Rules and regulations are more important than asanas for happy and healthy living
We must congratulate our prime minister for making the United Nations declare World Yoga Day on 21st June every year. I was invited to deliver the keynote address on that day at Vigyan Bhavan (Delhi). But, six months ago, I was invited to Lisbon (Portugal) to deliver the keynote and an inaugural lecture on the same day. Being a yoga enthusiast, I could not let down the organisers in Portugal by accepting the Indian government’s invitation at the last minute. Anyway, yoga is now becoming the mainstream.
Yoga is the lifestyle for a happy and healthy living in which rules and regulations (yama, niyamas) are much more important than the asanas. Pranayama, prathyaahaara, dhyana, dharana, samadhi and asana are the other legs. Commercialised yoga, especially in the United States, has become an asana-centred business with lots of unscientific methods like ‘hot yoga’ thrown in. I appeal to all: don’t reduce an asana to just a physical exercise, although the asana is an integral part of yoga. Sage Patanjali himself had noted that constant ease is the main role of asanas.
One can become a yogi just by pursuing an authentic lifestyle to be useful to mankind. Religiously doing asanas daily and chanting mantras for an hour, but doing negative business for the rest of the day, does not qualify one to be a yogi. The good that accrues from yogic lifestyle is due to the tranquillity of mind that it bestows as a positive side-effect. The responsibility of propounding the correct methodology of yoga to the world rested on the shoulders of India from where it originated.
Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi, must take the lead and should have regular week-long courses for people interested from all over the world, in addition to other courses. Dr Ishwar V Basavaraddy, the present director of the Institute, is a young, but wise, and able administrator. He should be able to achieve this target.
With this new awakening, the world should become aware of this simple method that could boost the inner healer to avoid many silent killers like diabetes, hypertension, cancers and other metabolic syndromes. A study showed that if 10% of the society becomes tranquil, the crime rate would come down by 50%.
Pranayama, or true yogic breathing style, has many therapeutic benefits. Regular belly button breathing, otherwise called the abdominal breathing, benefits almost all human organs, except the menstrual cycle. This is called ‘mode-locking’ in physics. In this dynamic universe, the most dominant rhythm controls (mode-locks) all other rhythms. In the human system, breathing is the most dominant rhythm; hence, proper breathing can bring the following health benefits:
• Quickly increases peripheral cell oxygenation helping people with heart failure.
• Makes the mind tranquil, helps control anxiety and panic attacks, without drugs. Drug treatment of these is unscientific as the human mind is not confined to the brain nor is it a child of the brain function.
• It improves the heart rate, a good yardstick to measure the heart’s health status.
• In a study, 100 poor patients with multiple coronary blocks were told that they would die without interventions. They could not afford the treatment. A study of those patients showed that with a yogic life style and simple medication, all of them survived and the heart muscle was shown by scans to have been effectively re-vascularised!
• Multiple benefits for various other musculoskeletal abnormalities.
• David Shananoff-Khalsa, a researcher with University of California, San Diego, has been working with Kriya Yoga in diseases as disparate as epilepsy to obsessive compulsive disorders (OCDs) with remarkable results.
‘Yoga’, in Sanskrit means yuj or yolk, revealing the connect between individual consciousness and universal consciousness. The latter is the king now. Consciousness is the root from where all matter emanates. It is the reality.
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)