Star Mountain

My travels and other interests

Tamilnadu- Aliyar Yoga Center (2016)

Vethathiri Maharishi Ashram is in Aliyar, 40 miles south of Coimbatore. It is located under the foothills of Western Ghats. I went there with my friend Dr. P. Sundaram to attend a five day course in Relaxation Exercise, Kaya Kalpam and Simplified Kundalini Yoga. My interests in the latter two topics stem from the study of Siddha literature in Tamil (6th -17th century). I liked the Siddhas because they had universal outlook and promoted internal inquiry for spirituality. I also respect them because they were not after money or power and resorted to simple way of life. Kaya Kalpam is an exercise technique for rejuvenating life. It is the art of extension of life. Kundalini yoga is the meditation technique for awakening the energy of consciousness residing at Muladhara Chakra (base of spinal cord) and transporting it to Agna Chakra (spot between eye brows) and then to Sahasrara Chakra (crown of the head) in stages. The result is attainment of one’s full potential and heavenly bliss. As a student of science, I find all these hard to believe. However I can not dismiss them as hoax because Siddhas whom I regard as honorable people have acknowledged them to be true and consistently promoted them for well over ten centuries in India.The Siddhas have described Kaya Kalpam and Kundalini Yoga in poetic language but unfortunately in obscure language. I was looking for someone to explain them in plain and simple language that I can understand.

Vethathiri Maharishi (1911-2006) studied these texts for decades and understood their meaning. He came up with the condensed form of yoga exercises to suit the time availability of modern generations. He formulated a secular curriculum and taught them in this ashram. Many of my friends and relatives were benefited by these classes and his books. When I learnt the ashram offers courses at various levels, I enrolled for the five day introductory “foundation course”.

The course lays foundation for the welfare of body, rejuvenation of life and welfare of mind. The simple exercises to hands, legs, eyes and muscles are designed to protect the body from basic illnesses. Kaya Kalpam is a specialized form of breathing exercise done in synchronization with contraction and release of a particular body muscle. If properly done, it is supposed to rejuvenate life. Kundalini yoga is a meditation technique for realizing the full potential of one’s own mind, thereby experiencing supreme happiness. But it takes several years to achieve the effect. Maharishi and the ashram claim that it can be achieved within a reasonable amount of time by working with a master. They call it “Simplified Kundalini Yoga”. In case of excess energy release, a venting technique called Shanthi Penance is prescribed. All these are taught first by lectures and then by demonstrations. Practical training is given by a team of instructors in the morning and evening. There are also additional lectures and exercises offered to foster healthy mind.Topics range from neutralization of anger to eradication of worries.

I had very good time at Aliyar Ashram. The campus is beautiful. The Ashram mingles with nature. It is surrounded by trees, birds, monkeys and mountain squirrels. There is no such thing as air pollution or noise pollution because of restrictions on vehicular traffic. The courses were well organized with a team of instructors supervising yoga training. After my return to New Jersey, I had only a month to practice and so it is too early to conclude the effect one way or other. However I feel the simple exercises provide relaxation and the class room lectures clarify the technical terms used in Siddha literature. I intend to monitor the outcome on long term basis.

I think the greatest contribution of this ashram is its willingness to put Kaya Kalpam and Kundalini yoga in the public domain and encourage scientific inquiry on these subjects. I would be looking forward to their publications. For additional program details check the web site- The World Community Service Centre These exercises may cause discomfort to say the least, if not done properly. It is safer to learn them from experienced professionals. Moreover, Simplified Kundalini Yoga requires a master. There are many centers in India and USA. If interested, google it for a center near you.

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  1. The write up on Aliyar Ashram of Sri Vethaththiri Mahrishi and the 5-day course is very informative. I am proud to say here that I got initiated by Mahrishi himself in the early seventies in T. Nagar. Your enthusiasm to continue your literary and other interests and share them through these blogs is much appreciated.

  2. அன்பு நண்பர் ஆனந்த் – என்னுடைய துணைவியார் கஸ்தூரி ஆளியாறு ஆஸ்ரமத்தில் அதன் எளிமைக்காக குண்டலினி யோகாவில் பயிற்சி பெற்றார். கடந்த 20 ஆண்டுகளாக இங்கு ஓக்ரிட்ஜ், டென்னசியில் இலவசமாக யோகா கற்றுத் தருகிறார் என்பதில் பெருமையுறுகிறேன். நமக்கிடையில் நம்மை அறியாதே எத்தனையோ ஒத்த உணர்வுகள் இருக்கின்றன என்பது பெரும் மகிழ்வினைத் தருகிறது. குறிப்பாக பாரதி, ஜேகே …, இப்போது உங்கள் தளத்தில் பார்த்த போது, என்னைப்போலவே தாங்களும் ஒரு காந்தியவாதி என்பது நம்மை இன்னும் இணைக்கிறது.

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