Vol. 20, No. 4,897 - The American Reporter - January 21, 2014




by Joseph Patrick Shea
AR Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.
December 21, 2010
WILL YOU PLEASE WELCOME BACK: THE MOON!

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READING, U.K., Dec. 11, 2010 -- Mulibir Rai had been suffering since 2004 from severe gout, a disease that causes painful swelling of the toes due to excessive uric acid in the bloodstream, and arthritis-like symptoms in his joints. He took high doses of anti-inflammatory and other drugs to suppress the acute pain, and their side-effects included unbearable headaches and nausea.

When his condition worsened, he could not sit in a squatting position, as those of his culture would prefer, and had to be satisfied with crouching. "I couldn't fold my knees even a quarter way down," Rai said, speaking at a Patanjali Yoga class held recently in Aldershot, a city of 57,000 near London.
    According to the PYPT UK Trust, the following are the rules of pranayama yoga.

RULES FOR PRANAYAMA

  1. Select a clean and peaceful place for doing pranayama. If possible, choose a place near a clean pond or river.

  2. As there is a lot of pollution in the cities, incense like Guggulu and purified butter can be lit to create a clean environment at that place. Igniting a lamp with purified butter alone can also serve this purpose.

  3. Sit in any of the asanas, or postures, such as padmasana, sidhasana or vajrasana, that you find convenient. The sheet or cloth (cotton or wool) on which you sit must be a non-conductor of electricity.

  4. Breathe only through the nose, because by doing so the air which you take in is filtered. During daytime, when you are not performing pranayama, make it a habit to do respire only through the nose and not through the mouth. Nasal respiration keeps the temperature of the nadis (vessels) - ida, pingala and susmana - at a consistent level, and prevents harmful foreign objects from getting into the lungs.

  5. Like yoga, pranayama should also be performed four or five hours after taking food.

  6. In the morning, pranayama should be done after finishing daily routines such as brushing your teeth and going to the bathroom, and should also be done before yogasana (posture exercise).
  7. In the beginning, pranayama should be done for 5 or 10 minutes. The time may be gradually increased up to about 30 minutes or an hour.
  8. Maintain a specific number of repetitions and do not vary.
  9. Maintain a specific rhythm. If it is not possible to defecate in the morning, take a mild laxative like terminalia chebula (black myrobalan, or in Hindi, hardaya) or any other mild laxative that is non-habit forming and herbal that has a laxative effect) at night.
  10. Kapala, or bhati pranayama, if done regularly for a few days, will help in curing constipation.
  11. Keep your mind calm and composed. Pranayama can also calm down the disturbed mind and keep one happy.

  12. Methods of pranayama may be varied according to the seasons and your own physical makeup and mental attitude. Keep this in mind and modulate the method accordingly. Some pranayama increase the body temperature, while others may bring it down. Some pranayama maintains the body's temperature at the normal level.

  13. If you feel fatigued in the course of doing pranayama, rest for a few minutes and then begin deep breathing. This will reduce fatigue.

  14. Pregnant women, hungry persons, those with fever, and those having no control of their passions should not do pranayama. If you are sick, keep in mind any instructions given by a physician during pranayama.

  15. For prolonged exercises of pranayama, observance of celibacy is necessary. Food should be simple, and not contain irritating spices. It should be sattvika - plain and simple, non-spicy food. Use of cow's milk, ghee (clarified butter), fruits and green vegetables is ideal. Moderation also is a good rule to observe.

  16. Do not strain yourself while doing kumbhak exercises, which refers to exhaling the air, by retaining breathed air in the lungs (puraka),for instance, or keeping air out after exhaling (recak).

  17. Pranayama does not mean just breathing in, keeping the breathed air in and exhaling it. It also means establishing control of the entire breathing process, and maintaining mental equilibrium and concentration.

  18. It is beneficial to chant the mantra "Om" (known as "the first cosmic soundless sound") aloud and repeat it several times before doing pranayama. Even recital of sacred songs in praise of God or recital of sacred hymns may be beneficial. This will calm your mind and make you fit for pranayama, because a peaceful mind is very essential while doing pranayama.

  19. Mental or loud recitation of the Gayatri Mantra (used in meditation and also for chanting) or any other sacred hymn brings spiritual benefits to the Sadhaka.
  20. See that while doing pranayama, none of your organs such as mouth, eyes, nose feels any strain; it should be done gradually without any undue stress or strain. All the organs of the body should be kept in normal condition.

  21. While doing pranayama, sit in an erect posture. Keep your spine and neck straight. This is essential for reaping the full benefit.
  22. If it's necessary to take a bath after pranayama, keep an interval of about 15 to 20 minutes between pranayama and bathing.

  23. For acquiring proficiency in pranayama, do not depend on books or what is done and preached by others. Seek the guidance of an expert and do pranayama under his direct supervision.
  24. Different treatises advocating or dealing with the subject of pranayama describe several methods, and each of them has its own importance. However, it is not possible for most people to do all these exercises daily. Hence, we have evolved seven methods of pranayama , which incorporate almost all the peculiarities of pranayama, rendering them scientific and useful from a spiritual point of view.

  25. All these seven types of pranayama can be done as a routine in a time-bound program of about 20 minutes. The person who does these exercises daily and regularly can attain its benefits.

Source: The PYPT UK Trust

Rai consulted many doctors and tried different medications, but his health didn't improve. Yet, he says, his condition did improve dramatically and suddenly when he started practicing pranayama - a word that translates literally as "control of force," or more commonly, "restraint of breath." Essentially, pranayam are breathing exercises associated with the ancient South Asian practice of yoga, and "reinvented" by a renowned Indian "saint," Swami Ramdev, whose Patanjail Yoga school conducts thousands of classes daily in India, here in London, and around the globe every day.

Rai has now been practicing pranayama for the last 30 nmonths. "I can't remember a day that has passed [with breathing exercise] undone. At best I have done up to two hours, and at worst I had to fall out in three minutes, particularly when I have to stay overnight as a visitor," he recalls.

With regular pranayama, his condition improved dramatically. "I have not used crouches for two years now," said Rai jubilantly. "Since I've practiced, my gout came down from [a severity rating of] 10 to 1." More importantly, he says, "pranayama has been of great help for me to understand life and has kept me closer to my spiritual life."

Meanwhile, the Times of India newspaper reported recently, that for one 73-year staff journalist, Ramashish (he has just one name), who has spent 46 years in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, "Yoga has given him a second chance in life."

In 2004, the reporter wrote, "I was diagnosed with 95 percent arterial blockade, and a valve had collapsed. The hospitals in India said I required surgery. But I took to pranayama and yoga and now I am fit," the veteran newsman said from Kathmandu in a telephone interview with The American Reporter.

His Times of India article on the practice said that "yoga has even helped him grow new hair on his bald pate."
    According to the PYPT UK Trust, the following are the benefits of pranayama yoga.:

WHY PRANAYAMA?

  • All the three Doshas (moods) - vata, pitta and kapha - get adjusted in proper proportion and abnormalities in them are removed.

  • Digestive system improves and diseases pertaining to digestive organs are cured.

  • Diseases pertaining to lungs, heart and brain are also cured.

  • Obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, constipation, flatulence, acidity, respiratory troubles, allergy, migraine, high blood pressure, diseases pertaining to kidneys, and sexual disorders of males and females are cured.

  • Resistance against diseases is stepped up. Immunity develops.

  • Hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart disease can be avoided.

  • Hair loss, and premature greying, the appearance of wrinkles at a young age, failing eyesight, and forgetfulness are relieved, and the process of aging is retarded.

  • The face becomes bright, luminous and calm.

  • Energy points in the body, called chakras are cleansed and enable practitioners to awaken the kundalini, or libido.

  • The mind becomes stable and tranquil. A sense of contentment and enthusiasm or zeal develops. Conditions like depression are relieved.

  • Performance of yogic exercises like meditation will be easy.

  • All the diseases of the physical and etheric bodies will be cured. Freedom from negative and harmful mental conditions like anger, lasciviousness, greed for money, and arrogance will be achieved.

  • All the physical and mental disorders and abnormalities are cured and toxins are eradicated from the body.
  • Freedom from negative thinking is achieved, and the mind develops the habit of positive and constructive thinking.
    Source: The PYPT UK Trust
  • Mr. Rai and Ramashish (he has only one name) aren't alone in recounting such experiences. Countless numbers of people, numbering ion the millions in India and Nepal alone, are practicing pranayama around the world. Most started to practice pranayama after they began suffering serious health problems.

    The Patanjali Yoga school was started by a man some consider a saint, named Patanjali, thousands of years ago in India, and has been "reinvented" by another figure revered by followers as a saint named Swami Ramdev.

    According to a brochure from Patanjai Yoga Peeth UK Trust, which operates the school in Aldershot, "the outstanding treatise on Ashtang Yoga, or yoga learned in eight separate stages, is known for its Sutras, that are simple but with abstruse and extensive content."

    Maharishi Patanjali wrote his treatise to offer practical knowledge of samadhi, or repose, through an eightfold path of yoga to the world. Pranayama is a controlled breathing exercise said to help all ailments and health problem. There are eight types of pranayama: Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahya, Ujjayi, Anulom Vilom, Bhramri, Udgeeth and Pranav.

    This exercise, according to the Patanjali Peeth, can contribute to creating a toned, flexible and strong body, help improve respiration, energy and vitality, maintain a balanced metabolism, contribute to promote a healthy heart and circulation, and relieve pain.

    According to followers, pranayama also helps people look and feel younger and improves athletic performance. Regular practice of yoga asans, or postures, coupled with pranayama helps control acidity, allergies, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, backache, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical sodalities, constipation, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, chronic fatigue, headaches, heartburn, heart disease, obesity, sciatica, sinus problems and physical weakness.

    The Trust says pre- and post-yoga workshop participants have, for example, shown weight loss of between 8 to 16 lbs. among obese people and a weight gain of 4 to 8 lbs. by those clinically diagnosed as underweight. The Trust says studies have revealed the regular practice of yoga and pranayama can lead to freedom from dependence on inhalers by asthma patients, freedom from insulin injections for diabetics, freedom from regular medication among those with high blood pressureand freedom from blockages in blood vessels. Pranayama purifies the vital life source, the prana, the Trust says, and gives practitioners greater physical energy.

    Tens of thousands of Yoga classes are offered around the globe and millions tune into the Astha television channel, where Swami Ramdev teaches people how to do yoga and live a healthy life. In addition to participating at various weekend camps, people also learn Yoga through CDs, DVDs, books and videos.

    Sunita Poddar, Trustee of the PYPT in Britain, said within the United Kingdom and worldwide, the Trust has trained over 2,500 teachers. "In UK alone, we have over 1,500 trained teachers conducting over 400 classes on a weekly basis, which is expected to grow vastly," he told Ther American Reporter.

    "Thousands of people, especially those who are from Nepal and India and living in the UK, regularly do yoga almost every day, and camps are held in almost all the Hindu temples across the country every week. Its popularity has gone up in the recent years," Poddar said.

    More than 50 Nepalese - including this reporter - recently took part in the Assistant Yoga Instructor training held in Aldershot, where a large number of Nepalese Gurkhas live. A Nepali Pran Yog Group was also formed under chairman Atmaram Dahal, and the groups are expanding to various parts of the United Kingdom.

    The yoga of Swami Ramdev is very simple, and anyone from any religious background, anywhere in the world, can do it. In a BBC interview, Ramdev said, "Earlier I also used to try the really difficult asans. But, gradually, I understood there is no need to push and punish oneself needlessly. So now I practice and teach simple breathing exercises which keep one healthy and stress-free."

    "Life is not for doing yoga. Yoga is for making life better," he said. His simple, healthy and happy living principle is a combination of yoga, ayurvedic (traditional) medicine, acupressure, naturopathy and balanced living, he says.

    Ramdev's lifestyle is reportedly very simple. He only eats boiled vegetables and fruits, does not drink anything except water and cow's milk, and only sleeps four hours - always on the floor. But within that regimen, his followers say he has completely revolutionized yoga. His slogan: "Good health is humanity's birthright."

    Followers who say they have directly benefited from his simple method of yoga have ample reason to follow him. Millions of them say that Ramdev, like Mahatma Gandhi, who brought down the mighty British Empire through his non-violence movement, a simple man in the traditional saffron robes of the Hindu ascetics, is bringing a positive revolution to India and other parts of the world.

    The American Reporter has not independently verified, and does not endorse, any of the claims presented for pranayama, yoga or the Patanjali School.

    AR Correspondent Chiranjibi Paudyal has contributed to The American Reporter since 1999.

    Copyright 2014 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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