By His Holiness Swami Sivananda Saraswati
This article is an extract from the book Practice of Nature Cures, authored by His Holiness Swami Sivananda Saraswati and first published in 1952. The electronic publication of this article on this webpage is with the blessings and kind permission from The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh.
HEALTH TIPS > EXERCISE
Exercise is a matter of great importance for all in the maintenance of health. It is very necessary for those who lead a sedentary life, who practice sedentary callings and who are indolent.
Even the child needs some exercise from its very birth. Even before birth, in the womb, the child does some exercise by way of stretching the legs or hand. Immediately after birth it exercises vigorously by moving the limbs, changing sides and making swimming motions vigorously as weeks pass. The child grasps at things or pulls itself or throws the legs and hands about in joy and performs exercise. It learns to crawl and then to stand. All these involve exercise.
Exercise is also absolutely necessary during pregnancy in order to give health to the child in womb and also to bring about a normal healthy delivery for the mother with the least amount of pain, exertion and disturbances. If a woman is idle and does not move about during pregnancy, the expulsive force of delivery does not manifest with sufficient intensity. She gets continuous slow pain during delivery which endangers her own life and that of the child.
Exercise should be moderate. There should be no feeling of fatigue or exhaustion. Husking, lifting heavy weights, washing clothes by beating are harmful.
Perform the exercises either in the open air or in a room with all the doors and windows wide open.
The effects of exercise are:
The muscles develop nicely. The lymph and blood circulation more rapidly and efficiently. The body is light. All the organs function efficiently. The process of elimination is also efficient. One attains a high standard of vigour and vitality. He can turn out more work. He will attain longevity. He has good appetite and digestion. The central nervous system functions in an efficient manner. He gets sound sleep. His bowels more freely. The chest becomes broad and well developed.
Exercise stimulates and invigorates the circulation of blood. It aids in eliminating the impurities in the system. Exercise also augments the capacity to assimilate.
Do not over-exert. Do not go beyond your capacity. When there is the least fatigue, stop at once. There should be exhilaration of spirit after exercise. When you are weak and exhausted, do not practice any exercise.
He who eats much must take plenty of exercise. If this is not possible he must reduce his food.
Walking alone is not sufficient. It is good for the convalescents and the debilitated.
Running in the open air has marvelous effects.
The abdominal muscles must be exercised. Otherwise obesity will develop.
Riding is excellent for the stimulation of the liver.
Tennis and golf are very good. Rowing exercises the abdominal muscles. Swimming is very beneficial for young persons.
Indian exercises such as Dand and Bhaitaks are excellent. They produce lasting benefits on the body.
Muller’s system, Swedish exercises, etc,suit some people.
Asanas and Pranayamas are excellent. They give tone to the internal organs. They have spiritual values. They remove diseases. There is no expenditure. You can get maximum benefits within ten minutes. Study my books ‘Yoga Asanas’, Yogic Home Exercises’ and ‘Hatha Yoga’
Bhastrika and deep breathing are beneficial in consumption and Asthma. They strengthen the lungs.
Bed exercises (vide “Gospel of Divine Life”) are beneficial for aged persons and convalescents. You can do some of the Asanas gently in the bed itself.
His Holiness Swami Sivananda Saraswati, served as Dr. Kuppuswamy in the rural rubber estates in Malaya between 1913 to 1922 prior to his monastic calling, bringing not only cures for ailment but also unsurpassed love and attention to the sick and needy.
His Holiness Swami Sivananda Saraswati is the Spiritual Guru and Guide of His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswati, who founded SivaSanta Medical Services in 1981 as a charitable project of The Temple of Fine Arts. SivaSanta Medical Services took on the name to institutionalize the wisdom and contribution of her founder, His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswati and his Master, His Holiness Swami Sivananda Saraswati.