Exercising our body – 1

Our body is designed to perform a certain amount of labour or activity. What did Jesus say, to eat bread by the sweat of your brow; and what are you doing. With the rise of civilization the amount spent on laboring is becoming nil. Even if we labour it doesn’t give your body a complete workout as much as exercise does. Exercise is an artificial activity to complement ordinary human labor.

First of all no form of human activity can give the body a complete workout as exercise does. It makes the body flexible, develops stamina and strength and other benefits. In Yoga it is said that one should exercise all the muscles of the body ONCE DAILY. A healthy body should be exercised so that it is able to fulfill the needs required of it. So, exercise.

There are different forms exercise as designed by our Rishis to keep our body, energy and mind fit. 1. for general fitness (flexibility and stamina) 2.  for physical culture (strength/ body building) 3. for combat or defense (martial arts) 4. exercising the flow of energy/ prana in the body (Yoga asanas use the body to do it and kriya yoga uses mind to do it) 5. exercising the mind through meditation.

(1)  For general fitness

For general fitness one must make all the joints flexible. There are lots of exercises through which one can get flexibility. You can look for Baba Ramdev’s exercises in youtube. It is best to do a systematic workout. Isha Yoga teaches Upa Yoga, Anga Mardhana and Surya Namaskar for general fitness in a systematic way. Check out the link.

https://www.ishayoga.org/hata/teachertraining/upa-yoga/

Baba Ramdev’s doing dhand/ hindu push ups and bhaitaks/ squatting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd4ddKQLesA

(2) For physical culture

For developing physical culture there was khusti or pehalwani. Khusti includes two things: first, to build the body and gain strength. Second, to wrestle or fight with other pehalwans, this is called malla yudh. Here only the body is used and no weapons. Legend has it that Lord Hanuman after seeing so much fighting and bloodshed by the use of weapons made a rule that one must fight with only one’s body to test strength and to settle disputes instead of killing each others. Isn’t this good? Lord Hanuman is also known as Bajrang Bali which means one who’s body is strong as a diamond.

hanuman meditating
hanuman
krishna wrestling with Kamsa
krishna wrestling with Kamsa

In Bharat khusti is sacred like everything else with a strong moral and ethical sense unlike the american WWE. Gulaam Mohammed or Gama pehalwan was one of the sparkling icons of Bharat’s khusti tradition. This sport still thrives and needs much encouragement.

Gama Pehelwan with a mace
Gama Pehelwan with a mace

For those in Fort Cochin in ernakulam district in kerala T J George aka Minnal George is determined to promote his passion khust through his health club, Cochin Grapplers. This form of traditional exercise is way better than working out in the gym as it has survived for this long. As i said before WHAT IS TRUE LASTS and WHAT IS FALSE FADES.

boy exercising in a khusti akhara
boy exercising in a khusti akhara

Bharat also had a gymnastic tradition known as MALLAKHAMBA in which a pole is used to perform various feats. Mallakhamb is an ancient Indian sport which originated as a complimentary exercise for wrestling, but is now practiced as a sport in itself. The name is a combination of the words “malla” which means athlete or strong man, and “khamba”, which means pole. There are three types of mallakhamb: 1.  with a fixed pole; 2. with a hanging pole, 3. with a hanging rope or rope mallakhamb. Athletes perform a variety of yogic and gymnastic poses which practitioners say helps to develop a healthy and strong body , but also strengthens will power and helps with a composed mind. It is the state sport of madhya pradesh in india. See the genius of the RISHIS. In the picture below see the tall building behind the athletes which shows tradition continuing in modern times. What is true lasts and what is fake fades.

A boy performs a Mallakhamb pose on a pole as others watch.
A boy performs a Fixed Mallakhamb pose on a pole as others watch.
A student practices an advanced Hanging Mallakhamb
A student practices an advanced Hanging Mallakhamb
a girl practicing on a rope mallakhamb
a girl practicing on a rope mallakhamb

Uday Deshpande of Mumbai is considered to be the living legend of Mallakhamb. Here is his website:

http://www.deshpandeuday.com/

(3) martial arts

Now martial arts has been known in Bharat from Vedic times and is known as Dhanur Veda. Its aim is to turn the body into an eye. There are plenty of institutions teaching the martial arts which is called kalari payattu in Kerala. Here this art provides a means for self defense as well as exercises the body. The britishers were so afraid of its deadliness that they banned it in kerala during colonial rule.  And it would be no prejudice to say that all the other fighting systems had its origin in Kalari payattu as bharat was, is, and will ever be the light of the world. By this i do not mean to underestimate other cultures.

a kalari practitioner practicing the urumi
a kalari practitioner practicing the urumi or the flexible sword with multiple blades

Kalari fighting does not leave two men standing. Only one remains–the other is dead, or severely crippled. What i believe is that kalari still uses iron age metals for its weapons and has not progressed since. The urumi shown above is THE deadliest weapon ever made by human hands, before the gun was made, and is both dangerous to the user as well as to the enemies, and it can be worn as  a waist belt too.

Butt since i like refinement, i like the best of other cultures like the japanese sword called katana. This is steel age technology and is an advancement over iron. Do you remember Kill Bill what Hattori Hanso says about the last sword he makes to kill O-Ren. Here’s the dialogue:

Hattori Hanzo:  What do you want with Hattori Hanzo?

The Bride:  I need Japanese steel.

Hattori Hanzo: Why do you need Japanese steel?

The Bride:  I have vermin to kill.

Hattori Hanzo:  You must have big rats if you need Hattori Hanzo’s steel.

The Bride:  … Huge.

Later Hanso says: “I can tell you, with no ego, this is my finest sword. If, on your journey, should you encounter God, God will be cut.”

Also, have you seen the japanese movie Lone wolf and cub or shogun assasin in which Ogami Ittō kills his enemies with his katana and is considered the highest kill count by any one person in a film.

shogun assassin
shogun assassin or lone wolf and cub

This is how i appreciate the best in other cultures (violence not meant). I don’t believe in killing as it leaves the killer behind, and LOVE is BEST as it leaves behind no one. What do you think?

 uma thurman and lucy liu behind the scene in kill bill
uma thurman and lucy liu behind the scene in kill bill

4. exercising the flow of energy/ prana in the body

This is done by doing yoga asanas and kriya yoga. Yoga asana is not an exercise system and it works on several aspects on the body including the lumph system which western science is taking note now. It is mainly used to workout your energy system and is MEDITATION IN MOTION. Kriya yoga also works on your energy system and is a much refined way. For asanas and kriya yoga look below link:

http://www.ishayoga.org/

a kriya yogi
a kriya yogi
(5) exercising the mind through meditation.

Refer the above website.

Shiva Parvati statue at Kailasagiri
Adi Yogi Shiva and Parvati statue at Kailasagiri
a yogi giving his blessings
a yogi giving his blessings

(6) WOMEN AND EXERCISE

Women should also exercise but should not over do it. Too much exercise will ruin the natural shape of their body. Traditionally women were sent to learn classical dances especially bharanatyam which was designed by our Rishis for development of women. What kalari is for men, bharatanatyam is for women. It enhances the grace of the female form without ruining it. It is way better than the BOOTY SHAKE that you see nowadays. This is clearly the work of our genius Rishis. Women should not exercise during periods.

Link on bharatanatyam:

http://www.dhdi.free.fr/recherches/horizonsinterculturels/articles/bharatanatyamyoga.htm

a girl in bharatanatyam dance pose
a girl in bharatanatyam dance pose

IMPORTANT: If you are interested in studying these forms of activities it is best to learn from a proper guru and not from any street vendors. No exercise should be done on full moon and new moon days except walking, bending forward and backward, twisting sidewards once.

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