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Baba Ramdev’s Yoga: Insulting the art of living by doing more harm than good to health

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By Gaurav Sharma

Yoga is one of the profound sciences forming the vast corpus of six orthodox Indian philosophical schools. In recent years the practice has become much popular, particularly in the western world.

So trendy has the ancient science become–that a whole day, June 21st–has been dedicated to the ancient practice by the United Nations.

One of the proponents of Yoga, who has taken the world by storm is RamaKrishna Yadav, more popularly known as Baba Ramdev.

Belonging to a humble background in Mahendragarh, Haryana, Ramdev studied yoga, scriptures and Sanskrit in various gurukuls before adopting the renounced order and metamorphosizing into India’s leading yoga guru.

Soon he established a trust in 1995, before moving onto greener pastures, when Aastha TV, a religious-cum-spiritual channel, started airing Ramdev in its morning yoga slot.

Now when the Indian populace woke up from its slumber, it was seamlessly greeted by Baba’s prietzel postures and rapid huffs and puffs. Having been deprived of precious time, the middle class suddenly found a viable alternative to revitalizing their damaged health.

Gurus, as is the trend in India, come with an unquestionable tag of trust and faith. Virtually no time had passed than the masses started embracing Baba’s unique dance moves, without an iota of doubt as to the credibility of the teaching being bombarded on their minds.

Yoga, like any other science, comes with certain inlaid prescriptions. These have, however, been overlooked by majority of Baba’s practitioners, causing great harm to themselves and the world.

Hatha Yoga–the system of yoga practiced and propounded by Baba Ramdev–involves a progressive series of eight steps, meant for purification of the body and the mind.

Patanjali, the codifier of the Yoga-Sutras, also lays down certain guidelines for ascending the eight-fold ladder of enlightenment.

Before moving on to higher rungs of the ladder, one has to step on the lower ones. Ramdev, however, obviates such a basic yet crucial aspect of Yoga to his followers on television.

For example, it is a well known fact among Yogis, that before practicing Asanas or physical postures, the aspirant has to follow Yama and Niyama, certain ethical and self-disciplining practices.

Where Ramdev transgresses the boundaries of serious yoga practice is when he expounds Pranayama or breathing exercises, the fourth limb of Hatha-Yoga without emphasizing the preceding three vital tenets.

Moreover, the practice of Pranayama itself, is not just limited to senseless, mindless inhalation and exhalation. It is an all-encompassing discipline which involves several injunctions for its safe and efficacious practice.

BKS Iyengar, one of the foremost teachers of Yoga, in his book Light on Yoga mentions certain subtle rules to be followed while practicing Pranayama, regulations which has been totally neglected by Baba Ramdev.

For example, how many of Baba’s followers know that, “While performing Pranayama in sitting posture, the head should hang down from the nape of the neck, the chin should rest on the notch between the collarbones on top of the breast bone” ? (Rule 18, Light on Yoga)

There are many such important maxims, whose neglect on the surface, might seem innocuous, but in the long run can inflict irreparable damage.

Savira Gupta, an instructor at India’s Yogalife center mentions another significant attribute of Yoga practice overlooked by popular modern day Yoga gurus like Ramdev:

“Anatomy is key when you are teaching yoga because everybody has a different body and build. We have to be very careful how we could keep up from one posture to another without injuring them. Everything has to be done according to what your body can handle. With proper alignments and training one can avoid these injuries”, Gupta says.

Dr Ashok Rajgopal, while talking with the Daily Telegraph, also mentions countless cases of yoga followers encountering major bone and joint ailments due to unregulated practice.

“Yoga is wonderful provided it is done in a controlled environment, and people are trained and built up to doing such postures but putting the public at large through these extreme yoga postures can create problems for them”, warns Rajgopal.

Today, with more yoga studios being birthed than ever before, Yoga is selling like hot cakes. This mass popularization has inevitably led to the mushrooming of bogus gurus, who, in an attempt to gain a quick buck and climb the staircase of fame, adulterate the message of Yoga.

It is not that the art of Yoga suffers and assumes a bad name through such crass commercialism, it is just that the people might have to face the music of chronic health problems, when unawareness is exploited by charlatan gurus like Baba Ramdev.

  • Bijoy lakshmi das

    All Yoga practices must be done under strict supervision of an experienced Master otherwise it will give rise to serious ailments in various forms which will be incurable in the long run.Each one’s physique is unique and different from the other, therefore Pranayama and Yoga must be taught accordingly with utmost precautions.It is not a short-cut procedure like teaching in seven days and make the body rid of incurable diseases. Even a long practice of the hectic procedure of Pranayama in vogue to-day has much adverse effects as has been experienced by many now-a-days.

    • preeti

      Pls help i am doing yoga for 3-4 days in a yoga class recently join, from the first day i notice my heart rate is little bit faster then before and i am unable to sleep .i couldn’t get enough sleep as i sleep only 3-4 hours in 24 hours . I performed sun salute for my own at my home i feel active all the day but why sleepless ,i feel some internal change like anger and emotional helplessness .What should i do pls tell me if i continue my practice or stop it .Thanks

  • preeti verma

    I am doing yoga for 3-4 days under a yoga class from the very first day my heart rate becomes little bit faster then before and i am sleepless during night i am hardly taking 3-4 hours nap in 24 hours .I performed sun salute from my own at my home but i never face this problem pls tell me if i continue my practice or stop it .I am worried pls help anybody. Thanks

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  • Bijoy lakshmi das

    All Yoga practices must be done under strict supervision of an experienced Master otherwise it will give rise to serious ailments in various forms which will be incurable in the long run.Each one’s physique is unique and different from the other, therefore Pranayama and Yoga must be taught accordingly with utmost precautions.It is not a short-cut procedure like teaching in seven days and make the body rid of incurable diseases. Even a long practice of the hectic procedure of Pranayama in vogue to-day has much adverse effects as has been experienced by many now-a-days.

    • preeti

      Pls help i am doing yoga for 3-4 days in a yoga class recently join, from the first day i notice my heart rate is little bit faster then before and i am unable to sleep .i couldn’t get enough sleep as i sleep only 3-4 hours in 24 hours . I performed sun salute for my own at my home i feel active all the day but why sleepless ,i feel some internal change like anger and emotional helplessness .What should i do pls tell me if i continue my practice or stop it .Thanks

  • preeti verma

    I am doing yoga for 3-4 days under a yoga class from the very first day my heart rate becomes little bit faster then before and i am sleepless during night i am hardly taking 3-4 hours nap in 24 hours .I performed sun salute from my own at my home but i never face this problem pls tell me if i continue my practice or stop it .I am worried pls help anybody. Thanks

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)