Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Pranayama,positive breathing

Two gurus from India are emphasising over pranayam these days.One is Sri Sri Ravishankar ji,and Shri Ramdevji Maharaj.
A NEW spiritual revolution seems to be sweeping through people's living rooms. In this 24x7 era, everything is home delivered, now including your daily fix of spirituality. Riding on the satellite channel route, spirituality has grown by leaps and bounds, creating a new breed of couch potatoes (or is it couch devotees)!A program that has captured everyone's imagination in India as well as the Indian Diaspora (as this particular TV channel's programs are also distributed abroad), is Swami Ramdevji's Divya Yog program on Aastha TV. Aired at 5 am in the morning (the late risers can catch the repeat episode at 8.30 pm), it has turned many an early walker into an early TV gazer.In his rapid-fire manner, Ramdevji, of the Divya Yog Mandir Trust, belts out cure after cure for almost all diseases afflicting mankind. Very simply put, they all begin and end at the proper breathing techniques. In this age when short, snappy self-help books outsell classics, it is no surprise that there is a "technique" to breathing too.The program is probably one with the highest TRP ratings on the channel or indeed across channels. And, one of the reasons is because there are many ordinary folk who vouch for the remedies the 48-year old Ramdevji prescribes. Some are even beginning to call him Mahatma, for while most other 'gurus' exhort people to attend their camps and pay huge amounts to do basic meditation courses, Ramdevji's advice is for all – those who attend his camps or those who wish to watch him on TV.Swami Ramdevji believes that the secret to a healthy life is right living and by doing so we can easily beat most of the illnesses that afflict mankind. In his orange robes, jet-black, long flowing hair and beard, lean physique and oodles of energy, Ramdevji makes quite an impression. Extremely vociferous in his opinions, he uses public platforms to express the harmful effects of the banes of westernization like colas and fast food, going to the extreme of calling 'Leher Pepsi', 'Zeher Pepsi' (poison). He advocates the use of Indian-made products versus the wares dished out by MNCs. It is thanks to these scathing remarks that he has earned the wrath of several people and organizations. In fact, following threatening calls he has been granted 'Z-cover Security' (top-level security in India, which is granted to only VIPs and other very senior politicians) by the Indian government, says Ravi Kumar Rana who looks after the running of the ashram's activities, including sales of Ayurvedic medicines, in Vashi, New Bombay.
Ramdevji's biggest contribution to humanity has been demystifying Yoga and Pranayam (breathing technique). He asserts that apart from diseases connected to the bones, the rest can be cured by practicing Pranayam."Ailments like obesity, cardiac troubles, asthma, gastric problems, cholesterol and diabetes cannot be solved without the help of Pranayam," says Swami Ramdevji. He also goes on to add that "doing Yoga is also completely beneficial if it is done in conjunction with Pranayam. "Giving his own example, he says that in his childhood he was afflicted by paralysis of the left side which he cured himself thanks to daily practice of Pranayam. Pranayam is as old as Yoga, but Ramdevji has created a social stir by bringing it to the limelight. Though its origin is shrouded in antiquity, it was organized in a definite system by Maharishi Patanjali in his treatise "Yoga Darshana" (Philosophy of Yoga) or "Yoga Sutra" (Aphorisms on Yoga) as it is popularly known. While so far most of the focus was on Yogasanas (Yoga exercises), this unique and ancient breathing technique was not given much importance. Ramdevji says that in his life he has discovered that if practiced for a long duration of time, it has the power to overpower and counteract several illnesses, apart from rejuvenating the body.Keeping this in mind he advocates seven types of Pranayam techniques along with a set of Yogasanas for daily living. Some of these most popular ones are Bhastrika, Anulom-Vilom, Brahmri and Kapalbhaati. These techniques have become so popular that their names are on everyone's lips. Kapalbhaati has become the most famous mantra for those wishing to reduce their weight. And, more so as the visual demonstration (on TV) is extremely impressive - air being taken in through the nostrils and thrown out by pushing the stomach in.Ramdevji explains that Pranayam follows a scientific method. While the 'breathing-in' technique rejuvenates the tissues of the body and supplies more oxygen to them, the 'breathing out' technique churns out the toxins from the body.Somewhat dismissive of modern allopathic method, Ramdevji says these are good only in case of emergencies. Besides, they can't really cure chronic ailments, like diabetes or high blood pressure, only contain them. But, Pranayam is so effective that not only does it cure them (ailments), it also has no side effects. Day by day his popularity is soaring. Not only do common folk throng to his camps or are loyal viewers of his program, but also politicians, actors, industrialists and other powerful people who seek his advice. In fact, he has even held a special camp at the Presidential estate in Delhi, at Rashtrapati Bhavan at the behest of the President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Ramdevji follows a stringent daily schedule. He gets up in the wee hours of the morning at 3 am and then does Pranayam for over an hour. By 5 am he is at the hour plus Yoga Camp. After the camp between 7.30 and 8.30 he again devotes time to Yoga. During the day he spends time in meeting people, writing and of course practicing Yoga and Pranayam. He is an avid writer and has written several books on the benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda like 'Yog Sadhana Va Yog Chikitsa Rahasya' and 'Pranayam Rahasya'.He goes to bed by 10 pm and apart from these five hours of sleep doesn't sleep at all during the day. His diet consists of fruits, dry fruits, some green vegetables and milk.Ramdevji Early lifeAlthough pretty vocal in his TV programs, surprisingly Ramdevji doesn't like to dwell much on his early life. He believes that after a person becomes a sanyasi (somebody who has given up the life of a householder and stepped on to the spiritual path) there is no distinction between the family of his birth and the general public. For a true sanyasi the entire human race becomes a family. Keeping this in mind, Ramdevji doesn't interact much with the family of his birth, which include his parents and a brother.Ramdevji was born into an agriculturalist family from Gujarat. In school, he realized he was seeking something beyond the ordinary. In his own words he says that "by the time I was 14, apart from the works of Maharishi Dayanand Sarasvati, I had read all the works of Indian literature." This inspired him to seek further spiritual knowledge and study the Vedas in greater detail. Thus, at a very young age of 15-16, he left his home and joined the gurukul (residential school) of Haryana-based Acharya Baldevji Maharaj who taught the youngster Panini's Sanskrit Grammar and imparted the knowledge of the ancient Indian texts like the Vedas and Upanishads.For a short while he also stayed at the ashram of Dharamveerji Maharaj in Kishangarh Ghaseda, about 8 kms from Rewari in Haryana. Currently the Divya Yog Trust operates free Vidhyateertha Gurukul, a completely residential school. The school, spread over a huge area in the midst of nature, aims at providing a combination of modern and traditional knowledge for the all round mental and physical development of its students.After spending time with Dharamveerji Maharaj, Ramdevji moved on to the Himalayas, visiting the various ashrams nestled in the mountains. This is where he came under the influence of several philosophies and learnt about Yoga and meditation.It was while practicing Yoga in the caves of the mountains near the Gangotri glacier that he came in contact with his current co-workers Acharya Balkrishnaji and Acharya Karamveerji. At the same place he also met Acharya Muktanandji and Acharya Virendraji.

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