Health and Yoga

This book is more about health than about yoga. Here the reader will receive the practical guidance on that part of the yoga practice, which is engaged in health.
The fact that health is the highest value of the humanity is well known. Everyone agrees with that. But only some people are motivated enough to invest their time and energy for the sake of staying healthy.
Others also realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but do not sacrifice time for exercising or make effort to watch the diet. Yes, they understand the importance of running in the morning, the subscription to swimming pool or gym, and morning exercising. But they are going to do a workout in the future, "tomorrow... the other day... when there will be a chance of a good weather."
This book is for both categories of people: for those, who already involved in some kind of exercising and for those, who planning to take care of their health in the future.
For people, who have a great interest in yoga this book can serve as a practice guide, but even for those, who are not really interested in yoga, the book will be very useful. After reading it, everyone will find something useful for them: some a lot, some a little. But because the subject is health, even a little knowledge received will be very valuable. The reader can choose a couple of exercises, a couple of good habits, such as nasal lavage with cold water, the method of relaxation or how to decrease the body weight without dieting.
To read this book is better from a common sense prospective. I was writing it under that mindset. No mystery. No philosophy. No exotic retreats of the power of mantras, mudras and kundalini awakening. We restrict ourselves to health factors and the factors that affect it, and the experience gained by generations of sages for thousands of years about a healthy lifestyle.
We will analyze the yogic view on health, consider a diet, cleansing, exercise and other information without going into the philosophy and mysticism, and try to base everything on common sense and only on the data that is recognized by the scientific world, or that have occurred in the empirical experience: the experience of my own and many students that have witnessed the impact of yoga on their own health.
I can say with full confidence, which comes from the objective and subjective conditions, that there is no healing system that is comparable by its effectiveness with yoga.
Yoga is superior to all other health practices. If the reader is determined for morning exercises, jogging or swimming and will embrace theoretical yogic experience, analyzing, rethinking and comparing with yoga strengths and weaknesses of running, bodybuilding or swimming, he will find a new, more profound understanding of the way to "be healthy ".
Let’s discuss the strengths and weaknesses of yoga, and other wellness techniques by comparing them:
1. Yoga prolongs life, more effective than jogging, swimming, gymnastics, and other types of training. The duration of life depends on metabolism. The faster the metabolism is, the faster a person grows old. Any sport increases the rate of breathing: stressed muscles need more oxygen, exerciser breathes fast and heart rate quickens. Breathing and heart set the rhythm of metabolism and the processes in the body. Therefore, the aging process goes faster. In yoga any postures are practiced with smooth, deep breathing, despite the tension in the muscles, and often with a delay. The exercise in pranayama (breathing practices) is a slow, rhythmic breathing. By daily practice of pranayama for a few minutes, the student learns to breathe slower also during the entire day. So, his life is extended. In the East they believe that the length of life of everybody is ordained as a certain number of breaths. Allegorically, it is about the frequency of respiratory and related processes in the body. Deliberately extending inhale and exhale, practicing slow breathing rhythm, one slows down the aging process. For example, if the average person is breathing at 15 inhales and exhales per minute, the yogi makes three breaths, so logically processes in the body are much slower. Consequently, yogi is aging slower.
2. Immediately we must to mention the pressure on the heart. When running, swimming, bodybuilding or do other active exercise, in spite of their health benefits, the muscles are tired and in the muscle fibers a large amount of lactic acid is produced. The lactic acid is neutralized in the muscle fibers by alkali and oxygen. The more you tired, the more lactic acid produced in the muscles and the more intense the body tries to saturate the muscles with oxygen, which results in rapid, deep breathing and heart palpitations. At the same time, trying to pump faster and harder, the heart takes on an enormous stress.
3. The intoxication of entire body by lactic acid is important. Deep exhaustion means that muscle tissue filled with lactic acid. Also, the muscles are reducing carbon dioxide in them. If the exercise continues until total exhaustion that means that almost entire body is poisoned by lactic acid and carbon dioxide to dangerous levels. In yoga, the same muscle tension is static, while maintaining a slow, deep breathing, often with a delay. This yogic technique does not cause these problems in the body, in the form of rapid breathing, palpitations and excessive amounts of lactic acid.
4. As we shall see later, asanas or yoga poses are designed to control the blood flow to particular areas of the body. There are asanas that stimulate different organs, nerve centers, spinal cord and brain, endocrine glands. All this has a far greater health benefits than exercise of skeletal muscles, jogging and swimming.
5. Yoga is incomparably easier, due to limitation of exercise equipment, swimming pool, jogging track. All you need is blanket folded four times and an open window. There is no need to spend time to get to the pool, the gym or the park. And indeed the practice of hatha yoga requires 15-20 minutes, no more.
6. Any sport, any exercise is relaxation. By running, swimming or pumping muscles, people try to relax and release stress. In yoga, this aspect is elevated to the highest degree: each asana is not just a physical exercise, but also the synthesis of the posture with breathing and attention. There is asana that is totally dedicated to relaxation - "Savasana." This technique has adopted by Western psychiatry and specifically from this technique self-hypnosis was originated. As for the pranayama, this breathing practice of yoga relaxes the body more intense than any other form of exercise.
7. Pranayama also fills the blood with oxygen and removes carbon dioxide more efficiently than usual frequent and deep breathing of tired athlete. As we will see in the corresponding chapter of the breathing practices, yogis have developed a special yogic inhale and exhale that fills and empties the lungs much better than normal breathing.
8. You can continue to list the benefits of yoga even further:
only yoga gives control over the "passive muscles";
everyone can practice asanas to recover specific organ;
some asanas can help to correct vision;
yoga helps to fight hair loss;
yoga develops almost childish flexibility in the body and especially in spine, so that is another sign of old age - stiffness and inflexibility are absent even in old people, practicing yoga;
inverted asanas like standing on your head, nourish the brain with oxygen-rich blood that manifests as improved memory and thinking;
stretching during asanas leads to some microscopic injuries in muscle tissue that is not dangerous, because they are minimal and controlled. (Asanas are performed up to the level when you feel some pain, so muscles stretch daily a little better than before. This causes microscopic injuries in muscle fibers.) These microscopic injuries cause a synthesis of endorphins in body (endogenous morphine), natural drug that produces a feeling of positivity, energy and even euphoria;
9. And finally, in my opinion the most important thing that differentiates yoga from other health systems: yoga works not only in the physical level, but also in the energy level and contributes much more intense, than other types of training, to accumulation of PRANA - the universal energy.
When I speak of prana, I realize that I enter the subject of mysticism, something that is not yet proven by science. But in this subject I can refer to my own experience. Pranic flows are directly experienced with yoga breathing exercises.
At one time, to prove, if I do not have a subjective feeling caused by intensive slow breathing, I did one experiment several times. I took two equal groups of corn seeds. They were placed on the same plates with wet cotton. One of the plates I hypnotized every day right after the breathing exercises, aiming at those seeds the flow of prana that I accumulated by pranayama and sensed inside me. The other plate was for comparison. The results were astounding: the impact of prana for two minutes per day stimulated seeds, so in two weeks they exceeded the control group nearly in three times. So, for me the existence of prana is the same fact as the existence of the back side of the moon, it is usually not visible, but it definitely exists.

We absorb prana from breathing, eating and drinking; from the sun and the Earth's magnetic field. Yoga is the way to accumulate more prana and store it in chakramah - nerve plexuses. The accumulated prana can be spent by yogi not only for experiments with plants. It can cure headaches and muscle pain of other people by "sharing your own health." As for yogi’s own body - he becomes a BILLIONAIRE OF HEALTH.
Immediately, I clarify what I mean by HEALTH. Health consists of physical and mental health that manifests itself like happiness, feeling good about self and others, active lifestyle and certain state of mind, which is almost euphoric and called in Sanskrit sattva.
I try to define this concept as simple as possible. If we divide the whole existence into simple components, we get the three levels: physical, mental and energy level. We have our body - bones, muscles, etc. This is - the physical level - tamas or mass. Also, in our bodies there are different processes such as: digestion, respiration, etc. This is the energy level - rajas. And, we have a mental formation, the objectification of our existence, the perception of all these processes, emotions, memory, ability to reason, to make decisions, etc. This is the mental level, sattva.
Yoga seeks to harmonize all three levels: to cleanse the body of toxins, strengthen the muscles, to regulate the processes of digestion, excretion, respiration and circulation, to fill nervous system with energy in order to make more balanced psyche or sattvic. Yoga produces amazing results by balancing the mass and the energy, centrifugal and centripetal nerve impulses, processes of excitation and inhibition. Plus and minus, yin and yang, ha and tha - their balance is the goal of Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Health.

Sattvic (Harmony)
I will not talk about the Yama and Niyama, the first two stages of classical Yoga, which are mentioned in the manuals on Hatha yoga. For health purposes no matter whether a person does not tell the truth all the times, accepts gifts or he is an atheist. But stress, passion, tension at work, other bad habits, of course, affect the health, and therefore it is rational to be moderate and to avoid wasting nervous energy.
It's worth to remember experiments on the rats that lived in conditions of stress. The floor was covered with an iron cage in which from time to time, a small electrical current was sent. Although the current was safe for the experimental animals, the stress from electric shock caused them the stomach ulcers.
The life of modern man is a lot like this experiment. Destiny and the surrounding reality keep us under constant stress. Often this is the reason of nervous and physical disorders. If you try to be calmer, and maintain simple and plain life style, the easier your life will become and the healthier you will feel.
Healthy lifestyle begins from the habits and from changing them. Therefore, yoga practice begins with habits.
You should avoid activities associated with fear and stress, get enough sleep, do not overwork and be less involved in the daily routine, learn how to relax, to change your focus, to rest from work and develop the right attitude to your life and career.
The yogic point of view on life is analyzed in detail in my other work - "Yoga of Fate".
For those readers who do not want to go deep into yogic philosophy and are interested only in aspect of wellness, I want to emphasize: health is the greatest asset of a human being, and no business is worth a stomach ulcers or heart problems. Therefore, without any philosophy and only relying on common sense, you can see the benefits of yogic approach - to lead a healthy lifestyle, such as balance in work and leisure, control over the sleep and eating habits. Resistance to obsession and emotions like anger, greed, fear or envy is the aim of yogic culture habits. By becoming balanced, following the harmony of nature, a man returns to the original matrix of existence.
The reader should keep in mind that health is something natural, and the closer a person is to nature, the healthier he will be in body and mind.
I think this is enough to make some kind of introduction. I do not know if I reached the goal, but in a nutshell I wanted to say that health is the natural inherent of every human being. And even without philosophy, practical yoga instructions are able to return this original health to everyone.
Let's move on to the specific instructions and begin to list the necessary attributes of healthy body and mind:

Control of sleep is one of the major factors of healthy life. Even the resources that talk about other aspects of Hatha Yoga (Bhagavad Gita, Mokshadharme) referred to the importance of sleep control. Lack of sleep, as well as an overabundance of sleep disturbs the harmony of mind and body. The necessary amount of sleep is seven hours, plus or minus an hour or two, based on the individuality of each of us. There are rare exceptions when some people need 4 hours and another 10 hours. So, the person has to set the schedule of sleep and wakefulness, relying on common sense, not laziness or circumstances. Sometimes a person decides to handle extra work or school exams by cutting your necessary sleep period. This is wrong, not only in terms of health, but also impractical, because the mind without enough rest does the worse job and its performance decreases.
Minutes before going to sleep and upon awakening are considered the best for self-hypnosis. You can read about yogic practices and self-hypnosis in my book "Meditation (First Steps)."
Yoga also reviews such an unusual aspect like the position of the body during the sleep and balancing with the magnetic field of the Earth. It turns out the bed should be placed so that the head is facing North and the feet - to the South. In this position, sleep brings more peace, calm to the nervous system and it will be charged with prana. Prana is absorbed from the electromagnetic field of the Earth, if the body is located in the right way.
Remember, that during yoga practice the direction is north, so student’s face should be turned to the North.

Prana or the universal energy contained in the food, drink and air. It can be absorbed from the sunlight, moonlight, water and wind. But the food is the main source of prana. Vegetable food contains more prana than the food made from animals. Therefore, yoga recommends eating vegetarian foods and to bring to a minimum the consumption of the rest.
We can see that vegetarian food is better after observing the natural world. There are animals that consume vegetation, storing the solar energy in their bodies accumulated by plants. When the predator (or human) eats these animals they get the "second-hand" solar energy. But in nature everything is arranged so that very unlikely the predators are eaten by others, but not only because of their strength and aggressiveness. When a lion eats a dead antelope and get stuck by jackals, he may kill one of them, but do not consider eating it, preferring to return to the antelope. In the dead jackal’s solar energy "is second-hand," and eating it, the lion would have got the energy of "third-hand."
Guided by this principle to receive the SOLAR ENERGY from "first-hand" you can stick with the best diet. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, honey and nuts. Dairy products, eggs – all of them contain the "necessary ingredients for growth and health," like the opponents of vegetarianism telling us. However, to avoid problems with your family, it is better not to think about vegetarianism, not to be a vegetarian, just bring the meat and fish in your diet to a minimum. Believe me, the extra burger once a month will harm your practice less than nagging grandmother, who cooked this burger for you and who does not understand your reasoning about vegetarianism and compassion towards animals, and she will be disappointed because you have neglected her care.
For teens and young readers, whose body is still in the process of growth I emphasize: for normal development of the body there are necessary substances in meat and fish. Do not take risks and use normal, healthy diet including meat and fish while you are in transition period in which your body is in the process of growth. When completely grown up, you can almost eliminate meat and fish: nuts, dairy products and eggs contain enough building material for the body.
There is a lot prana in the seeds that are beginning to sprout. You can take advantage of this: pour corn, barley, or any other eatable seeds on wet gauze. And as soon as they "come to life", they can be added to food. Add a little and before grind them with something heavy. You will not feel any change of taste, but the energy component of your food will rise geometric.
So, we almost finished with the diet. What is left is a process of overeating. It is easy to solve: yoga uses a ritual when eating food. And ritual helps to change your relation to the process of eating.
The essence of the ritual is to create the right setting for the meal. Remember, Yoga is not only mechanical practice of exercises. Yoga is an attempt to change the point of view on life (darshana) and to rebuild your body and mind. Eating is one of the components of our lives and it is the key in reconstruction of the personality. People get pleasure from the food and the attachment to food is a kind of struggle between the animal part (stomach) and the individual. If you do not control yourself, then the stomach can win over this battle.
By performing this ritual and eating with proper mental attitude, the student controls a beast, an animal part in him.
"He who receives food, so he does not become the food!" - Says the Upanishad. In other words, a student rises over the material and lower level of existence.
A change in our mental attitude makes a meal like another meditation. If the ritual be treated carefully, sincerely and with faith, the body begins to clear.
But this book I'm writing from the perspective of health, common sense and experience. Therefore, I offer you a different solution to the problem of overeating: lengthen chewing in half. With careful chewing of food the body is satisfied quicker for various reasons: the stomach receptors signal earlier because thoroughly chewed food stimulates them better. Also, prana is received already in the mouth when chewing and helps the momentum of "satisfaction". And last, but not least: the center of "pleasure" is satisfied more intensively when swallow thoroughly chewed food.
And the time factor is important also: by chewing food thoroughly, you automatically eat less food. So just trust me, try to lengthen the time of chewing each piece of food twice. And you will find that the amount of food consumed will be almost half the size, but you will not feel hungry.
When getting up from the table, you should leave the opportunity to fill yourself with some more of food. In other words, we need to fill ourselves three quarters of what is commonly eaten by people who do not adhere to this rule.
Before eating, and after take five sips of water.
Yoga generally advised to drink plenty of water. It cleanses the body, and also, it is a source of prana. Drink water by small sips during the day.
Coffee and tea should be reduced to a minimum. Start drinking peppermint tea, it calms, whereas the caffeine in coffee and tea stimulates prana and needlessly wasting it. Drink coffee or tea only when you really need stimulation.
Buy calcium and chew one pill for dinner (this is the method: the tablet should be eaten during the meal). Calcium is one of the key building blocks of our body. After 40 years, the body needs calcium, so add it to the food. No need to do this forever and regularly. Simply add the tablet to dinner, when you remember about calcium.
I would also recommend fish oil capsules. Buy a pack, and swallow a couple of capsules irregular, when you remember. Fish oil contains a substance that is necessary for our nerves to transmit impulse.
If you reduce the meat and fish in your diet, you will definitely have to make up for vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D controls the content of calcium in the blood, helping the muscles and regulates the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus - osteoplastic elements.
Vitamin D is found in vegetables, fruits and grains. Vegetarians get it out of the oil, and also from the sun. Skin contains ergosterol, which is converted to vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, reducing meat and fish do not exclude oil from your diet and also often take a few minutes to "communicate with the sun." The sun's rays not only provide vitamin D, but also disinfect skin, and the fine system of energy channels is saturated with prana. I advise all year around to find five minutes a day in sunny weather and soak up the sun's heat and energy. But the eyes need to be closed, and the best is to use the sunglasses. There is a substance in our eyes called rhodopsin, which is destroyed by exposure to light. Even through closed eyelids sunlight destroys rhodopsin, so it's best to help the body with sunglasses.
Sunbathing should be a relaxing moment: when you're closing your eyes, forget about problems, affairs, and a few minutes passively absorb prana. Yogic tradition appreciates this ritual. Since ancient times, every faithful person was required to the sun three times, morning, noon and evening, and "purify the mind, from the radiance of the sun." They told also, that "lunar bath", the wind and the radiance of the stars are detoxifying. So, take the habit to forget about everything and a few minutes to watch the stars, or the moon and cleanse the mind from stress.

Yoga calls cleansing techniques “kriya”. In Hatha Yoga manuals you can find absolutely wild ways of cleaning the body, like the cord threaded through the nostrils (entering in one nostril and out of the other).
I will not even list all that nonsense and we will talk only about few kriyas that I recommend.
Let's start with the nose. During washing the face yogis draw the water through the nose and letting it out through the mouth, thus washing the mucosa. The effect of this is very good: the person becomes less vulnerable to colds and flu. Also, after performing this kriya for sometime headaches will disappear. If the reader is inexperienced, the cold water can cause burning and even inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Therefore, like all other exercises of yoga, this kriya should be started cautiously, gradually accustoming the body to cold water. Place glass of cool water (not cold) with some salt added next to the sink. Ironically, but salted water does not cause burning.
Take the glass and bring it to nose, keep face straight and even a little lifted. Having put the glass to your nose, take a slight inhaling movement, so like making a "sip" by the nose. The water enters the nose and will flow to the mouth. Spit it, and make a couple of these "sips." Remember, you cannot swallow the water that entered through the nose, it has to be spitted.
There is another more advanced version of this kriya: the water is drawn through the mouth and then released through the nostrils.
Gradually, you have to decrease the amount of slat and make the water colder. So, after a month you will be able to draw in the nostrils plain water from the tap and it will not cause much of burning, and the low temperature will not be dangerous, because you gradually become accustomed to cold water.
Among other kriyas we can mention brushing. According to ancient texts, you should brush your teeth after every meal.
As well, you can train yourself to a cold shower that will make your nerves and spirit stronger and harden the body.
Typically, a cold shower is taken before exercise. Spray the entire body, except for the crown of your head. Like all other exercises of yoga, the pouring should be gradual and cautious. Start with a cool shower and gradually, in a couple of weeks, bring the water to cold.
There are some other kriyas for cleansing stomach and intestine.
I personally think that yoga exercises and diet lead to cleanse the body of toxins, so there is no need for such kriya as an enema or vomiting. But every reader himself must weigh the pros and cons of how had lived before and how much a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating were abused. For rapid purification of the body, it may be wise to do a cleansing day, at least a couple times. You should fast from morning and drink only boiled water. By the evening, drink couple of litres of salted water (slowly sip by sip) and by sticking two fingers down to the throat try to cause nausea.
Then you can also do the enema (I think there is no need to go into details.)
Yogis claim that the stomach and intestines contain poisons, toxins and waste and by removing that, the student makes a major move towards health. Yoga used even more radical way of cleansing the stomach, when the student gradually accustoms himself to swallow a long cloth, and then pull it out. By this method the substances together with mucus are scraped from the walls of the stomach more effectively than by just water and vomiting. As though it may sound crazy, but I must agree with that. My dog does something similar a couple of times a year, regularly. Dog eats the grass, a lot of grass, and then, after about an hour, it spews. Undigested grass brings the mucus from her stomach and probably a similar way to cleanse is in the dog’s genes.
But, personally, I do not recommend to my reader such a radical way of cleansing the stomach. Yes, you can train yourself to swallow the fabric: at the beginning just a bit, the next day – more, until you learn to swallow a long strip and slowly pulling it out. But, first - it is very not aesthetic; then, you can irritate the stomach lining. If you need to clean the body in a short time, warm water and vomiting is enough. But if there is no hurry, then after a few months of yoga exercises, the body is cleansed of toxins. Some postures, especially those that are associated with the stomach (Nauli, uddiana) contribute to cleaning, so there will be no need for an enema, vomiting, fasting and drinking boiled water.
Now we can proceed to the main part - to physical exercises.

For exercises you need calm, quiet room with fresh air. You will need yoga mat or folded blanket, covered with a clean cloth. This cloth should be washed frequently.
Exercise on an empty stomach, the best time is morning.
15 - 20 minutes will be enough time for those exercises which I will describe next. Over the same time, jogging, swimming or body building are simply impossible to complete in the same amount of time. You will need to spend more time on the road to pool, park or gym. And even if all that you have next to your door, with yoga exercises you will gain more in the long term health.
I'll describe a little more postures and exercises than you need for your daily practice.
Carefully read the description and effects of various asanas, try them and select few that you will be able to perform in 15-20 minutes time range.
The choice is yours. I focus on the aspect of your own choice, because it is an important aspect. There are a lot of exercises in yoga and you cannot practice them all. Legends tell about the thirty-three millions of asanas, the written texts include eighty-four of them. After the listing of several exercises and their praise, all of a sudden this particular asana (e.g. half of sarvagasana) has outstanding results from its practices and better than other postures, and the practice of this asana only one can conquer aging, get in perfect health, and etc.
The fact is that each posture has a special benefit. This benefit resulted from a complex of factors: blood replenished and nourish the specific organs, endocrine glands, muscle groups, stimulates certain nerve plexus, spinal cord and brain.
Pick yourself the exercises that are right for you. I cite only those asanas in the description below that have more benefits. You need to find at least one "inverted asana," at least four postures in which the spine is tilted back and forth. Be sure to practice "King of Fishes” posture, in which the spine is twisted around its axis. It is also necessary to practice Nauli and uddianu - retraction of the abdominal wall that tremendously affects internal organs. To be clear, look at it this way: "inverted asana" stimulates the brain, due to increased blood flow. Asanas, in which the body is tilted forward or bend back or twisted around its axis, stimulate the spinal cord. Nauli stimulates and massages the internal organs. No other sport is influenced so effectively to the brain and spinal cord, organs, endocrine glands as yoga postures do. I also added a couple of exercises to develop muscles and abdominals.
Try different exercises and analyze these effects by accomplishing one, then the other. After a couple of months, you will stick to certain asanas; the body itself will tell which are they will be. After that, do them regularly, increasing the intensity and duration of the time of holding the asana.
After six months 15 - 20 minutes will not be enough and you will need to exercise for about half an hour. But in these first six months you already will feel the magic of these exercises; you become “addicted” to them, so this half an hour will be pleasurable and valuable for you.
Start your practice always from inverted postures. Some other asanas are able to flush up the bloodstream, increase blood pressure, so at first, while the body is calm perform sarvagasana (shoulder stand) or headstand.
Start from the simplest of the three inverted asana - "half shoulder stand." After two weeks, add and "full shoulder stand" and about a month later, when your brain is used to blood flow, very gently start to develop "stand on the head."
I describe these three inverted postures:
Half Shoulder Stand or Parita Karani:

Lie on your back and relax. Slowly and smoothly lift the feet, and then straighten the body by supporting it with your elbows. Try all the time to breathe slowly. Stay in the asana for a moment and slowly, no sudden movements! return to starting position.
"Half Shoulder Stand" is similar to "Full Shoulder Stand", but in the last one body is fully extended, it is nearly 90 degrees to the neck. And in "Half Shoulder Stand" the neck is bending not so radical, so the blood flows freely into the brain, nourishing and stimulating it. This asana is very easy to implement, does not require such intensity as standing on the head and in effect is almost comparable to it. In yogic texts they praise this asana incredibly and say that only one version of this asana gives all possible effects of yoga: the disappearance of gray hair and wrinkles, youth, health, psychic powers, etc.
I just note that it is easy to perform this asana, and everyone is able to practice it, while the "Full Shoulder Stand" is slightly more complicated, and "Headstand" is more difficult.
Therefore, I recommend starting with the development of this asana, increasing the dwell time for a minute a week. Be careful and do not joke with the brain. It is dangerous suddenly get a lot of blood flush in, so teach the body gradually.
Despite many similarities, each inverted asana has its own characteristics. So, after a couple of weeks start to practice "Shoulder Stand", and after another two weeks - "Headstand".

Shoulder Stand or Sarvagasana

The main technique for this asana is the same as that in the "Half Shoulder Stand" - lie on your back, arms at your sides with palms stretched down, slowly, without bending the knees, raise your legs as high as possible and lift the hips, then bend your elbows, lean body with them, raise legs and raise them up as long as the neck is bent to the body at right angles, and the chin touches the jugular notch of the sternum. Hold that position for a minute and add up to one minute per week.
The main difference between "Half Shoulder Stand" and "Shoulder Stand" is a curved neck.

"Half Shoulder Stand" more nourishes the brain, and "Full Shoulder Stand" - neck center and thyroid.
"Half Shoulder Stand" increases at the same time the flow of blood to the brain, by performing the drainage of the lower body, especially the cortex and its intracranial glands: the pituitary and pineal body. Practicing this posture will prevent such diseases as insufficiency of brain blood circulation and senile dementia. Regular practice prevents atherosclerosis (arterial degeneration) by restoring the tone and elasticity of blood vessels. This is the antidote for stroke. Health benefit of enhanced blood nutrition and blood supply exceeds the benefits from other exercises.
But the neck area is very important too. Blood stores in the neck area while performing Shoulder Stand, therefore thyroid and parathyroid glands are benefit from this asana.
The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the neck at front. It is involved in the regulation of various functions, including anabolic (growth and recovery) and catabolic (waste) processes, brain development and sexual maturation. Thyroid gland is a powerful natural barrier that protects the body from poisoning. Also, in the back of the plane of the neck there are parathyroid glands, which are enclosed in a single shell with the thyroid gland. They regulate the metabolism of calcium and phosphate.
While holding the Shoulder Stand, your focus should be in the neck area. Among other asanas, Sarvangasana is the best to stimulate the above glands.
The above should not be understood as if the other inverted asanas are not beneficial for the thyroid and parathyroid glands. They are all significantly changing the conditions in the arterial circulation and the vein network. The outflow of blood from the inferior vein systems and portal vein is facilitated and the outflow from the superior vein cava become more difficult, which contributes to a passive retention of blood in the brain, the cerebral cortex, pineal, thyroid and parathyroid, pituitary gland.
Because of the force of gravity, legs and lower bodies tend to store excessive amount of blood; other body fluids are also collected in the dependent parts of the body such as the pelvis and legs. Inverted asanas "wash" these areas and return the accumulated cell liquids to the normal circulation. This cannot be achieved in a normal standing or in the lying position, which is why the inverted position as so efficient physiologically. When flipping the body, you also prevent such diseases as visceroptosis (bulging of the abdominal cavity), hemorrhoids, varicose veins and a hernia. All these diseases are developed because of the involvement of gravity.
Flipping the body is also beneficial to the entire vascular system. During the whole life on the arteries and veins continuously affects the force of gravity, which is completely eliminated when you flip the body.
Head Stand or Sirshasana:
This one, like the other two we were talking about, is considered one of the most important. Sirshasana combines the effect of the first two asanas: blood is feeding the brain, the pineal gland, the pituitary gland and the neck, the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Also, blood nourishes eyes, teeth, ears, facial muscles and skin. They say about this asana, that with the regular practice it helps stop the process of hair loss and gray hair.
But there is one thing about this asana I have not seen anywhere else, and I want to write about.
Unlike the first two that do include all the benefits of inverted asanas, it is separately stressed that the Headstand is a meditative posture, but there is no explanation why. Blood flow and increased power of the brain is observed in all three positions. But with the first two, Shoulder Stand and Half Shoulder Stand the head is parallel to the floor. Only in the Headstand student is flipped completely. Not only his body is raised, but the head is flipped over. Yogi looks at the world from upside down, and that is what helps to change the darshana.
Darshana is the view out of the world, outlook at the universe, point of view. The main purpose of yoga as a philosophical system is to change the darshana, to change the view out of the world. So, by performing Sirshasana the student looks at the world differently literally, and that is promotes a meditative state.
There is another thing: this asana prepares the brain more than others to a rush of blood, which comes with the exercises of "Breath of Kundalini" and advanced meditations.

Stand on your knees, weave your fingers and put them in front of you so that the angle between the forearm and fingers interlocked as the top corner.

Bowing the head, put it in the top corner so that the hands with fingers interlocked covered the head from behind, like a tick.

The blue color indicates the areas that attached to your mat.

Using the head and the elbows as a support system, try to walk your feet closer to the body and by lifting the hips and bending your knees, push the body up with the light legs throw so that the body is straightened.

The wider apart the elbows, the easier it is to achieve headstand, but harder to maintain stability.

You need to find a middle ground - the best position of elbows that give the opportunity to stand on the head.

In the first weeks, take the position from this picture, mastering the balance upside down.

Having achieved a stable position, straighten your knees, so that the body is elongated, upside down.

First, make attempts in the corner, surrounded on all sides by plenty of pillows or ask a friend to help you supporting the legs. After some time, with practice, you will be able calmly perform this asana. Holding this asana first fifteen seconds, do not stop breathing. In general, try to keep the mind and body relaxed. Gradually, every week add up to twenty seconds of holding time and bring the holding time to a few minutes. You should come out of this asana very gradually in reverse order. First, lower the legs, placing them on the mat. You cannot raise your head and stand up immediately. You have to wait about a dozen seconds to balance the blood pressure gradually.
So, after a couple of months, when you master Sirshasana, it is necessary to begin your morning practice from this asana.
Perform the Shoulder Stand after, and then, to save time and not getting up from the floor do the Half Shoulder Stand.
Hold each of the inverted asanas about a minute and slowly and carefully add on a minute (or less!) weekly.

There is one rule: after the body was tilted to one side, you need to do the asana in which the body is bending in the opposite direction.
Shoulder Stand and Half Shoulder Stand are the asanas in which the spine and neck are tilted forward. Therefore, immediately after them, do an exercise in which the body is arched backwards.

"Bridge" or Chakrasana

Lying on your back, bend your arms and legs; lift the body based on the feet and hands. Bend the spine as much as possible, pushing the hands to the feet (but carefully!).
Breathe without delaying. Hold the asana three breaths and each day add one inhalation and exhalation. Slowly return to starting horizontal position.
"The Bridge" is a great asana for developing muscles in arms and legs, spinal cord; it reduces the stomach and strengthens the abdominal muscles.

“Plow” or Halasana

Starting position is lying on your back, arms along the body and palms down. Without bending your legs, slowly lift them and touch the floor by your toes behind your head. Knees are together, hips and knees should be in a straight line. Chin pressed into the chest. Cervical bent and blood circulation increases. Breathe slowly through the nose. Stay in asana three breaths and slowly return leg to starting position. Every day increase holding time of the asana by one breath.

“Upper Dog” or Bhudzhangasana

Lie face down with your arms around the shoulders. Relax. With inhale, unbend the body, "vertebra by vertebra" separating yourself from the floor. First, separate the head, next is the neck and so on. Same as a cobra does. Help yourself with hands, but try to do it at the end, when to lift the body with back muscles is no longer possible. With practice you should use hands less. The body should be lifted up by the muscles of the neck and the back. At the maximum spine bend stay for ten or twenty seconds, then slowly descend to the starting position as you exhale. Slow inhale should be parallel to the lifting up; there is no cessation of breathing. Repeat this exercise three times. Next week – four. So bring it to seven times. Bending the spine straightens it and makes the straightest position possible during meditation. Additionally, by arching the spine we irritate the spinal cord that evokes "the fire of Kundalini" and has an incredible healing effect.
The danger for the unprepared student is to stop breathing. First, do the exercise without holding your breath. Progress to some hold of breath. The hold of breath in the maximum lifted up position should made so as the pressure is not coming to the head.
The breathing in this asana and in almost all asanas always done by muscle strain, that is responsible for breath. You should not cover the glottis, or rather, can overlap, but the breath hold should not be made by it. If the hold is in opening the glottis, the air must remain in the lungs due to stress of the chest.
Another danger is that a strong muscle strain of the anterior neck can pinch the carotid arteries, causing blackouts and loss of consciousness or seizures.
Stretching the body or paschimottanasana:

This pose reduces the belly, makes spine and back flexible and incredibly strengthens the leg muscles. The ancient texts say that there is nothing that cannot be cured by this posture. The reason for that is the irritation of the spinal cord. Stimulating the spinal cord, we send impulses into the whole body, and by this an incredible therapeutic benefit is achieved. To take this pose sit down, stretch the legs and lean forward; breathe out and grab the feet. Try to bend the body by bending the lower back. Gradually you will be able to master a posture so that almost you will be able to fold the body in half, touching the chest down. Try not to bend your back arch, and keep it straight and bending the lower back. Hold a tilt position for 15 seconds, adding 10 seconds each week and bringing asana to two minutes. Repeat it three times, adding one bend every week.
You can perform this asana from the standing position.

“Bow” Posture or Dhanurasana:

This posture stimulates the bowels, reduces excess fat in the abdomen, greatly benefit the potency, makes muscles of arms and legs strong and flexible etc. This asana is done as follows: lie face down. Grab hold of the ankles; pull them back with bending the knees.

After some practice it you will be easy for you to perform.
Inhale; lift the entire body off the floor, using the extension of the legs.

Your hands are like a bowstring, and the body and legs are the bow. You have to stay on the floor with your lower abdomen, the rest must be raised from the floor. Stay in asana for ten or twenty seconds, then slowly descend to the starting position as you exhale. First, you can spread the legs a bit, but ideally they should be pressed against each other.

Gradually, learn how to do the asana with the hips squeezed together.
This asana is similar to the "Upper Dog” in benefit, execution and dangers. The most dangerous thing is holding the breath. You have to hold your breath so as the blood pressure in the abdominal and chest area is not increasing.

 “The King of Fishes” or matsyendrasana:
This position is the most powerful stimulator of spinal cord. To perform it, sit down, legs extended. Bend the right leg so that the heel is in the crotch. Left leg bent at the knee, "skipping" the right thigh. Place the left heel on the outside of the right thigh. The left leg should be at the level of the knee right leg. Throw your right hand behind your left leg and reach the right knee. Lean left hand on the floor for balance.
Right hand grasp the foot, as in the photo, it will be difficult for beginners, but it is a matter of practice.
While you will master asana, do its light versions.
The hand that was cast on the leg is a kind of lever with which you can rotate the body around its axis. While turning the body, you will hear the crunch of the spine; this is how effectively the spin rotates on its axis. Repeat this asana symmetrically on the other side. Make one turn of the spine on its axis in one direction and then in the opposite direction. That will be the single cycle. At the beginning, make three cycles, gradually increasing to seven. Remember, when turning to one side, it is necessary to turn into another and mirror the position. Turning through the lever formed by hand with the opposite leg by bending in the form of a triangle, you stay in this position for 15 seconds, gradually bringing the time to one minute.
The texts say that this asana cures all diseases of the spine, evokes hidden mystical power and tidies the digestive system.
There is another posture that helps to bring the digestive system in order and I want to recommend it.

"Pull in the stomach" or Uddiyana Bandha and Nauli:

This exercise is the most effective in terms of improvement of the digestive organs, for their great massages. Neither sport can boast the same benefit, because in any kinds of exercises only muscles are involved. But this exercise or bandha massages abdominal organs and stimulating them. In this case, this asana helps sloshing energy from the solar plexus. The same asana removes fat from the abdomen and trains the muscles of the abdominal wall.

Do the exercise as follows: Stand, or sit cross-legged, lean your hands on the legs.
Exhale all air completely and with blocking the throat (glottis), pull your stomach in as much as possible, do not breathe the air. Gradually you will be able to pull in entire stomach more effectively. A few months after the repetition of this exercise every day, you will master the abdominal muscles so that you can collect your abdominal muscles in one direction or another, or in the center, in a thin tube with retracted abdomen.

This exercise is very effective; you have probably seen this on TV. Fakirs and magicians like to demonstrate this exercise for advertisement of their skills. An ordinary person can not consciously hold those muscles, control of which yogi demonstrate. But the real yogi will not be doing this on TV.

If you cannot perform this exercise in such a complicated form, do not despair, but just retracted abdomen is already sufficient for internal massage.

"Peacock Pose" or Mayyurasana:

There is one more asana that develops great abs and massages the internal organs. This asana is difficult for beginners, but I highly recommend it to learn and to practice, because it also increases the strength of the arms, the back muscles and buttocks.
Starting position is on the knees, hands are folded together and on the floor, palms down, fingers pointing to the feet. Slowly lower the belly until it coupled with elbows and keep your body on the elbows. Legs stretched out, exhale and lift your legs straight up together, so that the body parallel to the floor.
You can just lift your feet up, as it shows on the picture.
There are different varieties of this pose, but it is even more difficult, and it is practiced only by advanced students. For this kind, a person must be fluent in "lotus posture." Exercise begins in the "lotus position" and then goes all the way as I have described, with one difference: the feet are always stay on the hips.

Since we have mentioned "lotus" pose, I describe it below, although it is a meditation asana and does not do much for health purposes. Western people, who are not accustomed from childhood to sit on the floor by eastern cross-legged position, find for them very difficult to do lotus posture. So I do not necessarily recommend mastering this asana. Although, some readers with good flexibility can easily adopt this posture.

"Lotus pose" or Padmasana:

Put one leg on the thigh of the other leg bending at the knee. Put the other leg, also with bending knee on the hip of the opposite leg.
If you can perform this asana, there is one exercise that very effectively strengthens abdominal and arm muscles, and you will be able to perform it.
Lean your hands on the mat and lift the body up, holding in this position.
You should breathe without a delay. Gradually you will be able to hold this position longer.
It strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and arms, while a student spends very little time compared to other methods that are commonly used to train these muscles ("swing press", push-ups or lifting barbells).
In general, for the development of muscles yoga uses static positions.
For example, this asana:

Or this one:

You just need to take these positions, and with breathing slowly, hold them as long as possible. The next day you will be able to extend the time for a couple of seconds, then - more. These asanas are not particularly important for health, but they develop muscles, burn extra weight and add physical strength, so I do recommend to practice them if you have enough time.
I think this will be enough to list yoga asanas. Of course, there are much more asanas in yoga, but in terms of benefits for health, the described in this book are the best. I detailed them enough, so it will be fine, if the reader finds time and perseverance to practice at least some of them.
Usually after physical exercises, it's time for breathing.
Breathing exercises:
Without food a human being can live for over a month, without water - a few days, but without air only a couple of minutes. Breathing is the most important function of our body. Breathing is automatic process, but one can deliberately intervene in this function. Specifically this duality (automatism and possibility to correct) makes the respiratory function as "the door to the subconscious".
But we will not deal with this aspect. It is important for meditation purposes. For health, the other facets  of  breathing are important. The first thing to learn is yogi’s inhale and exhale. We know the importance of diet, moderation in eating, caution with which to choose foods and drinks. We also know how important fresh air. Children whose parents regularly take them to resorts, with clean air, grow up healthy. Just a couple of weeks of being out of town, in the mountains or in the forest, changing the child's health for a year, or even for life. But then children grow up, and the daily routine swamps them so much, that they no longer can be pulled out from the city. Smog, smoke, pollution - all this gets into the lungs of modern man. And, I think, some exercises that I have picked will help the reader to clear the lungs from all of this. During Pranayama, performing yogic full inhalation and exhalation, we clear the lungs and fill them with oxygen more intense than ordinary, untrained people are capable of doing at whatever resort with fresh air they are.
To learn yogic breathing method you have to master special inhalation and exhalation, particular the ones that fill and emptying lungs completely.
The practice in breathing or pranayama I recommend to combine with full body relaxation.
Lie on your back and relax. Let your body to tranquil after practicing the asanas. Let the heartbeat and breathing to calm down.

This pose called Savasana or "Corpse pose", and with this pose yogi finish the practicing of the asanas.
I decided to save time and it will be more convenient to combine Shavasana, the relaxation of the body with the practice of pranayama.
To perfectly relax the body, there are many different image formulas, self-hypnosis and self-hypnosis techniques. But I recommend the following method, as it is the most effective: imagine that your body is flying down and totally feel the fall. You will find that in a few minutes you can achieve complete relaxation of the body.
Now continue with pranayama. Exhale completely through your mouth, and then start to inhale slowly through your nose. First, start with abdominal breathing. Do not finish abdominal inhale completely and slowly start opening the ribs first the bottom, then the top. The transition from abdominal breathing to chest breathing must occur slowly, so that at the end you have stomach a little bit tacked in. It should not be pulled in completely.
Air must first fill the lower divisions, after the middle and finally the upper body. Totally you have to spend for one inhale 6 seconds. I say approximately, because the measure of time is not one second. You have to find your own rhythm, same length as your calm heartbeat. Breathing in, you fill the lower body for two beats of your heart, middle body for one and the top chest for three beats of your heart.
Exhale slowly with the same force to the end. Start with the muscle of the abdominal wall from the lower body. After that, gradually contract the muscles of the above belly area. If you do not exercise in a sequence (first the lower body and after above belly area), there will be an obstacle created to the outflow of blood from the pelvis which can cause problems. In the third phase of exhalation when the sufficient amount of air is already out, gently relax chest muscles and the chest will fall down passively. Active contraction of the abdominal muscles needs to control the exhale all the time. But it is necessary to adhere to the "golden mean", and do not use much of a force. When breathing is controlled by abdominals, it provides the correct flow of the venous blood from depository bodies: the corpus cavernous, the spleen, liver and spine as a whole.
The exhalation time is 6 heartbeats, 2 of them for the lower abdomen, one beat for under belly area and three beats for the last phase, the ending this long exhale is with the chest.
Once again: inhale and exhale are repeated by 6 conditional seconds. In both inhale and exhale first underlying muscles are contracted, after the middle body muscles and finally the chest muscles. This complete respiration is to fill and empty the lungs completely, to empty the lungs from carbon dioxide and to help absorb more oxygen.
First, do just five of such breaths and each day add one more breathe.
After a couple of months you discover that you have mastered "yogic inhale and exhale." This feeling comes when you will feel that respiration consisted not of the three phases (low, middle and chest), but the whole.
For the purposes of meditation pranayama is the most important component. But for health it is just as important. Get in the habit to finish your practice of asanas in "Corpse pose," about five minutes of relaxing the whole body with rhythmic yogic breathing technique.
Months later, you can lengthen the period of inhalation and exhalation. But in the beginning the rhythm is six heartbeats for inhale, 6 heartbeats for exhale.
In yogic texts they say that Pranayama gives health, clean complexion, makes a sound of a voice pleasant, fills the body with energy, develops and harmonizes the mind.
So, the "Corpse pose," and a few minutes of relaxation with rhythmic breathing will be your foundation to conquer nervousness and pressure of the problems in daily life. I can assure you that even five minutes of such relaxation replaces the usual couple of hours of sleep.
Since relaxation and rhythmic breathing is incredibly tranquil, I recommend finishing breathing exercises by stimulation of the brain and nervous system with Kapalabhati (mind cleaning). Sit on the mat with your legs crossed.

Place your hands on the knees and keep the back straight. This is one of the easiest meditation postures. Kapalabhati is a series of short inhales and strong and deep exhales. Remember, exhalations accompanied by strong contractions of the muscles of the perineum and anus. Without this blood will stagnate in the pelvis.
The guidelines recommend risky numbers of cycles of this exercise, I will not give them to you, and should not believe to that big numbers. Exhale and inhale seven times and finish the exercise. Repeat the same numbers of breaths for a week. After a week, increase the number to ten.
This exercise stimulates the nervous system, cleanses lungs and stimulates brain.
And finally, before you finish the morning practice of yoga, which includes several asanas, relaxation in the "corpse pose" with yogic inhalation and exhalation and "mind cleaning", close your eyes and take a meditation.

Since in this book we consider yoga from the health point of view, the meditation also will be only about health, including the subconscious mechanisms responsible for the functioning of the body.
The subconscious mind is responsible not only for the mental processes it also powers over the physical body at physiological level. At the university I studied in detail this aspect. There are well known facts about the burns occurred during the sleep dreams of stigmatas, when believers find on them wounds identical of Christ. Known experiments of hypnotism (I have done some myself), in which the person hypnotized that his arm is burned by cigarette. He winces in hypnosis, rubs his hand, shows all the signs of pain. And around half an hour after of waking up from hypnosis a burn appears on his arm the same as can be observed when the skin was actually burned.
We will not go there, let’s just recognize that in specific situations the subconscious can affect and change the physical body. When frightened, or to save the loved one, even old people can show the wonders of athleticism, lifting incredible weight or jumping to enormous heights. Subconscious can rebuild the body in half an hour as instilled burn changes a specific part of the body without thermal treatment. Similarly, the subconscious mind is able to intervene in any organ, muscle or ganglion.
But the subconscious does not understand the logic and reasoning. You can communicate with subconscious only on the level of emotions, images and feelings. The burn is a consequence of a whole chain of feelings, emotions and most importantly of the belief that "instilling a burn" is real. This FAIT is different from the meaning of the world “burn” which we normally put in it. In this case believes the subconscious and not a person. You, as your personality, can not interfere with the credulity of the subconscious; you can not make the subconscious mind more amenable to some suggestions. But you can "play" the hypnotist. I specifically brought this association and this comparison of hypnotist.
Remember, how the hypnotist hypnotises a sleepwalker? You have probably seen a session of hypnosis in the movies or on stage. The hypnotist must be ABSOLUTELY sure of his suggestion. He said some incredible things to a man who listens with eyes open. For example, hypnotist gives to a person a rose, holding an empty hand. Sleepwalker takes a flower, he can "smell" it, or "prick" on spikes. He "takes" home this "flower" and drops it in a vase with water. But since at the time contained there was no suggestion of withering, the "flower" does not wither. There was a case where a man kept a couple of years such "flower" - a hallucination after a session in which he was hypnotized with the existence of the "flower."
The subconscious mind understands the language in which hypnotists give orders, with the same degree of confidence in the result. Starting the meditation, you should calmly await the results and expected from the subconscious complete obedience.
When finished the cycle of asanas and pranayama, close your eyes and let the absolute, unshakable order to your unconscious mind. Like those hypnotists, with absolute confidence inspiring incredible things. The subconscious mind understands only that kind of TONE. Only then IT DOES BELEIVE.
There is no need of any affirmation, verbal formulas or more. Your self-hypnosis should be about health. As one respected guru said: "you need to focus mind on your own body, to think that your body is strong and powerful and full of energy ... drop any doubt about it. Tell your body that it is strong, tell your mind that it is strong, give yourself a boundless confidence and hope."
Meditation is not logically constructed sentences, not the formulas of self-hypnosis. You should just "project" healthy matrix on your body and mind. You should BECOME healthy in your imagination.
Become a billionaire of health. Your subconscious mind is connected to unlimited reservoir of energy. It will scoop up from it as much as it needs to fulfill your order. Give this order to your subconscious every morning.
Even if you will not practice anything else from this book, just doing this meditation and self-hypnosis for a couple of minutes a day can change our life.
Duration is not important. Important intensity and firmness. The secret of communication with the subconscious is to accept that what is wished is already real. Self-hypnosis is not done with "I want to be healthy". With the subconscious you speak differently: “I AM healthy”. But do not even say it to yourself. Try to get the real FEELING of it, feel yourself a billionaire of health.
Have an unlimited health to yourself.