Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: February 22, 2017 Reading time: 3 minutes
Review of Yogic Physical Culture (The secret of Happiness) by Yogacharya S. Sundaram by Vishwanath Iyer. Published by The Yoga Publishing House, (A Unit of GIRINATH ABR CHARITABLE TRUST) “Girikripa” 462 Cross-cut Road, Coimbatore – 641 012.
This is the first manual on Yoga and asana ever published, first published in 1928. This comprehensive manual explains, not just asana but also the background of Yoga and its relevance to Indian culture and ethos. The book highlights issues and concerns of Indian society of the 1920 and how practice of yoga can impact health and well-being.
First, the book covers the basics of the practice of asana and pranayama, including aspects such as location dress, food etc. Next, it provides detailed instructions for some 17 asanas which Yogacharya Sundaram considers critical and adequate for daily usage.
Each asana is explained in detail, covering its impact on the body’s muscular, digestive, circulatory, nervous and endocrine system. Also, the detailing includes instruction for practice of the asana, health benefits and precautions to be taken, all this supported by photographs.
The use of appropriate terminology shows that Sundaram must have conducted enormous research to align medicine, anatomy and physiology with practice of asana. Sundaram has presented intermediate poses in addition to the final poses and this makes the manual easy to use. So, the practitioner can comprehend the process and final aspiration pose. The level of proficiency exhibited in the photos is very high. In fact, one is struck by a sense of inferiority complex at the perfection of the poses.
Significantly, Sundaram has devoted an entire chapter to women, including photos of ladies performing asana’s in Indian sarees. This demonstrates his sagacity and determination to make this practice universally applicable in a conservative society struggling under colonial rule.
Finally, Sundaram has not confined the book to asana alone. He has paid adequate attention to bandhas (holding postures), Kriyas (moving poses) and other tertiary asanas.
This book explains everything that one needs to know in order to become proficient in yoga. Undoubtedly, anyone interested in serious asana practice must have this book in their library. The only aspect which may turn the reader away is the old fashioned style of writing which was the vogue in 1920’s.
Finally, the level of proficiency exhibited in the book on the subject of Yoga, asana and pranayama speaks highly of the authors interest, sagacity, effort and commitment to the subject. This is commendable as Sundaram was only 27 when he published the book.