An Introduction
to Yoga

by Annie Besant

The Meaning of the Universe

  • The Unfolding of Consciousness
  • The Oneness of the Self
  • The Quickening of the Process of Self-Unfoldment
  • Yoga is a Science
  • Man a Duality
  • States of Mind
  • Samadhi

The Literature of Yoga

  • Some Definitions
  • God Without and God  Within
  • Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter
  • Stages of Mind
  • Inward and Outward-turned Consciousness
  • The Cloud

Relation to Indian Philosophies

  • Mind
  • The Mental Body

Mind and Self

  • Methods of Yoga
  • To the Self by the Self
  • To the Self through the Not-Self

  • Yoga and Morality
  • Composition of States of the Mind

Pleasure and Pain

  • Inhibition of States of Mind
  • Meditation with and without Seed
  • The Use of Mantras


  • Obstacles to Yoga
  • Capacities for Yoga
  • Forthgoing and Returning
  • Purification of Bodies
  • Dwellers on the Threshold
  • Preparation for Yoga
  • The End
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The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji
The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji

You all know that pure food brings pure blood. You should avoid
the two extremes of gluttony and daily fasting and abstemiousness. You
should know (1) What to eat (2) How to eat (3) When to eat.

Concentrated food such as contains the maximum amount of nourishment in a minimum quantity should be used. The student should study some reliable hand book on the relative values of food and use his
judgment. We ourselves use nuts, milk, fruits, whole wheat bread, rice
in very small quantity, pulse, etc. Those who are non-meat eaters--and
we advise it strongly--will do well to see to it that their menu has a
good supply of albuminous food, as vegetarians often run the risk of
being overfed as to starch and underfed in nitrogenous foods.

(2) Chew and masticate properly so as to extract the food-Prana in full
and break up the food-substance into very small bits, reducing it to
pulp. Do not be in a hurry to bolt your food but let it linger in your
mouth so as to be properly insalivated and so that the nerves of the
tongue, cheek, etc., may all absorb energy from food. Remember your
stomach is not lined with rows of teeth. This will give you double the
nourishment you get ordinarily, avoid constipation, prevent malnutrition,
non-assimilation and over-eating. Out of a very small quantity of food
you can extract perfect nourishment and thus you avoid loading and
"stuffing" the stomach with unnecessary food. It is also economical in
case you are a thrifty soul! Eat to live. Don't live to eat.

(3) Eat when you are hungry. That cultivated "appetite" that craves for
satisfaction at certain stated intervals of the day and brings on an
"all-gone" fainting, nauseating sensation in the stomach is not real
"hunger." In real hunger there is absolutely no sensation in the stomach
but there is a rich and continuous flow of saliva in the mouth and that
sort of thing makes you enjoy the plainest of fares. Even a dry crust
of bread will taste sweet as Manna. Cut off your breakfasts. Drink
cold water instead. Eat one good, nourishing meal at 12 A. M., and one
light meal in the evening.

Lastly, students, let plain living and high thinking be your motto.
Do not be afraid to eat when you are hungry and so long as you exercise
and work with brain and body even two square meals a day are permissible.

Do not grow ethereal and airy, because then you will not amount to much
in the world's work. Students, who are perfect Brahmacharies, will not
care half as much for lots of food as ordinary folk do. A constant
feeling of satisfaction and fullness is present in such. But hard
workers must never present in such. But hard workers must never be
under-nourished and they require more food than others.


It is the depth and relaxation in sleep that counts. High-strung people
find it hard to relax and keep tossing on their pillows. Bathe your feet
in cold water in hot season and in cool water in cold season. That will
draw off the surplus blood gurgitating in your brain. Also bathe the nape
of the neck. The student should engage in meditation before falling to
sleep, as during sleep the Man leaves the physical form and goes to
super-physical planes and it is the last train of thought in your mind
that determines and conforms you to the special super-physical influence
you are to obtain. The physical benefits too shall be great. You will
feel more rested in this way and your sleep will be sleeping a sounder
and more refreshing sleep than otherwise. One of the chief signs of
success in Mental and Physical Control is that your sleeps are
undisturbed and peaceful.

During sleep you are in a passive, relaxed condition and all sorts
of unseen influences play around you. It is good therefore to enclose
yourself in an Astral Shell. Concentrate upon your aura and picture it
as extending some 18 inches all around you and forming a shell around
you. Now take this affirmation to concentrate your mind.

1. I am charging my aura with my Will-Force.

2. It is strong, strong, strong and can and will resist, repel and
drive off all bad influences and admit only pure and holy influence.

3. It will remain around me right along the period of my sleep.

The student is advised to surround himself in this "auric Shell"
even when awake so that it may beat off all malign and harmful
thought-forces. As he grows in Will-Power and Self-Confidence, a
Protective Aura will form around him naturally and will be felt by


The student should learn to relax his body completely so that it shall
lie still and limp and soft as cotton. He should be able to tense and
contract his muscles so that they will become hard as iron. In all the
physical exercises you will find two special actions (1) Muscle
contraction (2) Stretching. When you contract muscle and harden it, you
have sent currents of nerve-force and will to that part; when you relax
it, you "let go" completely. What we want is Strength in Repose ready
to leap into action in the flash of an eye. We have taught you how to
relax in Lesson 2 on Will-Force. You all have noticed a cat crouching
for its prey. How intensely still it is; yet you know what such stillness
means. It is very far from laziness. Relaxation husbands and conserves
nerve-force. It is a great thing to be calm and silent. Calmness is the
centralization of tremendous power. Practise being calm, as far as
you can.


There is great electrical and thermal power in the sun's rays. If the
human body be properly exposed to the sun during the first five hours
in the morning and the evening, the body would absorb energy therefrom
and gain in strength. Do not over do this, especially you of the warm


Trust Nature. It is her office to keep your body-machine running
in perfect order. "Prevention is better than cure"--they say. Observe
the healthy man. See how he lives and follow his example. But note
that body is yours to control and God will not do that work for you.
Also get rid of the stupidity that God sends diseases. Think, study and
observe and you will know what Health Laws are.


Student, I have indicated the lines along which you are to seek the
way to Spiritual Independence. I cannot run your life-affairs, solve your
life-problems, do your work for you. I have pointed out a few principles,
observe, think and complete your knowledge. You must climb the steps
of the ladder of attainment and Self-Perfection yourself.

Fear is a great stumbling-block in the way. Fight it down. Starve it out.
Be earnest. Be thorough. Live your life silently and earnestly. Give
others a helping hand whenever you can without that patronising air of
superiority so characteristic of the modern snobs passing for
"gentlemen." Be proud that you are an "Indian." Follow Indian ideals of
greatness. Consider it a privilege to help deserving souls. We all need
help, encouragement and guidance to some extent. Co-operation,
interdependence are the basic foundations of human well-being. Be strong.
Be manly. Be courageous. Be great and good. Take your place in the
world's evolutionary progress and lend your hand in turning the wheel
of life. In the same measure that you help others, shall you yourself be
helped on all planes of life. Be reasonable. Be just and fair unto
others. Be a source of blessing unto others. So long as you labour under
the vitiating influence of negative thoughts, you cannot achieve much in
any direction. I have told you "how" you are to proceed.

May God bless you. May he guide, help and strengthen where I have failed.


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