Till 2017 May, I was one of those who thought walking is good enough exercise and it keeps your body fit. Whenever I would have health related issues to get the problem aside I would quickly see a doctor, very much a normal practice, isn’t it? Many times I would buy medicines I can say “over- the -counter drugs” to cure small health issues. Thanks to my life style and policy of just walk is enough I became overweight. I would get tired quickly after walking for some time. Just by offering dandvat in temple I would start breathing heavily for some time. Still, I didn’t think I need any exercise I would think I am singing Kirtans that means I am doing some kind of breathing exercise. When you have a typical life style and work of sitting on a computer, you are bound to have stomach related issues such as indigestion and at times diseases such as piles.
My Mechanism to these issues was just ask a friend or parents any ayurveda medicine or quickly fix an appointment with my homeopathy doctor. This was going from years. One day I woke up early morning, was not well still continued my morning chanting. During Chanting all I was doing was thinking about how I can cure my health issues. Then I thought I am thinking of my illness while chanting and not hearing the mantra properly, this should be stopped, and this was going on every time I had health issues. I spoke with my friend Rathi ji , He said I go every morning for jogging you can join me. I joined him and I came to know I can hardly run. My subtle mind was focused on fitness and was searching for permanent solution and thanks to krsna another friend introduced me to a young yoga teacher.
If this had to be bollywood film story I would have written “Interval” after above written paragraph. Though that was a “Kahani me twist” moment for me. If I had been a film director I would have shown how then I started doing yoga, I would have taken shots of me doing different postures and then shots of sad face before yoga and a happy face after Yoga. But that’s not my aim, here I am a neophyte devotee trying to be self realized soul, who reads in Bhagwat Geeta about controlling mind and about detachment met a person who without being Krsna conscious was a detached and a controlled yogi. How difficult it is even for devotees to be safe from the onslaughts of lust, greed and anger and then you meet a person who doesn’t know bhagwat geeta talks of detachment.
By practicing yoga from many years the man of late 20’s my yoga teacher told me, “I love being alone, and I don’t feel like getting married”. I am observing him from past six months; he is a thorough gentleman, always helping others, not into smartphones and internet things. Not active on a social media. And this he tells this is an effect of practicing yoga. Being a krsna conscious man I did give him bhagwat gita and bead bag to chant. But I did also tell him “I have seen many bramhcharis who practice devotional service for years break their vows and get married. His ashram is not my issue but what amazed me is his “Avastha” -state of mind by practicing yoga.
Now when I started reading books about yoga I came to know, walking is not an exercise, running and brisk walk is. Pranayam is recommended for those who are in bramchari ashram. It not only controls mind but also helps in continuing bramhcharya. For neophytes who cannot control senses pranayam is recommended in scriptures. In the 4th canto of Bhagwatam Narad ji recommends pranayam to Dhruva.
Narad uvach: After sitting on your seat, practice the three kinds of breathing exercises, and thus gradually control the life air, the mind and the senses. Completely free yourself from all material contamination, and with great patience begin to meditate on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Now just have a look at what the Supreme personality of a Godhead Lord Kapil dev says in 3rd canto of Srimad Bhagvatam:
One must observe silence, acquire steadiness by practicing different yogic postures, control the breathing of the vital air, withdraw the senses from sense objects and thus concentrate the mind on the heart.
After controlling one’s mind and sitting postures, one should spread a seat in a secluded and sanctified place sit there in an easy posture, keeping the body erect, and practice breath control.
The yogī should clear the passage of vital air by breathing in the following manner: first he should inhale very deeply, then hold the breath in, and finally exhale. Or, reversing the process, the yogi can first exhale, then hold the breath outside, and finally inhale. This is done so that the mind may become steady and free from external disturbances.
The yogīs who practice such breathing exercises are very soon freed from all mental disturbances, just as gold, when put into fire and fanned with air, becomes free from all impurities.
By practicing the process of prāṇāyāma, one can eradicate the contamination of his physiological condition, and by concentrating the mind one can become free from all sinful activities.
By restraining the senses one can free himself from material association, and by meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead one can become free from the three modes of material attachment.
When the mind is perfectly purified by this practice of yoga, one should concentrate on the tip of the nose with half-closed eyes and see the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
…….. Such is an importance of breathing exercise that a non krsna conscious person becomes free from vices what if a Krsna conscious person does it?
Why should a devotee do it?
Devotee is eating food and buying products which are not 100% pure. Pesticides are heavily poured on vegetables to raise their production which means all are likely to fall ill or go hospital? Already there are increasing immune disorders in kaliyuga, thousands of death occurred recently due to proliferation of Swine flue. People are likely to have blood pressure, Sugar and heart related problems once they cross their prime thanks to Kaliyugi life style. Yoga is preventive therapy; it helps you in preventing diseases.
Daily practice of pranayam boosts immune system. All are allergic to something in kaliyuga, different types of pranayam help in battling allergies. When you live in a damp weather, you are bound to have bone diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and rheumatism. Especially those who travel often to western countries should practice asanas/postures which improve blood circulation and immune system.
What to talk of curing diseases and being fit, I was shocked to know how yoga helps in having beautiful voice. As a singer of Hare Krsna mantra I see the difference.