Yoga is an ancient Indian science. One has to call it a science as it is not strictly a sport or a religious activity. It is a discipline with multiple facets and is known to have existed for at least 5000 years or even more. Mention of the various yogic asanas is in the Mahabharata and this vouchsafes the fact that Yoga has been in existence from that age. There are many tales in Hindu mythology that points to saints and men of god having done penance along with yoga and then reached the heights of Olympus. There are reports that these men called Yogis achieved extrasensory powers by harnessing the Yogic energy obtained through various asanas.

The tale of the swami with different hand temperatures

When I was in the USA an interesting tale was related to me. It concerned a swami who had come from India and entered one of the testing laboratories in Florida. The swami sat on a chair and meditated and at the same time held both his palms in front of him. Very soon the scientists observed that one of the palms of the Yogi had begun to get red and became hot while the other cooled down.Thus, the two hands of the swami had different temperatures. Scientists measured the temperature of the hands  and could see that there was a difference of over 75 degrees between the two hands. The scientists had no explanation for this phenomenon, but the swami announced that he had mastered this technique through the assiduous practice of Shirsasana or the headstand.

The headstand

The headstand is one of the classical poses among all asanas. It basically means standing on one's head, upside down. The head is placed on a cushion with the arms and the legs pointing upwards. It is the king pose in Yoga and once it is mastered the sky is the limit. It is a difficult pose, but when one has learned it , there is no problem. The headstand has to be done with at least an hour's meditation and when both are added they give excellent results.

Swami Shraddanand

I was keen to learn the headstand and joined the ashram of Swami Shraddanand at Bassein Road close to Bombay. The swami is now no more, but he has left behind committed followers who are backing in the knowledge divulged by the swami. The Swami in his discourses often dwelt on the benefits of the headstand. He said that if a man does the shirsasana for at least an hour every day for 10 years and practices it assiduously followed by two hours of mediation, he was likely to develop ESP. There were some ground rules and that included no intoxicants or consuming meats and a complete celibate life. The swami let all into a secret. As per him once a yogi goes in the advanced state and remains celibate, the Spermatozoa of the man will slowly trickle down the spine to the base of the head and lo and behold at a particular time, he will develop ESP. I can say that I have never experimented with this, but the swami claimed that he had achieved his powers through the shirsasana and meditation. However, I did learn the shirsasana and practice it every day.

Last Word

Yoga has many mysteries and aspects that sometimes are difficult to fathom. As I have written, it also has a spiritual aspect and that is really difficult. It cannot be mastered on its own and will need guidance through a teacher. One should remember that Yoga is also a step in tantra sex and this is well understood even in the west. It was given enlightenment by Acharya Rajneesh and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.

Yoga is now embraced by the world, at least its physical aspects. There is a world Yoga Day and it is celebrated on the 21st of June every year under the auspicious of the UNO. This year, thousands congregated at Madison Square in New York and by this one can gauge the popularity of this science. In the meantime the spiritual aspects of Yoga also need to be highlighted as it may help reform the American way of life so dominated by gun culture.

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