By Mansi Agarwal July 2006 In two-and-a-half short years, Swami Ramdev has galvanized the great Indian public into turning ardent practitioners of yoga and pranayama. In the process, millions are losing weight, healing from various ailments and making a bid for optimum wellness. ‘The masses at Mecca and Madina embraced yoga without a seed of doubt.’-Dr Anwar Ali Aana‘Ashtanga Yoga is the Solution to Today’s Problems.’Swami Ramdev on yoga, healing and the key to human happiness Why do you consider yoga to be a complete health solution?Yoga means to awaken the dormant energies of the being and achieve a level of consciousness, where the entire soul is submerged in an ocean of peace and tranquillity. According to me, Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga should be the basis of an exuberant life. A majority of diseases are curable by yoga; the word impossible does not exist. Persistence is required. I don’t need to say much; still I would like to add that yoga is the only key to a propitious and healthy way of living. What ailments are curable through yoga and ayurveda?Blood circulation can be improved through yoga, the nervous system becomes more active and awareness levels increase. Heart disease, asthma, diabetes can also be cured. Asanas and pranayama remove the root cause of maladies and fortify the digestive system. Yoga is indispensable for physical well-being, and most necessarily to de-stress the mind. Uniting the soul with the Almighty by patiently practising yoga, one can experience transcendence. This is yoga! Why do you stress so much on pranayama?Based of the experience of millions, I confidently believe that pranayama is significant in curing ailments and encouraging spiritual development. Except for the ailments of the bones, all diseases can be cured primarily by pranayama supplemented by a few asanas. I would say that asanas are beneficial only if they are preceded by pranayama. What are the secrets to a healthy life?Diet, sleep and brahmacharya – these are the three essentials. Our daily diet affects our body as well as mind. Food should be masticated properly and not more than two-three sips of water should be taken after a meal. Buttermilk is an excellent coolant and should be a necessary part of one’s diet. Early to bed, early to rise, improves life’s condition. By brahmacharya, one implies control over all senses and the power to attain ‘Brahma-hood’ in this very life. Along with these, exercise, a good cleansing bath and meditation should be made a compulsory part of everyday life. Is attainment of inner peace possible through yoga?According to me, ashtanga yoga is the only answer to the chaotic situation prevailing today. If you desire inner serenity, then you should follow ashtanga yoga, and then you will realise that no force can stop you from happiness. Which tradition do you follow?Indian Vedic sanskriti. Only by following the Vedas can the human race gain momentum. You are against the fast-food trend in India and in favour of vegetarianism. Why?Patience and control are essential. If one wishes to lead a progressive life, then an appropriate diet is essential. If we can eat bread, then why sacrifice the life of an innocent animal to gratify our desires? Even our Vedas have argued against non-vegetarianism. If we wish to preserve our culture for future generations, these sacrifices are a must. Please suggest some simple asanas to curb day-to-day diseases like stomach ache, constipation, etc.Our wellness is dependent upon the proper functioning of our stomach. Maximum asanas are very effective, especially for our digestive system. Like uttanpadasana (beneficial in constipation, gastric disorders, stomach aches), pawanmuktasana (beneficial in the removal of wind from the abdomen, onstipation), sarvangasana (beneficial in regulating the thyroid activity), kandharasana (beneficial in stomach ache and waist ache), shashankasana (beneficial in curbing stress, anger and restlessness). Apart from some asanas like shirshasana (not recommended for people having a high blood pressure and heart patients), halasana (not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure, spondylitis and cervical), the rest are beneficial for all. Time, place, appropriate clothes, age, health factor, diet and normalcy of the breath should be kept in mind while doing the asanas. What is your message for our readers?Healthy food, a good night’s sleep, a mind immersed in divine love, meditation and yoga – what else do you need to make your life beautiful? Avoid a clash of opinions, discard all your reservations and concentrate on yoga with your heart and soul. Life will automatically become beautiful. Sneak into any household in India between 5 and 7 am and chances are good that you will find someone sitting cross-legged in front of the television intently following the instructions of a saffron-clad sanyasi, with disheveled shoulder length hair, eyes that are just slightly crossed and shoulders that are tilted to one side. As the swami parts the folds of his angavastram, he reveals a sinuous, fit physique and when he practices his trademark kapal bhatti, his stomach subsides into a deep hollow, sharply outlining his ribs. No prizes for guessing the name of the yogi. Could it be anyone other than Swami Ramdev? Seated before a camp of 20,000 or more participants, the swami punctuates his easy banter with a joke or two, or with a request for a testimony. These are inevitably fulsome, describing either a loss of weight, or recovery from one or the other ailment. Occasionally, he extols the great Vedic heritage of India and urges his followers to adhere to it, or ventures into a fluid narration of kitchen remedies for various disorders. Unsurprisingly, he delivers periodic broadsides against western influence, particularly the use of aerated drinks and junk food. The camera dwells lovingly on the heavyweights sitting in the front row, who range from politicos such as the chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, chief minister of Chattisgarh, Dr Raman Singh, to film star Hema Malini, and business tycoons, Rahul Bajaj and B K Modi. None of this would be remarkable in itself but for the fact that in less than two-and-a-half years, this innocuous yogi has single-handedly spearheaded a major national revolution in health and general wellbeing through the systematic practice of yoga. Observes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, whose runaway popularity has only been challenged in recent times by Swami Ramdev, ‘If an individual can be credited with reviving yoga in this country, it is solely Swami Ramdev. Yoga can cure even fatal diseases and Swami Ramdev has definitely proved it time and again. Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it.’ Agrees Life Positive columnist and yoga teacher Shameem Akhtar, ‘He is the first person to have popularized yoga in India at the mass level.’ Adds Santosh Sachdeva, author of books on kundalini, such as the Kundalini Diary, ‘Every morning when I go for my walk, I see people sitting on benches and practicing his anulom vilom and kapal bhatti. Even my physician does it. It’s astounding to see how one man has changed human consciousness at such a mass level.’ The Power of OneSwami Ramdev is living testimony to the power of one. Throughout history, individuals have been the fulcrum that has shifted society to new eras and paradigms. Whether it is the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Marx or Mahatma Gandhi, each created a revolution in ideas and action. Today, it is the turn of Swami Ramdev to create a watershed in yoga awareness. This 5,000-year-old philosophy and practice has been so far restricted to tiny pockets and organizations and has over the years gained more popularity in the West than in the land of its origin. It was left to Swami Ramdev to explode out of all limitations and bring it within the reach of every man. Today, there’s scarcely anyone in the country who has access to a TV, who is not familiar with his name. Lisps four-year-old Sarika, ‘I like the way Ramdev uncle pulls his stomach in and moves it like a ball. See I can also do it.’ She sucks her stomach in and surprisingly, she is good for her age. Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand of Bhanpura Peeth credits Swami Ramdev’s yoga for reducing his obesity. There has even been a camp at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on APJ Abdul Kalam’s insistence. Observes film star Hema Malini, ‘I have personally benefited a lot by following Swami Ramdev’s yoga. Being a dancer, flexibility is very essential. Regular yoga keeps my body well toned and active. I have experienced great relief in my knee joints. Even my skin is glowing better than ever.’ Others extol his virtues lavishly, crossing the frontier of hyperbole. Says Kirit Bhaiji, member of the Tulsi Seva Charitable Trust, ‘We have not been able to keep our country united, either through food, bhajans, language, religion nor culture. Unity in all aspects is possible only through Shri Ramdev’s yoga.’ Healing the WorldAnd when it comes to healings, the testimonies are legion. Eight years ago, Shakhdav M Devashryee lost all hope when he lost his sight. In January 2004, he learned yoga by listening to Swami Ramdev on TV. He says, ‘That was my turning point. My confidence level shot up and I was determined to follow the path of my yoga teacher and change the lives of many others the way he changed mine. I also wanted to establish victory over my own handicap. Till date, I have taught yoga in 11 jails and formed many clubs.’ Jayshree Desai, 47, yoga teacher based in Mumbai, also narrates her life-changing experience: ‘I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, and deemed incurable. My friend introduced me to Swami Ramdev&rsq
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