Yoga and Baba Ramdev

The New York Times writes:

It was 4:30 a.m., the stars were still out and Swami Ramdev was ready to begin the day’s yoga lesson. His 12,000 students watched raptly as he sat wearing little more than a loincloth, chanting morning prayers in Sanskrit. When he walked on his hands across the stage in New Delhi’s cavernous Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, they applauded.

The students were on the final day of a weeklong yoga camp that the swami had promised would cure whatever ailed them, mentally as well as physically, and without a great investment of time. For a growing number of harried middle-class Indians, worrying about health problems associated with a more affluent lifestyle, that is just the message they want to hear.

While a majority of Indians are familiar with yoga, many think it is too complex and time-consuming to practice, particularly with the increasing demands on their time. The swami, youthful and photogenic, has become wildly popular with a “yoga made easy” approach that promises to yield quick health benefits with minimal effort.

His emphasis is on pranayama – roughly put, breathing exercises or the art of breath control. “If you do pranayama half an hour daily, you will never fall sick,” he claims.

It has now been six months since I started my Yoga (from a teacher who follows the Baba Ramdev practice). I do it 3 times a week for an hour – the time split equally between pranayam and a variety of asanas (exercises). It has definitely helped the body to become a lot more flexible and fitter. I just wish I had started it earlier in life!

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.