely-set table also adds to the pleasure of eating. So does a smiling face, a cheerful word, a beautiful flower or a picture. Bless your food, and enjoy it.
Unpleasant news should never be broken at table or just before meals, as this upsets not only the digestion but the entire organism. You will know why even better when you come to the third lesson where we shall talk about "stress" and the "stressors."
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