Svetasvatara Upanisad II Book I : On Yoga

I have been reading The Upanisads. They are spiritual commentaries from Hinduism. They are very interesting and in many ways like more like Christian proverbs. I was reading a set of verses in the book titled above. I came across some interesting remarks around yoga instruction. The first is an instruction of where to practice yoga.

 In a level, clean place, free from gravel, fire and sand, With soundless water, a dwelling and so on, Pleasing to the mind, and not harsh on the eye, Secret and sheltered from the wind, one should practice yoga.

This second passage makes reference, I believe, to the Ashtanga methods of yoga. Ashtanga is a form of fire (hot) yoga. It also hints at the benefits of the practice of yoga. A healthy body lends itself to a healthy mind without age.

When earth, water, fire, air, and space have arisen And the fivefold strand of yoga has come forth, One has neither disease nor old age nor death, Having won a body made of the fire of yoga.

The third passage refers to some tangible benefits of yoga. A freedom from disease. This is accomplished from a healthy body. Steadiness which comes from practice of the asanas. Clarity of complexion is a result of a healthy body which has vanquished its impurities. A sweet voice (kind and understanding) comes from the self which having attained a meditative state is calming and soothing. The soothing voice turns a sea of chaos to reflective calm.

Lightness, freedom from disease, steadiness, Clarity of complexion, sweetness of voice, A pleasant smell, little urine or excrement Tell of the first arisings of yoga.

The last section on little urine and excrement perhaps need a little more reflection. I can say from my practice of Ashtanga that I have found that I have left many a puddle of sweat from the burning fire of the asanas. This cleansing of the impurities through sweat, for me, has left me with little urine. The result has been a greater “thirst”. I have also found that my practice has left me with less excrement as well. I think that the body processes food more effectively by practicing the asanas.