PRLog - Feb. 26, 2010 - When most people think of yoga, they think of people contorting their bodies in various poses. There is, however, another aspect of yoga that is generally ignored in the US, pranayama.
Swami Baba Ramdev
"Pranayama" is made of two words: Prana is a life force, the inner energy of a person, of which the breath is the external manifestation, and Yama means to control, to discipline. Being able to control one's breath is the key to good health and mental clarity. Sri Swami Sivananda, a turn of the century Indian guru, said of pranayama: "The Prana may be defined as the finest vital force in everything which becomes visible on the physical plane as motion and action and on the mental plane as thought. The word Pranayama, therefore, means the restraint of vital energies. It is the control of vital energy which tingles through the nerves of persons. It moves his muscles and causes him to sense the external world and think his internal thought."
For centuries, the focus of most yoga traditions had been on teaching asanas, or yoga postures. Pranayama was considered too advanced a technique to teach to the general public. This changed when Baba Ramdev Ji popularized a method of teaching pranayama that was both simple and effective. Since then millions have been able to experience the difference that pranayama makes in their lives. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, the world's largest volunteer-based NGO, has said: "Yoga can cure even fatal diseases and Swami Ramdev has definitely proved it time and again. Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it."
"Pranayam is a life force," says Shila Sanghani at the beginning of her yoga and pranayama classes at the Essence of Life in Shorewood. "Without prana one cannot survive, and being able to control one's breath is the key to good health."
In 1995, Swami Baba Ramdev founded the Divya Yog Mandir Trust, Haridwar to spread yoga and pranayama practices worldwide. As part of this mission, Patanjali Yogpeeth is holding its first Chicago Yoga and Pranayama Training Workshop. The workshop will cover yoga philosophy and anatomy, naturopathy, ayurveda, balanced living, asanas, with a focus on pranayama. It will be conducted by Mr. Shekhar Agrawal and Dr. Dilip Sarkar.
Mr. Shekhar Agrawal has been teaching Yoga and Pranayama for over a decade. He is the Trustee and President for Patanjali Yogpeeth USA. Dr. Dilip Sarkar was a Vascular Surgeon for 25 years, Chairman and Chief of Staff at Portsmouth General Hospital, when he suffered a heart attack and underwent by-pass surgery. This led to his study of Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga Therapy, and he is currently the Executive Director of the School of Integrative Medicine, Taksha University, in Virginia.
The Chicago Yoga & Pranayama Training Workshop will begin on Friday evening, March 26th, and last until Sunday evening, March 28th, at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha temple in Aurora, a southwest suburb of Chicago. Further information can be found on the website: http://pyptusa.org/
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Patanjali Yogpeeth (USA) Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the US arm of the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust, established in 1995 by P. P. Swami Baba Ramdev Ji to promote yoga and pranayama and spread its benefits as widely as possible. They hold free yoga classes, have TV programs on the Aastha channel dedicated to spreading the benefits of yoga, and have a center for Ayurveda and Yoga in Haridwar, India, which produces Ayurvedic foods and medicines for distribution throughout the world.