Rajadhiraja Yoga is the original Tantra modified for today’s society, using systematic and scientific process for the development of the body, of the mind and of the soul, leading to the total experience of the infinite. This is called “self realization”.
In the West we have come to equate the term “yoga” with yoga postures, but in fact they form only a small – albeit important – part of the whole system. In Sanskrit, yoga postures are called asanas. Asana means a “posture giving physical comfort and mental composure.” Asanas affect the glands, nerves, muscles and all the organs of the body.
There are many physical benefits: flexibility, improved respiration and circulation, the prevention and cure of diseases, etc, but the main effect is on the mind, through pressure on the endocrine glands and the subsequent balancing of the hormones secreted from those glands.
The relation between the physical body and the mind is very close, and it’s the endocrine hormones that determine one’s emotions. If the hormones are balanced, the emotions will also be balanced, facilitating concentration and meditation. But without that balance there will be tendencies of mind that distract us from deeper ideation, and despite having a sincere desire to live a constructive and fulfilling life, it may be that we are unable to because of those extroversial tendencies. We may understand that we should meditate, but if we cannot concentrate the mind it will be very difficult. So it is important to rectify the defects of the glands. Asanas help in this to a very large extent.
There are more than 50,000 asanas, but only a few of those are necessary. Many asanas are named after animals, because certain animals have specialized propensities of one sought or another. For example, by doing the Peacock (Mayurasana) one develops fearlessness and a strong digestion – both characteristics of the peacock.
The tortoise can easily retract its extremities, and if one practices the Tortoise Posture (Kurmakasana) the mind can more easily be withdrawn from the external world. The Hare (Shashaungasana) puts pressure on the crown of the head and stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin, the hormone which gives the feeling of well-being and bliss. This is especially important in meditation.
The Shoulderstand is called Sarvaungasana in Sanskrit, meaning “whole body,” indicating its effect on the thyroid gland, which controls the whole body’s metabolism. Other asanas such as the Mountain (Parvatasana) and the Wheel (Cakrasana) are named after the physical structures they resemble.
There is even a relatively recent one (Matsyendrasana) named after the king who invented it. Asanas such as the Lotus (Padmasana), Perfect Pose (Siddhasana) and Brave Pose (Viirasana) directly place the mind in a state beneficial for meditation, so it is these meditation postures (Dhyanasanas) that we use in concentration and meditation.
Mudras are similar to asanas, but usually incorporate some kind of ideation. Their effect is on the nerves and muscles rather than the glands.
Before asanas the body should be cool and calm, and this is achieved quickly and conveniently in Rajadhiraja Yoga by what is called the Half-bath. Asanas should be done on an empty – or at least not full – stomach. The room should be clean and warm, with no draught or smoke. Except for the meditation postures, asanas should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy. There are more guidelines to ensure that asanas are practiced without damage to the health, and they require a deeper commitment. For example, strictly speaking – with the exception of the meditation postures and a few other simple asanas such as the Cobra – vegetarianism is important, as is breathing through the left nostril, as opposed to the right, while practicing asanas. These are little-known finer points which Rajadhiraja Yoga brings to light, the reason for them being the protection of the physical and mental constitution. In general, asanas and mudras should only be practiced on the advice of a proper teacher.