Sunday, 1 September 2013

Yoga at Kaivalyadham, Lonavala

01 September 2013

Kaivalyadham is a pioneering institution in Yoga for its research, education and promotion. Swami Kuvalayananda gave Yoga a scientific backing first time in its history and took it to the masses instead of keeping it in the hands of few ascetics. Unlike other Hindu institutions of Yoga, it presents the secular nature of Yoga and mainly deals with its practice, application and philosophy while applying the necessary scientific rigour.

I had read in brief about Swami Kuvalayananda in an old Marathi book on physical exercises. When I decided to take help of Yoga for curing of some health problems, name of this person came to my mind. After searching and pondering about how to go about this Yoga business, I zeroed in on Kaivalyadham since that seemed to be the only best option available.

When I went there on 28th July, I was really pleased to find myself in a peaceful campus spread over an expanse of 100 acres. The weekly health schedule for which I had registered was having a strange mixture of folks who had crossed their fifty and young people in their twenties. I was an odd one in the late thirties. The people were from different walks of life. There were businessmen, high and mid level executives, housewives, students and also some foreigners. Some had registered for a separate cottage while a single person like me was on a budget accommodation without an attached bathroom and toilet. I have to mention however that the treatment and attention which was given to everybody was same. There was an efficient and responsive system in place with the people working there giving a personal touch to their work. Even the person who cleaned my room always greeted me with a smile and did his job well.

My intentions while going there were clear. I wanted to learn Yoga, get exposed to naturopathy (although I did not believe in it) and do some introspection without disturbance. My first two objectives were achieved while the third one was not. But I don’t think Kaivalyadham could do anything about it.

When I came to know that there is also an advanced class of Yoga that goes on, in the introductory session I asked whether I could move from basic to advanced class gradually during the week since I already knew some Yogasanas. I received a straight forward answer from Subodh Tiwari, the secretary of the institute, that Yoga is not acrobatics. When I started my basic classes under the expert guidance of Vibha Shah and Sandip Wankhede, I did realise that it was true. I was doing it as an exercise earlier and it was a completely new paradigm of body and mind awareness. I had to do a lot of unlearning in the first three days and the things became easier afterwards.

I have not yet been able to really figure out how this naturopathy works. I went through the treatments which were suggested to me just without questioning anything and having just trust that it would surely do no harm at least. However I thoroughly enjoyed steam bath and the massages. There are so many points in one’s body which can give you relaxation if a positive pressure is applied to them. We in India always have had this body of knowledge but still nowhere it has been brought to the forefront and still there are no systematic training institutes for the same. Something seriously needs to be done about it. I asked this question to the masseurs as well as doctor. All of them answered the same that it is still all about getting this knowledge here and there and it is all on the job.

Outcome of this entire week was stunning. In spite of not controlling my food intake (yes they served very healthy but very tasty food), I reduced 3 kg of weight in mere six days. I felt light and elated even after returning. While I climbed the stairs of the station to catch my daily commuter train, I did not get tired at all unlike before.

The challenge in front of me now is not just how to maintain this state of body and mind but how do I improve upon it in my regular life.