About the harmful influence of yoga practice upon the body and mind

In our time the yoga system is presented as a heal-all remedy for most of the problems the world is facing. There are heard many promotional slogans like `practice yoga for health and beauty!`

In the beginning somebody may feel indeed that state of good disposition and revitalization. He is immediately advised to attribute this improvement to certain hidden powers activated through the yoga asanas.

But this good mood and revitalization may be attributed to movement, to the activity of the body which awakesns from the almost chronical sedentariness imposed by the contemporary society. Besides, the same symptoms are experienced by any person who begings to  practice regularly jogging, swimming, football or any kind of gymnastics. And even more if that person gives up on certain harmful habits like smoking, sleepless nights, overeating, alcoholism and so on.

It must be also emphasized that this refreshing feeling accompanies the first stage of yoga practice. Afterwards there appear serious problems involving pelvic, spinal, knee and joint pains. The asanas, these strange yoga positions are completely abnormal for the human body, imitating different positions f the animals. Their names are very suggestive in this respect: shalabasana, the position of the locust, bhujangasana, the position of the cobra, kukondasana, the position of the crane, utthan pristasana, the position of the lizard.

Some of them are easier others harder. Anyway the prolonged stay in these positions requires a long practice. In time the joints of the body will relax allowing these unnatural contorsions. However there are many people who suffer slight or severe traumas in this way. The fact is attested by the so called holy texts. The Upanishads for example say that whoever complains or revolts because f the problems caused by yoga is not worthy of yoga.

While practicing asidously these exercises it happened to attend in Thessaloniki the conference of an Indian yogi. Willing to show himself being superior to his other spiritual competitors who begin their hunt with statements of these kind: yoga = health=beauty he said a truth : `who practices yoga only for obtaining health and beauty would rather practice swimming. He has no reason to practice yoga. Yoga is for those interested in a spiritual evolution. Let’s see what are the nature and means for achieving through yoga this spiritual process.

The main target of the yoga gymnastics, the aim of the asanas is not the development of the muscular system or of the physical mobility. Their aim is to change the biochemical balance of the human body.

By practicing these asanas the internal organs of the organs suffer of a constant pressure (the heart, liver, lungs, bowls) but especially the endocrinal glands (the chakras as they are known in the yoga language)

This pressure causes the hyperstimulation of these glands which usually causes their and as a result a hypersecretion of hormones in the body. Other times, very rarely, it happens the opposite.

Each group of asanas causes a pressure on certain glands. A set of positions excite fr instance the tyroid causing a hypersecretion of thyroxine which flows in the blood and changes the whole basic metabolism of the body. That person becomes hyperkinetic fact which is the result of an absorbtion of energy from the superior centers of the universe as a result of the yoga techniques.

In the same way there are some asanas which excite the  adrenal glands, the pancreas and the pituitary gland which regulates the functioning of the other glands. Medicine proves that such a generalized hormonal disorder causes major disorders of perception of all the senses. The effects are more intense than those produced by the consumption of alcohol or narcotics.

In the ashram from India of Satyananda, my English friend Tony said: The Kriya Yoga exercises make me feel as if I took all the time L.S.D. (drug).` He felt an ebullient energy which needed to be wasted by a permanent activity and high physical effort. The poor man could never stay still fact which caused him many troubles.

The yoga exercises based on the prolonged breath abstention  cause in most of the cases a high quantity of carbon bioxide from blood phenomenon which is connected by the most recent medical discoveries with the appearance of some visual and auditive hallucinations when the feeling of decorporealization of communication with entities from other worlds, of spontaneous materialization of some light bodies and so on.

It is very easy for someone who is spiritually unexperienced to estrange himself if missing a criterion which to help him discern the nature of his experience. Is it a physiological phenomenon? Is it an illusion caused by senses? Is it something psychological like the hallucinations of the psychopaths who hear voices and have visions? Or is it a spiritual phenomenon? And if it is a spiritual phenomenon where does it come from? From Christ or from the devil (who has the ability to turn himself into animal, light apparition or angel as it appears in the Scripture, the patristic writings and the ascetic experience of the Holy Church?

See what Satyananda said when speaking about the yoga techniques: Beside this chance of releasing yourself of bonds and troubles, there is the risk of losing your mind and spend the rest of your life in a psychiatric hospice. Unfortunately this happend to some people who practiced yoga without guidance or they did not follow the advice of their master. (from the Greek periodical `Yoga`nr. 15/1981, pp. 41-42).

Beside the obvious attempt to transfer the entire responsibility to the disciples, this statement raises the question : since these exercises are so risky why are they so intensively promoted without any specifications or warnings in periodicals, books and illustrated brochures which highlight only their so called beneficial effects?

I was influenced myself by the praises written in a magazine of this kind which presented these exercises and started to practice Nuria Namaskar (the sun greeting). They said that is a method which gives back the mobility of all joints and massages efficiently all the internal organs and muscles. If someone feels tired he can recover his physical and mental vitality anytime doing this exercise. Reading that the yogis practice it in 12 cycles daily I did the same. After a few days I started to feel that my chest was burning and wheezing. The temperature of my body increased constantly. The spiritual fires were lit I thought then in my naivety of my 22 y.o deeply influenced by the yogi mentality and terminology. I began to feel worse and worse and fortunately I stopped.

What happened? My symptoms were caused by a hyperactivation of the hormones. There was nothing spiritual as I thought. I discussed later about this with a swami who liked me. She expressed her concern and advised me to renounce for ever at such practices without offering me other explanations.

But let’s go back to guru Satyananda, to see how he justified the physical and psychical traumas someone can suffer cause of yoga.

And he added : `Do not allow something like this happen to you. If you want to follow the path to true knowledge you must have a guru who to be acquainted with this special dimension of the conscience.

The guru must know it by heart he must have reached that level himself. A guru of this kind is called satguru. Why being content with less?`

Before the spiritual rivalry of the other gurus  Satyananda proposes himself as initiated in the yoga mysteries, able to guide without risks those interested. But reality offers many examples of disciples who left him frightened, disappointed or even psychically distempered. When I met some swami or yoga teachers showing serious psychical disorders and asked explanations about that fact I was told naturally that the guru simply stole their minds because it impeded their spiritual evolution. See what effort is made for eluding the truth and for justifying morally the spiritual crimes.

The same guru Satyananda says : `Many disciples cnfess they have had many sexual problems since they began Kundalini Yoga. They feel very guilty for this. If I hadn’t been there they would have gone crazy. I said to them: This is a mere physiological matter. Let it happen!` (from the book published in Greece `Teachings of  Paramhamsa Satyananda`, vol. VI, Ed. September, 1989, p. 397).

In other words serious body disorders whose impact reflects dramatically at the psychical level must be ignored as some pure physiological occurrences. Although this point of view is completely irrational it should not be shocking. It is the effect of the Hindu religious mentality which considers madness as being holy. I met a Brahmin in India who was proud that his wife was crazy. Comments are unnecessary.

Satyananda goes on : `Many times the persons who get these waves from Kundalini want to eat a lot as some Epicureans. I tell them that’s ok otherwise they suffer of complexes.

In another context Satyananda says : However the people say that the awakening of Kundalini is dangerous. Why? Of course there may take place accidents and you may go to a mental asylum for a while. But everything in this world is a risk. Life presents a great risk and the man must be a brave fighter willing to risk anytime. What will happen if I practice  Kundalini Yoga and go crazy? Then you will began practicing it and if you go crazy someone else will begin doing it. In the end we will tame Kundalini.` (Yoga, no. 5/1981, p. 8).

So Satyananda not only proposes to all the yogis to assume the status of lab rats for an incontrollable experiment but also he, the great enlightened initiated guru admits that he is exposed to the same risks.

Beside the fact that the existence of Kundalini (the sacred snake which sleeps at the basis of the spinal cord of any human) is a religious belief it must be taken into account the defense of the useful and honorable character of madness at least when it is caused by yoga. The message is clear. We will go on until taming Kundalini no matter if it could make millions of people go mad.`

The lack of any scruples in such an attitude is only the expression of the general conception about the world of Hinduism which educates sistematically such personalities. It’s relevant in this respect the confession made by Theodora Katelouzou, published in the newspaper `Orthodoxos Typos`, in 1976:

Because I applied intensively for more than two years Maharishi`s method I may say very honestly and responsibly that the relaxation through meditation is a passivity in Indian style which paralyzes any power of reaction and struggle for life.It is far from the true spiritual peace and fulfillment.

By Maharishi’s technique and by all the other Hindu or Buddhist techniques the man hypnotizes himself and loses any self will and initiative. It is a brain washing imposed gradually which has as final effect the complete loss of personality. I suffered many mental harms because I could not focus in any circumstance and lost all my energy.

From the moment I stopped meditating I was able to continue my studies without any problem. Maharishi’s method  made many victims. A young man practiced transcendental meditation and  he committed suicide when he attended one of  Maharishi’s seminaries. Another one lost his voice completely. A Greek captain began to suffer of more and more severe psychical disorders until he was sent to a mental asylum. I saw many young men who began to have spasmodic movements and weird gestures and had many twitches they couldn’t control.

Let’s end this presentation reminding the fact that usually the practitioner of yoga is trained to focus his mind on certain points of the body which vary depending on the exercise.

In the same time he must repeat in his mind or even aloud a certain mantra and we have already seen that this is nothing else than a formula for invoking or worshipping one of the thousands of Hindu deities : Shiva, Krishna, Kali, Vishnu, so on. There is also another unanswerable proof of the religious character of yoga and a warning about the spiritual implications involved by the practice of these exercises.

For a Christian the consequences are similar with those of apostasy.

Dyonysios Farasiotis | crestinortodox.ro