Tamilnadu- Aliyar Yoga Center (2016)
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 http://www.vethathiri.edu.in/. 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.