Indian Paramilitary Goes Through the Ultimate Fitness Regime
Five thousand of India’s paramilitary forces go through a fitness regime straight out of ancient times.
What’s the best way to get fit and stay that way? Run, swim, climb a mountain? India’s paramilitary forces go through all these rigorous regimens as part of their training. But after a recent yoga program, many of them feel that a particular 30-minute yoga practice is on par, if not better, than all these. As one officer put it, “I could feel the same effect in my body which I had felt after running a 21-km marathon during my training. I was amazed at how this was possible simply on a yoga mat, without even moving from the place.”
The practice, known as Angamardana, is a powerful process of great antiquity, though ironically enough, it is hardly known in most modern-day yoga studios. Fortunately, a few places that offer classical hatha yoga have kept this system alive. Isha Hatha Yoga teachers are taught the process as part of their 21-week teacher training at the Isha Yoga Center, and they recently offered it to over 5000 personnel of India’s paramilitary forces.
When the Government Stepped In
After the first International Day of Yoga in 2015, India’s Union Home Ministry made it mandatory for the Central Paramilitary forces to include yoga as part of their daily training regimen. Under this initiative, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) invited Isha Foundation to conduct a series of Angamardana programs at thirty of their units and training centers across India. Thus far, the programs have been conducted at CRPF centers in Coimbatore and Chennai, and at CISF centers and groups in Mundali, Bhilai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Manali, Mangalore and Chennai. The programs are offered for free, and each program is carried out over five days, with sessions lasting two hours per day.
Yoga itself is not meant to be a fitness regime or physical exercise. It is a process of allowing the source of creation within each of us find its fullest expression. However, Angamardana is a system rooted in yoga, that offers the opportunity to invigorate the body and reach peak physical and mental health. “Angamardana” means, gaining complete mastery over the limbs, organs and other parts of the body. True to its name, this practice revitalizes the body on all levels including the muscles, blood circulation, skeletal structure, nervous system, and the basic energy system.
Designed by Sadhguru to be of universal appeal and application, the Isha Angamardana system needs no fitness equipment. It involves only the body and floor exercises that can be practiced anywhere, even during travel.
Regular practice of Angamardana strengthens the spine, skeletal and muscular system, builds physical strength, fitness and tenacity, and takes years off the body, bringing a sense of lightness and freedom.
Sessions Going Strong
Hatha Yoga teacher Srikanth Reddy says his “program participants were very sharp in imbibing what was being offered. This made the teaching a very enjoyable experience. Being forces personnel, they are strong people, and their daily routine involves hard drills. Angamardana was an ideal choice of program, adding to their flexibility and complementing their strength. As the days progressed, the practices they learned became more advanced and challenging, which they enjoyed.”
For Hatha Yoga teacher Deepa Gopinatha, the experience of conducting the programs “has been enriching. I got to see some aspects of the life of a soldier – their training and schedules. There was a distinct difference in the way they were on the first day and the following days. Some of them came to us to ask for the “Yoga Padhi” music as they found it to be very relaxing and soothing. Many of them have also shared that they could see a significant improvement in their back pain by the end of the program.”
Asst. Commandant Jai Prakash at CISF, Mangalore shares, "The practice of Angamardana was taught to us in a very good manner. The teachers taught us all the postures very clearly. We also got good practice and are now able to do the same on our own. The instructors were cooperative, communicative and expert in teaching, it was highly beneficial to participate in this program."
Participant SI Devendran felt that the practice was a simple way of attaining high levels of physical fitness without any equipment or a large space. He noticed an increased flexibility in his body, a calmer mind and a stress-free day.
Inspector Mukesh Kumar of CISF CPCL, Manali says, “I think the most vital aspect of this program is that it optimizes all aspects of health. I feel that Angamardana not only improved my flexibility but is also a support for my inner growth. Since the last few days, I feel much relieved from my back pain and I feel energetic, while carrying out daily duties. I feel this program combines relaxation with strength building.”
Conducting hatha yoga classes for the troops that keep the nation's frontiers and interiors secure is an incredible privilege for Isha, and another step towards fulfilling Sadhguru’s vision to make classical hatha yoga available to millions of people.
As Avanti Pethe, who taught Angamardana at CISF’s Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) unit, shares: “This opportunity to offer something to the forces is a humbling experience. Be it securing a vital installation, times of a natural calamity, election duty or an emergency, CISF is always there responding to the need of the hour and keeping the nation much above themselves.”
Editor’s Note: Isha Hatha Yoga programs are an extensive exploration of classical hatha yoga, which revive various dimensions of this ancient science that are largely absent in the world today. These programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore Upa-yoga, Angamardana, Surya Kriya, Surya Shakti, Yogasanas and Bhuta Shuddhi, among other potent yogic practices.