Asana and Mudra is an encyclopedia of yoga in two parts: a book of photographs of asanas and mudras and a comprehensive text written originally in Gujarati and translated into English by Gauri Modi, a disciple of Swami Kripalvananda. The Gujarati versions were published in 1974 by the Sri Kayavarohan Tirth Seva Samaj. In 1985 an English edition was prepared from Gauri Modi's translation by Narada Muni of Menlo Park, CA. The text is available today in part on this website.
A newly edited and complete edition will be available soon at Amazon.com.
The intention is to make available the complete text if there is a demand. From Narada Muni's Preface: "Asana and Mudra is a text on sadhana, on living a life that leads to complete fulfillment at the feet of the Lord. In it, Swami Kripalvananda shows how to integrate devotion, action, and knowledge so that one's life may be filled with the grace of God.
The book is built around commentary on 134 asanas based on the deep yogic experiences of Kripalu. He interweaves spiritual and psychological principles, descriptions of God and advanced stages of samadhi, and citations from the ancient yogic scriptures into his practical descriptions of the techniques for performing asana, mudra, pranayama, sat karma and meditation. He explains how yogic techniques such as asana, pranayama, diet and fasting can be used to cure disease.
In giving guidance to students of asana, he classifies the different types of asana, and describes how to practice them in a balanced sadhana program.The remarkable feature of this text is that Swami Kripalvananda did not learn these asanas and mudras from books, pictures, or hatha yoga teachers. Instead they occurred spontaneous in his meditation, the meditation of total surrender to God. Thus, his narrative touches on the deepest experiences of life, shows how those experiences are also described in yogic scripture, and explains how to practice yoga sadhana so that we can enter those realms."
Swami Kripalvananda writes in his Preface: "Asana and Mudra is a cultural text. It is an immortal gift from yoga; therefore, I took a scientific approach in composing it. Only through science can life's most difficult problems be unraveled. To quench the insatiable curiosity of the people of India and the rest of the world, this study of asanas and mudras is presented scientifically. The body, mind, soul, Almighty God, and the universe are all connected. This requires bringing together and embracing physiology, which gives knowledge of the gross body; psychology, which resolves the difficulties of subtle relations and thoughts; yoga, which builds an individual's character; hygiene, which protects the body from disease; and ayurvedic science which lead one to health. These sciences must work together, so I wrote Asana and Mudra as a scientific exposition of these subjects."
From his Program of Asana Practice, he writes: "Thousands of asanas and mudras have come my way during my practice of yoga. I originally planned to include photographs of 500 asanas and mudras in this book. This first edition contains only 277 photographs, yet people were discouraged, and asked how and when they could possibly do all these asanas and mudras. When I heard that, I forever gave up my idea of a book encompassing a detailed collection of asanas and mudras.
The ancient teachers of yoga did not have cameras, so carved their teachings in rock sculptures. This method of expressing their profound knowledge is responsible for the preservation of the aryan culture. Some modern scholars say that such carving had been intended only to pass on the art of dancing. While there is some truth in this inference, yogic sculpture has much deeper mysteries to reveal. The purposeful statues of goddesses and gods parallel the esoteric scriptures of yoga. The advanced yogi derives continual inspiration from them. Wherever such statues exist, we find the source of aryan culture. In other words, the purna yogis (perfect yogis) have given guidance to future yogis through these sculptures.
By learning a new asana everyday, one can learn hundreds of asanas in five years. Physical exercise is as necessary for life as water and food. The invalid, the healthy person, and the yogi should not be upset on seeing the number of asanas and mudras illustrated here. All of the asanas and mudras will become easy with practice. In his Guidance to Asana Students, he writes: "Asanas benefit men and women, young and old, sick and health equally. Practice under the strict guidance of an expert in a pure and peaceful environment. Avoid straining the body through over-enthusiastic practices. Stop as soon as you feel tired.
sarvetra sukhinah santu sarve santu niramayah,
sarve bhadrani pasyantu ma kascid duhkhamapnayat
May everyone be happy;
May everyone be healthy;
May everyone be prosperous;
May no one be unhappy.
om santih, santih, santih!
Om, peace, peace, peace!