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India's biggest anti-terrorist success of recent times began with an innocuous cyclist. A Border Security Force (BSF) patrol had stopped a cyclist on August 27 for questioning in the Navakadal area of Srinagar. His body search alarmed the BSF men as he was found wearing a belt strapped with grenades. He turned out to be a fidayeen member of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and was

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 Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
As a Carnatic Vocalist he has released two albums of which "THE YOGA OF SOUND" has the unique blend of English lyrics with Carnatic Raga and Tala in an attempt, to bridge the gap between East and the West. The second Album 'TAMIL INBAM' is a collection of Tamil Compositions in Carnatic Music.
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Friday, July, 13th, 2007


An important concept in Yoga as well as other systems of Indian philosophy (Yoga is one of the six revealed philosophical views of life or the Shat Darshana of Sanathana Dharma) is the knowledge that our mental make up, our actions and the material world we live in, can be understood better by developing a deeper understanding and a greater awareness of the Trigunas, the three-fold natural divisions of our inner and outer nature.

Yogeshwar Sri Krishna in Chapter 17 of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the song celestial explains in great detail this three-fold natural division into the Gunas of Tamas (inertial ignorance), Rajas (dynamic and passionate ego centric activity) and Sattwas (pure goodness).

Lord Krishna says that the food we eat, the way we worship, the sacrificial offerings we do, the austerities we undertake and the charity we perform may all be sub-classified under the Trigunas according to the spirit and inner nature of the act itself.


TRIGUNAS AND WORSHIP: Each of us will have a tendency to worship ‘THAT’ which is closest to our inner nature and inner calling. In Verse 4 of Chapter 17 Krishna explains how those who are of the higher Sattvica nature or pure goodness will have a tendency to worship the Divine in different manifest and un-manifest forms. This is a reflection of their inner nature that deeply aspires to ascend to the higher states through the accelerated process of conscious evolution from animal-to-human-to-humane-to-ultimately becoming one with the Divine.

On the other hand, those who are of the Rajasica nature will be enamored by the passion aroused in the worship of the demons. Demons have tremendous powers and Rajasica passion and non stop activity is at its height in such beings. Both will power (Iccha Shakti) and the power of action (Kriya Shakti) is there in abundance, but the power of discriminatory wisdom ((Jnana Shakti) is sadly lacking in such demonic beings. A good example of this is seen in modern times where rock stars and movie stars who live and behave like demons are worshipped by demonic fans in this mode of unbridled passion with no regard to consequences at all. Just go to any rock show or night club and you will for sure have a “Passionate trip to hell”!

Those in the mode of Tamasica ignorance tend to worship ghosts and spirits and this is prevalent in the primitive societies of the world where Witch doctors and Voodoo men have a great time taking control over the weak Tamasica minds. The lower minds are highly influenced by the neither world and this is often seen in the way ‘spirits’ take over villagers and then the local exorcist has a gala time exerting his control over everyone near and dear. The use of these lower entities for revenge and getting back at enemies is a classic example of how the Tamasica minds worship these lower entities.


TRIGUNAS AND FOOD: In the Verses 8, 9 and 10 of Chapter 17, Lord Krishna describes the Gunas and their relationship with the different types of food in detail. It is not only just the type of food but also the time, place and how it is partaken that matters. It is also important to understand the resultant effects of imbibing the different classes of food.

Sattvica foods that are dear to those in the mode of pure goodness are those that increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction to the person. The Bhagavad Gita describes such foods as those that are juicy, fatty, wholesome and pleasing to the heart. These foods are the nutrients for the Yogic minded ones and help the mind to be calm, composed and ready for the higher states of consciousness and evolution. There is a deep relationship between food and mind and this is only now being slowly understood by western science. We are what we eat and so it makes sense to eat that which will make us a better person.

Rajasica foods are those that are very bitter, extremely sour, salty, too hot, pungent, dry and tasteless or burning. These foods are craved by those who are always on the move. It is therefore no wonder that such foods are popular amongst modern men and women who are forever on the move in their attempt to be the rat that wins the rat race! Lord Krishna warns us that such foods ultimately lead to distress, misery and disease. Truer words were never spoken considering the modern pandemic of food related diseases that are sweeping across the globe in gigantic proportions.

Food that has been prepared more than three hours before being eaten is considered the first of the Tamasica foods even if it is Sattvica or Rajasica in its constitution. As food ages, it starts to decompose and such foods are unsuitable for those seeking the higher states of consciousness. What to do in this modern time where most food is preserved, pickled or kept refrigerated for ages before being eaten? Tamasica foods also include those that are tasteless, decomposed and putrid. Food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear (bhojanam tamasa priyam) to those in the mode of darkness (Tamasica Guna) as it feeds their lower animal nature that loves to be inert and heavy. This lower nature avoids anything that may wake it out of its sound and deep sleep of animal hibernation where it resides for ages.


TRIGUNAS AND SACRIFICES: Verses 11, 12 and 13 of Chapter 17 detail the relationship between the performance of sacrificial offerings (Yagna or Homa), and the Gunas. Any offering or sacrifice that is done, can also be classified according to the Gunas based on how it is done, as well as by the reason for which it is done.

Those sacrificial actions and obligations that are performed without desire for reward and in accordance with the scriptural directions and with a sense of Dharma (righteousness) become those of the Sattvica nature of goodness. They are done for the sake of doing and not for the sake of anything else. As Pujya Swamiji, Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj used to say, “The reward for a job well done is to have done it well!” The Sivapuraanam one of the ancient Tamil scriptures tells us that, to even to bow to the Lord we need his blessings in the first place (avan arulale avan thal vanagi).

When such sacrifices are performed for some variety of material benefits or for the sake of pride they become those of the nature of Rajas or passion. The ego becomes involved in the action thus coloring the action with other elements of the individual nature rather than being of the Divine nature. These are the majority of sacrificial offerings seen today in most the religious places all over the world where even God is worshipped only for the sake of some benefit or the other! People bargain with God by saying, “I will do this for you if you do that for me!”

When such offerings are done with a total lack of faith and without regard for scriptural directions they become meaningless and when coupled with the lack of distribution of the offerings and without the chanting of Vedic Mantras and offering of Guru Dakshina they become of the nature of Tamas or ignorant darkness that has no intelligence, consciousness nor awareness. At many events such as modern weddings we find people instructing the Pundits to cut short the Pujas even if it descends to Tamasica proportions, so that other more important things such as flattering the egos of politicians can be done!


TRIGUNAS AND AUSTERITIES: There are three types of austerities (Tapah) mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. The first is the austerity of the body (shaariram tapah) that includes worship of the higher Self and its manifestations with cleanliness, celibacy and nonviolence. The second is austerity of speech (vaangmayam tapah) that implies the speaking of words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial and non-agitating to others along with the regular recitation of the Vedas. The third is austerity is that of the mind (tapo maanasam) that includes the inner qualities of satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control, and purification of ones existence.

When this three-fold austerity is done with transcendental faith, without expectation of material benefits and for the sake of the Supreme alone, then it becomes the austerity of the goodness or that of the Sattvica nature. This is the type of austerity and Tapah that was followed by the ancient Rishis such as the ever youthful Rishi Dhruva who were concerned with the welfare of the entire universe, and were not filled with the ego centric craving for individual satisfaction at the cost of the downfall of everyone else.

When the penance is performed out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honour and worship it becomes Rajasica and is neither stable nor permanent. This was the type of Tapah done by most Asuras such as Ravana and Hiranyakashipu who wanted to conquer the world and used Tapah as a means to get the powers to help achieve their selfish aim.

When the penance is performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others is said to be of Tamasica nature. This was also seen in the types of Tapah done by the Asuras in ancient times and in more recent times in the barbaric sacrifices and sadomasochistic tendencies of modern people.


TRIGUNAS AND CHARITY: We normally think that all forms of charity are good but the Srimad Bhagavad Gita in Verses 20, 21 and 22 of Chapter 17, enlightens us on the three fold nature of charity that helps us become more aware and conscious of our actions.

In Verse 20, it is said that the charity (daanam) given out of duty and without expectation of return at the proper time and place, to a worthy person is that of the nature of Sattwas. It is important to realize that the time (kale), place (desha) and person (paatre) are important components to determine the nature of charity. Giving charity to an unworthy person, at the wrong time, or in the wrong way make the charity fall from its higher Sattvica nature to become one of a much lower nature.

Verse 21 tells us that when the charity is performed with expectation of some return or with a desire of the furtive results or in a grudging mood it is of the Rajasica nature. In modern times this type of charity is rampant as we often don’t consider these aspects of time, place and person and just give charity for the sake of name, fame and other such egocentric considerations.

Charity performed at the wrong time (akala), in the wrong place (adesha), for the benefit of unworthy persons (apaatre), without proper attention and respect becomes that of the nature of Tamasica darkness. No good comes of such charity despite any claims to the contrary. This is made very clear in verse 22.

An understanding of this relationship between the Gunas and charity gives us a clue to a possible answer why so many of the social welfare projects and socialistic ideas have never been able to succeed despite the best of intensions. Until and unless we consider the multiple aspects of time, place and worthiness of persons involved in the act of charity, our best intensions are doomed but to fail.


IN CONCLUSION: When we deeply consider the Srimad Bhagavad Gita’s classification of worship, food, sacrifices, austerities and charity we can conclude that there are some key elements that determine the Trigunic nature of not only these five but also the entire spectrum of actions and the materialistic world.

To be classified as being Sattvica in nature, our actions must be:

  • done for the sake of common good,
  • done without desire for the rewards or benefits arising from the action,
  • done in accordance with scriptural rules,
  • done with piety and devotion to the Divine,
  • done with consideration for the right time and right place for the action, and
  • done with due consideration of worthiness of the persons benefiting from such an action.


Our actions will be of the Rajasica nature if they are:

  • done for the sake of the ego centric considerations,
  • done for the mere self serving attainment of name and fame,
  • done for material gains,
  • done for self preservation,
  • done grudgingly because we have no choice,  and
  • done without discriminatory intellect though they are done with great willpower and passionate action.

Such actions will be Tamasica in nature if they are:

  • done in ignorance,
  • done without consciousness,
  • done without awareness,
  • done without devotion or piety,
  • done without considering the time and place,
  • done without considering the worthiness of the persons being benefited, and
  • done with the evil intent of destruction


AVOIDANCE OF RIGHT ACTION: SINS OF OMISSION. An additional element to all of this can also be the avoidance of action, called in Christian parlance as the “sin of omission.” Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj used to teach us that the failure to do what should be done also has disastrous consequences. A Sattvica failure to act may be the avoidance of a necessary action because one does not wish to offend the other (such as scolding an errant child). The Rajasica avoidance of action would be to not do something because one feels the reward is not great enough, or out of fear. Tamasica avoidance of action would be that due to sheer laziness, dullness or stubborn ignorant refusal to do what should be done.


Swadhyaya, the fourth Niyama of Adhikara Yoga (the tenfold moral and ethical path of the Yama- Niyama), is the key that opens up our understanding of the Trigunic nature of our day-to-day actions. It is only when we start to look inward that we can begin to understand the nature of our external actions.  With clear-cut intellectual discrimination (viveka) between the false (asat) and the true (sat) we start to understand our actions and their repercussion better. As we begin to cultivate dispassionate detachment (vairagya) in the performance of our day-to-day actions, the larger picture begins to appear in our mind’s eye and our actions start to take on a more Sattvica nature. This signifies yet another major step on the accelerated path of evolution facilitated by the art and science of Yoga.




Saturday, July, 7th, 2007

Bandha Trayam in Gitananda Yoga

Bandha Trayam consists of three important neuromuscular locks. These are Moola Bandha (anal lock), Uddiyana Bandha (fly-up, abdominal lock) and Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock). These are applied during different phases of Pranayama as well as during the Oli Mudras for energy purposes.

They are an important component of Yoga Sadhana and especially very important if the practitioner wants to perform Pranayama with long Kumbhakas (restraints). It is dangerous to perform Kumbhaka without proper use of the

The Bandhas regulate changes in the intra abdominal and intra thoracic pressures that affect abdominal and thoracic organs to a great extent.

Jalandhara Bandha regulates the flow of blood to the cephalic region of the head, actually accelerating blood drainage from the vital organs of the head and the neck. Without this Bandha, blood normally stagnates in the organs of the head causing tension of the eyes and producing such conditions as migraine headaches and the general sense of ?woolliness? of the brain. The venous drainage, from the head and neck area is clearly indicated to be of great value in correcting tension problems of the face, nasal passages, throat and neck areas.

Uddiyana Bandha has been shown to aid in the strengthening of the diaphragm. It cures dyspepsia and is recommended for diabetics. Uddiyana Bandha aids in draining a clogged up liver, as well as hardens and tones up the pancreas and spleen. Uddiyana Bandha and its companion practice of Nauli Kriya totally eliminate constipation by encouraging the natural peristalsis of the bowel.

Moola Bandha affects the central and sympathetic nervous system reducing tension, therefore affecting subsequent inflammation at the uro-genital region. The ovaries in the female and the prostate gland in the male receive an increased blood circulation. Increased muscular tone is to be noted relative to the varicocele and hemorrhoids in those suffering such conditions, suggesting that the practice of Moola Bandha should be used as a prevention of these conditions. Phlebitis and blood clotting thrombosis is eliminated. Moola Bandha has been shown to be beneficial for toning up the kidneys and bladder and it generally tones up the musculature of the female sex organs. There is some possibility that Moola Bandha is of aid in dissolving or passing soft kidney and bladder stones.

There is a tremendous psychological value to the practice of Bandha Trayam as well. The Jalandhara Bandha gets rid of ?cobwebby? thinking. Uddiyana Bandha insures that the blood supply of the body is maintained at highest efficiency, while the Moola Bandha has the effect of canceling out neurotic and psychotic tendencies associated with failure or disappointment with sexual drives and needs.

In general, the practice of Bandha Trayam improves the tonus of the lungs as the width of the chest increases and a greater breath capacity is produced developing all major parts of the lungs equally and without harmful tension. Pressure is actually taken off various organs like the heart and lungs. While doing the Bandha Trayam, the heart elongates vertically, giving it a healthy massage, increasing cardiac blood flow, reducing fatty accumulation and increasing cardiac and pulmonary efficiency to its most desirable level.

A regular practice of the Bandha Trayam is recommended as a prevention to all types of lung and heart diseases, and as an aid to digestion and elimination processes. Hernias, prolapse of organs, glandular infections are all prevented. Thrombi, blood clots, and venous phlebitis are retarded. A healthy spine can also be attributed to the practice of Bandha Trayam. Enjoyment of life is increased with good digestion and a ?happy? liver, and the ladies should note that healthy babies are spawned from a healthy pelvis.




Some Core Concepts of Gitananda Yoga

In a modern world where Yoga has been equated to mere physical postures with a little breath manipulation and so called mediation, Swamiji’s contribution to the development of Yoga in the past century and his codification of the ancient teachings in a modern scientific manner is unparalleled. Swamiji’s teachings like him are huge and seemly never ending in their depth. I am presenting some of the core concepts that I feel are a unique feature of this tradition that is now known as Gitananda Yoga or Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga tradition.

Yoga is not something you do but a way of life to be lived 60/60/24/7/365/x. This requires a lot of introspection, consciousness, awareness, dedication and determination. Easy to say, tough to do but Swamiji showed us how and it is unto us to follow him.

Swamiji never wanted to have a huge number of students or a huge million strong organisation. He was more interested in bringing out the potential inherent in each one of his students even if they later hated him for it! Each and every one of Swamiji’s students is the best they could have been in this lifetime. Each is an individual and Swamiji brought out the best in each one. No stereotyping or mass mould production at all. Swamiji made them so aware of their Divine nature that many times they forgot him!!

No other system comes close to Swamiji in terms of the vast repertoire and depth of his Pranayama teachings. Starting with the Vibhagha Pranayama and then step by step building up to more than 120 intricate Pranayamas is done is a manner that Prana, that vital cosmic catalyst fills every cell with life and light.

Swamiji termed Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga as the No Option Yoga and placed great importance on a deep understanding of the Yamas and Core principles of Gitananda Yoga by Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani (2006) Niyamas which are the firm foundation upon which the real Yoga life can be built. “You wouldn’t build a colossal building without a foundation but you want to do it with Yoga?” he would ask numerous easy going aspirants who wanted some ‘quick fix’ Yoga.

Every aspect of Swamiji teachings follows a step by step structured approach that is easy to follow and methodical. Emphasis is placed on learning and re-learning the proceeding steps and then proceeding further. No shortcut please was his refrain for it is always better to be slow and steady than fast and sorry. The emphasis is on growing into the practice rather then forcing oneself into it and that is why the use of props and other contraptions that make Yoga so costly today have never been part of this tradition.

The major problem facing Yoga in the West is the fact that Yoga has been cleaved away from Indian Culture (Sanathana Dharma). Without an understanding of the Indian (Hindu) culture and the way of life where Yoga originated, it is very difficult to find answers to many of the questions that confront the sincere seeker. Swamiji tried to inculcate in all students a deep love and understanding of the culture from which Yoga has sprung. Amma has continued this with her unique contribution to the cultural renaissance in Pondicherry as well as all over the world.

Scores and scores of practices and techniques are part of this tradition that has numerous Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga and Jnana Yoga practices for the sincere aspirant. Polarity practices and the Mantra Laya deserve special mention as also the Laya Yoga Kriyas. The intricate and in-depth understanding of Chakras, Nadis and Bindus etc from the Dakshina Marga Tantra tradition of Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Brighu is not found elsewhere in any system.

In this Paramparai there are three important sciences, namely Mantra, Yantra and Tantra. Yantra is the mystical science of number, name and form and is a method by which one can live to learn “in tune” with the cycles of the universe rather than be “off tune” with those very cycles. According to the Yantric concept as taught by Swamiji each number has a special quality to it and is not merely a measure of quantity as is usually Core principles of Gitananda Yoga by Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani (2006) presumed. Every aspect of life goes through a phase of Nines. This phase may be nine years, nine months, nine weeks or even nine days. This concept can be further extended both ways to go up to nine milliseconds on one hand and nine lifetimes on the other.

One of the main features of the Gitananda tradition is the detailed exposition and understanding of Mudra, the ancient Yogic art and science of gesturing and sealing vital Pranic energies. These advanced techniques designed to improve neuromuscular coordination, culture human emotions and still the restless mind are a means of non-verbal communication that is subtle and refined. They enable us to communicate intrapersonally with our inner self, interpersonally with others and transpersonally with the Divine. The Oli Mudra teachings as well as the usage of Hastha Mudras with the breath in Vibhagha and Pranava Pranayamas are unique to this tradition.

Swamiji was in tune with the Akashic record and there is no other way one can explain the phenomenal and limitless knowledge and wisdom that sprouted forth through his eloquent roar of truth. May we always be worthy of these great teachings and may his blessings always be with us as we traverse the evolutionary path he envisioned for us.





In modern times when the terms Yoga and Yoga therapy have become synonymous, this article is but a small attempt to put into perspective what Yoga therapy can offer us as an integrative system of wholistic well being.

According to our Guru Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj,  “Yoga Chikitsa is virtually as old as Yoga itself, indeed, the ‘return of mind that feels separated from the Universe in which it exists’ represents the first Yoga therapy. Yoga Chikitsa could be termed “man’s first attempt at Unitive understanding of mind-emotions-physical distress and is the oldest wholistic concept and therapy in the world.”



The Nirvana Prakarana of the Laghu Yoga Vashishta, one of the ancient Yoga Texts describes in detail the origin and destruction of mental and bodily diseases. Sage Vashishta teaches Lord Rama that there are two major classifications of disease. Those that are caused by the mind are primary (Adhija Vyadhi, the psychosomatic, stress disorders) while those that afflict the body directly are secondary (Anadhija Vyadhi, infectious disease, accidents etc). The primary disease has two sub divisions. These are the Samanya (ordinary physical diseases) and the Sara (the essential disorder of rebirth that may only be destroyed by Atma Jnana or knowledge of the Divine Self). Samanya diseases are the ones that affect man physically and may be destroyed by the correction of the mind-body disharmony. It is in these psychosomatic disorders that the actual practical application of Yoga practices as a mode of therapy can be very useful.



In Yoga therapy it is vital that we take into consideration all of the following aspects that are part of an integrated approach to the problem. These include a healthy life nourishing diet, a healthy and natural environment, a wholistic lifestyle, adequate bodywork through Asanas, Mudras and Kriyas, invigorating breath work through the use of Pranayama and the production of a healthy thought process through the higher practices of Jnana and Raja Yoga.

The application of Yoga therapy can be correlated with the Pancha Koshas and various Yoga practices may be used as therapeutic interventions at different levels in this respect.

  • Annamaya Kosha: Jattis (simple units of movements), Mudras (gestures for energy generation and conservation), Kriyas (structured movements), Asanas (steady and comfortable postures) along with the dietary modifications and control. Kaya Kriya, Tala Kriya, Dridha Kriya are good examples of the Gitananda Yoga techniques that may be used at this level. The Loma Viloma set of practices are also excellent.
  • Pranamaya Kosha: Shat Karmas (cleansing actions), various Pranayamas, development of breath awareness, working on breath-movement coordination and the energizing and balancing of the Pranic energy. The Hathenas of Gitananda Yoga offer us a wonderful tool to deal at this level.
  • Manomaya Kosha: Trataka (concentrated gaze), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Japa and Japa-Ajapa practices are useful. Various aspects of concentration such as the Mandala Dharana and other Yoga Drishti techniques are available in Gitananda Yoga for this purpose.
  • Vijnanamaya Kosha: Swadhyaya (self analysis), Satsangha (lectures and spiritually uplifting exchange) along with the wonderful Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga relaxation and concentration practices of Gitananda Yoga.
  • Anandamaya Kosha: Learning to implement the principles of Karma Yoga (Yoga as skilled action performed without expectation) and following the principle of action in relaxation help us to bring about joy in all our activities. A realization that we live in a blissful universe and that all life is joy is to be brought about in this intervention through use of Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and other aspects like Bhajana, Yogic counseling and Satsangha. The Mantralaya and other Laya Yoga practices of Gitananda Yoga are excellent for producing effects at this universal level as the individual energies are absorbed or reabsorbed into the Divine.



Extensive research on Yoga being done all over the world has shown promise with regard to various disorders and diseases that seem to be amiable to Yoga therapy. These include the psychosomatic and stress disorders such as bronchial asthma, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, gastro intestinal ulcer diseases, atherosclerosis, seizure disorder (epilepsy) and headache. It also includes physical disorders such as heart disease, lung disease, and mental retardation. Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and substance abuse can also be managed along with other therapies. Musculoskeletal disorders such as lumbago, spondylosis, sciatica and carpel tunnel syndrome can be tackled effectively with Yoga practices that offer a lot of hope in metabolic disorders such as thyroid and other endocrine disorders, obesity and the modern metabolic syndrome.



The need of the modern age is to have an integrated approach towards therapy and to utilize Yoga therapy in coordination and collaboration with other systems of medicine such as Allopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha and Naturopathy. Physiotherapy and Chiropractic practices may be used with the Yoga if needed. Advice on diet and life style is very important irrespective of the mode of therapy that is employed for a particular patient.



A word of caution is also required. Though Yoga and Yoga therapy are very useful in bringing about a state of total health it is not a miracle cure for all problems. It needs a lot of discrimination on the part of both the therapist as well as the patient. It may not be useful in emergency conditions and there is a strong need to consult a qualified medical doctor where in doubt. Each patient is different and so the therapy has to be molded to suit the individual needs rather than relying on a specific therapy plan for patients suffering the same medical condition. A very true problem is that there is a different approach of the different schools of Yoga to the same condition. It is better to follow any one system that one is conversant with, rather then trying to mix systems in a “Yogic Cocktail’. One must also be vigilant as there is a strong presence of numerous quacks pretending to be Yoga therapists and this leads to a bad name for Yoga therapy as well as Yoga in general.



Yoga helps us regain the ease we had lost through dis-ease (as implied by sthira sukham asanam). It also produces mental equanimity (samatvam Yoga uchyate) where the opposites cease to affect (tato dwandwa anabhigatha). This enables us to move from a state of illness and disease to one of health and well being that ultimate allows us to move from the lower animal nature to the higher human nature and finally the highest Divine Nature that is our birthright.





My friend was incredulous. “How can you say you are happy and satisfied treating some old villagers in some way-out village when you could be abroad making so much money?” Taken aback I replied, “Well, it is totally true when I say that I am satisfied and happy”. Not one to let up he concluded with missionary zeal. “No gold medalist in medical studies would ever do what you are doing and then claim they are happy with life!”

How could I ever make him understand the happiness and satisfaction I was getting from serving needy villagers through the Village Health Programme of the Auroville Health Centre?

How could he ever understand the joy I get whenever Kannammal, the eighty plus, wrinkled old lady at Rayapudupakkam pinches my cheek in heartfelt thanks after getting her weekly dose of medicine from me on Fridays? Having no one to even think or care for her, the fact that I was someone to whom she could turn to in distress, someone who would talk to her and listen to her, filled her with so much satisfaction that my reward every week was that pinch on my cheeks embellished with her wry old smile. Where else in the world could I get that?

How could he understand Alamelu, the 60 year old hypertensive who suffered a major stroke leaving her entire left side paralyzed? She was lying at the door of the Rayapudupakkam Subcentre one Friday morning when I got there. After many months of medication, physiotherapy and regular consultation she is back today walking in an out of the Subcentre thanking me one day for saving her life and then complaining the next that I should have let her die because her relatives are now ill treating her!! She has recently got her cataract affected left eye operated and now awaits the operation on the right so that she can see us all better.

60 year old Porkilai from Pattanur would saunter in late on Tuesday mornings to the Poothurai Subcentre after finishing off all her ritualistic obligations at the nearby temple and then start reciting her complaints of what we term KKK Syndrome. The KKK Syndrome for the uninitiated is Kai-Kaal-Kodacchal syndrome that refers to the frequent complaint of aching hands and feet that is rampant (indeed to epidemic proportions) amongst village womenfolk who toil themselves to exhaustion while their men folk are out drinking and laying around. Anemia and malnutrition as well as wear and tear of age were the main causes of Porkilai’s problems, but where would she get the money to eat all the iron rich stuff that City doctors love to prescribe? Talking to her and educating her as well as so many such ladies on the benefits of Iron rich green leafy vegetables and Raagi millet takes up a lot of time and energy but has surely started to pay dividends. Porkilai fells better, her hemoglobin readings are improving and she now brings a few more patients in tow to get the benefits she has got from our work.

There are so many like them out there in the villages, waiting for someone to come, to talk and listen to them, to reassure them that all will be fine, to joke with them about village happenings and to well also provide some medicines and an injection once in a while. They don’t get this “human relationship” with doctors in the overcrowded, understaffed government hospitals and just cannot afford to go to the private hospitals that squeeze them dry.

How can I ever explain to my friend the happiness and satisfaction I get from these interactions with those who just need a human ear and a helping hand to give them love and care so that they can retain their human dignity.


Wednesday, June, 14th, 2006






Bharatanatyam and Yoga are two ways that exist to help us understand the manifestation of the Divine in the human form. Both of these wonderful arts are products of Sanathana Dharma, which is the bedrock of Indian culture. The Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni lays emphasis on not merely the physical aspects of Bharatanatyam, but also on the spiritual and esoteric nature of this art form. Both of these arts are also evolutionary sciences for the spiritual evolution of the human being to the state of the super human and finally the Divine.

The spiritual and Yogic nature of Bharatanatyam, is very well explained in the following comment by our Guru Yogamani, Yogacharini, Puduvai Kalaimamani Smt Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani who is eminently qualified to talk on this subject being both an eminent world famous Yogini and a distinguished Bharatanatyam artist, rolled into one dynamic being.

“Bharatanatyam is a Yoga, if Yoga means union. For surely this ancient art is one of the most beautiful and satisfying ways of expressing the human longing for union with the Divine. As an art form, Bharatanatyam  demands conscious understanding of body, mind and emotions. The sincere dancer must understand the nature of Bhakti and Jnana and the innate longing in all living creatures for Samadhi or cosmic consciousness. The ‘Divine dance of energy’ in the universe, so graphically and beautifully represented by Lord Nataraja, the lord of dance is the source of inspiration for all Bharatanatyam  artists who understand the deeper aspects of their art. Especially for the youth, this Divine art is a boon for it shapes the body into graceful controlled beauty, the mind into alertness and sensitivity and the emotions into controlled and purified receptors for the deepest inner longings of humankind. Lord Shiva himself blesses those young people, who take to this art, offering their profound interest, their love and their discipline as Dakshina. Such true Sadhaks then find that Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram – truth, goodness and beauty do flower in their lives, boons granted gladly by the lord of dance to his ardent devotees.”

In modern time, both of these elevating spiritual arts have been the victim of degeneration to such an extent that Bharatanatyam  is only treated as a decorative performing art and Yoga as a ‘Keep fit’ exercise thus negating the very soul of these art forms. The depths of the spiritual concepts of these arts have been by far and large lost and they are being practised only at a very superficial and mundane level.

However, there exists a ray of hope at the end of this dark tunnel, as slowly and steadily many of the practitioners of these arts are awakening to their real inner meaning. Many of them are taking concrete steps to bring back the real meaning into the practice of these arts, which are actually ‘lifestyles’ in their true nature.



Both Yoga and Bharatanatyam  trace their roots to Sanathana Dharma and Lord Shiva is held to be the manifesting principle of both according to the South Indian Shaiva Siddhanta tradition. Dance, music and theatre are an enduring part of Indian culture. In India all forms of art have a sacred origin and the inner experience of the soul finds its highest expression in music and dance. The Hindu attitude towards art as an expression of the Inner beauty or Divine in man brought it into close connection with spirituality and religion. Using the body as a medium of communication, the expression of dance is perhaps the most intricate and developed, yet easily understood art form.

Ancient Indian Civilisation prospered on all fronts, leading to the compilation of epics like the four Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Puranas etc., which serve as the basis for all streams of learning. The Vedas (Sama, Yajur, Rig and Atharva) are said to be Divine spiritual knowledge derived from the supreme. Elaborate and eloquent references to the art of dancing abound in the Rig Veda, substantiating that dance was one of the oldest forms of art in India. The Natya Shastra is the earliest Indian text in the history of performing arts. Over time many classical dance forms emerged in India including Bharatanatyam , Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohini Attam, Kathak, Odissi and Manipuri, as well as numerous vigorous folk dances.

According to Natya Shastra and Abhinaya Darpana, Lord Brahma created the art of dance upon the request of the Gods as a form of entertainment and it became known as the fifth Veda, and was open to all, irrespective of caste and creed. Prior to the creation of the Natya Veda, Brahma entered a Yogic trance in which he recalled the four Vedas. He drew literature from the Rig Veda, song from the Sama Veda, Abhinaya or expression from the Yajur Veda and Rasa or aesthetic experience from the Atharva Veda. These aspects are the four main constituents of the Natya Veda. Lord Brahma passed on this Natya Veda to his son, sage Bharata, who passed it on to his 100 sons. Thus this divine art descended from the heavens to Earth. Lord Shiva took up the Tandava (masculine form of dance), whereas Goddess Parvati, his consort, took up the Lasya (feminine form). Bharata staged the first play with his hundred sons and Apsaras in the amphitheatre of the Himalayas. Lord Shiva, the ultimate dancer, was so enchanted that he sent his disciple Tandu to Bharata, to teach him the true elements of dance. These are depicted in the Natya Shastra, in its chapters collectively named the Tandava Lakshana.

Lord Nataraja is considered to be the God of dance in Hindu mythology. His dancing image, in the Tandava form, is the starting point of all creation. To the dancer the four arms of the Nataraja are a depiction of dance movement in an immovable and static medium. The mystique of the arms and legs of the figure has a cosmological significance as the dance is taken as merely a human representation of a cosmic fact. In the Nataraja image the frontal palm of the right hand, which is lifted and slightly bent, represents security (Abhaya) to devotees. The left hand, which is thrown across the body with the fingers pointing downwards, indicates the feet of the Lord as the refuge of devotees. The upraised left foot represents the blessing bestowed by the Lord. In the right upper hand Shiva carries a small drum representing the creative sound, which began the universe, and in the other hand he has a fire, which is symbolic of light and therefore destruction of ignorance. Under the right foot is a dwarf, which signifies triumph over evil. Encapsulated in this figure of the Dancing Lord is the entire function of Shiva as the creator, preserver and destroyer. This dance is a metaphor for the belief that life is essentially a dynamic balancing of good and bad, where opposites are interdependent. The dance of Shiva is the dance of life.

Each Indian classical dance form draws inspiration from stories depicting the life, ethics and beliefs of the Indian people. The genesis of the contemporary styles of classical dances can be traced to a period around 1000-1500 years ago. India offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. Bharatanatyam  flourished in areas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is another famous classical dance of South India, from Andhra Pradesh. Kathakali is a theatrical dance form of Kerala. Mohini Attam is the feminine counterpart of Kathakali. Kathak is the classical dance form of North India and has two main Gharanas or schools - the Jaipur Gharana and the Lucknow Gharana. Odissi is the classical dance of Orissa and was mainly centered around Puri and Bhubaneswar. Manipuri is the classical dance of the Northeastern state of Manipur. Besides these, there are several semi-classical dances that contribute to the plethora of Indian dances.

In India, classical dance and music pervade all aspects of life and bring color, joy and gaiety to a number of festivals and ceremonies. In fact, dance and music in India are tied inextricably to festivity of any kind.



Bharatanatyam  is a seamless blend of Nritta (rhythmic elements), Nritya (combination of rhythm with expression) and Natya (dramatic element).

Nritta is the rhythmic movement of the body in dance. It does not express any emotion. Nritya is usually expressed through the eyes, hands and facial movements. Nritya combined with Nritta makes up the usual dance programs. Nritya comprises Abhinaya, depicting Rasa (sentimental) and Bhava (mood).

To appreciate Natya or dance drama, one has to understand and appreciate Indian legends. Most Indian dances take their themes from India's rich mythology and folk legends. Hindu Gods and Goddesses like Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha are all depicted in classical Indian dances.

Classical dance is a combination of Bhava, Raga and Tala (mood, melody and rhythm). The Gati or gait is stylized for each classical dance form. The Gati is also called Chaal in Kathak, Chali in Odissi and Nadai in Bharatanatyam .



Abhinaya is the rhythmic expression of moods, emotions and a narrative through the use of Mudra (hand gestures), Bhanga (postures of the body) and Rasa (facial expressions). Abhinaya has been vividly described in Abhinaya Darpana, a medieval work on histrionics that was codified by Nandikeswara.

“Abhinaya” literally means the “representation or exposition of a certain theme”. The basic root meaning is from the Sanskrit “Abhi” which means “to or towards” – with the root “Ni” – “to lead”. Abhinaya thus means, “to lead (the audience and performer) towards a particular state of being or feeling.” “Abhinaya ” has four aspects namely: Aangika, Vachika, Aahaarya and Saathvika. Aangika is the language of expression through the medium of the body (Sharira), the face (Mukha) and movement (Cheshta). Vachika Abhinaya is the expression through words, literature and drama; Aahaarya, the expression through decoration such as make-up, jewellery and costumes; Saathvika, the expression through acting out and manifesting the different state of the mind and feelings.

Lord Shiva is praised as the embodiment of the above four types of Abhinaya in this following Shloka that is recited by all dancers in the initial part of their training in an effort to make them realise the divine nature of this art form.


(We bow to Him the benevolent One, Whose limbs are the world,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language, Whose costume is the moon and the stars.)



The ideal postures of the body are depicted in the Shilpa Shastra and there are four types of Bhangas (postures), the deviations of the body from the central erect position. These four Bhangas are: Abhanga, Samabhanga, Atibhanga and Tribhanga. Abhanga signifies "off-center", an iconographic term for a slightly askew standing position. Samabhanga is the equal distribution of the body limbs on a central line, whether standing or sitting. Atibhanga is the great bend with the torso diagonally inclined and the knees bent. Tribhanga is the triple bend with one hip raised, the torso curved to the opposite side and the head tilted at an angle.



Mudras are found in both Yoga and dance and while they are used for communicating externally in dance there are used for internal communication in Yoga. In dance, the way a Hastha Mudra is held, is divided into 12 Prana Lakshanas or 12 different ways of holding a hand.

1.                  Prakarana Hastha - The fingers are stretched

2.                  Kunchita Hastha  - The fingers are folded

3.                  Rechita Hastha  - The fingers are given movement

4.                  Punchita Hastha  - The fingers are folded or moved or stretched

5.                  Apaveshtita Hastha  - The fingers are bent down

6.                  Prerita Hastha  - The fingers are bent back or moved or stretched

7.                  Udveshtita Hastha  - Holding the hands UP while dancing

8.                  Vyavrutta Hastha  - Hands help UP in the sides

9.                  Parivrutta Hastha  - Hands are brought together from sides

10.              Sanketa Hastha  - Hands used to convey Implied Meanings

11.              Chinha Hastha  - While dancing a dancer tries to show lot of things which are visible and invisible like a person's physical appearance, face, weapons, places of limbs and other parts of the body, his/her influence on others, their mannerisms etc. Hands used to show such things are called Chinhe

12.              Padarthateeke - Hands used to confirm the meanings of certain words


The Hastha Mudras or hand gestures of Bharatanatyam  are a very highly developed aspect of the art and are a science of communication with the Divine. They are used for a variety of reasons such as to mime the meaning of the song, convey deeper feelings, bring out inherent qualities, invoke the myriad forms of the Divine as in Navagraha and Dashavathara Hasthas or in some cases they may be simple aesthetic ornamentation. Some have very limited meanings, and some are used as catch-alls for miming a variety of ideas.

The Natya Shastra lists numerous Mudras along with their meanings. Many others have been developed in the time since, whose histories are harder to trace. In the cases where an idea is being conveyed, it is more important to communicate clearly with hand gestures - adapting them if necessary - than it is to perform them with rigid correctness.

Hand gestures of Bharatanatyam  are classified as

ASAMYUTHA HASTHA  - Single hand gestures

SAMYUTHA HASTHA  - Double hand gestures

There are 28 Asamyutha Hasthas and 24 Samyutha Hasthas. Each Hastha has a defined usage called Viniyoga. These Viniyogas are again Sanskrit Shlokas codified in the Natyashastra.



Pataka Tripatakordhapataka Kartareemukhaha
Mayurakyordhachandrashcha Arala Shukatundakaha
Mushtishta Shikarakyashcha Kapitha Katakamukhaha
Suchee Chandrakala Padmakosham Sarpashirastata
Mrugasheersha Simhamukho Langulasolapadmakaha
Chaturo Bramarashchiva Hamsasyo Hamsapakshakaha
Samdamsho Mukulashchiva Tamrachooda Trishoolakaha

Ashtavimshatihastha Naam Evam Naamaanivikramat.


Anjalishcha Kapotashcha Karkata Swastikastatha
Dolahastha  Pushpaputaha Utsanga Shivalingakaha
Katakavardhanashchiva Kartaree Swatikastata
Shakata Shankha Chakrecha Samputa Pasha Keelakau
Matsya Koorma Varahashcha Garudonagabandakaha
Khatwa Bherundakakhyashcha Avahitastathivacha
Chaturvimshatisankhyakaha Samyuta Katithakaraha

Different schools and styles of dance use different hand gestures and different terms for the same hand gestures. Most have a fairly similar set of terms that largely overlap with this list, but many may be different in the details. It is largely a case of individual style, and the important thing is to communicate the ideas clearly.



Nritya is that manifestation of dancing that includes both Rasa (aesthetic flavour) and Bhava (human emotions), as in the dance with Abhinaya, the art of expression.

There are nine major classical categories of emotions or Rasa, called Nava Rasas that are depicted in the Abhinaya of Bharatanatyam . These are Shringara (erotic love), Haasya (humour and laughter), Karuna (compassion), Roudra (anger), Veera (heroism), Bhaya (fearful terror), Bheebatsa (disgust), Adbhuta (wonder-awe) and Shanta (peacefulness).

The Nava Rasas are a major form of emotional catharsis and Natya (dance) helps cleanse the negative aspects of human emotions and sublimate them for higher emotions of Divine Bhakti. They are also a great means of psychological preventive therapy as most modern societies give little or no scope for expression of these emotions in the proper manner.

The Nava Rasas also help youngsters to learn about these emotions in a positive manner. They can then produce a balanced wholesome personality who embodies Sama Bhava or equal mindedness.

According to one of the greatest exponents of Bharatanatyam , Balasaraswati "Bharatanatyam , in its highest moment, is the embodiment of music in its visual form. For more than thousand years, the Shastras have confirmed that an individual dedicated to dance must be equally dedicated to music and must receive thorough training in both the arts. In demonstrating the art of Bharatanatyam  abroad, I have made a special point of showing audiences how delicately linked is the realisation of movement to Raga expression in Abhinaya, including the subtle expression of Gamakas, intonation of Sruti, and the unfolding of improvisation in Niraval. In the same way that we look for perfect blending of Raga and Tala and of Raga and Bhava in Abhinaya, so also it is essential that the Raga and the Sahitya be perfectly matched and in accordance with the necessities of expression in the dance."

She also points out, "Shringara stands supreme in this range of emotions. No other emotion is capable of better reflecting the mystic union of the human with the Divine. I say this with great personal experience of dancing to many great devotional songs, which have had no element of Shringara in them. Devotional songs are, of course, necessary. However, Shringara is the cardinal emotion, which gives the fullest scope for artistic improvisation, branching off continually, as it does, into the portrayal of innumerable moods full of newness and nuance”.

She continues in the same vein by saying, “If we approach Bharatanatyam  with humility, learn it with dedication and practice it with devotion to God, Shringara which brings out the great beauties of this dance can be portrayed with all the purity of the spirit. The flesh, which is considered to be an enemy of the spirit and the greatest obstacle to spiritual realization, has itself been made a vehicle of the Divine in the discipline of the dance. Shringara thus is an instrument for uniting the dancer with Divinity. Since the dancer has universalized her experience, all that she goes through is also felt and experienced by the spectator".



Acrobatic Natya Karanas are very much a part of the traditional Bharatanatyam  repertoire. 108 Natya Karanas have been described in the Natya Shastra. Natya Karanas are not only particular poses as is commonly believed, but also are cadences of movements. It is necessary for an understanding of the Karanas that the dancer masters the movements of the separate parts of the body like the neck, head, feet, thighs, waist and hands, and understands how geometric shapes can be created with the Angas (limbs), Evidence of Natya Karanas is very clear in studying sculptures and paintings in Gopuram walls, ceilings and courtyards of our ancient Dravidian temples, especially in Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Tiruvannamalai, where dancers are depicted in acrobatic stances. These stances are very similar to Yoga Asanas. On the Gopuram walls at Chidambaram there are many classical dance poses, which are also Yoga Asanas.

Tandava, the classical dance, takes its name from Tandu, the celestial attendant of Lord Shiva who instructed the sage Bharata in the use of the Angaharas and Karanas, the plastic modes of Tandava at Lord Shiva's behest. A Karana is a unit of dance in which gesture, step and attitude are coordinated in a harmonious rhythmic movement. A sequence of six or more Karanas is called an Angahara. Anga refers to the body and Hara is a name of Lord Shiva, creator of the Tandava, comprising 32 Angaharas composed of 108 Karanas.  The Nataraja temple of Chidambaram is sculpted with these 108 Karanas on the inner walls of the 4 gateways leading to the temple. These lovely sculptures vividly depict the Tandava dance form.

While Shiva performed the Tandava, several Karanas were linked together as a garland of dance poses with the help of Rechakas or pauses.  These became the Angaharas, garlands of dance poses for lord Hara.  Each combination of Angahara contains six, seven, eight or nine Karanas.  There are thirty-two Angaharas, according to Bharata.  Later, learned experts in the field of dance created several additional Angaharas in their own style.  These were in different combinations of Karanas and subsequently were different from those of Bharata.

According to experts of dance therapy, each of these 108 positions corresponds to one of the different human emotions. Holding a posture enhances the emotion it corresponds to. The length of time that the posture needs to be held will depend on how quickly you wish your energy sphere to become contented. You will need to perform the two or three postures for the counteracting emotion to the one you suffer from for a maximum total of 30 minutes per week for one year in order to get cured, and become contented in this respect. In practicing the opposing Karana, only the body, leg and arm movements need to be considered - not the detailed head, hand and foot gestures. Also, one does not need to be concerned with the movement into or out of the posture; nor with the actual emotion being represented - the mind needs to remain calm.

The Karanas in the Brihadeshwara Temple are sculpted on the walls of an inaccessible room on top of the Sanctum Sanctorum, and consist of about 87, four-armed, large figures of Shiva in Karana poses, with one pair of hands holding various weapons. There are other stray Karana figures, scattered all over Southern India in other temples. Strictly speaking, the Karana is an entire dance movement whereas the Karana-Sculpture is just one static pose taken from these. The beautiful bracket and wall figures of the Chennakesava temple at Belur, and the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid depict dancers in a variety of poses that can be easily identified with the Caris, the Sthanakas and the Karanas described in the Natya Shastra. After a deep study of the sculptures at Chidambaram, scholars have classified Karanas into nine types. According to Sarangadeva in the Sangita Ratnakar, a beautiful classical pose, formed by changing the hands and legs in dance, conditioned by the mood or flavour, is known as a Karana. Bharata, in the Natya Shastra, merely defines a Karana as a combined movement of the feet and the hands that, though momentarily static, is a dynamic series of movements, which culminates in a specific pose. By themselves, the Karanas are beautiful aspects of dance, believed to have originated with Lord Nataraja’s Tandava. Pundits like Somanathkavi, Abhinavgupta and Sarangadeva suggested their use along with Bhava so as to expand their utility into the realm of Abhinaya. Over the years, Gurus interpreted Karanas with expressions in the Bhagavata Mela Natakam style, thereby incorporating these Karanas into Javalis and Padams.

The Natya Karanas give us a static element to offset the dynamic movements of the dance. This is important, for a pause is as important as a movement in classical dance.  Natya Karanas have not found prominence in the modern repertoire and one of the major reasons may be the physical inability of modern dancers to perform them. Most dancers today are overweight and inflexible due to the effects of modern lifestyle and diet. Unless a person has tremendous dedication and determination it will be very difficult to be able to perform most of the acrobatic Natya Karanas. We often see dancers struggle to stand even on one leg in a feeble attempt to recreate the masterly Karanas.

Under the dynamic leadership of Kalaimamani Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Yoganjali Natyalayam, Pondicherry’s premier institute of Yoga, Bharatanatyam  and Carnatic music has tried to restore the acrobatic Karanas to the Bharat Natyam repertoire. According to Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Chairman Yoganjali Natyalayam, acrobatic Natya Karanas are very much a part of the traditional Bharat Natyam repertoire, but have been practically lost in today’s performances. He says that evidence of their presence in this art form is very clear in studying bas relief, sculptures and paintings in Gopurams, walls, ceilings and courtyards of our ancient Dravidian temples, especially in Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Tiruvannamalai, where dancers are depicted in acrobatic stances. He also points out that these stances are very similar to Yoga Asanas, and in the Gopuram walls at Chidambaram, at least twenty different classical Yoga Asanas are depicted by the dancers, including Dhanurasana, Chakrasana, Vrikshasana, Natarajasana, Trivikramasana, Ananda Tandavasana, Padmasana, Siddhasana, Kaka Asana, Vrishchikasana and others. Yoganjali Natyalayam has as one of its aims the restoration of these acrobatic Karanas to the classical Bharatanatyam  performance and this is possible only by combining sustained Yogic discipline with dance training from an early age. The sincere and regular practice of Yoga from early childhood helps to re-create the Karanas efficiently and many of the students of Yoganjali Natyalayam have become experts in the artistic presentation of these Karanas.





There are a great many facets of Yoga and Bharatanatyam  that are similar to each other. Some of these will be described in this section.


This is an important quality required in both Yoga and Bharatanatyam . Yoga can be defined as discipline and one of the important aspects of Yoga is the emphasis on Tapas as discipline. Yoga also emphasizes that Abhyasa or dedicated and determined practice is vital for success. No dancer can ever expect to master this art without a similar approach of dedicated, determined, sincere and regular Riaz or Sadhana. Sadhana and Abhyasa are vital for success.


GURU BHAKTI:              

Both arts stress the importance of Guru Bhakti and the role of Guru Krupa in achieving success in all endeavors. The Guru is held even higher than God and this is explained in the following way. A hypothetical question is asked as follows. If God and Guru appear before you at the same time, to whom will you bow down first? The answer is that we will bow to the Guru first as he is the one who will show us God. Without the Guru we cannot recognize the Divine even if he is standing in front of us.

The traditional method of learning in both of these arts was the Guru-Chela relationship that was often in the Gurukula pattern where the student lived with the Guru as a family member learning 24-hours-a- day for many years before mastering the art. This was a real trial by fire in many cases and only the true seeker would be able to pass such a test. Nowadays both these arts have become academic in nature and a lot has been lost in this transition from Gurukula to college method of imparting instruction.



One of the important streams of Yoga is Bhakti Yoga and this is related to the Bhakti Rasa of Bharatanatyam . All great Bhakti Yogis of our ancient Indian history were deeply immersed in music and dance in their love for the divine. Meerabhai, Thiyagaraja, Chaithanya Maha Prabhu, Andal, Karaikal Ammaiyar, Nandanar and Avvaiyar are some of the few examples of such Bhakti Yogis. It is said that Lord Shiva danced the Ananda Tandava at Thillai (Chidambaram) following the request of his great Bhaktas, Sage Patanjali and Sage Vyagrapadha. Similarly he also is believed to have given the benevolent Darshan of his Cosmic Dance for the great woman saint, Karaikal Ammaiyar.


Mantra Yoga and Nada Yoga are related to the Indian Classical Music that is an integral part of Bharatanatyam . The vibrations produced by the sounds of music and the use of the Bhija Mantras of Laya Yoga and Mantra Yoga has a similar effect in arousing latent and potent energies of our inner being. Bharatanatyam  utilises numerous shapes that are similar to the Mandalas of Yoga and Yantra and these shapes also produce a bio-electo-magnetic field that energizes not only the dancer but also her audience too. All matter is vibration and the differences are only due to the different speeds of vibration that result in differing degrees of freedom. This is well understood by modern physicists, one of whom, Fritjov Capra even went to the extent of declaring the principle of Lord Nataraja as the most apt symbol of quantum physics itself in his book, “The Tao of Physics”.



The concept of unification of Jivatma and Paramatma and the longing of the Jivatma for this union finds common manifestation in both dance and Yoga. Both aim to transcend the individualistic Ahamkara and evolve into the ultimate universality. The legendary pioneer Rukmini Devi, founder of Kalakshetra rightly observed that dance is a form of Yoga. She said, “It needs true Bhakti or devotion. We have no more temple dancing today, but we can bring the spirit of the temple to the stage. This will change our entire attitude towards this art and then our physical bodies will become transmuted and non-physical. Every performance becomes a means of not only making the dancer one with the higher Divine Self but the audience too. This oneness is Yoga”.

Martha Graham, one of the greatest of modern dancers was able to transcend his individuality when he said, "I am interested only in the subtle being, the subtle body beneath the gross muscles."

The roles of the Nayaki pining for her lord are meant to portray the pining of the Jiva for the spiritual union with the Paramatma. The Sakhi, the friend who brings about this union in dance is in reality the Guru who helps the Sadhaka reach that state Ultimate Universal Unification. The legendary Balasaraswathi who became synonymous with Bharatanatyam  for many a Rasika said revealingly, “Bharatanatyam  is an artistic Yoga (Natya Yoga), for revealing the spiritual through the corporeal”.



The sixth step of Ashtanga Yoga is Dharana or concentration. This concentration when taken to its extreme leads us into the meditative state of Dhyana. Many of the concentrative practices of Yoga are based on the Mandalas that are assigned to the different elements of the manifest universe. The dancer requires a similar state of utmost concentration in order to bring about the union of Bhava, Raga and Tala in her presentation. The different aspects of Bharatanatyam  such as Nritta, Nritya and Natya must be seamlessly unified with great concentrative ability for the performance to peak in its intensity. When the dancer achieves that peak of concentration in her performance she loses herself into the state of meditation. The Yogic state of Dhyana and the trance like states experienced by the dancers while performing are quite similar in their universal nature. Shri Tiruvenkatachari, an eminent dance historian (1887) compared Yoga with the dance and said that the secret is ‘forgetfulness of the individual self’. He also mentioned that dance is a means of attaining Moksha just as is Yoga.





According to the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara, the important inner qualities of the dancer (Antah Prana) are as follows.





JAVAH –swiftness or speed

STIRATVAM –composure or steadiness

REKHA -symmetry

BRAHMARI –versatility and circular movements

DRISHTI –glances of the eyes

ASHRAMAHA –ease and tirelessness

MEDHA -intelligence

SHRADDHA –confidence and interest

VACHO –clear speech

GEETAM-capacity of song

All of these inner qualities can be developed and maintained through the practice of Yoga and in addition to the above mentioned aspects of the personality, it is important for the dancer to have numerous physical and mental qualities that can be obtained through a dedicated practice of Yoga as a way of life.



These physical qualities are essential for the dancer at all stages of their artistic career. The standing poses such as Padahastasana, Padangushtasana, Trikonasana, Natarajasana, Virasana and its variations, Garudasana, Padottanasana are especially useful to develop strength in the legs and thighs. One legged poses such as the Natarajasana, Garudasana, Vrikshasana, Vatayanasana, Eka Padasana and Ardha Chandrasana help develop an excellent sense of balance as well as improve single minded concentration.

The hand balancing poses such as Mayurasana, Titibasana, Vrichikasana, Dolasana and Hamsasana develop strength in the shoulders, arms and wrists that is essential for holding the arms up in numerous Nritta sequences such as in the Alarippu, Varnam and Tillana.



Yogasanas help develop proper carriage and back bending postures such as Ushtrasana, Bhujangasana and Chakrasana avoids the hunchbacks that are common in modern school going children from carrying heavy loads of books. Repeated practice of balancing poses on right and left sides as well as from different positions such as supine, prone, and the topsy turvy poses, the centre of gravity is improved and this leads to a perfect positioning of the body in performance of the various items.







Integral Yoga education is an essential component in the educative process of an educator as it provides a multi-level understanding of the human nature. It is a “must be’ in the modern stress filled world as educators face an  immense amount of stress in both their professional as well as private lives. In addition to the stress that is placed upon the educator by the student unrest and behavior, they feel threatened by the unrealistic expectations of the parents and management of their institutions. Not only need they be prepared to handle such stress but are also expected to counsel and help their wards to face their own stress. Integral Yoga education helps prepare us to do the right thing at the right time and in the right way. This is an important aspect of education both for the students as well as the educators themselves.

Integral Yoga education is based primarily on the ancient concepts and practices of Yoga coupled with a scientific understanding of the complete human being. The science and art of Yoga, has for millennia guided man in his search for truth.  Even in his personal and social life, it has given him the tools and techniques with which he can find inner happiness, spiritual realization and social harmony. It provides the foundation for the development of a happy and healthy human being who has a holistic approach to life and is a boon to the society.

This paper discusses the important aspects of integral Yoga education that need to be brought into both theoretical and practical components of the teacher training curriculum. This includes theoretical concepts such as Vasudeiva Kudumbakam, Chitta Bhumi, Anta Karana, Pancha Kosha, Chaturvidha Purusharthas, Chatur Ashramas, Pancha Klesha, Samatvam and concepts of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga such as the Yama and Niyama. It also encompasses the concepts of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. An understanding of the role of the mind-body connection in patho-physiology of Stress disorders is part of this training. The practical aspects of integral Yoga education that need to be introduced span the whole spectrum of Hatha Yoga and Jnana Yoga including Asana, Kriya, Pranayama and Mudra in addition to the valuable practices of relaxation that are indispensable for modern educationalists.

A fervent appeal is made for the introduction of these concepts and practices in the teacher training curriculum at all levels. This will help the educationalists of the future to have a holistic approach towards developing the potentialities of their students. Integral Yoga education is the art and science of “educe-ment” – and the ability of the teacher to “draw out latent potentialities” is a true measure of the educationalist’s quality. Alas! Our modern educational system does the opposite! It “stuffs in” –facts and figures which most students are unable to digest. Integral Yoga education is the perfect antidote for this “educational indigestion”.



Various Yogic concepts have guided man towards shaping his life and the interpersonal relationships in his social life. These concepts need to be included in the teacher training curriculum so that both the educators as well as later their students can benefit form the psycho-physiological equilibrium (Samatvam) brought about by the inner understanding and external observance of these divine concepts. Wholistic health and well being at physical, emotional, mental and social levels of being are the byproduct of this educational process.

Vasudeiva Kudumbakam - The whole world is one family.  This is an excellent concept, which helps one to understand that division on the basis of class, creed, religion and geographical distribution are all 'man made' obstructions towards oneness.  One can then look upon all as his own and can bond with everyone irrespective of any barrier.

Pancha Kosha - The concept of our five sheaths or bodies helps us to understand how all our actions, emotions and even thoughts can influence our surroundings and that "No man is an island".  The Pancha Koshas are the five sheaths or layers of human existence. They are also translated as the five bodies of man. While modern science and medicine deal with a single layered existence, the Yogic and Vedantic teachings describe it as a five-fold existence. This concept is found well expressed in the Taittriya Upanishad. The first of the layers is the physical sheath or physical body called the Annamaya Kosha. It is the body or sheath (Kosha) compounded (Maya) of cells made up of food (Anna). This very same body will one day become food for a multitude of microorganisms and is the body that can be experienced by the five senses. Pranayama Kosha is the body or sheath made out of Prana, the vital force of nature harmonized into the physical body by the life pumping action of the breath (Prana). This body or sheath is also known as the life-force body, the emotional body or the vital body. Manomaya Kosha is made up of the lower memory mind of Chitta and the conscious mind, Manas. Vignanamaya Kosha is the body permeated by the superconscious mind of the Buddhi and the Ahamkara, the self-ideating principle of the higher mind. Anandamaya Kosha is the body of bliss (Anandam) and is the cosmic body or the cosmic egg. When the cosmic egg, Anandamaya Kosha, is perfectly centered by the lower bodies, then Samatvam or equilibrium is said to exist. For the physical body it represents homeostasis or organic equilibrium. It represents Samabhava, mental equipoise, for the mind with all senses balanced and under control of the Buddhi, the higher spiritual intellect. When the Annamaya Kosha is mal-aligned with the other four bodies, physical disassociation (Nara) or disease (Vyadhi) appears. The body loses its normal tendency for a uniform and beneficial physiological stability within and between its various parts. Psychic disorders may also be present but of a minor nature, such as being late for appointments or engagements, or constantly bumping into or “accidentally” hitting others.  The concept of “Nara” or psychic disassociation helps us to be aware of why things happen to others and us in our daily life.

Chaturvidha Purusharthas - The four legitimate goals of life tell us how we can set legitimate goals in this life and work towards attaining them in the right way, following our dharma to attain Artha (material prosperity), Kama (emotional prosperity) and finally the attainment to the real goal of our life, Moksha (spiritual prosperity).

Chatur Ashramas - This concept of the four different stages in life, helps us to know how, what and when to perform the various activities in our life. Brahmacharya is the period for study, conserving the creative impulse and channeling it towards elevating spiritual pursuits. Grahasta is the period of responsibility, in which we learn to care about others in the family and the social network, fulfilling our dharma towards both the young and the old. Vanaprastha or retirement is the period when one's life can be played over again and again in the mind with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction having not to worry about anything at all. Sanyasa is the period of life when after performing our duties to the best of our ability and after having attained perfection in life we renounce everything for the Divine. This concept helps us to plan well and perform in the right manner so that we attain perfection in action at all stages of our life.

Pancha Klesha:  Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (ego), Raaga (attraction), Dwesha (repulsion) and Abinivesha (urge to live at any cost) are the five Kleshas or mental afflictions with which we are born into this human life.  Through Yoga we can understand how these control our life and see their effects on our behaviour.  These 'Kleshas' hinder our personal and social life and must be destroyed through the practice of Patanjali's Kriya Yoga consisting of Tapas, Swadyaya and Ishwar Pranidhana (Atman Prasadhanam). These are the root cause of stress and by tackling them head on we can distress effectively.

Chitta Bhumi: The five states of the mind according to Yoga and Indian philosophy are Mudha (the dull, inert, mindless state), Kshipta (the totally distracted state of the mind), Vikshipta (the partially distracted state of mind), Ekagratha (the one pointed state), and Niruddha (the controlled state of nomind). Most worldly people are in the first two states as either they are either dull or totally distracted. Television commercials keep getting shorter and shorter as the attention span keeps decreasing rapidly. The Yoga Sadhaka is able to keep his mind in the state of partial distraction and one-pointedness, and it is the real Yogi who can go beyond the whirlpools of the mind into the no-mind state.

Chitta Vritti: According to Maharishi Patanjali, the five manifestations of the “sub conscious mental chatter” of the Chitta Vritti are Pramana (cognition or right knowledge), Viparyaya (misconception or wrong knowledge), Vikalpa (imagination), Nidra (process of sleep) and Smrithi (process of memory). All these five mental processes must be curtailed by Abhyasa (dedicated and disciplined practice), and Vairagya (dispassionate detachment), in order for us to rest in our true self.

Chatur Bhavana: The four attitudes that Patanjali advises us to cultivate are given in the 33rd Sutra of the Samadhi Pada. These attitudes that help us to control our mental processes are: friendliness towards those who are happy (Maitri – Sukha); compassion towards those who are miserable (Karuna – Dukha); cheerfulness towards the virtuous (Mudhita – Punya); and indifference towards the wicked (Upekshanam – Apunya). These help us create a Yogic attitude of Sama Bhava or equal mindedness in all situations. They also help us to overcome the Kleshas, and provide us with answers on how to live a Yogic life. They make us humane and help us to live within the social structure in a healthy and happy manner.

Samatvam:  'Yoga is equanimity ' says the Bhagavad Gita.  Development of a complete personality neither affected by praise nor blame through development of Vairagya (detachment) leads to the state of "Stitha Prajna" or "Sama Bhava".  This is a state of mind, which is equally predisposed to all that happens, be it good or bad.  Such a human is a boon to society and a pleasure to live and work with.

Yama –Niyama: The Pancha Yama and Pancha Niyama provide a strong moral and ethical foundation for our personal and social life.  They guide our attitudes with regard to the right and wrong in our life and in relation to our self, our family unit and the entire social system. An educator who follows these Yogic principles will be a beacon light (a real dispeller of darkness) to all the students that he educates in his teaching career.

Pancha Yama:

Ahimsa                             -      Non - violence

Satya                                -      truthfulness

Asteya                              -      non-stealing

Brahmacharya                  -      proper channeling of the creative impulse

Aparigraha                       -      non – coveted-ness

These are the "do not’s" in our life.  Do not kill, do not be untruthful, do not steal, do not waste your god given creativity and do not covet that which does not belong to you.  These guide us to say a big "NO" to our lower self and the lower impulses of violence etc. When we apply these to our life we can definitely have better personal and social relationships as social beings.


Pancha Niyama

Soucha                             -      cleanliness

Santhosha                         -      contentment

Tapas                               -      discipline

Swadyaya                        -      study of one’s-self

Ishwar Pranidhana (Atman Prasadhanam) - gratitude to the divine self.

The Pancha Niyamas guide us with "DO’S" - do be clean, do be contented, do be disciplined, do self - study (introspection) and do be thankful to the divine for all of his blessings. They help us to say a big "YES" to our higher self and the higher impulses. Definitely a person with such qualities is a Godsend to humanity.

Even when we are unable to live the Yama and Niyama completely, even the attempt by us to do so will bear fruit and make each one of us a better person and help us to be of value to those around us and a valuable person to live with in our family and society.  These are values, which need to be introduced to the youth in order to make them aware and conscious of these wonderful concepts of daily living, which are qualities to be imbibed with joy, and not learnt with fear or compulsion.

Educators can by example show their students the importance of these qualities and when students see the good examples of their teachers living these principles they will surely follow suit sooner than later.



Living a happy and healthy life on all planes is possible through the unified practice of Hatha Yoga Asanas & Pranayamas, Dharana, Dhyana and the following of the concepts of Karma and Bhakti Yoga especially when performed consciously and with awareness.

Hatha Yoga Asanas:

Asana is the third of the eight aspects of Ashtanga Yoga and involves the transcendence of the opposites (Dwandhwa Anabighata) through the attainment of a steady and comfortable posture (Sthira Sukham Asanam). Asanas help to develop strength, flexibility, will power, good health, and stability and thus when practiced as a whole give a person a 'stable and unified strong personality'. Important Asanas include meditative, relaxative and cultural postures that are vital for physical and mental well being. Asanas such as Shavasana and Makarasana help in producing the ‘relaxation response’ and is an indispensable tool in our battle against stress. Cultural postures such as Matsyasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Shalabasana, Chakrasana, Ardha Matsyendra Asana, Halasana and Sarvangasana help us attain and maintain a prefect state of health and well being. They are also useful in preventing and managing the numerous stress related disorders such as Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Peptic Ulcer, Insomnia, Asthma etc.



Pranayama is the expansion of our Pranic energy body thought regulation of the breath with consciousness. It helps us to control our emotions, which are linked to breathing and the Pranamaya Kosha (the vital energy sheath or body). Slow, deep and rhythmic breathing helps to control stress and overcome emotional hang-ups. There are various Pranayamas that help either activate or relax the system according to the need. Pranayamas such as Brahmari, Pranava, Nadi Shuddhi, Chandra Anuloma and Savitri are useful stress busters while Surya Bhedana, Bhastrika and Surya Anuloma help to activate the system when needed. Cooling Pranayamas such as Sheetali and Sitkari have great use in appetite disorders as well as heating Pitta conditions of the body. Pranayamas have a great value in emotion culturing and help to reduce the rage and panic attacks that are so common in the student community.


Concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana) help us to focus our mind and dwell in it and thus help us to channel our creative energy in a wholistic manner towards the right type of evolutionary activities.  They help us to understand our self better and in the process become better humans in this social world. Various concentration techniques are available to help us to focus our mind inward and attain to the meditative state of mind where we are endowed with the great qualities of a discriminatory intellect (Viveka) and a dispassionate attitude (Vairagya) that make us truly humane.

Karma Yoga:

Karma Yoga includes importance concepts of action-reaction and teaches us the importance of right action. This includes the concepts of selfless action (Nishkama Karma) as well as skill in action (Karmasu Koushalam). Selfless action and the performance of our duty without any motive are qualities extolled by the Bhagavad Gita which is one of the main yogic texts.  Performing one's duty for the sake of the duty itself and not with any other motive helps us to develop detachment (Vairagya) which is a quality vital for a good life. Yoga is skill in action according to Yogeshwar Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.  'To do our best and leave the rest' is how Pujya Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj used to describe the best way of life.  Even if we don't practice the other aspects of Yoga, we can be 'living' Yoga, by performing all our duties skill fully and to the best of our ability.  A great teacher can be a true Yogi by performing doing their duty to perfection and without care for the rewards of the action, even if they do not practice any Asanas or Pranayama.

Bhakti Yoga:

Bhakti Yoga enables us to realise the greatness of the Divine and understand our puniness as compared to the power of the Divine or nature. We realize that we are but 'puppets on a string' following his commands on the stage of the world and then perform our activities with the intention of them being an offering to the divine and gratefully receive HIS blessings. The cultivation of this “grateful attitude” in the educational community is important for the ‘Guru Sishya’ relationship has been all but lost in modern education. Students think that they don’t owe their teachers anything because the teacher is being paid to teach them. This has led to a breakdown in the student-teacher relationship. Integral Yoga education can bridge this cavernous divide and re-new this unique relationship that is the bedrock of all educative experiences.


The Art of Yogic Relaxation:

Yoga relaxation differs from ordinary relaxation in that both those who are hyper tense as well as those who are normal can use it. It is not just a physical means of relaxation, but is an actual mental control of the psycho-neuro-endocrine system. The Hatha Yoga and Jnana Yoga Relaxation Kriyas help us to uproot the originating physiological or psychological causes of most modern stress disorders. Deep relaxation and Yoga are synonymous when we reach the inner phases of Yoga. For at this stage relaxation is not only body relaxation, but also a state where the physical body, emotions and mind are all brought up into a high state of conscious relaxation. Please note the two words in the foregoing sentence-“up” and “conscious”. The popular idea of relaxation is “down” and “non-conscious”.  This is where Yoga differs from any other system, and in particular, differs from drug medication and hypnosis where any outside control is employed. In Yoga, the control is turned, over to the higher mind. An elevation of consciousness takes place. After a relaxation session, one should feel that one has advanced a step up the ladder of evolution.

Much of the stress and tension that we face in modern life is not real tension. We are victims of modern anxiety. Most of the tension is “implied” tension as we let things prey on our minds and trade on our emotions. This kind of tension has to be dealt with in a unique way. You can spend a fortune on a psychiatrist who may or may not be able to help you, or you can approach your problem from the Yoga standpoint, which is to deal with the source of the problem. The source is “YOU”. The problems are peripheral. Yoga has a unique way of dealing with these tensions and stresses that are stored away in the old part of our brain that we have inherited from our reptilian and mammalian ancestors. To be able to fully use the Yoga relaxation techniques, we should in the first place understand the four ways in which we need to relax according to Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri.

1.      Letting Down: This is to let down one’s barriers to the needed advice and help, to let down one’s prejudices and preconceived ideas and notions about people, things and ideas, to let down all of the false notions and materialistic idolatry that we have built up in modern living and in particular, to let down from the “God of Tension” which is virtually deified in “civilized” society. It is necessary that we find out the truth, stripped of all false belief, about our own nature and the nature of the Supreme. Leave off all fears and anxieties and gain a positive attitude towards yourself and others. Cultivate the desire for right action when action is called for.

2.      Giving Up: We must develop a firm desire to give up the stresses and strains that beset us. This does not mean surrender or a defeat, as popularly suggested by the English term “to give up”. This giving up is to throw off any weakness that tends to build up tension, and to give off or let off those foolish tensions that at times turn us into a smoking volcano. Giving up here is a positive, relaxing and evolutionary process.

3.      Giving In: To give in, in the Yoga concept of relaxation, is to “give in” to the dictates of the Inner Mind, the Higher Consciousness. Again, this is a positive process and is not the giving in of surrender. There is no negation or abdication of positive actions or ideas. One has to take up an Inner Life study to understand what it really means in words to give in to the Inner Self. In the beginning, it is an intellectual process, highly exciting and satisfying, but it must move beyond the intellectual, ecstatic state to an even more positive, transcendental state.

4.      Giving Over: The giving over of the control of the Higher Mind to the Higher Self is the highest and last stage of Four – Fold Relaxation. This is where the highest attainments of the relaxation are achieved, where one can merge into beautiful super-conscious higher states of which you are aware, but no words can describe. Giving over represents the peak of fulfillment.



1.      There are many different styles of Yoga, different lineages and Paramparas being expounded in the world today. Some of the Yoga Institutions advocate highly contradictory theories and methods. There is no real uniformity in practice and approach. An expert committee would have to be set up to hammer out an accepted syllabus, and perhaps, a text book-cum-workbook could be written which could be translated in all our country’s languages and followed in all the institutions.

2.      There is a dire shortage of well-trained, intelligent Yoga teachers. Through our own experience, we found the Physical Education Teachers of Pondicherry capable of teaching Yoga once they were given an intense training. Training centres could be set up in each state and teachers sent to those centres for training. Because such teachers already have some level of fitness and physical awareness as well as experience in teaching, they could be capable of teaching Yoga. Many also have an interest in Yoga. Or, alternatively, well-established Yoga institutions could be identified in each state and asked to undertake the project of training Yoga teachers and setting syllabus for their own state.

3.      In Pondicherry, we found our Physical Education Teachers complained they had no proper environment for teaching Yoga, not even a room with sufficient space and ventilation. Time was also not allotted separately for the Yoga training as it was clubbed with the physical education curriculum.

4.      Motivation is a key problem, for the practice of Yoga techniques often meets with stiff resistance, unless the teacher is very skillful.

5.      Yoga is a distillation of all that is best in Sanathana Dharma and the concepts of Yoga are found mainly in the Hindu scriptures. Some may object to this. However, this objection may be overcome, by undertaking comparative studies of Bible, Koran, Buddhist and Jain Scriptures. Local language scriptures like the Tirukkural and Thirumandiram in Tamilnadu and the Granth Sahib in North India may be studied for Yogic content, since it is often said that Yoga is the distillation of the essence of all religions. Yogic Ideas are found in all the world’s religions, and the students would benefit by this comparative religion study.



Motivation is essential for implementation of integral Yoga education in the curriculum. Following are some suggestions that will help motivate the students to take up this study with seriousness, enthusiasm and interest.

1.      Each institution should conduct at least one Yoga Sport competition as well as Yoga essay and elocution competitions ever year. Students should be motivated to participate in these competitions as there are many competitions at state, regional and national level for which these internal competitions can be the selection criteria.

2.      The State Government should conduct one annual State Yoga Sport Competition as well as Yoga essay and elocution competitions for all institutions. The winners from each institution would be sent to this Competition. This is already being done in the field of Bharata Natyam, Music and Sports.

3.      Each institution should hold at least three Yoga Lecture Demonstrations by invited experts during the each year.

4.      All institution should send a team for participating in the Pondicherry Tourism Department’s International Yoga Festival held in January every year at Pondicherry.

5.      Each institution should have in its library at least 25 books /DVDs/ VCDs / CDs on the subject of integral Yoga education, both in English and regional languages. These books can be lent to the students to encourage interest.

6.      At all levels, discussion and debate groups should be instituted at least once monthly on the concepts of  integral Yoga education with reports assigned.

7.      Yoga Essays and elocutions should be assigned to encourage creative thinking and expression of Yoga concepts

8.      Practical exams should be given at periodic intervals along with theoretical exams. This will motivate the students to take things seriously.

9.      Regular inspection of classes should be made by Project Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator or Project Consultant. These should be surprise checks as well as scheduled inspections.

10.  Students should be asked to maintain a record with stick drawings of all practices. This will help them remember and serve as reference. They should keep a Yoga notebook, which should also be available for inspection on request. Students should be guided to keep a Yoga diary, which records daily personal practice.

11.  Students could be taken on field trips to visit local Yoga centres and see classes in progress.

12.  Motivation of both the teachers and the students is of prime importance. Art contests with Yoga as its subject can be held also on institution and state level. Speech contests and essay competitions on Yoga are important motivational devices.

13.  Visits to the institution by good Yoga Asana Demonstrators are also an important part of the motivation and training as seeing is learning. Yoga Charts, photos of Yoga Asanas, etc. should adorn the walls of the Yoga classroom. If possible the institution should have a room set aside solely for practice of Yoga. It would be highly desirable if each institution could set aside a room for meditation for the students, which they could visit whenever they wanted to sit quietly.

14.  Students can be given in addition to the syllabus, extra work in the form of preparation for difficult Asanas, which they could work on as projects in their homes. These Asanas could be used for demonstrations, conducting Yoga tableaus, Yogic dramas, Yoga competitions etc.




Classes may be conducted for an hour twice a week in a well ventilated room with mats on the floor for the participants to sit comfortable. The classes must be conducted wither before food or there should be a gap of at least 3 hours post meal. The following practices can be taught over a period of three to six months with regular practice sessions.


Jathis: loosening, flexibility exercises.

Surya Namaskar

Pada Hastha Asana, Trikona Asana, Vajra Asana, Sukha Asana, Vakra Asana , Utkat Asana, Mehru Asana, Chatus Pada Asana, Sharabha Asana and Chiri Kriya

Dirga Pranayama, Sukha Pranayama, Mukha Bhastrika, Nasarga Mukha Bhastrika , Vyagraha Pranayama and Kukkriya Pranayama

Shava Asana with part by part guided relaxation.



Review of previous practices

Malla Kriya and Hakara Kriyas

Veera Asana I and II, Vriksha Asana I and II, Padmasana, Pavana Mukha Kriyas, Ardha Matsyendra Asana, Ushthra Asana I and II, Shashaha Asana I , II and III, Matsya Asana, Maha Mudra I and II

Vibhagha Pranayama: Sectional Breathing into low (Adham Pranayama); Mid (Madhyam Pranayama) and High (Adham Pranayama) areas of the lungs.

Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama

Kaya Kriya: dynamic body relaxation


Review of all practices

Brahma Mudra for neck health and relaxation

Nataraja Asana, Ardha Chandra Asana, Pada Uttana Asanas, Halasana, Sarvanga Asana, Chakrasana and Paschimottanasana

Pranava Pranayama, Brahmari Pranayama, Bhastrika Pranayama and Savitri Pranayama

Introduction of Prana Mudras to control breath patterns

Introduction of Bija sounds associated with lungs

Yoga Nidra relaxation for the body and mind


Note: Study Sheets should be given to each student with the names and short descriptions of practices. Students should be asked to draw stick figures of all the practices. They should also learn the Sanskrit names for all techniques.



Theory classes may be conducted for an hour twice a week in a class room with multimedia or OHP facilities. The following concepts should be introduced over a period of three to six months with regular class tests to test the students understanding of the concepts. Regular discussion and debate sessions should be conducted to make the topics interesting and stimulating.



Vasudeiva Kudumbakam- the world is one family

Pancha Kosha: the five layered existence of the human

Chaturvidha Purusharthas –the four aims of life

Chatur Ashramas –the four stages of life

Pancha Klesha: psycho-physical afflictions and their removal through Kriya Yoga

Samatvam: the state of equanimity

Concepts of Ashtanga Yoga  according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Yama and Niyama: Moral and Ethical Codes of right living



Review of previous concepts with class tests and discussion groups

The Yogic four fold view of the mind

Concepts of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga

Concepts of Asanas and the changing role of Asanas from ancient to modern times

Pranayama and its changing role from ancient to modern times

Concept of Pratyahara and importance of sensory control



Review of previous concepts with class tests and discussion groups

Role of the mind-body connection in patho-physiology of Stress disorders

Concepts of concentration (Dharana)

Concepts of meditation (Dhyana)

Description of the meditative state in the various scriptures and traditions

Classical definition of Samadhi (Cosmic Consciousness). Comparison of these concepts in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Hindu traditions







Modern medicine and Yoga are rational, scientific and universal in outlook and hence are natural allies bound to come together.  Their combination has the potential to provide us with a holistic health science that will be a boon for the psychosomatic health of our masses. Improved health of the general population will result in reduction of pressure on our hospitals, which are under-staffed, over-crowded and fund-starved. Yoga and modern medicine are not exclusive, but complementary systems. Their enlightened collaboration will have a significant impact on our health care system.  Yoga involves a wholistic approach to healing and well being and integrates healing with the culture, diet, environment, and tradition. Modern allopathic medicine that originated from Greco-Roman Medicine and Northern European traditions is built on the science of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry and the structure-function relationship between cells, tissues and organs. Allopathic medicine focuses on diagnosis, treatment, and cure for acute illnesses via potent pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, radiation and other treatment modalities. 

We are today faced with numerous debilitating chronic illnesses related to aging, environment, and hedonistic lifestyle, such as cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases as well as many incurable diseases such as AIDS. Modern medical advancements provide the rationale for the integration of various traditional healing techniques including Yoga to promote healing, health, and longevity. It is imperative that advances in medicine include the wholistic approach of Yoga to face the current challenges in health care. The antiquity of Yoga must be united with the innovations of modern medicine to improve quality of life throughout the world.

At first glance, allopathic medicine and Yoga may seem to be totally incompatible and in some ways even antagonistic to each other. Practitioners of either system are often found at loggerheads with one another in typical modern one-upmanship. However it is my humble endeavor as a student of both these life giving, life changing and life saving sciences, to find the similarities that exist between them and build a bridge between these two great sciences of today’s world.

It would of course be much easier to build a bridge between Yoga and Ayurveda as both share many similarities of concepts such as the Trigunas, Tridoshas, Chakras and Nadis. They also understand that a healthy balance between body, mind and soul leads to total health. Diet and behavior are given importance in both systems and the ultimate goal of both is the attainment of Moksha.

Though allopathy may not share all of these concepts with Yoga, it is to be seen that there are a great many ‘meeting points’ for the construction of a healthy bridge between them. Both allopathy and Yoga understand the need for total health and even the World Health Organization has recently added a new dimension to the modern understanding of health by including spiritual health in its definition of the “state of health’. Spiritual health is an important element of Yoga and now that even the WHO has come around to understanding this point of view, there is hope for a true unification of these two systems. Modern medicine has the ultimate aim and goal of producing a state of optimum physical and mental health thus ultimately leadings to the optimum well being of the individual. Yoga also aims at the attainment of mental and physical well being though the methodology does differ. While modern medicine has a lot to offer humankind in its treatment and management of acute illness, accidents and communicable diseases, Yoga has a lot to offer in terms of preventive, promotive and rehabilitative methods in addition to many management methods to tackle modern illnesses.  While modern science looks outward for the cause of all ills, the Yogi searches the depth of his own self. This two way search can lead us to many answers for the troubles that plague modern man.  The Shiva-Samhita lists the characters of a fully qualified disciple (Shishya) as follows. “Endowed with great energy and enthusiasm, intelligent, heroic, learned in the scriptures, free from delusion…” Doesn’t a true modern medical scientist require these very same qualities?



The study of anatomy and physiology is a great meeting point for modern medicine and Yoga. Yoga therapists and practitioners can benefit from the intricate and detailed ‘break-down study’ of modern medicine where the body is broken down into many systems, then into many organs, many tissues and finally into billions of cells. On the other hand the Yogic “ wholistic” view of the Pancha Kosha (the five sheathed existence) can help modern doctors realise that we are not just, ‘one-body’ organisms but have four more bodies that are equally if not more important. We are a manifestation of the Divine and have, not only the physical body but also an energy body, a mental body, a body of wisdom and a body of eternal bliss.  An understanding of the psychic anatomy and physiology of Nadis, Chakras and Bindus when coupled with the practical understanding of the details of the physical body can inspire real knowledge of the self in all health care personnel. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has tried to correlate 37 areas of human physiology with 37 areas of intelligence or consciousness as available in Vedic literature. Some of the examples are the correlation between Nyaya and the Thalamus as well as Samkya and the types of neuronal activity.

In his excellent book, The Shambala Guide to Yoga, Dr. Georg Feuerstein says, “Long before physicists discovered that matter is energy vibrating at a certain rate, the Yogis of India had treated this body-mind as a playful manifestation of the ultimate power (Shakti), the dynamic aspect of Reality. They realized that to discover the true Self, one had to harness attention because the energy of the body-mind follows attention. A crude example of this process is the measurable increase of blood flow to our fingers and toes that occurs when we concentrate on them. Yogis are very careful about where they place their attention, for the mind creates patterns of energy, causing habits of thought and behavior that can be detrimental to the pursuit of genuine happiness”. Professor Dr SV Rao, an eminent medical doctor and Yoga Scientist says, “Yoga is a science because it is verifiable. Yoga as a science of living is also an art. Yoga, therefore, may be defined as the science and art of optimum living. Yoga has the capacity to move, either side by side with medical science or independently. This is because Yoga has a sound system of etiology, diagnosis and pathogenesis of disease. Thus we have a complete system by itself in Yoga.”



Modern medicine has come to realise the importance of prevention only in recent times but the role of preventive medicine is still very limited. The Yogic lifestyle that includes the Yama and Niyama can help prevent a great many of the modern diseases like Hepatitis B and AIDS. Cleanliness that is taught through Soucha can help prevent and limit the spread of contagious and infectious diseases. Mental peace and right attitudes of Yoga such as Pratipaksha Bhavanam (taking the opposite view), Samatvam (equanimity of mind) and Vairagya (dispassionate detachment) can help prevent many of the psychosomatic ailments running wild in the modern world. If these Yogic values as well as practices such as Asanas, Pranayamas, Kriyas and Dhyana are inculcated in the modern human race, we can prevent virtually all diseases that abound today. Communicable diseases as well as degenerative disorders of the body can be well prevented in a true manifestations of the adage, “A stitch in time saves nine”. However the ‘will’ to do so is also of paramount importance as there is no money or fame in prevention and we don’t know what we have prevented because we have prevented it from happening!

To quote the eminent neurosurgeon Padma Bhushan Dr B Ramamurthi, “The revival of the Science of Yoga bodes good for mankind. All the technological advances in the third millennium will not lead to the happiness of mankind as man has a severe aggressive tendency and is likely to destroy himself because of this aggression. The only way out of this mess is through the Science of Yoga, which transcends all religions and cults. It is a science of the mind and the body and needs to be practised by all human beings to ensure their own future”.



Yoga is an excellent tool of promotive health that can enrich modern medicine. The practice of Yoga leads to the efficient functioning of the body with homeostasis through improved functioning of the psycho-immuno-neuro-endocrine system. A balanced equilibrium between the sympathetic and parasympathetic wings of the autonomic nervous system leads to a dynamic state of health. According to Dr B Ramamurthy, Yoga re-orients the functional hierarchy of the entire nervous system. He has noted that Yoga not only benefits the nervous system but also the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine and immune systems in addition to bringing about general biochemistry changes in the Yoga practitioners. He has also said that the Science of Yoga has been India’s greatest contribution to mankind.



Yoga doesn’t negate the use of drugs and other methods of modern medicine. Patanjali in his Avatar as Charaka didn’t shy away from the need to use medicinal herbs as well as surgical methods when necessary for the benefit of the patient. The system of Ayurveda is more in tune with the Yogic views of healing in this regard but definitely the modern antibiotic treatment of infectious diseases as well as the emergency medical and trauma management techniques of modern medicine must be understood to be life-savers in times of need. No Yoga therapist in his or her right mind should try to treat an acute myocardial infarction or an unconscious accident victim by Yoga alone. A symbiotic relationship between the techniques of modern medicine and Yoga can help the patient more than a dogmatic refusal to see the ‘other side’. Yoga has a lot to offer in terms of psychosomatic disorders and in stress related disorders such as diabetes, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, hypertension, back pain and other functional disorders. Yoga can help reduce and in some cases eliminate drug dosage and dependence in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus, hypertension, epilepsy, anxiety, bronchial asthma, constipation, dyspepsia, insomnia, arthritis, sinusitis and dermatological disorders.

To quote Dr Steven F Brena, “Yoga is probably the most effective way to deal with various psychosomatic disabilities along the same, time-honored, lines of treatment that contemporary medicine has just rediscovered and tested. Asanas are probably the best tool to disrupt any learned patterns of wrong muscular efforts. Pranayama and Pratyahara are extremely efficient techniques to divert the individual's attention from the objects of the outer environment, to increase every person's energy potentials and 'interiorize' them, to achieve control of one's inner functioning. Moreover, in restoring human unity, the Yoga discipline is always increasing awareness and understanding of ourselves, adjusting our emotions, expanding our intellect, and enabling us not only to function better in any given situation, but to perform as spiritual beings with universal values."

Yoga therapists must work in tandem with medical doctors when they are treating patients who have been on allopathic treatment. There are many instances where the patient stops medical treatment thinking that it no more necessary as they have started Yoga. This leads to many catastrophes that could be easily avoided by tandem consultations with a medical specialist. Similarly many allopaths tend to tell the patient to take up Yoga or relaxation and forget to mention to the therapist what they actually want the patients to do. Most allopathic medications need to be tapered off in a progressive manner rather than being stopped suddenly. We often find this mistake in regard to corticosteroids as well as cardiac medications where sudden stoppage can be harmful.  We must remember Plato’s words when he said, “The treatment of the part shouldn’t be attempted without a treatment of the entirety,” meaning that the treatment of the body without treating the mind and soul would be a useless waste of time.



Yoga as a physical therapy has a lot to offer patients of physical and mental handicaps. Many of the practices of physiotherapy and other physical therapies have a lot in common with Yoga practices. Mentally challenged individuals can benefit by an improvement in their IQ as well as in learning to relate to themselves and others better. As their physiological functions improve with Yoga, the combination of Yoga and physical therapies can benefit such patients as well as those with learning disabilities. Musculoskeletal problems can be treated by the combination to improve function as well as range of movement, strength and endurance abilities. Balance and dexterity can also be improved by the combination therapy. The use of Yoga can help those recovering from accidents and physical traumas to get back on their feet faster and with better functional ability. An example of this was Dr Swami Gitananda Giri who managed to get back on his feet and function normally after a debilitating stay in a full body cast for more than six months. Swamiji used to say, “Modern medicine kept me alive, but Yoga gave me back my life as otherwise I may have been a cripple for life”. Yoga also has a lot to offer those suffering from drug and substance abuse in assisting them to get back to a normal life. Yoga helps develop their self-control and will power and also gives them a new philosophy of living. This is vital as otherwise they will lapse into their old negative habits.



This is a place that modern medicine and Yoga can help give a patient as well as normal person the proper wholistic values of a proper diet. Modern research shows us the benefits of the ‘break-down' study of foods on the basis of their physical and chemical properties. This is important for the person to know how much of each constituent of food is to be taken in the proper quantity. Yoga can help a person to learn the right attitude towards food as well as understand concepts based on the Trigunas and Tridoshas for better health. Yoga teaches us that the cause of most disease is through under (Ajjeranatvam), over (Atijeeranatvam) or wrong (Kujeeranatvam) digestion. Yoga also teaches us about the approach to food, the types of food as well as the importance of timings and moderation in diet. A combination of the modern aspects of diet with a dose of Yogic thought can help us eat not only the right things but also in the right way and at the right time thus ensuing our good health and longevity.



Most medical doctors understand that it is important to relax in order to get better. The problem is that, though the doctor tells the patient to relax, they don’t tell them how to do so and maybe in fact they don’t know the answer themselves in the first place. Hatha Yoga and Jnana Yoga Relaxation practices help relax the body, emotions and mind. Relaxation is a key element of any Yoga therapy regimen and must not be forgotten at any cost. Shavasana has been reported to help a lot in hypertensive patients and practices such as Savitri Pranayama, Chandra Pranayama, Kaya Kriya, Yoga Nidra, Anuloma Viloma Prakriyas and Marmanasthanam Kriya are also available to the person requiring this state of complete relaxation. It is important to remember that relaxation on its own is less effective than relaxation following activity.


Yoga has a lot to offer those who unable to cope with death and dying as well as those suffering from incurable diseases. The Yoga philosophy of living sees death as an inevitable aspect of life that cannot be wished away. Swami Gitananda Giri used to tell us that the whole of life is, but a preparation for the moment of death, so that we can leave the body in the right way. Those who are taking care of the dying as well as those taking care of patients of incurable diseases and major disabilities are under an extreme amount of stress and Yoga practice as well as its philosophy helps them gain the inner strength necessary to do their duty. Yoga can help break the vicious spiral of pain-drug dosage-pain and by doing so help reduce the drug dosage in patients suffering chronic pain. It has been reported that Yoga helps improve the quality of life in patients suffering from cancer and also helps them cope better with the effects of treatment. It relaxes them and helps them sleep better. As someone rightly said, “Yoga may not be able to always cure but it can surely help us to endure”.



Modern medicine is often criticized for the cost involved in its methods of treatment. Yoga offers an inexpensive method of health that can be added to the medical armory when required. Yoga only requires the patient’s own effort and really doesn’t need any paraphernalia. Of course the modern Yoga industry would rather have us believe that we need tons of Yoga equipment to start Yoga, but they are awfully of the mark in this case. Reduction in drug dosage and avoidance of unnecessary surgeries in many cases can also help reduce the spiraling cost of Medicare.



Aging is inevitable and Yoga can help us to age gracefully. Modern medicine tries to help retard aging and help people look better by costly surgical methods that are only an external covering over the underlying aging process. Healthy diet, regular exercise, avoidance of negative habits and cultivation of the positive habits and a healthy lifestyle can help us to age with dignity. Yoga can also help our ‘silver citizens’ retain their mental ability and prevent degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and various other dementias. Physical accidents such as falls can be minimised and many an artificial hip, knee or shoulder replacement surgery can be avoided.  Swami Gitananda Giri, Yogashri Krishnamacharya, Kannaiah Yogi, Swami Suddananda Bharathi, Yogeshwarji, Yogendraji and my beloved Yoga uncle Padma Bhushan BKS Iyengar are but a few of the Yogis who have shown us that its is possible to grow old without losing any of the physical or mental faculties of youth.



In the field of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis we can find a lot of ancient Yogic concepts being reiterated time and again. Many modern psychotherapeutic concepts such as identification, projection, and transference are similar to concepts in Yoga psychology. Yoga psychology integrates diverse principles within a single body. CG Jung had a great interest in Yoga and the eastern thought and said, “Chakras represent a real effort to give a symbolic theory of the psyche”. His ‘Centre of Personality’ concept based on dream analysis is very similar to the Yogic concept of a central psychic or spiritual personality. He also correlated Chakras to the archetypes that abound in the collective unconscious. Yoga helps the psychotherapist in training self awareness, and in the self regulation of body, diet, breath, emotions, habit patterns, values, will, unconscious pressures and drives. It also helps in relating to the archetypal processes and to a transient being. It offers an integrated method rather than one that is found in isolation in many different therapies. The theory of Kleshas is an excellent model for psychotherapy while emotional therapies of Yoga include Swadyaya, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Bhajans. Development of proper psychological attitudes is inculcated via the concepts of Vairagya, Chitta Prasadanam as well as Patanjali’s advise on adopting the attitudes of Maitri, Karuna, Mudita and Upekshanam towards the happy, the suffering, the good and the evil minded persons. Yoga also has a lot to offer in terms of spiritual therapies such as Swadyaya, Satsangha, Bhajans and Yogic counseling. It is also interesting to note that both Yoga and psychoanalysis share common ground in understanding that symptoms of the disease are often willed by the patients. While all psycho analysists must undergo psychoanalysis themselves, it is taught in Yoga that one must first undergo a deep Sadhana, before attempting to guide others on the path. However while psychoanalysis searches the unconscious, Yoga attempts to understand and explore the super conscious.


Yoga helps patients take their health in their own hands. They learn to make an effort and change their life style for the better so that their health can improve. Life style modification is the buzzword in modern medical circles and Yoga can play a vital role in this regard. Yogic diet, Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras, Kriyas and relaxation are an important aspect of lifestyle modification. Dr Dean Ornish, an eminent American medical doctor who has shown that Yogic lifestyle can reverse heart disease says,  “Yoga is a system of perfect tools for achieving union as well as healing.


Women are the chosen ones blessed with the responsibility of the future of our human race. Healthy mothers give birth to healthy babies and a healthy start has a great future ahead. Yoga has a lot to contribute in combination with modern medicine to the health status of womankind. Puberty and menopause become easier transitions with the help of Yoga and many eminent Yoginis have said that they were not even aware of a single menopausal symptom as they went through this difficult period in a woman’s life. Similarly our young girls can vouch for the fact that their pubertal changes and menarche has been relatively smoother than their counterparts who don’t practice Yoga. The benefits of Yoga in terms of family planning are also an important aspect that needs further study, as they can be an effective part of the contraceptive armory. The risk of side effects is negated and the entire control restored to the individuals themselves. The Oli Mudras as practiced in the Gitananda Yoga tradition have great potential in this regard and also the Swara Yoga theories of conception have a lot of exciting possibilities. Once conception occurs, Yoga helps the young mother to be, to prepare herself physically and mentally for the upcoming childbirth. Yoga helps open the joints of the pelvis and hip as well as strengthen the abdominal muscles for childbirth.  Later, simple Pranayamas and relaxation techniques help the new mother relax and enjoy the new experience of her life. Post partum introduction of simple practices along with breathing, relaxation and a lot of crawling helps her come back to normal earlier and this can be used in all maternity hospitals along with allopathic management. Yoga practices can also help reduce the drug dosage in medical problems that often complicate a normal pregnancy such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension.



The positive benefits of Yoga research are of vital significance and an understanding of how the various practices work in different conditions and in normal situations are of great value for both the science of Yoga as well as for the world of medicine. Yoga therapists can benefit a lot by a scientific understanding of Yoga postures and other techniques. This will bring about a rational approach to Yoga therapy rather than a haphazard application of individualistic knowledge. Institutions such as AIIMS, BHU, NIMHANS, DIPAS, JIPMER, VK Yogas, Kaivalyadhama, Bihar School of Yoga and our own ICYER have done vast amounts of work in bringing forth the scientific methods of Yoga Vidya. Universities such as BHU, Sagar, Himachal, Venkateshwara, Annamalai and Andhra University have created Centers for Yoga education and research and are doing great service. Scientists such as Dr BK Anand, Dr KK Datey, Dr KN Udupa, Dr B Ramamurthy, Dr W Selvamurthy, Dr T Desiraju, Dr Nagendra, Dr Nagaratna, Dr Shirley Telles, Dr MV Bhole, Dr Rajapurkar, Dr Mittimohan, Dr Lajpat Rai and Dr Madanmohan have contributed extensively towards the scientific understanding of Yoga Vidya and Yoga Vidhi. The Central Government has created the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) that is the governing body for Yoga research and education in our country under the Ministry of Health. Various private institutions are running in our country and doing their best to propagate Yoga-Vidya. Yoga therapy is being used both in conjunction with modern medicine or alternative systems of medicine as well as on its own in various centers. Various conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, mental depression, bronchial asthma etc have been found to be relieved by Yoga Therapy and centers such as sVYASA, Kaivalyadhama, National institute of Naturopathy (Pune), Manipal Institute and the Moraji Desai National institute are doing a great deal of work in this field.

Though there is a lot of research on Yoga being done by medical doctors these days but it is important to remember Swami Gitananda’s words when he said, “We must research Yoga and not the lack of Yoga”. Many studies are badly constructed and many-a-time we find that the Yoga practices performed by the patients have no real relation to Yoga at all.  The higher aspects of Yoga are still not in the ‘researchable’ realm of modern science. Dr VSSM Rao writes that, “The tradition of Yoga is so perfect that we have to seek ways of expounding it in modern scientific terminology instead of simply evaluating it in terms of current concepts of science, which is expanding so rapidly that a time may come when man would like to live by his intuition rather than by scientific planning, bristling with conflicts and balancing a number of variables not completely understood.”



Many medical doctors have tried to bridge the gap between modern medicine and Yoga and in my humble opinion the best work till date has been the work of Dr Steven F Brena who in his path breathing work on YOGA AND MEDICINE puts into perspective the similarities between Yoga and medicine and also discusses in their relationship with different aspects of human phenomena. He says,

“Besides more or less close similarities, is there a realistic ground upon which both contemporary science and Yoga philosophy are going to meet and possibly to cooperate? The actual field of convergence between them lies in the recognition that physical laws of matter are binding only to a certain point; beyond them, man can find inner freedom, using his will power and proper techniques to select his habits and to gain control of his visceral and emotional functioning, according to the principles of learning. Psychology tells us that our biological functions are bound to the rhythmicity of earthly phenomena, but it also has demonstrated that our performances can be controlled by instrumental training, which is not influenced by circadian rhythms. It looks as though scientific investigations from one side are showing man bound to the earth, like any other living creature, while from another side they seem to prove that the human potentials are greater than the forces binding us – which is exactly what the Vedas have been teaching for thousands of years. The concept of “dysponesis” is much more than a new theory in medicine. It is almost a new philosophy, bringing into perspective the value of energy-spending in problems of health and disease. Because of our habitual lack of control over our visceral systems, we are often too prodigal in spending our energy capital. In any given situation we are not only prone to “overshoot’, but also to learn the “overshooting” as a model of habitual interrelation with our environment. We are always tense and aggressive in whatever task we perform, always in competition with somebody or with ourselves, wasting our energies in confused actions and maladjusted reactions. We often do not cope with some given situation following a rational and intelligent evaluation, but with emotional outbursts, burning out a lot of fuel. The experiences gained from the various rehabilitation centers around the world, dealing with a variety of disabilities, confirms that our potentialities are greater than we assume, provided that we adequately train our energy-spending and effort-making.


Operant conditioning and dysponesis management have barely started to explore the ground of clinical applications. They are now at a stage of development that can be compared to surgery one century ago, a few years after anesthesia was discovered in 1846. On the other hand, Yoga has been teaching for centuries that the secret of fulfillment in life and spiritual evolution lies in the ability to concentrate vital energy instead of dissipating it. The “Royal Way of Yoga” takes man as he is, with all his handicaps, and brings him above boundaries of material forces to Cosmic Consciousness, teaching him how to expand his energy capital and how to use it wisely. Along the way, while he is seeking spiritual realization, man can also discover the key to health, joy and inner freedom. In this field of thinking and teaching, the age-old Yoga discipline and the more advanced investigations in health sciences have actually met and do agree”.

It is apt to conclude this presentation with a favorite statement of my Guru, Pujya Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, who said, 

“Health and happiness are your birthright. Do not forsake your golden culture for the plastic playthings of the western world. Learn and live Yoga for then you will know true health and happiness”.



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Tuesday, September, 14th, 2004




Yoganjali Natyalayam presented a scintillating prayer to the five magnificent elements of nature (Pancha Maha Bhutas) during the 98th Jayanthi Celebrations for Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj on the 4th September 2004 at Pondicherry, South India.

The two-and-a-half hour dance drama “PANCHA MAHA BHUTAS” featuring Bharatanatyam, Folk dances, and Yogasanas as well as Natya Karanas was witnessed by a packed house of nearly a 1000 spell bound audience most of whom stayed in their seats from the start to conclusion of this epic presentation.

A team of more than 80 dancers, yoga demonstrators, musicians and artisans as well as stage managers worked tirelessly under the divine direction of Amma, Kalaimamani Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani to bring about the resounding success of this creation. Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and Yogacharini Devasena Bhavanani assisted Amma in the direction and choreography. Kalaimamani Pulavar I Pattabiraman penned lyrics for the dance drama while Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and Nada Yoga Shironmani SV Jagadeesan composed the music.

Dr P Devaraja IFS, Director, Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Govt of Pondicherry, a chief guest of the evening was greatly impressed by the presentation and appreciated Yognat for presenting a topic that is the ‘need of the hour’ in such an entertaining and informative manner. He stressed the importance of conservation of resources and appreciated Amma for taking exemplary steps to help the youth of Pondicherry understand these vital concepts through the Indian cultural arts of dance, music and yoga.

The Director of Art and Culture, Govt of Pondicherry Ms N Sumathi another chief guest of the evening said that she was speechless as no words could explain the feeing of divinity that had been brought out in every one of the audience through the presentation. She complimented all the participants on their 100% involvement and recalled the role of the founding father of Yognat, Dr Swami Gitananda Giri with deep reverence and appreciation. “This magnificent presentation will stay in our minds for a long time” said she.

Prof Dr Vikram Reddy, Head, Ecology and Environment Science at Pondicherry University and Dr AS Abbasi, Senior Professor, Centre for pollution control and energy technology appreciated the perfect planning that went behind the perfect presentation. Dr Abbasi compared the similarities between environmental concepts extolled in both the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Koran

Dr Nalini Devi of the Gitananda Yogalayam, Spain as well as Pulavar I Pattabiraman and Sangeetha Bhushanam SV Jagadeesan offered tributes on the occasion. Sri Jagadeesan complimented Dr Ananda on using the intricate Sangeerana Chappu Tala in the presentation as no one dared to experiment with this complicated rhythm in modern presentations.

Amma, Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani explained the necessity of developing reverential feelings towards the elements that are divine entities that also need to feel loved and revered. “When we have reverence for them, we will not misuse them,” she said eloquently. She also pointed out that the topic of environmental conservation was close to Pujya heart and he was an environmentalist par excellence. Wherever he went he planted gardens full of life and created an oasis of nature around him in all his Ashrams.

The audience greatly appreciated the introduction of each of the elements through the respective rhythm and melody and the depiction of the elements arising from the Divine Tandava or interplay between Shiva and Shakti the great energies of the universe that was artistically depicted by D Lakshmi as Lord Shiva and Padma M Prashanthini as Shakti. SS Lothika, Sri Sahana, L Kanmani, Nivedha Kannan and S Ghayathri depicted Akash (Space), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Apas (water) and Pritvi (earth) respectively. The vibrant depiction of an earthquake by Renuka Devi was also very well appreciated. Senior dancers of Yognat performed in tandem the Swara notes and Jathis for the respective elements synchronously in an intricate and spell binding fashion.

Youngsters of Yognat also performed a beautiful Deepam dance (dance with earthen lamps) depicting the Deepam festival at Thiruvannamalai as well as an enlivening Kolattam (South Indian stick dance) praising the benefits of pure air. The elephant dance by Tamilarasan was a novelty as also the performance of Kanimozhi as Kannappa Nayanmar.

Padmasri Adyar Shri K Lakshmanan, the eminent world famous dance master of both Amma and Dr Ananda sent a special blessing on the eve of the performance that was deeply appreciated by all members of the Yognat.

The noted music and dance critic Tanjore Shri BM Sundaram wrote, “I am very happy to have witnessed one of the best productions of your Natyalayam, based on a very high and intricate theme of Indian Metaphysics and Science. Had I been out of town, I would have missed such a nice programme, well choreographed and very well presented. All the dancers, right from the tiny tots did very well, with utmost perfection and bereft of any strain. Please accept my very hearty congratulations and pass on my good wishes to one and all, who took part. All the five Gatis have been very neatly employed for all the five elements”.

Shri Narasimmamurthy and Smt Chitra Narasimmamurthy, parents of Yognat stars such as Ramya and Divya and long time supporters of Yognat wrote, “All the dance dramas of Yognat are like flowers in a beautiful garland and it is quite difficult to choose any one as the outstanding. Pancha Maha Bhutas was especially a veritable feast for connoisseurs of dance, yoga and spiritualists as well as appealing to the common man. The dance drama was replete with the master touch of Amma’s choreography from the beginning and was sustained till the end. The efforts taken to depict the Chakras, Bija Mantras, temples, related episodes and the number of petals of each element were of a very high order. We were further instructed of the related melody and tala of each element. When the boys performed in unison and Dr Sir chanted the mantra, one could feel positively attuned to the spirit it evoked.  Though some of the information was known in piecemeal manner such as the temples representing each element, now one could understand the entire information since it was presented in a visual manner.  The performance was all the more praiseworthy since young children performed it to perfection. That Yognat could do it for 11 years continuously is an exceptional undertaking. The songs penned by Pulavar Kalaimamani I Pattabiraman were apt for the choice of language. Music by Sangeetha Bhushanam Sri SV Jagadeesan and Yogacharya Dr Anandha Balayogi Bhavanani touched the heart. Yognat is synonymous with standard and the children lived up to the expectations. All performers were seen observing discipline of formation belying their age and experience. Dr Sir was seen helping replace the candles that went out. This also signifies the efforts of Yognat in keeping alive the mythology and cultural heritage of Tamilnadu among young children. It is not exaggeration to say that Amma’s efforts were very evident in the performances of the children and we could well imagine Amma coaxing the best out of her wards by her untiring and persistent efforts. A good number of senior performers gave a worthy performance indicative of depth of talent pool nurtured by Yognat.  Many of the children have really come of age after joining Yognat. A word of praise for Kanimozhi and Ghayathri  .The world we are leaving behind for the next generation is starved of the many resources that we have seen disappearing before our own eyes. Hopefully the drama will awaken the right spirit of preservation in the next generation especially in a country such as ours. We express our thanks for the invitation to the banquet of spiritual arts presented in the unique Yoganjali Natyalayam way.  

The topic chosen for this years production also was well appreciated by many and Sri Bala the founder of Vibrational Breath Therapy, Australia wrote, “My salutations to Amma and you for this grand concept and epic presentation. It is a fitting tribute to revered Swamiji. You are also satisfying the need of the hour. What better method of portraying our interdependence on  Mother Nature, that we are a microcosm of that great macrocosm , than through the rich cultural heritage medium of Indian dance, music, mantras etc. It is a novel method and I congratulate you both for it. I sincerely wish it all the success it richly deserves. I sincerely hope that it will bring a new awareness to the public of the need to preserve Nature for the greater good of humanity, and you will get an opportunity to present it in other parts of India as well, and hopefully the world.

Yogacharya Eric Doorkekamp of the Lotus Yoga Centre, New Zealand wrote, “What a wonderful show! A timely spiritual reminder of our interdependence on Nature”.

This year’s production was the tenth major dance drama (three hour duration) by Yognat in the past 10 years and its twenty-fifth dance drama in all as the Yognat troupe has also presented fifteen mini dance dramas of 45-60 minute duration in the past 18 years since the formation of the Yognat dance troupe.




The Five Magnificent Elements Of Nature

 The manifest world of Prakrithi is made up of five principle elements known as the Pancha Maha Bhutas. These are Pritvi or Bhumi (earth), Apas or Jala (water), Tejas or Agni (fire), Vayu (air), and Akasha (ether, sky or space). The Yogic concept of Chakras or energy vortices within us runs parallel to the Pancha Maha Bhutas. Each of the elements namely earth, water, fire, air and space is related to a particular Spinal Chakra and specific qualities as well as specific colorful shapes known as Mandalas. The potential energy of the Chakra is activated by the specific sounds known as Bhija Mantras.

In this presentation especially prepared for the 98th Jayanthi of Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, Yognat attempts to bring out the qualities inherent in each element of nature. We also present dramatic depictions of the religious, mythological and historical associations between these elements and various Stalams or places sacred to each of the elements. The modern environmental concepts that were very much present in the Indian Culture from time immemorial are also extolled.


Scene 1: Introduction

May we all sing the praises of the five magnificent element of nature with joy and abandon, as they are verily manifestations of the Divine. May we preserve them with reverence, as our very existence is dependent on them. Lord Shiva and Shakti representing the equally balanced opposing energies of the Divine, dance their cosmic Ananda Tandava leading to the creation of the Pancha Maha Bhutas and the entire manifest universe. Each of the elements is introduced through different rhythms and Ragas with its respective Mandala.


Scene 2: Pritvi – Earth - Kanchipuram

The scene opens with a depiction of the four petals of the Mooladhara chakra opening in synchrony with the sound of the Bhija Mantra Lang. The slow and graceful movements of the dancers combined with the notes of Raga Revathy and the Chathusra Jaathi rhythm create a stable and steady ambience of the Earth element that is related to Kanchipuram and Thiruvaroor in South India. The story of goddess Kamakshi worshiping Lord Shiva at Kanchipuram by creating a lingam out of the mud (Pritvi Lingam) under the great mango tree that has four branches with each having fruit of different taste as well as the celestial marriage of Goddess Kamakshi with Lord Shiva is depicted in this scene. Sowing seeds on earth gives us great joy as the trees grow, flower and finally yield the fruits of our labor. The nurturing nature of mother earth is depicted by the folk dances who praise the earth and depict growth in the plant kingdom. They also show the joy of harvesting grains that have been carefully cultivated on the fertile earth. Yet, the earth also has a dangerous side and the earthquakes that threaten the very existence of humankind are a standing testimony of the violence that occurs when man misuses nature. Only the prayer to the divine can save us in the time of such catastrophe.


Scene 3: Apas - Water- Thiruaanaikka

Apas, the water element has great fluidity and is related to the story of Goddess Pravathi creating a lingam out of water (Appulingam) at Thiruaanaikka after she had been banished to earth by Lord Shiva for mocking his Yoga Sadhana. Legend has it that a great herd of elephants lived at Thiruaanaika and that the lingam was worshipped by an elephant that used to offer water from the Cauvery river (Amritalingam) as well as flowers and fruits from the Jambu tree (Jambulingam). The introductory depiction of the six petals of the Swadhisthana Chakra opening in synchrony with the sound of the Bhija Mantra Vang and the graceful movements of the dancers to the notes of Raga Amruthavarshini in the Thisra Nadai enable us to enjoy the flow of the water element. Water may be a spring, a stream, a river or even the mighty ocean and the movement of the tides with the phase of the moon is also shown. A turbulent storm can frighten even the sturdiest sailor and the fury of nature in the form of a hailstorm and flood is depicted using the Thanam music. Modern man has cut down rain forests and ended up with parched riverbeds. A village elder is seen advising the community to prevent the drying up of life by cultivating and maintaining the great forests to attract rainfall for the benefit of humankind.


Scene 4: Tejas – Fire - Thiruvannamalai

Fire is the element related to the third Chakra, Manipura and the red triangle that symbolizes creativity and energy is the Mandala of this Chakra and this has a correlation with Bharatanatyam where the basic shape of the body used is that of the triangle. The ten petals of this Chakra are depicted opening to great energy that is there in the Bhija Mantra Rung associated with this Chakra. The dancers depict the motivating force of geothermal energy with energetic movements set to the Raga Aaberi and Kanda Nadai while the story of Brahma and Vishnu trying to find the origin and end of Lord Shiva who manifested as a column of fire at Thiruvannamalai is depicted. A graceful folk dance using earthen lamps is used to illustrate the grand festival of Karthigai Deepam that is celebrated by lakhs of devotees at Thiruvannamalai every year in November-December.


Scene 5: Vayu - Air- Kala Hasti

Twelve petals of the Anahatha Chakra open with the Bhija Mantra Yang as the graceful, caressing movement of air is depicted by dancers in the Raga Mohanam and Misra Nadai set to the music of a flute. Their movements bring out the spirit of being young at heart that is the quality of this Chakra. The fast paced movements with several dramatic rotations also bring out the spirit of the whirlwind that can sweep us off our feet. The Divine is present as Prana in the very air we breathe and the wonderful drops of rain from the laden dark clouds. The shape of the Chakra, a six sided hexagon formed by two interlaced triangles is artistically depicted by the dancers in this item through intricate teamwork. Lord Shiva blessed the tribal Kannappa Nayanmar at the Sri Kala Hasti Stalam that is known as the Southern Kailash after the great devotee had proved his exemplary Bhakti by gifting his very eyes to Lord Shiva. Village folk sing and dance praising the benefits of pure air and the need of keeping it pollution free in order to keep the God of Death far away.


Scene 6: Akasha- Space –Chidambaram

Space, that element of Nature with neither beginning nor end is awesome in nature and 16 petals of the Vishudda Chakra open to the Bhija sound Hung. The dancers using the complicated Sangeerana Nadai rhythm in the lilting Raga of Hamsanandi create a feeling of ether and space. The Chit or consciousness is the embodiment of space and the temple of consciousness is Chidambaram, the temple of the mind. By singing the praises of Lord Shiva we rid ourself of all fears. The compassionate Lord of Thillai even moved his Vahana Nandi upon the request of his great devotee Nandanar. The universe is nothing but vibration and this is visualized through the dance of Lord Shiva that is witnessed by all planets. Shiva wears the tiger skin and has cobras as his ornaments. He wears the crescent moon in his locks and dances with the fire and deer in his hands. He tears up the rouge elephant as well as controls the adamant ego principle that is manifested as the Muyalagan under his dancing feet.


Scene 7: Mangalam

The presentation concludes with a Mangalam or auspicious prayer to all the elements of nature that are manifest both outside as well as within each one of us. May there be tranquility, auspiciousness and peace on earth, on water, in fire, in the wind, in the sky, in the sun, on the moon, on our planet, in all living beings, in the body, in the mind and in the spirit. May that tranquility be everywhere and in everyone.




Saturday, June, 5th, 2004



The art and science of Yoga, that is one of the greatest treasures of our unique Indian cultural heritage has a lot to offer in terms of an understanding of the human mind. Yoga treats man as a multi layered, conscious being, possessing three bodies (Sthula, Sukshma and Kaarana Sharira) and being enveloped in a five layered (Pancha Kosha) of existence. This ancient science of mind control as codified by Maharishi Patanjali more than 2500 years ago helps us to understand our mental processes as well as the cause - effect relations of a multitude of problems facing modern man. Modern man is the victim of stress and stress related disorders that threaten to disrupt his life totally. Yoga offers a way out of this ‘whirlpool of stress’ and is a wholistic solution to stress. Yogic life style, Yogic diet, Yogic attitudes and various Yogic practices help man to strengthen himself and develop positive health thus enabling him to withstand stress better. This Yogic “health insurance” is achieved by normalizing the perception of stress, optimizing the reaction to it and by releasing the pent up stress effectively through various Yogic practices. Yoga is a wholistic and integral science of life dealing with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of the individual and society.



Yoga may be defined as a process (journey) as well as a state (goal) in many ways. Yoga is the science and art of quieting the subconscious mind, a way of life, skill in action, union of thought, word and deed, integration of our personality at all levels, the science of conscious evolution and the method to attain as well as the state of emotional and mental equanimity.

The Yogarudda or one who has attained to the state of Yoga is described in the Bhagavad Gita as follows: - He is one who is unaffected by the senses, not attached to the fruits of action and has renounced all desires.



Yoga views the mind as having four internal processes or Antahkarana. These processes are the Chitta (memory bank or the subconscious), the Manas (conscious mind), the Buddhi (discriminating intellect) and the Ahamkara or ego principle (consisting of the impure ego that feels all is ME and MINE as well as the pure ego which understands that all is mine as a manifestation of the Divine). The Buddhi is further said to possess three powers: the power of will (Iccha Shakti), the power of action, (Kriya Shakti) and the power of wisdom (Jnana Shakti). It is important that all these powers work together in synchrony for otherwise there will be disaster.

Yoga also describes Chitta Bhumi or states of the mind. These consist of the undeveloped, inert mind that is as dull as stone (Mudha), the totally distracted state of mind (Kshipta), the partially distracted state of mind (Vikshipta), the concentrated state of mind (Ekagratha) and the controlled mind of the true Yogi (Niruddha).

The modifications or fluctuations of the mindstuff as described by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras are of five types. These are Pramana (cognition), Viparyaya (misconception), Vikalpa (imagination), Nidra (sleep) and Smrithi (memory). He also states that when the mind is not controlled there is identification with these Vrittis (Vritti Sarupyam Itarata) and that the whole process of Yoga is aimed at “Chittavritti Nirodhah” in order that we are established in our true self (Swarupevastaanam). Patanjali elucidates that the key to success is dedicated and determined practice (Abhyasa) and a detached attitude towards everything (Vairagya).



There are some important differences in the way the worldly man and the realised Yogi view the world and life in general.

The worldly man always feels that his problem lies elsewhere and that he is the innocent victim of circumstances and fate. Yoga teaches us that most of our problems lie within us and that we have to undergo conscious change in order to solve them. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri used to often tell his students, “You don’t have any problem---YOU are the problem!”

While the worldly man searches for happiness in the pursuit of external experiences, the Yogi realizes that supreme happiness (Paramanandam) lies within our inner being and that we only need to realise the folly of looking for happiness outside to be truly happy. True contentment (Santhosha) that is one of the Pancha Niyama (five ethical observances of Ashtanga Yoga) is the key to unexcelled happiness. Pujya Swamiji used to say, “Health and Happiness are your birthright—claim them! Don’t barter them away for the plastics of the modern world”.

Whereas the worldly man fears hell and aspires for a heaven to be attained after death, the Yogi realizes that heaven and hell are no more than planes of consciousness. Heaven and hell lie within us and it is for us to determine whether we want our life to be heaven or hell, for ourselves and for  those around us.




Stress and stress related disorders are the bane of the modern age and Yoga offers us an interesting insight into their cause and effect. The Nirvana Prakarana of the Laghu Yoga Vashishta describes the origin and destruction of mental and bodily diseases. Sage Vashishta teaches Lord Rama that there are two major classifications of disease. Those that are caused by the mind are primary (Adhija, the psychosomatic, stress disorders) while those that afflict the body directly are secondary (Anadhija, infectious disease, accidents etc). The primary disease has two sub divisions. These are the Samanya (ordinary physical diseases) and the Sara (the essential disorder of rebirth). Samanya diseases are the ones that affect man physically and may be destroyed by the correction of the mind-body disharmony. However only Atma Jnana can destroy the Sara or essential disorder of rebirth.

Samanya Adhija Vyadhi are the modern psychosomatic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, bronchial asthma, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome etc. These psychosomatic disorders (Adhi-Vyadhi) are caused in the following manner. Disturbances at the level higher (Adhi) than the plane of mind (Manomaya Kosha) cause agitation in the mental body leading to haphazard flow of Prana and instability of the Nadis in the energy body (Pranamaya Kosha). This ultimately causes disease (Vyadhi) in the physical body (Annamaya Kosha) through hypo, hyper and disturbed metabolic activities such as secretion, digestion, assimilation and utilization.


Thousands of years ago, Yogeshwar Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (often referred to as the bible of Yoga) taught us about the Yogic patho–psychology of stress and how through our attraction to the worldly sensory objects we cause our own destruction. These potent ancient teachings hold true even in today’s world.

In chapter Two (Samkhya Yoga), in verse 62 and 63, the pattern of behaviour (stress response) is given that ultimately leads to the destruction of man.

Verse 62: “Brooding on the objects of the senses, man develops attachment to them; from attachment (Sangha or Chanuraaga) comes desire (Kama) and from unfulfilled desire, anger (Krodha) sprouts forth.”

Verse 63: “From anger proceeds delusion (Moha); from delusion, confused memory (Smriti Vibramah); from confused memory the ruin of reason and due to the ruin of reason (Buddhi Naaso) he perishes.”

In verse 64 of the second chapter, lord Krishna also gives us a clue to equanimity of mind (Samatvam) and how to become a person settled in that equanimity (Stitha Prajna) who is not affected by the opposites (Dwandwas). He says, "But the disciplined yogi, moving amongst the sensory objects with all senses under control and free from attraction (Raaga) and aversion (Dwesha), gains in tranquility.”

According to Maharishi Patanjali, most of our problems stem from the five psycho-physiological afflictions (Pancha Klesha) that are inborn in each and every human being. These Pancha Klesha are ignorance (Avidya), egoism (Asmita) and our sense of needing to survive at any cost (Abinivesha) as well as the attraction (Raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (Dwesha) to them. Ignorance (Avidya) is usually the start of most problems along with the ego (Asmita).  Then, our sense of needing to survive at any cost (Abinivesha) compounds it further. Both attraction (Raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (Dwesha) to them need to be destroyed in order to attain tranquility as well as equanimity of emotions and the mind. Maharishi Patanjali further states that the practice of Kriya Yoga (Yoga of mental purification) consisting of Tapas (disciplined effort), Swadhyaya (self analysis) and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to the Divine will) is the means to destroy these five mental afflictions and attain to the state of Samadhi or oneness with the Supreme Self or the Divine.



The Yogic concepts of Samatvam (mental and emotional equanimity) and Stitha Prajna (the even minded, balanced human being) give us role models that we may strive to emulate. An understanding of the Pancha Kleshas (five psycho-physiological afflictions) and their role in the creation of stress and the stress response help us to know ourself better and understand the how’s and why’s of what we do. The concept of the Pancha Koshas (the five layered existence of man as elucidated in the Taittiriya Upanishad) helps us to understand that we have more than only the physical existence and also gives us an insight into the role of the mind in causation of our physical problems as well as psychosomatic disorders. All of these concepts help us to look at life with a different perspective (Yoga Drishti) and strive to evolve consciously towards becoming Humane Beings.

The concept of Vairagya (dispassion or detachment) when understood and cultivated enables us to be dispassionate to the Dwandwas (the pairs of opposites) such as praise-blame, hot-cold and the pleasant-unpleasant situations that are part and parcel of our existence in this life.

The regular practice of Yoga as a 'Way of Life' (as taught by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj) helps us reduce the levels of physical, mental and emotional stress. This Yogic ‘way of life’ lays emphasis on right thought, right action, right reaction and right attitude. In short Pujya Swamiji defined Yogic living as “right-use-ness of body, emotions and mind”.

The regular practice of Yogasanas, Kriyas, Mudras, Bandhas and Pranayamas helps to recondition the physical (Annamaya Kosha) and energy (Pranamaya Kosha) bodies. The practice of Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana techniques helps to recondition the mind body (Manomaya Kosha) apparatus. All of these Yogic practices help to foster a greater mind-emotions-body understanding and bring about the union and harmony of body, emotions and mind. This righteous (right-use-ness) union is Yoga in its truest sense.

Patanjali advises us to cultivate the following attitudes for right living. These attitudes are friendliness towards those who are happy (Maitri - Sukha), compassion towards those who are miserable (Karuna - Dukha), cheerfulness towards the virtuous (Mudhita - Punya) and indifference towards the wicked (Upeksha - Apunya).

Yoga helps us to take the right attitude towards our problems and thus tackle them in an effective manner. "To have the will (Iccha Shakti) to change (Kriya Shakti) that which can be changed, the strength to accept that which can not he changed, and the wisdom (Jnana Shakti) to know the difference" is the attitude that needs to the cultivated. An attitude of letting go of the worries, the problems and a greater understanding of our mental process helps to create a harmony in our body, and mind whose disharmony is the main cause of  'Aadi – Vyadhi’ or psychosomatic disorders.



Through the dedicated practice of Yoga as a way of life, we can become a truly balanced humane being (Sthitha Prajna) with the following qualities as described in the Bhagavad Gita:

·        Beyond passion, fear and anger. (II.56)

·        Devoid of possessiveness and egoism. (II.71)

·        Firm in understanding and unbewildered. (V.20)

·        Engaged in doing good to all beings. (V.25)

·        Friendly and compassionate to all. (XII.13)

·        Having no expectation, pure and skillful in action. (XII.16)


The Yogi wishes peace and happiness not only for himself, but also for all beings on all the different planes of existence.  He is not an “individualist” seeking salvation for only himself but on the contrary is an "universalist" seeking to live life in the proper evolutionary manner to the best of his ability and with care and concern for his human brethren as well as all beings on all planes of existence.



Thursday, May, 13th, 2004




In the last century, Yoga has developed in various directions and dimensions under the guidance of many eminent masters. These masters have codified their own Bani (styles) of Yoga that are often at variance with one another but all of them still maintain the traditional lineage to Yoga Vidya or the Science of Yoga. The term ‘unity in diversity’ is apt for these developments ad though on the surface the different traditions or Banis may appear to be even contradictory, they all ultimately lead to the same goal of spiritual union though in diverse paths. Major developments in recent times have been the extensive research done in the field of Yoga as well as the transformation of Yoga education from the Gurukula and Ashram settings to the college and university oriented Yoga. This essay is a humble attempt to summarize the various developments that have taken place in the last century with reference to the Indian geographical context.



The Southern Peninsula of India has been the abode of a great many Yoga masters who have made this region their home and sanctified the already holy region. South India escaped the mutilation that befell North India as it was more inaccessible to invaders and the many temples and ancient architectural marvels that are still standing here are a living proof to this truth. It is also seen in the living Vedic culture that still exists south of the Vindayas. Yogacharya Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) often called the Grand father of modern Yoga was a great master of this science who belonged to Mysore in Karnataka. Sri Krishnamacharya traced his lineage to the great Rishi Natamuni and imbibed the art and science of Yoga from Yogi Ram Mohana Brahmachari at Manasarovar that is at the foot of Mount Kailash. He used to demonstrate the stoppage of his heart for a reported more than two minutes on many occasions. A traditionalist to the core, felt that Yoga must be adapted to the individual. The three main disciples of this master (Sri Pattabhi Jois, Sri TKV Deshikachar and Sri BKS Iyengar) have interpreted his teachings in different ways. His son and disciple Sri TKV Desikachar has founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and followed the Viniyoga tradition. Emphasis on Sanskrit chanting with the Yoga is a specialty of this centre and the Yoga classes are tailored to the needs of each individual. Sri Desikachar has attracted a large following in recent times and his entire family is involved in the Mandiram activities. Sri Pattabhi Jois of Mysore another of the great disciples of Krishnamacharya has codified the system of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga based on the Yoga Korunta. This is claimed to be an ancient text that few have seen in which the system is delineated. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has become a craze in the west with its vigorous nature ideal for those who ‘want to achieve something!’ His grandson is continuing his work in taking this system of vigorous Hatha Yoga to the west. Padmabhushan BHS Iyengar has settled in Pune and his influence in western India is described later. It is interesting that these three disciples of the same lineage (Krishnamacharya) have codified quite different systems of Yoga though their Guru Parampara was the same.

One of the most famous Gurus of modern times has been Sri Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. His Prashanthi Nilayam Ashram at Puttaparthi as well the Ashram at Whitfield in Bangalore are his main centres while he has thousands of centres all over the world. Though not a Yoga Guru in the true sense he has been a master of Siddhis or psychic accomplishments. Another recent Mega Guru, Sri Ravi Shankar at Bangalore was a disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and with his Sudharshan Kriya (a specialized breathing technique) and his new age ideology has captivated the hip population of India to a great extent. His Art of Living has captured the imagination of the high society of India including the Liquor Baron Vijay Malaya and many others. His ‘Art of Living’ courses are being run all over the country and the world by his disciples and have become the Mantra for the upper classes and professionals. His movement has been likened to a second coming of the TM movement.

In Kerala the Bhakti Yoga movement has flourished in Anandashram at Kanhangad. Founded in 1928 by Swami (Papa) Ramdas, this Ashram continues to serve aspirants on the path of self-realization. Swami Ramdas and Mother Krishnabhai both attained Samadhi through Bhakti for Lord Rama and Swami Satchidananda who has been a devotee of Ramadas since 1947 now runs this Ashram. Swami Atmananda (1889-1971) was a pioneer in introducing the Yogic and Vendantic concepts to the Malayalam population. He founded the Jnana Ashram at Sri Vyasa Giri and was a great source of inspiration to many spiritual seekers. Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh, founded the Shivananda Ashram at Nayar Dam in Kerala and this centre continues to impart Yoga training in the Shivananda tradition to both Indians as well as westerners.

Pondicherry has been a blessed city and the abode of Sage Agasthiya. Sri Aurobindo Ghose in the beginning of the 20th century and Dr. Swami Gitananda in the later have cultivated it into a “City of Yoga”. Sri Aurobindo settled in Pondicherry in order to escape from the British during the freedom struggle and along with the Mother (Mira Alfassa) founded the Aurobindo Ashram that is world famous. His Integral Yoga and his ideas of the superhuman and super mental brought a great number of devotees from all over the world to Pondicherry. They settled down in the Ashram as well as the international township of Auroville to practice the teachings of Aurobindo and the mother. Sri MP Pundit was a close disciple of Aurobindo and the Mother and continued their work in a great manner. After his Maha Samadhi, Sri Shraddalu Ranade continues to inspire many on the path of Integral Yoga. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri founded the Ananda Ashram in 1968 and tens of thousands have received training in the Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga (Gitananda Yoga) system though the Ashram and its branches all over the world. Swamiji was firm in his insistance that all his students have an understanding of Indian Culture from which Yoga sprouted. Known as the Lion of Pondicherry, Swamiji founded the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research (ICYER) as well as Yoganjali Natyalayam and these world-famous institutions are involved in the propagation of Yoga amongst youth of Pondicherry and the world. His students are running more than 130 centres all over the world affiliated to ICYER. His Wife-Disciple Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani is a Governing Body Member of the prestigious CCRYN and is on various national committees that deal with yoga and education. Along with their son-disciple Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani she is continuing the work of the Yogamaharishi. Swami Gitananda's idea of Yoga Sports has captured the imagination of both the national and international youth and regular Yogasana competitions (Yoga Sports) are conducted under the banner of the national and international Yoga federations all over the world. Swamiji and now Dr Ananda have been involved in the Yoga Research at the central government hospital JIPMER that has contributed many research works in Yoga including those by Dr Gopal and Dr Madanmohan.

The Chennai (Madras) Yoga scene has had many eminent personalities such as Sri Yogeshwar (TS Shankar) a retired journalist who wrote many books on Yoga. He was involved in teaching Yoga at many charitable institutions and hospitals and his classic Textbook of Yoga is still used by many colleges and universities in India. Sri Asana Andiappan, a student of Bangalore Sundaram and Swami Gitananda has also created a place for himself in the history of Yoga in Tamil Nadu through his work in Tamil. Taking the teachings of Yoga to the masses of Tamil Nadu in their mother tongue as well as being involved in Yoga Sports movement he has influenced a large number of Tamils to take up a practice of Yoga. His wife and children are assisting him in his work. He is responsible to Yoga in the Manonmaniam Sundarar University. The Yogasana Alayam in Chennai has also been involved in propagation of Yoga amongst Chennai residents for nearly half a century. Founded by Sri GM Swami and now run by Sri Kalyana Sundaram this centre conducts regular classes for the residents of Chennai.  Sri Kannaiah yogi was one of the extraordinary Acharyas in the field of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra in Chennai and lived for more than a hundred years. Prof B Ramamurthy, the eminent neurosurgeon and Prof Saradha Subramanyam the eminent physiologist of VHS were instrumental in many doctors taking up the Yoga research in the south as these stalwarts not only were researchers of Yoga but also practiced what they preached. Another great scientist, Prof TM Srinivasan of IIT, Chennai was also involved in the Yoga research with them until he left for the USA.

Maharishi Arunachalam of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi in Madurai was instrumental in Yoga becoming part of the Gandhian movement in south India. A true Gandhian Sri Arunachalam inspired many youth to teach Yoga as a social service. In Shantivananm at Kulittalai near Trichi, Rev Father Dom Bede Griffith founded the Satchidananda Ashram in a spirit of Hindu-Christian dialogue and was instrumental in many Indian Christians taking up Yoga. His attempt to unite Indian and western concepts were unique and path breaking and his Ashram is a tribute to his ideas. The Ramana Ashram in Thiruvannamalai founded after Saint Ramana Maharishi has been involved in spreading his teaching of “Who am I?’. Though Yoga as a practice isn’t actively taught there, the emphasis is on Bhakti and Dhyana.


Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (sVYASA) formerly known as VK Yogas is run by Dr HR Nagendra and his sister Dr R Nagarathna Located in the beautiful Prashanti Kutiram, Jigani near Bangalore. Their work in Yoga Research and Yoga Therapy has been of great value in developing the scientific outlook to Yoga in the last few decades. Every year a conference is held to propagate Yoga as well as the Himalaya Yoga Olympiad to foster the idea of Yoga Sports. They have now become a deemed university under the name of Vivekananda Yoga Mahavidyapeetam (VYOMA) with Dr Pranava Paddya as the president. Prof NVC Swamy, and Sri T Mohan, the Secretary of sVYASA are key persons in the centre and have a long association with the Vivekananda Kendra Movement. Dr Shirley Telles is the assistant director of research at sVYASA and has to her credit numerous publications on the value of Yoga in various conditions.  NIMHANS in Bangalore under Dr T Desiraju and Manipal University under Dr Krishna Bhat have done a great amount of Yoga Research. Sant Keshavdas with his Nada Yoga has also influenced many in Karnataka towards the spiritual and yogic life. A master of Harikatha he used to enthrall thousands with the magic of Indian Mythology and spirituality.


Andhra Pradesh has seen a great wave of Yoga enthusiasm in recent times and a great deal of credit goes to Yogi Sitaramaih (Yogi Ram) who has been a pioneer in this field. A retired police officer his dedication towards Yoga has inspired many to take up the practice of this great art. Yogi Balaih Kovuru is another who has played a great role in the Yoga Education of Andhra Pradesh. A student of Swami Gitananda he also publishes an English and Telegu magazine called ‘Yoga Tara’. Sri Praveen Kapadia and his family as well as Sri Venkata Reddy have also influenced a great many in Andhra. The Yoga institute of Smt Rajalakshmi Devi Bahadur in Thirupathi has contributed immensely via their work in Yoga education and Research. She was a charismatic Yogini who served the cause of propagating Yoga both within and out of India before her untimely death. In Visagapattinam the Institute for Consciousness has done a great amount of research in Yoga while the Vemana Research Institute in Secundrabad has also been in the forefront of Yoga research in Andhra.




Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh has been in the forefront of bringing traditional Yoga teachings into the academic setup. A great deal is owed to Dr Joshi who upon deputation by Swami Kuvalayananda went to the university and built up a formidable Yoga department. His work has been continued in later years by Dr Ganesh Shankar who is now the Director of the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, Ministry of Health and Family welfare. Dr Joshi continues to be a great source of inspiration and knowledge to many in the field of Yoga and serves on the Governing Council of the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN). In Bhopal Prof SV Rao in the Government Medical College has been an inspirational figure for Yoga Research. A physiologist and Yogi, he has propagated a scientific view of Yoga on many platforms. Yogarathna         KM Ganguly, a successful businessman turned Yogi has been an example of how Yoga Sadhana can be combined successfully with the material success. Even at a very senior age his performance of Yogasanas puts others younger to him by decades to shame.



The western part of India has seen the emergence of the Brahma Kumaris world spiritual university as a great institution propagating Raja Yoga Mediation. With their head quarters at Mt Abu they have spread all over India and the world. Founded in the 1930s by Brahma Babu (1880-1969) and run today by Dadi Prakash Mani, the Brahma Kumaris teach that we must turn inward to realise that we are the pure peaceful soul. Suraj Karan Jindel, of Jaipur has been acclaimed as the ‘Nauli Man” for his flawless performances of the Nauli Kriya and other shat Karmas. A successful lawyer he has been instrumental in creating great interest in Yoga in Jaipur and Rajasthan. Dr. Virendra Singh has done a lot of research in Yoga and designed the Pink City Flow meter for Asthma patients.


The state of Maharasthra has been a great source of joy to Yoga with two illustrious disciples of Paramahans Madavdasji going on to create world famous Yoga institutes. Swami Kuvalayananda founded Kaivalyadhama at Lonavla, while Sri Yogendra founded the Yoga Institute at Santa Cruz in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Swami Kuvalayananda (1883-1966) who was known as Jagannath Gangadharshastri Gune prior to Sanyasa rendered yeoman service to the cause of scientific Yoga. He founded Kaivalyadhama in 1924 and also started the famous journal ‘Yoga Mimamsa”. Swami Kuvalayananda was also to a great extent responsible for Yoga becoming a college subject and for Yoga colleges and universities replacing traditional Ashramas. Many eminent personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru used to take his advice regarding Yoga and Yoga therapy. Swami Digambarji succeeded him and now Swami Maheshanandaji is the director while Sri OP Tiwari is the secretary.  Kaivalyadhama has over the past eight decades years done a great amount of literary and scientific research in the field of Yoga and also conducted numerous national and international Yoga conferences. Sri SK Ganguly is the principal of GS College of Yoga and Cultural Synthesis while Sri Subodh Tiwari is the administrator of Kaivalyadhama Eminent Yoga-Scientists such as MV Rajupurkar, MV Bhole, TK Bera, RK Bodhe, MM Gore, PV Karambelkar, ML Gharote and SL Vinekar have contributed to a greater understanding of Yoga through their scientific and literary research. Sri KS Joshi upon the deputation by Swami Kuvalayananda went to Sagar University and developed the Yoga department as one of the best in the country.

The Yoga Institute at Santa Cruz in Mumbai is a standing testimony to the insights of the great yogi Sri Yogendra who once famously remarked, “ we must save Yoga from the world!” A student of Paramahans Madavdasji his Bani is very different from that of Swami Kuvalayananada and the emphasis is on “Householder Yoga.” Yoga for the modern world is one of the teachings at this centre and many busy executives have benefited form the Yoga counseling offered here. Sri Jayadeva Yogendra and Smt Hansaji the son and daughter-in-law of Sri Yogendra continue his work under the able guidance of mother Smt. Sita Devi Yogendra. The young and enthusiastic Patanjali Yogendra is following in the footsteps of his illustrious parents and grandparents.

Padmabhusan Sri BKS Iyengar who is now in his mid eighties went to Pune in 1937 upon the invitation of the Deccan Gymkhana Club. He settled down there and founded the Ramamani Memorial Yoga Institute. His system of Yoga now known as Iyengar Yoga has a world wide following. His book “a light on Yoga remains one of the best instruction manuals for Hatha Yoga and is the standard text book for Yogasana competitions in the Yoga Sports movement. His daughter (Geetha Iyengar) and son (Prashant Iyengar) are now in the forefront of teaching at the centre under his watchful guidance.

Yogashri Ma Yoga Shakti at Gondia in Maharasthra has been an example of the feminine Shakti in the field of Yoga. A disciple of Swami Satyananda, she has charted her own novel path that emphasizes the Bhakti Yoga path.



Swami Satyananda and his disciples have put Bihar on the Yoga map with the Bihar School of Yoga that has been a beacon light for the seeker of Yoga. With numerous branches all over the world and Australia in particular, Swami Satyananda built up the Bihar School of Yoga on the back of the Ganges at Munger in the 1960s. A favorite chela of Swami Sivananda, his Bani encompasses the Yoga, Vedanta and Tantric traditions dealing with Yoga as a medium to gain and control the Psychic energies. The signature practice of the BSY is the Yoga Nidra that was developed by Satyananda.  Swami Niranjananda continues the work of his Guru after Swami Satyananda left in 1983 and now the Ashram has become a deemed university under the name of Bihar Yoga Bharathi offering masters courses in the science of Yoga.

The Ramakrishna mission has continued the Bhakti Yoga movement started by Swami Vivekananda and spread all over the country. The main Ashram (Belur Mutt) in Kolkata (Calcutta) sits opposite the river from the kali shrine (Dakshineshwar) where Ramakrishshna had his mystical experiences with kali. The Swamis of this order are known for their great wisdom and compassion and the mission has carried out a great number of social projects for the underprivileged population. Translation of Indian cultural literature is another of the yeoman works by this mission. Their work in the Northeast along with the Vivekananda Kendra has been vital in maintaining the integrity of India.

Yogodha Satsangha, the Indian wing of the Self Realization fellowship was founded by Swami Yogananda and has been responsible for a great many westerners taking up the practice of Yoga through the medium of Kriya Yoga. His famous book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ was a starting point in the spiritual journey of many westerners. His Guru Sri Yukteshwar and Sri Ram Gopal Mujumdar (Swami Kanakananda) the Guru of Swami Gitananda were disciples of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya. Bikram Chowdhary the latest Yoga star in the USA is a descendent of Swami Yogananda.

Swami Ritajananda Saraswathi in Patna Yoga Vidyalaya has been a great inspiration to the people of Patna through his Yogashram and its publications. He has been a member of CCRYN and a great example of the Sivananda Yoga Tradition. Dr Niren Mujumdhar has been the guiding light for the Yoga Sports movement in India as the General Secretary and now as the Secretary General of the Indian Yoga Federation at Calcutta. His attempts to unify participants of Yoga sports and bring forth a standard have been achieved to some extent. His work with Swami Gitananda as well as Shri Gurupriya in Italy has paved the way for the International Yoga Federation that conducts Yogasana Championships all over the world with great success.




Swami Sivananda of Guwahati and the Vivekananda Kendra have been instrumental along with the Ramakrishna Mission in keeping the Indian culture as well as Yoga alive in the North Eastern part of India that is sadly neglected even in the field of Yoga. Animesh Dhar has also been doing a good job with his time effective Yoga in this zone.





Banaras Hindu University has been actively involved in Yoga Research, therapy as well as Yoga Education thorough the Yoga Sadhana Kendra in Malaviya Bhawan. Prof TR Anantharaman who was the director, Institute of Technology, BHU and the president of the Indian Academy of Yoga has contributed immensely to the union of ancient Yoga and Modern science through his literary works and lectures all over India and the world. He now runs the Ashram Atmadeep in Gurgaon in Haryana near Delhi. Prof Dr KN Udupa who was the professor of surgery and director of the Institute of Medical Sciences and Prof RH Singh the Professor of Kaya Chikitsa have contributed early research works on Yoga that have set a standard for other researchers in the field. Their work in establishing Yoga therapy protocols for various medical disorders is to be highly appreciated. A physicist by training Sri UA Asrani was another scientist who had a great role in the Yoga work at BHU before he settled down in Lucknow.


Swami Sivananda Saraswati, a medical doctor from south India settled in Rishikesh after Sanyas and founded the Sivananda Ashram in 1932 and the Divine Life Society in 1936. He started the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948 and trained many hundreds of students. Swami Shivananda tried to simplify the yogic and Vendantic concepts in practical tips for the modern man. His disciples have spread his unique teachings that are a combination of Yoga and Vedanta throughout the world. Swami Chinmayananda went on to found the Chinmaya Mission that has done great work in bring the Bhagavad Gita to the common man. Swami Vishnudevananda founded the Shivananda Ashram in Canada as well as at Nayar dam in Kerala. Swami Chidananda helped to establish the Divine life society as a world order through his dedicated and selfless service while Swami Satchidananda and Swami Jyothirmayananda took Shivananda’s teachings to the west and established centers in Yogaville and Miami respectively. Swami Satyananda founded the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger and also the Sivananda mutt at Ganga Darshan. Swami Venkateshananda also took his teachings to various part of the world while Swami Krishnanada carried on the Guru’s tradition at Rishikesh itself. These are only are a few of the very well known disciples who have carried forth the name and fame of their great Guru.

Swami Rama of the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy at Dehra Dun was another great master who went to the west and then finally came back to India. He displayed his yogic powers of stopping his heart and other feats such as changing the body temperature at two close areas of the hands etc to astonished scientists in the USA. Swami Veda Bharathi who is a great scholar and expert on meditation now runs his Ashram, in Uttaranchal. Many of his disciples and associates such as Dr Rudolph Ballentine, Dr Rajmani Tigunait and Swami Ajaya have done great work in the field of Yoga psychology.



The Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) is the apex body for Yoga and Naturopathy in India and has in the past few decades done great work in propagation of Yoga as a therapy as well as in Yoga education and research. Initially Swami Direndra Brahmachari was the director and following him Dr Naresh Kumar Brahmachari developed the council into a formidable body. At present Dr Ganesh Shankar is the director and is steering the council towards becoming the registering body for Yoga in India.

Swami Direndra Brahmachari was one of the most famous yogis in India during the time of Indira Gandhi who was a student of this maverick yogi. He founded the Vishwayatan Yogashram in Delhi as well as his Ashram in Jammu and made headlines for even owning a gun factory. After his untimely demise in a helicopter crash, the Indian government took over his Ashram in Delhi and now it is functioning as the Moraji Desai National Institute for Yoga. Many eminent scientists are working in the institute including Sri Girish Jha, Sri Balmukund Singh and Dr Lajpat Rai.

Yoga research has been performed in an exemplary manner at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Prof BK Anand and Prof GS Chhinna were amongst the earliest scientists to explore the yogic phenomenon including the burial of yogis under ground for many hours and stoppage of heartbeats etc. Later many more researchers jumped on the bandwagon and a great amount of work still comes out of AIIMS under eminent scientists such as Prof Ramesh Bijlani.

Dr W Selvamurthy, the director of DIPAS has been one of the top-notch researchers in the yogic phenomenon and his work with Yoga training of the Indian army personnel has been of great value in places such as the Siachin Glacier. His work on stress and in the Pathophysiology of essential hypertension has been path breaking to say the least. He still remains one of the humblest men in person and a great example to young scientists.

Motilal Banarsidas, the indological publishers has recently completed hundred years of their wonderful service to the cause of Indian literature. Virtually any book on indological nature can be found under their banner and this service done by the Jain brothers is to be highly acclaimed.




Direndra Brahmachari through his Ashram in Jammu and Prof RC Gupta and Prof GD Sharma through the Himachal University have been instrumental in propagating Yoga in the Northwestern frontier. It is to the credit of Prof RC Gupta and Prof GD Sharma that HP University Yoga Department a well-known name all over the country.

The Chinmaya Mission with its Sidhbari Ashram has carried the message of Swami Chinmayananda (1926-1993) and his Gita Yagnas very efficiently. A great orator, Swami Chinmayananda was known for his skill in explaining the most difficult of concepts to the people through the simplest of words. He inspired a great many youth to take up the path of Karma Yoga and serve the motherland by spreading the message of the Gita to every nook and corner of India. The Vendantic message of Swami Chinmayananda is being continued by the Sanyasins of the Chinmaya order under the able guidance of the charismatic Swami Tejomayananda. The youth wing under Swami Mitrananda is achieving great progress in passing on the message at the youth and children level. The Swamis of this order are known for their great oratory skills and Chinmaya Ashrams are now found all over India. The Chinmaya residential schools are becoming a household name with high education standards as well as a deep emphasis on Indian culture.

Swami Shyam with his international meditation institute at Kullu has been teaching the Advaita Vedanta and has a large European and Canadian following.

Brahmarishi Vishwatma Bawra with his Ashram in Pinjore, Haryana was a magnificent personality. An eloquent speaker on Yoga and allied philosophies he was always in great demand at all conferences all over the country and the world. Swami Yogananda and other disciples at his Ashram are carrying on his work.



Ever since Swami Jyothirmayananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda left India and steeled in Miami in 1962, there was no one to spread his message in India. Yogirathna Dr Shashi Bhushan Mishra a medical doctor has filled this hiatus and dedicated his life to serving his Guru. He founded the Indian chapter of the International Yoga Society at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh in 1978 and has been publishing all of his Gurus books as well as the monthly journal Yoganjali ever since. He and his wife are also running a clinic and orphanage in their Gurus name.


The author wishes to state that this is only a humble attempt to describe the efforts by various individuals and institutions in the propagation and development of yoga in India in recent times. It is entirely possible that due to the author’s inexperience, ignorance or oversight the author may have failed to mention some eminent personalities or institutions. A humble apology is tendered for such omissions and a request that these omissions be brought to his notice (ananda@icyer.com)so that they may be corrected.






Stress is inevitable in the modern world because of the imbalance between the demands of one’s environment and one’s capabilities. In fact, it is “distress”, which causes the problem “Distress” can be defined as “every physical and mental tension that we experience as unpleasant”. The environment today is very demanding. From childhood onwards, the development of capacities and capabilities of the individual is not able to keep pace with the increase of demands on them. This gap in most cases goes on widening as one ages. The huge crowds at temples, churches and mosques, in some way or the other testify to this imbalance. Everyone seems to be going there in order to beg or bribe the almighty to perform the “balancing act” for them and restore a sense of peace and satisfaction.

When we speak of stress we must also remember that some amount of stress is necessary in order to bring out the best in us. However, it is vital to learn how to manage stress and keep it under our conscious control. It is important to also remember the words of Epietetus in 60 A.D. who said, "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views, they take of them". As Swamiji jocularly used to say’ “You don’t have problems—you are the problem!” A positive frame of mind will help us to be cheerful and unstressed. Maharishi Patanjali’s advice in this regard to cultivate Pratipaksha Bhavanam (The Opposite View) is vital to achieve balance of the emotions and mind. It is also worth trying to follow his advise of Maitri-Sukha (Friendliness towards the happy), Karuna-Dukha (Compassion towards the suffering), Mudhita-Punya (Cheerfulness towards the virtuous) and Upekshanam-Apunya (Indifference towards the wicked).

The most common causes of stress are the Shat Ripus or the six enemies of the spirit. These are Kama (Uncontrolled passion), Krodha (Senseless Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (Blind infatuation), Mada (Massive Ego) and Matsarya (Malice / envy). Corruption of character, conduct, thought and interpersonal dealing is another cause of stress. An environment where sadistic pleasure gives satisfaction, where ethics have little or scant regard, where self-interest is more important and where under-cutting and backbiting are a common feature, will surely lead to the development of extreme stress. It is important to realise these facts and be aware of them in our life. Unless we develop awareness and consciousness of what we think, feel and do, there cannot be a lasting solution to stress.

We must strive to become persons of “Equal mindedness in all situations” that is described as Stitha Prajna or Samabhava in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Yogeshwar Krishna says that the man of Stitha Prajna has the following qualities: He is:

·       Beyond passion, fear and anger. (II.56)

·       Devoid of possessiveness and egoism. (II.71)

·       Firm in understanding and unbewildered. (V.20)

·       Engaged in doing good to all beings. (V.25)

·       Friendly and compassionate to all. (XII.13)

·       Has no expectation, is pure and skillful in action. (XII.16)


Though stress probably cannot be avoided, it can, however, be managed. The following actions may help reduce/eliminate the stress.

1.    Awareness: It is important that we first become aware of the stress and then try to let it go. Sharing your tension with a friend and/or a family member may solve the problem to a great extent. You cannot wish away the problem by non-acknowledgement/ acceptance.

2.    Movement: Movement helps in reducing tension. This can mean walking, jumping, making noise, swimming and playing. Stress tends to accumulates in the joints and movement helps to dissipate it. Rotation of the neck and shoulders in many cases helps a great deal. Some corporates have even established stress-relieving chambers where employees may shout, scream or hit a hanging pillow to relieve the pent up tension.

3.    Yoga: The regular practice of various Yoga techniques and inculcating the Yogic values in daily life will go a long way towards not only reducing the stress levels but also in giving us that elusive “Peace of Mind”. Yogic relaxation practices such as Shavasana and Yoga Nidra help to create a sense of awareness and relaxation in the whole body as well as the mind.

4.    Hobby: A hobby can help to relieve tension because it helps us to divert our mind from an unpleasant occurrence. Music, dance, painting, cooking and gardening are effective ways to take our mind to a different “Zone”. Playing with your pet can also help relieve tension and many people have ‘Thera-pets” or pets that help them therapeutically!

5.    Breathing: Breathing is one of the easiest ways of relieving stress. Whenever you feel tension rising, take a few deep breaths and you will immediately feel the difference.

6.    Attitude: It is important to “Let things lie” for sometime when facing problems and many situations resolve on their own. Other situations may appear smaller and less stressful after some time. Development of a detached attitude can also help us to have a better perception of situations and this in turn helps us to face them better.

7.    Visualization: Visualization of a pleasant solution to the problems can also help a lot. This is quite different from daydreaming. This is widely adopted by players and athletes for improving their performance. After a stressful encounter, coolly sit in your chair, close your eyes and visualize the episode as an act of an ignorant person and excuse him for the incident.

8.    Auto-Suggestion: Another mental technique is Positive self-suggestion. The negative thoughts are to be replaced with positive ones and an attitude of ‘I can and I will ‘ is to be developed.

Stress is related to the individual’s inner and outer environment and his/her tolerance capacity. As both of these are different in different people, each individual has to settle for their own method for managing his/her day-to-day problems. It must be clearly understood that we are responsible for our own health and happiness and have a duty to take care of these Divine gifts. Swami Gitananda Giri used to often say,  Health and happiness are your birthrightClaim them! Spiritual realisation is you goal Seek it!”. It is through our own efforts and will power that we can ultimately solve the problem of stress and reclaim our birthrights as human beings.

I hope that this introductory session has helped you to understand that Yoga is not just performing some contortionist poses or huffing and puffing some Pranayama or sleeping your way through any so-called “meditation”. Yoga is an integrated way of life in which awareness and consciousness guide our spiritual evolution within this very social system, not in some remote cave in the mountains or hut in the forest.

It is therefore fitting to end with Pujya Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj's statement that "Yoga is the science and art of right-use-ness of body, emotions and mind". 

The Yogi wishes peace and happiness not only for himself, but also for all beings on all the different planes of existence.  He is not an “individualist”  simply seeking his own salvation , but on the contrary he is an "Universalist" seeking to live life in the proper evolutionary manner, to the best of his ability, and with care and concern for his human brethren, as well as all beings on all planes of existence.


"Om, Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavanthu Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavanthu  Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.  Om"



Stress Management Programme


Compiled from the GITANANDA YOGA teachings in the tradition of Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj


Modern man is the victim of stress and stress related disorders, which threaten to disrupt his life totally. Yoga offers a way out of this ‘whirlpool of stress’ and is a wholistic solution to stress. Yogic life style, Yogic diet, Yogic attitudes and various Yogic practices help man to strengthen himself and develop positive health, which enables him to withstand stress better. This is achieved by normalizing the perception of stress, optimizing the reaction to it and by releasing the pent up stress effectively through various Yogic practices. Yoga is a wholistic science of life, which deals with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Given below are various aspects of Yoga that help in the prevention and management of stress.



¨      The Yogic concepts of samatvam (equanimity), stitha prajna (the even minded human), kleshas and their roles in creation of stress and the stress response, koshas and their role in manifestation of stress, all help us to look at life with a different perspective.

¨      The concept of vairagya (dispassion or detachment) when understood and cultivated makes us dispassionate to the dwandwas (the pairs of opposites) such as praise-blame, hot-cold or pleasant-unpleasant.

¨      The regular practice of Yoga as a ‘ Way of Life' helps to reduce the levels of physical, mental and emotional stress. This yogic ‘way of life’ lays emphasis on right thought, right action, right reaction and right attitude.

¨      "To have the will to change that which can be changed, the strength to accept that which can not he changed, and the wisdom to know the difference" is the attitude which needs to the cultivated. An attitude of letting go the worries, the problems and a greater understanding of our mental process helps to create a harmony in our body, mind whose disharmony is the main cause of  'aadi – vyadhi or the psychosomatic disorders.


The  Kleshas and stress:

Most of our problems stem from the five psychological afflictions (pancha klesha) that are inborn in each and every human being. These pancha klesha are; ignorance (avidya), egoism (asmita), our sense of needing to survive at any cost (abinivesha), attraction (raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (dwesha) to them. Ignorance (avidya) is usually the start of most problems along with the ego (asmita).  Then, our sense of needing to survive at any cost (abinivesha) compounds it further. Both attraction (raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (dwesha) to them need to be destroyed in order to attain tranquility and equanimity of mind.

Maharishi Patanjali says that, the practice of kriya yoga (Yoga of mental purification) consisting of tapas (discipline), swadhyaya (self analysis) and ishwar pranidhana (surrender to the Divine) is the means to destroy these five mental afflictions and attain to the state of samadhi or oneness with the Supreme Self or the Divine.


Bhagavad Gita on ‘STRESS’:

Thousands of years ago, Yogeshwar Krishna taught us about the effect of stress on man and how from our attraction to the worldly sensory objects we cause our own destruction. These teachings hold good even in today’s world.

In chapter Two (samkya yoga), in verse 62 and 63, the pattern of behaviour (stress response) is given which ultimately leads to the destruction of man.

Verse 62: “Brooding on the objects of the senses, man develops attachment to them; from attachment (raaga) comes desire (kama) and from desire, anger (krodha) sprouts forth.”

Verse 63: “From anger proceeds delusion; from delusion, confused memory; from confused memory the ruin of reason and due to the ruin of reason he perishes.”

In verse 64 of the second chapter, Lord Krishna also gives us a clue to equanimity of mind (samatvam) and how to become a person settled in that equanimity (stitha prajna) who is not affected by the opposites (dwandwas).

He says, "But the disciplined Yogi, moving amongst the sensory objects with all senses under control and free from attraction (raaga) and aversion (dwesha), gains in tranquility.”





Practices are performed using the concept of tension and relaxation where we first tense different parts of the body to the maximum and then relax them to the maximum.



This is a technique in which we breathe in contemplating on the Pranava Shabda (AUM) and then breathe out making the Pranava Shabda for double the time of inspiration. It helps to create harmony in the lower, middle and upper parts of the whole body through the vibrational effect of Nada   (sound). When we control our breath in a conscious and aware manner, it helps us to develop control over our mind as well.  It is an excellent practice to develop concentration as well as put us in a meditative plane of mind. Peace, harmony and reduced stress levels are the by products of this Pranayama.

Adam Pranayama:

Abdominal or low chest breathing using Chin Mudra and the sound: AAA…


Madhyam Pranayama:

Mid chest or thoracic breathing using Chinmaya Mudra and the sound: OOO… (or)  UUU…


Adhyam Pranayama:

Upper chest or clavicular breathing using Adi Mudra and the sound: MMM…………


Mahat Yoga Pranayama:

Using Brahma Mudra breathe in (Low, Mid and High equally) while concentrating on the sounds AAA, UUU, MMM.  Then breathe out producing the sounds AAA… OOO… MMM…         i.e., AUM



SURYA NAMASKAR (Aruna Surya Namaskar)

The sun is the source of all life on this planet and thus deserves a deep respect. Surya Namaskar is a way to pay this respect. There are various different types of Surya Namaskars and the one introduced here is called the Aruna Surya Namaskar. Aruna Surya Namaskar is one of the most elementary practices. Aruna refers to the bright red quality often visible in the sun's rays at dawn. This version of Surya Namaskar provides an excellent warming up exercise, especially in the early morning, when the body may be sluggish, lethargic and stiff from the night's sleep. The keywords to remember with Aruna Surya Namaskar are "stretch" and "breathe". The breathing must be deep and regular. Surya Namaskar is done best in the early morning facing the sun when it is rising above the horizon. Your body will thank you as the endocrine glands and being exposed to the early morning sun positively stimulates your entire body.


KAYA KRIYA: (Dynamic Body Relaxation)

An excellent Yoga Kriya rejuvenating the body by dynamic movement while concentrating upon the breath is to be found in Kaya Kriya, the Yoga technique of whole body relaxation. This form of dynamic relaxation can rejuvenate the nervous system and contribute greatly to relief nerve injury and the results of accidents and other traumas. In Sanskrit “Kaya” means the physical body and “Kriya” means a dynamic breath-body-movement coordination activity. Kaya Kriya also has a beneficial effect on psychological hurts, emotional and mental tension and can be easily learned. There are four parts of the Kaya Kriya and each part is related to breathing in different segments of the lungs.

Technique :  Lie down on the floor in the Shava Asana, the Corpse Posture and if possible allign your body with head to the polar North so as to take advantage of the natural electro-magnetic flux of the planet Earth.



Summary of Kaya Kriya

a)    Relaxation of the lower part of the body

Breathe in and roll the legs inward.

Breathe out and roll the legs outward.

b)    Relaxation of the middle part of the body

Breathe in and roll the arms outward.

Breathe out and roll the arms inward.

c)     Relaxation of the upper part of the body

Breathe in and roll the head to the right.

Breathe out and roll the head to the left.

d)    Relaxation of the whole body

Breathe in and

¨     roll the legs inward,

¨     roll the arms outward and

¨     roll the head to the right.

Breathe out and

¨     roll the legs outward,

¨     roll the arms inward and

¨     roll the head to the left.



MINI SHAVASAN: (Tension-relaxation)

  • Lie down in Shavasan
  • Slowly tense the body from toes to top of head.
  • Hold 100% tension for 10 sec.
  • Let go and relax totally 100%.
  • Continue to watch the breath.


SHAVASANA: (The Corpse Pose)

Shavasana is a relaxing and energizing posture in which the body, emotions and mind are united in the process of conscious relaxation. 15 minutes of Shavasana properly performed is equal to more than one hour of refreshing sleep.

Lie supine on a flat surface with the head preferably to the north or east enabling us to be in alignment with the earth’s magnetic field.

Make sure that the head and body are in line and the hands are kept relaxed by the sides of the thighs with the palms facing upwards.

Relax the feet with the heels touching lightly.

Let the fore foot fall away into a ‘v’ shape.

Perform one of the techniques as given below or both of them depending on the time available.



Lie down in Shavasana and start watching your breath.

Feel the abdominal movements as the abdomen rises with the in breath and falls with the out breath. Let your awareness settle in the abdomen.

Feel the cool inspired air flowing into the nostrils and the warm expired air flowing out of the nostrils. Let your awareness settle at the tip of the nose.

Consciously regulate the breath so that the ratio of insp: exp is equal. It can be a 4,6,8 or 10 count.

Perform nine rounds of this practice.



This is a 21 part, step- by- step method to consciously localize different parts of the body and relax them in a rational sequence thus focusing the awareness in those parts. The different parts are:

Feet, Shins, Kneecaps, Thighs, Buttocks , Abdomen, Solar Plexus, Lower Back., Upper Chest, Upper Back, Hands, Forearms, Upper Arms, Shoulders, Throat, Back of Neck , Back of Head, Jaws, Face, Forehead, Bhrumadhya

Perform Jyoti Dharana and Jyoti Dhyana (concentration and meditation on the Divine light) at the Bhrumadhya Bindhu (Mid Point Between The Eyebrows). Visualize the Divine Jyoti to be having the brilliance equal to 1000 suns but without the glare. Absorb yourself into this Divine Jyoti.


coming out of shavasana:

When coming out of the relaxation, make sure that you perform conscious stretching and make a   smooth transition from the relaxed state to the active state. Do not jump up immediately after relaxation.

Turn over onto the left side and then onto the face-prone pose (unmukhasana).

Perform makarasana, bhujangasana and then chatushpadasana before coming to the sitting posture.

Sit quietly for some time with the eyes closed in the sitting pose.

Come up slowly to the standing pose.





May all the living beings in all planes of existence be joyful and at ease. Om. Peace, Peace and Peace.


Yogic antidote to stress

Stress is inevitable in the modern world because of the imbalance between the demands of one’s environment and one’s capabilities. In fact, it is “distress”, which causes the problem “Distress” can be defined as “every physical and mental tension that we experience as unpleasant”. The environment today is very demanding. From childhood onwards, the development of capacities and capabilities of the individual is not able to keep pace with the increase of demands on them. This gap in most cases goes on widening as one ages. The huge crowds at temples, churches and mosques, in some way or the other testify to this imbalance. Everyone seems to be going there in order to beg or bribe the almighty to perform the “balancing act” for them and restore a sense of peace and satisfaction.

When we speak of stress we must also remember that some amount of stress is necessary in order to bring out the best in us. However, it is vital to learn how to manage stress and keep it under our conscious control. It is important to also remember the words of Epietetus in 60 A.D. who said, "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views, they take of them". As Swamiji jocularly used to say’ “You don’t have problems—you are the problem!” A positive frame of mind will help us to be cheerful and unstressed. Maharishi Patanjali’s advice in this regard to cultivate Pratipaksha Bhavanam (The Opposite View) is vital to achieve balance of the emotions and mind. It is also worth trying to follow his advise of Maitri-Sukha (Friendliness towards the happy), Karuna-Dukha (Compassion towards the suffering), Mudhita-Punya (Cheerfulness towards the virtuous) and Upekshanam-Apunya (Indifference towards the wicked).

The most common causes of stress are the Shat Ripus or the six enemies of the spirit. These are Kama (Uncontrolled passion), Krodha (Senseless Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (Blind infatuation), Mada (Massive Ego) and Matsarya (Malice / envy). Corruption of character, conduct, thought and interpersonal dealing is another cause of stress. An environment where sadistic pleasure gives satisfaction, where ethics have little or scant regard, where self-interest is more important and where under-cutting and backbiting are a common feature, will surely lead to the development of extreme stress. It is important to realise these facts and be aware of them in our life. Unless we develop awareness and consciousness of what we think, feel and do, there cannot be a lasting solution to stress.

We must strive to become persons of “Equal mindedness in all situations” that is described as Stitha Prajna or Samabhava in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Yogeshwar Krishna says that the man of Stitha Prajna has the following qualities: He is:

·       Beyond passion, fear and anger. (II.56)

·       Devoid of possessiveness and egoism. (II.71)

·       Firm in understanding and unbewildered. (V.20)

·       Engaged in doing good to all beings. (V.25)

·       Friendly and compassionate to all. (XII.13)

·       Has no expectation, is pure and skillful in action. (XII.16)


Though stress probably cannot be avoided, it can, however, be managed. The following actions may help reduce/eliminate the stress.

1.    Awareness: It is important that we first become aware of the stress and then try to let it go. Sharing your tension with a friend and/or a family member may solve the problem to a great extent. You cannot wish away the problem by non-acknowledgement/ acceptance.

2.    Movement: Movement helps in reducing tension. This can mean walking, jumping, making noise, swimming and playing. Stress tends to accumulates in the joints and movement helps to dissipate it. Rotation of the neck and shoulders in many cases helps a great deal. Some corporates have even established stress-relieving chambers where employees may shout, scream or hit a hanging pillow to relieve the pent up tension.

3.    Yoga: The regular practice of various Yoga techniques and inculcating the Yogic values in daily life will go a long way towards not only reducing the stress levels but also in giving us that elusive “Peace of Mind”. Yogic relaxation practices such as Shavasana and Yoga Nidra help to create a sense of awareness and relaxation in the whole body as well as the mind.

4.    Hobby: A hobby can help to relieve tension because it helps us to divert our mind from an unpleasant occurrence. Music, dance, painting, cooking and gardening are effective ways to take our mind to a different “Zone”. Playing with your pet can also help relieve tension and many people have ‘Thera-pets” or pets that help them therapeutically!

5.    Breathing: Breathing is one of the easiest ways of relieving stress. Whenever you feel tension rising, take a few deep breaths and you will immediately feel the difference.

6.    Attitude: It is important to “Let things lie” for sometime when facing problems and many situations resolve on their own. Other situations may appear smaller and less stressful after some time. Development of a detached attitude can also help us to have a better perception of situations and this in turn helps us to face them better.

7.    Visualization: Visualization of a pleasant solution to the problems can also help a lot. This is quite different from daydreaming. This is widely adopted by players and athletes for improving their performance. After a stressful encounter, coolly sit in your chair, close your eyes and visualize the episode as an act of an ignorant person and excuse him for the incident.

8.    Auto-Suggestion: Another mental technique is Positive self-suggestion. The negative thoughts are to be replaced with positive ones and an attitude of ‘I can and I will ‘ is to be developed.

Stress is related to the individual’s inner and outer environment and his/her tolerance capacity. As both of these are different in different people, each individual has to settle for their own method for managing his/her day-to-day problems. It must be clearly understood that we are responsible for our own health and happiness and have a duty to take care of these Divine gifts. Swami Gitananda Giri used to often say,  Health and happiness are your birthrightClaim them! Spiritual realisation is you goal Seek it!”. It is through our own efforts and will power that we can ultimately solve the problem of stress and reclaim our birthrights as human beings.

I hope that this introductory session has helped you to understand that Yoga is not just performing some contortionist poses or huffing and puffing some Pranayama or sleeping your way through any so-called “meditation”. Yoga is an integrated way of life in which awareness and consciousness guide our spiritual evolution within this very social system, not in some remote cave in the mountains or hut in the forest.

It is therefore fitting to end with Pujya Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj's statement that "Yoga is the science and art of right-use-ness of body, emotions and mind". 

The Yogi wishes peace and happiness not only for himself, but also for all beings on all the different planes of existence.  He is not an “individualist”  simply seeking his own salvation , but on the contrary he is an "Universalist" seeking to live life in the proper evolutionary manner, to the best of his ability, and with care and concern for his human brethren, as well as all beings on all planes of existence.

 "Om, Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavanthu Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavanthu  Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.  Om"



Yoga research at JIPMER, Pondicherry,India

A report by Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani,

Senior Research Fellow, Yoga Research Project, Department of Physiology, JIPMER, Pondicherry, India


Jawaharlal Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry is a premier medical and research institution in India and many studies on the beneficial effects of Yoga have been conducted here in the past decades.

In the year 2000, Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, (CCRYN) Ministry of Health, New Delhi sanctioned a YOGA RESEARCH PROJECT with Dr Madanmohan (Director-Professor and Head, Dept of Physiology) as Principal Investigator and Dr Gopal Krushna Pal (Associate Professor, Physiology) as co-investigator. The author (Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani) is the Senior Research Fellow of the project while Shri G Kumaran and Miss Lalithambika are the Yoga teacher and technical assistant respectively.

The Department of Science and technology (DSTE) under Pondicherry Government had also sanctioned a Yoga Project to Dr Madanmohan and Dr Gopal Krushna Pal. Some of these studies have been completed under that project with students of the Indra Nagar Government HSS.

Many studies have been conducted in the Department of Physiology in the last three years and this article aims to give the readers a brief idea of the scope of these research works.

Other members of the Physiology Department, JIPMER who have contributed to these studies are Dr P Vijayalakshmi (Associate Professor, Physiology), Dr Kaviraja Udupa (Senior Resident), Dr ES Prakash (Junior Resident) and Dr Asmita Patil (Senior Resident). Dr N Krishnamurthy  (Scientific Officer-Cum-Tutor) and Dr Lakshmi Jatiya (Senior Resident) who have left the department recently were also actively involved in these projects. Mr Amudhan and Mr Surendiran (MBBS students) have also contributed to some of the studies through their ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) Student scholarships.

Dr Kaviraja Udupa (Senior Resident) successfully presented his MD (Physiology) thesis on how Pranayama training of six months influenced cardiac function as measured by Systolic Time Intervals in school children.

1.    Effect of Suryanamaskar training on pulmonary function, respiratory pressures and handgrip in school children: Scientific literature is deficient on the effects of suryanamaskar on physiological functions. Suryanamaskar is an integral part of Yoga practice and consists of a sequence of movements synchronised with deep breathing. Although a number of studies have been reported on the beneficial effects of Yoga training, there is no report on the effect of suryanamaskar training on pulmonary function, respiratory pressures and handgrip. Hence, we planned to study the effect of suryanamaskar training on forced expiratory volume, forced expired volume in first second, peak expiratory flow rate, maximum expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, handgrip strength and handgrip endurance. 42 school children in the age group of 12 to 16 were randomly divided into two groups of 21 each. Group I was trained in suryanamaskar for 6 months while Group II formed the control group. In both the groups, the above mentioned parameters were studied before and after 6 months of the study period.  In Group I subjects, peak expiratory flow rate, maximum expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, Forced expiratory volume and forced expired volume in first second increased significantly following suryanamaskar training. Handgrip strength and hand grip endurance also increased significantly after the training. On the other hand, in the control group, there was no significant increase in these parameters. We suggest that Suryanamaskar be used as an effective and inexpensive method to improve pulmonary functions and general health of school children.

2.    Effect of Yoga training on pulmonary function, respiratory pressures and handgrip in school children: 20 school children in the age group of 12 to 15 years were given Yoga training (Asanas and Pranayamas) for 6 months. 20 age and gender-matched students formed the control group. Yoga training produced statistically significant increase in handgrip strength and handgrip endurance. Maximum expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, forced expiratory volume, forced expired volume in first second, and peak expiratory flow rate also increased significantly after the Yoga training. In contrast, the increase in these parameters in the control group was statistically insignificant. Our study shows that Yoga training for 6 months improves lung function, strength of inspiratory and expiratory muscles as well as skeletal muscle strength and endurance. It is suggested that Yoga be introduced at school level in order to improve physiological functions, overall health and performance of students.

3.    A comparative study of the effects of slow and fast Suryanamaskar: 42 school children in the age group of 12 to 16 were randomly divided into two groups of 21 each. Group I and Group II received 6 months training in performance of slow suryanamaskar (SSN) and fast suryanamaskar (FSN) respectively. SSN subjects were trained to perform surya-namaskar in a slow manner so that each of the 12 poses was held for duration of 30 seconds. Each round took 6 minutes to complete and 5 rounds were performed in 30-40 minutes. On the other hand, FSN group subjects were trained to perform surya-namaskar in a fast manner so that the 12 poses were completed in 2 minutes. 15 rounds were performed in 30-40 minutes. Training in SSN produced a significant decrease in diastolic pressure and an insignificant (3%) fall in rate-pressure-product, which is an index of load on the heart. In contrast, training in FSN produced a significant increase in systolic pressure and insignificant (4.5%) increase in rate-pressure-product. Although there was a highly significant increase in hand grip strength and hand grip endurance in both the groups, the increase in hand grip endurance in FSN group was significantly more than in SSN group. Training in SSN reduced the resting diastolic pressure and rate-pressure-product, which, indicates a decrease in load on the heart. In contrast, FSN increased diastolic pressure and rate-pressure-product. The present study shows that the effects of FSN are similar to physical aerobic exercises whereas the effects of SSN are similar to those of Yoga training.

4.    Acute effect of Mukh Bhastrika (bellows breath) on reaction time: 22 healthy schoolboys who were practising Yoga for the past three months and could perform Mukh Bhastrika properly, were recruited for the present study. Visual reaction time and auditory reaction time were recorded before and after nine rounds of mukh Bhastrika. Mukh Bhastrika produced an immediate and significant decrease in visual as well as auditory reaction time. A decrease in reaction time indicates an improved sensory-motor performance and enhanced processing ability of central nervous system. This may be due to i)  greater arousal, ii) faster rate of information processing, iii) improved concentration and/or iv) an ability to ignore extraneous stimuli. This is of applied value in situations requiring faster reactivity such as sports, machine operation, race driving and specialised surgery. It may also be of value to train mentally retarded children and older sports persons who have prolonged reaction time.

5.    Effect of Pranayama training on cardiac function: Systolic time intervals are sensitive and objective measures of ventricular performance. Yogic breathing exercises especially bellows type of breathing are likely to produce hemodynamic alterations thereby affecting ventricular performance. Keeping this in mind we planned to study if training with Yoga breathing exercises has any effect on ventricular performance as measured by systolic time intervals. To the best of our knowledge no such study has been undertaken so far. 24 school going children were divided into two groups. Group I subjects (Pranayama group, n=12) were given training in Savitri Pranayama, Pranava Pranayama, Nadi Shuddhi and mukh Bhastrika and practiced the same for 20 min daily for a duration of 3 months. Group II subjects  (control group, n=12) were not given any training. In both the groups, systolic time intervals were measured 10 minutes after supine rest at the beginning and end of the study period. Pranayama training resulted in increase in QS2I and PEPI, the increase being statistically significant. On the other hand, LVETI was reduced significantly. In contrast the changes in systolic time intervals in control subjects were not statistically significant. QS2I and PEPI are indicators of the effect of the parasympathetic nervous system on the heart while LVETI is an indicator of the sympathetic nervous system’s effect on the heart. Our study shows that Pranayama breathing can alter the ventricular performance as measured by systolic time intervals. Further studies can illustrate the underlying mechanisms involved in this alteration.

6.    A comparative study of the effects of slow and fast Pranayamas on physiological functions: We planned to undertake a comparative study of the effect of short term (three week) training in Savitri (slow breathing) and Bhastrika (fast breathing) Pranayamas on respiratory pressures and endurance, reaction time, heart rate, blood pressure and rate-pressure-product. Thirty student volunteers were divided into two groups of fifteen each. Group I was given training in Savitri Pranayama, which involves slow, rhythmic and deep breathing. Group II was given training in Bhastrika Pranayama, which is bellows-type rapid and deep breathing. Parameters were recorded before and after three-week training period. Savitri Pranayama produced a significant increase in respiratory pressures and respiratory endurance whereas Bhastrika Pranayama produced an insignificant increase in respiratory pressures and a significant increase in respiratory endurance. In both the groups, there was an appreciable but statistically insignificant shortening of reaction time. Blood pressure, heart rate and rate-pressure-product decreased in Savitri Pranayama group but increased in Bhastrika Pranayama group indicating that Savitri Pranayama decreases sympathetic activity while Bhastrika Pranayama increases it. It is concluded that different types of Pranayamas produce different physiological responses in normal subjects. 

7.    Effect of Shavasana on cold pressor-induced stress: Shavasana is known to enhance one’s ability to combat stressful situations. This study was planned to determine if the performance of Shavasana after training of short duration could modulate physiological response to stress induced by cold pressor test  and the possible mechanisms involved. Ten normal adults were taught Shavasana and practised the same for a total duration of seven days. RR interval variation (RRIV), deep breathing difference (DBD) as well as heart rate, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and rate-pressure-product changes in response to cold pressor test were measured before and after performance of Shavasana. RR interval variation (RRIV), deep breathing difference (DBD) are known indicators of the activity of  parasympathetic nervous system Shavasana produced a significant increase in DBD and an appreciable but statistically insignificant increase in RRIV suggesting an enhanced parasympathetic activity. Significant blunting of cold pressor-induced increase in heart rate, blood pressure and rate-pressure-product by Shavasana was seen during and even five minutes after cold pressor test suggesting that Shavasana reduces load on the heart by blunting the sympathetic response. It is concluded that Shavasana can enhance one’s ability to withstand stress induced by cold pressor test and this ability can be achieved even with seven days of Shavasana training.

8.    Effect of Yogic relaxation training on hypertension: Thirteen male patients of essential hypertension whose age ranged from 41 to 60 years were trained in Yogic relaxation techniques daily, Monday through Saturday for a total duration of 4 weeks. Systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, mean pressure and heart rate were recorded with a non-invasive semi automatic blood pressure monitor before Yoga training and at weekly intervals during the 4-week training period. There was a significant reduction in diastolic pressure, mean pressure, heart rate and rate-pressure-product after 2 weeks of Yoga training. Systolic pressure showed a significant reduction at 3 weeks. At 4 weeks of training there was a further fall in systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and mean pressure. Rate-pressure-product also showed a further significant decrease at 3 and 4 weeks. Before Yoga training isometric handgrip produced a rise in all the parameters that was significant only in systolic pressure indicating subnormal cardiovascular autonomic reflex response. After Yoga training, isometric handgrip produced a highly significant rise in all parameters except pulse pressure. Thus our study shows that Yoga training restores the autonomic regulatory reflex mechanisms in hypertensive patients and Yoga relaxation training of 4 weeks is effective in producing a significant decrease in blood pressure of hypertensive patients.

9.    Effect of Shavasana on heart rate variability: The effect of Shavasana on heart rate and blood pressure is well known. However, its effect on heart rate variability (HRV) is not well known. Hence, we studied the effect of Shavasana training on HRV as measured by sympathovagal balance (SVB) and coefficient of variation of RR intervals (CVRRI). SVB helps to understand the balance between activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems on the heart, while the coefficient of variation of RR intervals (CVRRI) is a known indicator of parasympathetic activity. Twenty six school children (13 boys and 13 girls) aged 16 years were recruited for the study. Their blood pressure, heart rate and HRV were recorded in supine position under standard conditions. A 5-minute ECG was recorded and the RR interval series was subjected to fast Fourier transformation and an RR-interval power spectrum obtained. SVB was calculated as the ratio of low frequency (0.04 – 0.15 Hz) and high frequency spectral powers (0.15 – 0.40 Hz). The subjects were then given Shavasana training and practised the same under our direct supervision for a period of six weeks. Blood pressure, heart rate and HRV were recorded under similar conditions after the training period. Shavasana training produced a significant decrease in heart rate and systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, mean pressure and rate-pressure-product. There was also a significant increase in total power of the RR interval spectrum  and CVRRI  but no change in SVB. We conclude that the practice of Shavasana increases heart rate variability. This implies a “healthier’ heart that will be able to withstand the stresses and strains of life better.

10. Effect of direction of head on heart rate and blood pressure: Indian culture stresses the importance of direction during performance of daily activities. Some Yoga teachers prescribe that the Yogic relaxation and polarity practices must be done while lying with the head towards the North in order to align oneself with the earth’s electromagnetic field. There is some evidence that earth’s magnetic field influences physiological functions. Hence, the present study was undertaken to see whether head direction has any effect on heart rate and blood pressure during supine rest. 43 normal healthy school children were recruited and their recordings were taken after 5 minutes of supine rest. The subjects were randomly assigned to lie with their head towards North, East, South and West directions on four different days. Heart rate and blood pressure were recorded at the end of 5 minutes of supine rest. Heart rate was lowest in North and highest in South, the difference being statistically significant by Student’s paired ‘t’ test. Systolic pressure was lowest in the North and significantly higher in the West. Lying supine with head towards North had the lowest rate-pressure-product as compared to the West. Our study demonstrates that lying supine with head in different directions has a definite effect on the heart rate and blood pressure. Further studies in different age groups and in hypertensive patients may help in understanding the mechanisms and implications of this phenomenon.


These studies have been presented at the Annual Conferences of IABMS (Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists), Annual Conferences of APPI (Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India), International Yoga Festival, Pondicherry and at the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Conference 2002. Some of the studies have also been published in Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (IJPP) and Yoga Mimamsa (Yoga Journal of Kaivalyadhama).

One of the positive spin offs of the Yoga Project has been the possibility of free Yoga training that has been imparted to a large number of persons. One of the aims of our project was to create an awareness and interest in Yoga amongst the general public and this aim is surely being realised under the guidance of Dr Madanmohan. More than 160 police trainees of Pondicherry Police are receiving yoga training. Nearly 140 personnel of Pondicherry Police department have completed two weeks of Yoga training in six batches. 60 students of Kendriya Vidyalaya in the JIPMER campus and more than 140 students of the Indra Nagar Govt HSS have received Yoga training for between 3 and 6 months. Nearly 100 patients suffering from various disorders have received Yoga therapy on referral basis from concerned departments and more than 100 staff and students of JIPMER have received training in various aspects of Yoga. 50 students of the Tagore Arts College have also received more than 6 months of Yoga training as part of the project.

I hope that this short overview of the various studies has given the reader some idea of the numerous works going on in Department of Physiology, JIPMER and I welcome any queries on these studies at yognat2001@yahoo.com



Which side to begin Yogasanas?

Question: "I've been teaching for a number of years, always leading clients in standing âsana with the left foot or left side. I have always done this because that was what I was taught. Could you please send me any literature references or other references giving the reasoning behind this practice? Does it extend to all âsana, standing or not?"

In this issue, Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, chairman of Yoganjali Natyalayam and the ICYER (International Centre for Yoga Education and Research) in Pondicherry, India (http://www.icyer.com/, yognat2001@yahoo.com), further elucidates from the traditional Indian point of view:

I felt that I have to try and address some of these core issues for non-Indian Yoga practitioners, as we often have our Western students (never an Indian student!) ask these same questions.

The major problem facing Yoga in the West is the fact that Yoga has been cleaved from Indian culture (sanâtana-dharma; editor's note: lit. "eternal teaching," the name traditionally given to Hinduism by adherents). Without an understanding of the Indian (Hindu) culture and way of life from which Yoga originated, it is difficult to find answers to such questions.

The concept of polarity, or balancing the opposites, is vital to both Yoga and Indian traditional life. The right side of the body is related to the solar/positive/masculine flows of energy that are manifest by the sûrya-nâdî, which is related to the termination of the pingalâ-nâdî. Similarly, the left side is related to the lunar/negative/feminine flows of energy that are manifest by the candra-nâdî, which may be said to be the termination of the idâ-nâdî (editor's note: nâdîs are subtle energy channels).

Traditionally in Indian culture, all daily activities are always started on the right side, because the right side is considered to be auspicious. If an Indian (a traditional Indian, that is) were given an offering by the left hand, he or she would consider it an insult and refuse it! Similarly, receiving anything with the left hand is totally out of the question! Modern Indians tend to be as uninformed as Westerners in this regard, and I am not considering their example here.

When a newly married bride in India comes to her in-laws for the first time, or when we enter the premises of a newly constructed building or any such new "starts," we always use the right leg first  (as in "put your best foot forward"). Thus, to my mind, the traditional answer to the question would be to start on the right and then make sure you follow it with the left for balance.

In spinal twists, the turn is always clockwise first, as the concept of pradakshina or circumbulation around Hindu temples is always clockwise. It is interesting to note that the Hindu swastika turns clockwise, whereas Hitler's swastika turns anticlockwise. (Speak of opposite energies bringing about opposite effects! Auspicious in the first and inauspicious in the second.) Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri also always taught us that the energy in the cakras moves in a clockwise direction. If you take ten traditional Indians and ask them to turn around, they will all, at least almost all, turn in the clockwise direction. Twists are thus done first to the right, then to the left.

Regarding the forward and back bending âsanas, when we bend forward we stimulate the solar plexus, and so this is termed the loma, or positive action. When we bend backward, we relax the solar plexus, and this is termed the viloma, or negative action. In practice it is thus better to do forward bends before back bends if we follow the polarity concept.

Some interesting research in South India (at VK Yogas Bangalore) showed that relaxation practices done following strenuous activity provided greater benefit than the pure relaxation practices done alone. Viewed from the standpoint of right and left, if we do the right, or active, side first, then we may benefit more from the practice by ending with the left. This will lead to a state of balance (of steadiness, relaxation). On the contrary, if we do the left, or passive, side first, then we may end up stimulated (hyperenergetic, imbalanced). As Yoga is the science of balance, performance on the right side before the left side may help us to maintain homeostasis (samatvam).

We must also remember that even the term Hatha-Yoga has the right side placed before the left in its esoteric association of ha with the sun and tha with the moon (editor's note: hatha lit. means "forceful").

With regard to the common question of how to tell whether one is doing the left side or the right side in standing poses, I would say that the side that bears the maximum weight of the body in the pose is the side one is doing. For instance, many students get confused when they first stand in natarajâsana on the right leg with the left arm and foot raised behind the back, thinking that they are doing the left side because both the left arm and leg are being used, whereas they are actually doing the right.

Of course, all of the above discussion applies to normal, balanced individuals, of whom very few seem to practice modern Yoga! In cases where stimulation is required, as in patients with depression, excessive sleepiness or drowsiness, and so on, then right after left may be preferable.


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Thursday, April, 22nd, 2004

Lion of Pondicherry


Yogamaharishi Yogashironmani

Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj



Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was born on July 24, 1907, in Maharajganj, northern India, to an Irish mother and a Sindhi father. His father, Sukraj Bhavanani, was a High court Advocate in the Patna High Court and an extensive landowner. His mother Leelavathi was converted to Hinduism through the Arya Samaj rites. The Yogamaharishi received his early schooling at home from his mother. Tragically, his mother died when he was but eight years of age. When he was ten years, his Guru, the great Siddha and Master, Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Brighu, (Ram Gopal Majumdhar) entered his life. For six years, he studied in the Guru Kula of his Master, imbibing not only the traditional education, but also the great mystic sciences of Yoga, Tantra and Yantra. Swamiji often remarked that everything he taught and preached and knew about Yoga, he learned only from his Master during that intensive training. When he was sixteen years of age, his Guru sent him to England to study medicine. After receiving his medical degree, he entered the British Royal Navy to serve as a doctor on board several ships during World War II. He was injured during the war, and used the time recuperating to further his medical education. He migrated to Canada and set up his practice there, also establishing Yoga schools and centres wherever he lived. Pujya Swamiji was one of the pioneers to introduce Yoga to the Western mind in the early 1950’s. He was also instrumental in hosting many visiting Yoga Gurus and Swamijis at his centre in Vancouver. In addition to his busy medical practice, he traveled widely lecturing and teaching. He worked several years for the US Atomic Energy Commission in the United States and also took up assignments for World Health Organisation in South America. He returned to settle permanently in India in 1967 and established his Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry. He set up the Ananda Ashram in Lawspet, Pondicherry in 1972. In 1975 Srila Shri Shankaragiri Swamigal appointed Dr Swami Gitananda Giri as Madathiapathy of Sri Kambali Swamy Madam, which was then a dilapidated Samadhi site of around five acres in Thattanchavady near the Lawspet Ashram. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri undertook the renovation of the ancient Samadhi site with great enthusiasm and built what was acclaimed as the “Shanti Niketan of South India” and “An ideal Guru Kula” on the Madam lands. Thus Swamiji who was the representative of the North Indian Brighu lineage also became a representative of the Saiva Siddantha Yoga Tradition of South India. The lineage of Kambaliswamy is said to go back to the Rishi Agasthya himself. Gurus of the Kambaliswamy Madam tradition include Srila Sri Kambaliswamigal, Srila Sri Ambalavana Swamigal, Srila Sri Manikka Swamigal, Srila Sri Shanmuga Swamigal, Srila Sri Velu Swamigal, Srila Sri Subramaniya Swamigal and Srila Sri Shankaragiri Swamigal. Pujya Swamiji became an active fighter for Hindu rights and leader of the Hindu community in addition to his many other numerous duties. He served as vice president of the All India Association of Maths and Ashrams under the president ship of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal the present Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Petam. From 1968 until his Samadhi on December 29, 1993, Swamiji offered every year a six month Intensive Residential International Yoga Teachers Training Course in his Pondicherry Ashram from October 2nd through March 31st. This annual course has been continued uninterrupted to this date. In this intensive 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. per daily schedule, students are instructed in classical Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. Hundreds of Asanas, Kriyas, Mudras, Pranayamas, Raja Yoga practices, Kundalini techniques and higher meditative activities as well as yoga theory are studied in great depth. The Yogamaharishi used to tell his students, “In six months I will give you enough material to occupy your Yoga Sadhana for not only one, but several lifetimes.” In addition to this busy teaching schedule, in which every single class was taught by the Yogamaharishi himself, he also edited from 1970, an international English monthly Yoga journal YOGA LIFE. He wrote twenty-five books on the subjects of Yoga and made ten world tours and more than twenty All India tours. He was the Chief Guest for innumerable Yoga, Medical and Scientific Conferences, Seminars and meetings held all over India and was in great demand as a speaker because of his immense and charismatic vitality.

Known as the “Lion of Pondicherry” he was a great example of an ancient Yoga Rishi (Seer). Majestic in bearing and manner, with luxurious flowing beard and hair, and a magnificent, booming, powerful voice, Swamiji’s dynamic personality captured the hearts of people wherever he went.


Pujya Swamiji was Patron and President of hundreds of Yoga and Scientific Organisations World Wide. Notably he was Patron of the Indian Academy of Yoga with headquarters at the famous Banaras Hindu University. This is an organisation of eminent Yogis, professional men, scientists and doctors interested in Yoga. He was President of Vishwa Yoga Samaj, a World Wide Organisation of Yogis, and Vice President of the All India Association of Madathiapathis. He was also the Governor-General for Yoga (1992-1995) in the World development Parliament (Vishwa Unnayan Samsad) with headquarters in West Bengal, India.


He trained tens of thousands of students in Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. His students have established more than 135 centres of Yoga in 33 countries around the world.


He received many honors in his lifetime. He was chosen by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, New Delhi, as a Governing Body Member of the prestigious Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy in March 1986and he held this post till his Mahasamadhi in 1993. He was awarded “YOGA SHIROMANI” by the then President of India Sri Zail Singh at the World Yoga Conference held at the Asian Village, New Delhi in December 1986. The Vishwa Unnayan Samsad at New Delhi honoured him in 1992 with the title ‘Father of Modern Yoga Science’. Pujya Swamiji had himself organised five World Conferences in Pondicherry, attended by hundreds of professional persons and Yogis from all over the world. He sponsored the First Ever International Yoga Asana Competition in Pondicherry in 1989. Since that time an International Yoga Competition has been held each year in various places in South America, India and Europe. He was one of the driving forces behind Yoga Sports. In this regard he is considered the Founding Father of the ‘Yoga Sport’ Movement. Due to his inspiration and support, the Government of Pondicherry instituted an annual International Yoga Festival from January 1993 in Pondicherry, which features lectures by eminent speakers, Yoga Asana Competitions, and Yogic cultural programmes etc. Due to his influence, the Government of Pondicherry has also instituted Yoga teaching in all Government schools from 1997.


Pujya Swamiji collaborated with many films makers in making educational films on Yoga, including the famous film MUDRA by Rajiv Mehrotra. He also was the guiding spirit behind the immensely popular television series YOGA FOR YOUTH, directed by Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani which has been broadcast for several years from 1989 over Doordarshan, India’s national television network.


Swamiji was a great scientist and researcher and presented more than thirty papers on his scientific research into Yoga at various Conferences throughout India. He collaborated with scientists from leading institutes throughout the country including AIIMS in New Delhi, NIMHANS in Bangalore, DIPAS (Indian Defense Institute) in New Delhi and JIPMER in Pondicherry.


Swamiji entered Mahasamadhi on the auspicious day of Arudra Darshan on Wednesday, December 29, 1993 at 2.20 a.m. He was placed into Samadhi by his son and successor, Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani with all honors due to a Madathiapathy of his status in Sri Kambaliswamy Madam at Thattanchavady, Pondicherry on December 30, 1993. His Samadhi has become a famous pilgrimage place for all those seeking the blessings of this great modern Yogamaharishi, who embodied so well the spirit of the ancient Hindu sages in a modern twentieth century body and mind.







Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri founded three institutions in Pondicherry, India to propagate the teachings of Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. His ten of thousands of students worldwide have established nearly 135 Centres of Rishi Culture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga in thirty-three countries. All these centres propagate the classical Ashtanga Yoga taught to the Yogamaharishi by his own Guru Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Brighu. Swami Kanakananda belonged to a Paramparya that traced their lineage back to the great Rishi Brighu. Swami Vivedishananda and Swami Purnanada Brighu were the Guru and Paramguru of Swami Kanakananda. This classical Yoga System, passed down through generations of Bengali Tantric Gurus, was given a modern and scientific shape and expression through the medical background and cosmopolitan experience of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri. In 1975 Srila Shri Shankaragiri Swamigal appointed Dr Swami Gitananda Giri as Madathiapathy of Sri Kambali Swamy Madam, which was then a dilapidated Samadhi site of around five acres in Thattanchavady at Pondicherry. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri undertook the renovation of the ancient Samadhi site with great enthusiasm and built what was acclaimed as the “Shanti Niketan of South India” and “An ideal Guru Kula” on the Madam lands. Thus Swamiji who was the representative of the North Indian Brighu lineage also became a representative of the Saiva Siddantha Yoga Tradition of South India. The lineage of Kambaliswamy is said to go back to the Rishi Agasthya himself. Gurus of the Kambaliswamy Madam tradition include Srila Sri Kambaliswamigal, Srila Sri Ambalavana Swamigal, Srila Sri Manikka Swamigal, Srila Sri Shanmuga Swamigal, Srila Sri Velu Swamigal, Srila Sri Subramaniya Swamigal and Srila Sri Shankaragiri Swamigal.


Dr. Swami Gitananda was often called “The Father of Modern Scientific Yoga”. He was also acclaimed as one of the five leading exponents of Ashtanga Yoga in the twentieth century and one of the pioneers in making Yoga understandable to the Western mind.


His total command over the English language and his wide worldly experience gave him a unique and cosmopolitan approach. This made the ancient wisdom accessible to those conditioned by the twentieth century, materialistic life style. Pujya Swamiji propagated this body of Yogic knowledge, which he termed RISHICULTURE ASHTANGA YOGA, through his writings, books, through his worldwide teaching and lecture tours and through seminars, workshops, and conferences as well as through the monthly magazine YOGA LIFE. The main vehicle for imparting this RISHICULTURE ASHTANGA YOGA, however, was the intensive six month residential Yoga Teachers Training Course that he offered every year from October 2nd through March 31st in Pondicherry, starting from 1968. This International Yoga Teachers Training Course has been held for six months each year since that time without break. In a rigorous, yet exciting and enjoyable schedule starting at 5 am each morning and going on till 9 pm. each night, the student is totally immersed in Yoga Sadhana under the watchful eye of the Guru. Pujya Swamiji also designed his Ashrams as a Guru Kula, the traditional setting in which ancient spiritual wisdom was always imparted. “The environment is half of the teaching”, the Yogamaharishi often remarked. Hence, in the Guru Kula, the student imbibes automatically, as does a child in the womb of his mother, the basic Yogic thoughts and habits necessary to live a spiritual life.


In this well-structured, disciplined six-month course, the Yogamaharishi taught enough to last the students for “several lifetimes of evolution”. He taught 384 Asanas, Kriyas, Mudras and Bandhas. He put much emphasis on the Shat Karmas, the traditional cleansers of the Hatha Yoga system, as well as several nerve and sub-conscious mind cleansers peculiar to the Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga tradition. Students are taught how to fast, how to cleanse themselves inside and out. Swamiji claimed that the Rishiculture system included 120 classical Pranayamas, of which scores are taught in the in residence training. Higher mind development practices as expounded in Raja Yoga, including Chakra awareness using Mantra, Yantra, Mandalas, Bijas and Pranayamas are also taught. Emphasis is placed on studying and understanding the Yogic scriptures, especially the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Yoga Upanishads, Yoga Vashistha and others. Much emphasis is given to Yoga theory and the Yoga view of the Universe. The students also are given a chance to develop artistic talents through the medium of the South Indian sacred arts including the temple dance, the Bharat Natyam and classical Carnatic vocal music. Bhajana sessions help cleanse and lighten emotions. Basic Pujas, rites and rituals, are also taught to give form and stability to daily life. The students are also initiated into the daily life of the Hindu culture, so they may understand the roots from which the great Yoga science has sprung. The Yogamaharishi also cautioned his students, “There can be no spiritual development without Yama and Niyama, the moral and ethical disciplines of Ashtanga Yoga”. Much time is spent in each course discussing vital moral and ethic questions. Students are also counseled in these matters if the Guru feels they are straying from the path.


Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri attained Samadhi on December 29, 1993, but the Six Month International Yoga Teachers Training Course continues to be held each year from October 2nd through March 25, under the direction of his chief disciple and Ashram Acharya, Kalaimamani Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani and Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, his son and successor who is a medical doctor.


Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga is also imparted through more than twenty-five books available through the Ashram, including titles on Raja Yoga, Yoga and Sport, Siddhis and Riddhis, Mudras, Yoga Samyama and others. The most important written work and perhaps, the magnum opus of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri is his 52 lesson Correspondence Course in Yoga entitled YOGA: STEP BY STEP. This remarkable 500-page volume is a complete introduction to Rishiculture Yoga step-by-step, with hundreds of drawings, photos and illustrations, divided systematically into lessons for easy practice and absorption. Thousands have undertaken this Correspondence Course and have proclaimed that it has brought “life transforming changes”.


Those who wish to enroll in the Six Month International Yoga Teachers Training Course in Pondicherry must first qualify by undertaking the Correspondence Course YOGA: STEP BY STEP as a preparation for the in-residence training.


The Yogamaharishi founded three institutions in Pondicherry. He was Madathiapathy of the SRI KAMBLISWAMY MADAM, Thattanchavady, Pondicherry-9. He was interred in his Samadhi on the Madam premises and his shrine has become a world pilgrimage site. Religious rites and rituals of the Ashram and various religious festivals, Bhajanas and Carnatic Music sessions are held at this holy Samadhi site that is more than 130 years old. The second Institution founded by Pujya Swamiji in Pondicherry in the INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR YOGA EDUCATION AND RESEARCH (ICYER), built on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, six kilometers north of the city of Pondicherry. This modern centre has hostel facilities for 25 persons and is well designed to accommodate the teachings of the Six Month In-Resident International Yoga Teachers Training Course. The third institution founded by the Yogamaharishi is YOGANJALI NATYALAYAM, the Ananda Ashram City Centre, located in downtown Pondicherry. This Centre caters to the needs of the local population of Pondicherry and has more than 300 students on the rolls at present. Classes in Bharat Natyam, Carnatic music and Yoga are imparted here to hundreds. A professional standard Bharat Natyam troupe has also developed from this centre, which performs in prestigious programmes and cultural festivals all over India.


Those who are interested in joining courses or obtaining the publications of these institutions may write for further information to:


The Registrar,

International Centre for Yoga Education and Research

(ICYER) 16-A, Mettu St, Chinnamudaliarchavady,

Via Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu – 605 104. India.

Tel: 91-413-2622902, 2241561 Cell: 98423 11433

E mail: yognat2001@yahoo.com,abb@doctor.com

Website: www.icyer.com


Wednesday, April, 21st, 2004

Classical Albums


Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani was born to the world famous Yoga team of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj and Puduvai Kalaimamani, Yogamani, Yogacharini, Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani on April 16, 1972, at Pondicherry, South India. He was reared in the 'Gurukula' atmosphere of Ananda Ashram, first at Lawspet and then at Sri Kambliswamy Madam in Thattanchavady, Pondicherry where the Yoga Vidya (Knowledge of the Art and Science of Yoga) was imbibed as a 24 hour a day Sadhana and not just a few classes now and then. Nominated as his Guru Father's successor on his fourth birthday itself as Madathipathi of Sri Kambliswamy Madam, Ananda took great interest in the Hindu Rites and Rituals, Mantra, Yoga and the Carnatic Fine Arts from a young and tender age. He has been trained in Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga from that tender age. He has assisted his parents in the Yoga training imparted at Ananda Ashram, Sri Kambaliswamy Madam and ICYER from that time onwards.

A student of Adyar K Lakshman o Chennai, he was a performer of Bharata Natyam and has performed all over India and notably at the ABHAI National Dance Festival in 1992.  Following his father's Maha Samadhi on Dec. 29-1993 he has stopped his dance performances and instead, focused his attention on Dance Choreography, especially in the rhythmic aspect for Yoganjali Natyalayam. He has helped to choreograph five Major Dance Dramas and more than ten Mini Dance Dramas for Yoganjali Natyalayam in the last six years. He recently was Co-director of the Ramavatharam dance drama presented at the 38th Kamban Vizha in May 2003 as well as at the 35th Anniversary celebrations of Ananda Ashram in September 2003.

As a Carnatic Vocalist he has released two albums of which "The Yoga of Sound" has the unique blend of English lyrics with Carnatic Raga and Tala in an attempt, to bridge the gap between East and the West.  The second Album 'Tamil Inbam' is a collection of Tamil Compositions in Carnatic Music.  He is a regular performer at programmes in and around Pondy and has performed at the International Yoga Festival, Government Music Festival, Millennium Sunrise Festival, Thiagaraja Festival and Eswaran Koil Kumbabhishekam amongst many others in Pondicherry.  He is well known for his spontaneous imagination in the concerts and for his explanations on the Yogic aspects of Carnatic Music.  He has performed innumerable vocal and instrumental recitals all over India including in Bombay, Dehra Dun, Chennai, Cochin, Lonavla (Pune), Bangalore and Pondicherry. It is notable that he has performed three times in the Isai Vizha (Music Festival) conducted by the Govt of Pondicherry in 1998, 2000 and 2003.

As a Mridungist he has accompanied great artists like Padma Bhushan T.V. Shankaranarayanan, Kalaimamani Srirengam Ranganathan, Kalaimamani Kulikkarai S.P. Vishvalingam, Kumbakonam M.R. Gopinath etc. on the Mridungam and is a 'B' Grade Mridungist recognised by All India Radio.  He regularly plays for Yoganjali Natyalayam dance performances. He has played Mridungam for Sendhen Tamilisai, a Music Album by Kalimamani Pulavar I Pattabhiraman in 2002 as well as Bakti Mani Mala, a music album sung by Smt Jyothirmayi (2003).



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