6. General Health Rules

(1) Body and clothing must be kept neat and clean.

(2) After urinating use water or cleanse yourself by some other means.

(3) Pay attention to the regular clearing of the bowels.

(4) Do not sleep on a soft bed.

(5) When taking a bath, all parts of the body, in particular the armpits and groin, should be cleaned properly. Soap, oil, and comb should be used every day. The body hair should never be cut, especially in the armpit and pubic region.

(6) Before morning and evening sádhaná, either do vyápaka shaoca or take full bath.

(7) Before and after meals, and before sleep, do vyápaka shaoca with cold water. If it is very cold, use lukewarm water.

(8) Drink a sufficient quantity of water every day, but do not drink too much at any one time.

(9) Sleeping during the day and staying awake at night are to be avoided.

(10) All intoxicants are támasika and are to be discarded like poison.

For males:
(1) Immediately upon reaching adolescence (in India, one reaches adolescence in between the ages of twelve and fourteen), males should start using Kaopiina (laungot́á) and should pull back the foreskin of the penis.

(2) The foreskin should be pulled back and the area washed and kept clean.

(3) Never indulge in bad practices, such as masturbation, etc.

For females:
(1) Women must make it a habit to spend some time outdoors every day in the open air and the sunshine.

(2) The best room of the house should be used for giving birth.

(3) During the period of menstruation:

(a) Women must not bend forward to lift heavy loads and utensils.
(b) They must not touch any adult male.
(c) They should not blow conch shells or sing loudly.
(d) They should not remain in close proximity to fire.
(e) They should eat nutritious and easily-digestible food.
(f) They should not exert themselves excessively.
If mothers are not healthy themselves, their children cannot remain healthy. So a mother who has the welfare of her children uppermost in her mind should keep a careful watch on her own health. A woman should be allowed to rest and abstain from all sorts of household chores for at least twenty-one days after childbirth.
(g) Ashokaśaśt́hii and Ashokáśt́amii observances On the Ashokaśaśt́hii day every menstruating woman should take in one gulp six mung or máśakalái seeds along with six ashoka flowers or buds. They should be taken either in a ripe banana or with water or milk. Similarly, on the Ashokáśt́amii day, eight mung or másakalái seeds and eight Ashoka flowers or buds should be taken.
(4) Married women and widows should also observe Ashokaśaśt́hii and Ashokáśt́amii vows. On other śaśt́hii days they should eat fruits and roots instead of rice and bread during the day, and in the evening must never eat rice or similar preparations.

For children:
The main diet for children who are under five years of age is milk, fruits and roots. It is not proper, under any circumstances, to offer non-vegetarian food to children who are under five years of age. When they have reached the age of five, food containing sugar, starch and fatty substances can be given in increasing amounts. Alkaline food is the most beneficial for children.

It is also good to give lime-water(2) (after the lime sediments have settled) to children from time to time.

It is particularly beneficial for children to spend some time every day in the fresh air and sunshine.

1965, Jamalpur

7. Different Yoga Practices

Everyone may perform the practices below if they wish.

(1) Utkśepa Mudrá: This mudrá should be practised in bed immediately upon waking. While lying on the back, one should flex both the arms and legs, bringing them over the chest, and then return them immediately to the extended position. After doing this three or four times, sit up in bed and drink a glass of cold water without allowing the water to touch the teeth. After this you should expose the navel area to the air, and walk up and down in this way for some time in the open air.

(2) Vasti Mudrá: While defecating, keep the genital organ pointed upward, pressing its base with the middle finger of the left hand and pressing the scrotum with the rest of the fingers. This is as good as using a kaopiina. Remove the hand while urinating.

(3) Múlashodhana: After defecating, insert the middle finger of the left hand as far up the rectum as possible and clean that area.

(4) Násápána: Draw in clean water through the nostrils and pass it out through the mouth. This water may be swallowed, but it is better to spit it out.

(5) Dhaotii: Immediately after násápána, at a time when your stomach is empty and you are washing your face, the throat should be cleaned with the middle finger of the right hand, inserting it as far as possible.

The practices given below are prescribed only for specific diseases. Therefore, they are to be performed only after consultation with an ácárya.

(1) Vistrta snána or vyápaka snána: A bathtub is most convenient, but if this is not available, an earthen trough will suffice. If this is not available either, a wet towel can be used, soaking it repeatedly in water. Fill the bathtub with cold water, and sit in it undressed so that the area from the navel down remains submerged. Keep your feet dry and out of the tub. The area from the neck to the navel should be kept covered with a shirt or dry cloth. The crown of the head and the back of the head should be kept covered with a wet towel.

Now take another towel and rub the area from the right side of the abdomen to the groin seven or eight times. Do likewise on the left-hand side and horizontally from right to left and left to right. You should make sure that the towel on the head remains wet.

After this, wipe the abdomen, hands and thighs and take a full bath. If this is not possible, then leave the tub wearing a shirt.

This should be practised behind closed doors. In the absence of a bathtub or an earthen trough, a wet towel may be wrapped around the areas to be bathed, but in order to compensate, cold water must be poured constantly over the towel, and the towel which is to be used for the massage must be kept wet. After vyápaka snána, the thighs, pubic area and abdomen should be warmed with a dry towel.

Before and after this bath one should not eat, in order to allow the stomach to rest. (2) Shiitośńa snána: In an enclosed and covered place, immerse the body up to the neck in a tub or a trough containing warm water, and pour a stream of cold water over the head.

(3) Sikta mardana: Massage the body with a wet towel in the same manner as prescribed after ásanas.

(4) Átapa snána: The meaning of átapa snána is “sun-bathing”, but sunshine is not the same for all countries at all times. Therefore, it is not possible to fix the best time for sun-bathing. So, at the present time, in the plains of Bihar, a sun-bath can be taken during the summer until 10 A.M. and during the winter between noon and 2 P.M.

During the sun-bath, the diseased parts of the body are exposed to the sun’s rays while the remaining parts are kept in the shade. When the affected area becomes hot after leaving it in the sun for fifteen to twenty minutes, it should be brought into the shade and the procedures described below followed. (a) If there is rheumatism or gout in that part of the body, that part should be massaged thoroughly with oil for four or five minutes.

(b) If it is skin disease then that area should be massaged with neem oil for four or five minutes.

(c) In the case of other diseases, the affected area should be massaged with a cool, wet towel that has been wrung out.

After the temperature of the area has come down to normal, it can once again be exposed to the sun’s rays. After leaving it in the sun for fifteen to twenty minutes, again cool the area by massaging with oil or a towel in the aforesaid manner. Exposure to sun and massage can be done in the same manner again and again. But during the last massage, instead of using oil, etc., it is desirable to wipe with a wet towel in all cases except that of skin disease.

If a healthy or sick person so desires, he or she may take a sun-bath over the entire body. In this case, after the completion of the sun-bath, the whole body must be thoroughly wiped off with a wet towel. When taking a sun-bath over the entire body, one should wear little or no clothes and keep the back to the sun. If the diseased area is in the front portion of the body, that is to say, the face, chest, stomach, etc., then it can be kept uncovered but the remaining portions must be kept covered.

One should always remember, “Expose the stomach to fire and the back to sun;” i.e., if you need to warm yourself at a fire, keep the stomach towards the fire, never the back.