Hi, recently I was in Hrishikesh, it is located on the Ganges in the Himalayan foot-hills and is famous for its many centres of Yoga. At Hrishikesh I spent a few days with Balyogi Premvarni. A balyogi is a person who becomes an adept in yoga as a boy. Balyogi Premvarni is truly an amazing person; he has a beautiful hermitage on the banks of the River Ganges, tucked away on a mountain slope, in deep forest. Here he lives alone; at times some people visit him for learning yogic practices, to enjoy his beautiful ashram or just out of curiosity. The yogi is 81 years old; he spends his days in retreat, carrying out yogic practices and rendering spiritual advice to those who visit him.
Each time I visit him it turns into an unforgettable experience. The few days that I spent in his company were unique in many ways, it is not that he taught me a great deal and it is not that I did not learn a lot. Each time I return from his ashram, I have more questions than answers. What is it that makes a person like him stay up in the mountains; all by himself, supported by whatever little is given to him as donation by his devotees. He has the talent and the knowledge to mint millions, what is it that keeps him so content in the little that he has. He has so much to give to the world, messages of health, happiness, contentment and very importantly the message of leading a life of frugality. In a sense the world gone wild with insatiable desire, if we have to leave something for posterity we need to instil frugality in all our dealings. He is quite content doing his spiritual practices in his hermitage, content in watching the world rush by. He has no desire to come down into the materialistic grime of worldly life. Unfortunately most of us are unable to spare the time, to stop and look and learn from people like him.
I spent a fair amount of time watching him at his daily routine. I often watched him while he was doing his yogasanas (yogic postures) and pranayamas (yogic breathing). The first thing that struck me was the way his body was structured. His physique was not muscular, in fact it was quite devoid of visible muscle, yet he was quite devoid of fat too. There was so much grace and economy in all his movements that there was need for anything more. Then what strikes one the most, is the high degree of comfort he enjoyed in whatever posture he adopted. Whether he was sitting in the lotus pose, standing on his shoulders or doing any of the more complicated contortions, he was in absolute comfort and the ease with which he moved into and out of the postures was amazing. His face shone, and his skin could well be the envy of many teenage girls. He performed difficult postures like the hand-stand and elbow stand with ease and grace. It is in fact quite difficult to describe all that he did. Yet in people like him we can find answers to a large number of our day to day problems. Aren’t a majority of our problems due to wrong posture and over indulgence? Are we not suffering because our bodies are not properly proportioned or we are unable to move ourselves the way we should?
Adopting an exercise system is a matter of taste. There are various systems which a person could follow and each one of them has its plus and minus points. It is for us to properly weigh each system for its benefits and take what suits us best. A suitable system would be one which gives us the maximum benefit without unduly taxing the environment or our pockets. Yoga and body weight exercises largely meet these criteria and one can practice them anywhere and anytime. They can be imaginatively designed and are great fun when done in company.