Yogi Ashwini

In this series we have been discussing about asans for giving the desired shape to the body. I would like to warn the reader that yog is not about twisting and turning your body or breathing abnormally, it does not tie you to any particular religion, ritual, lifestyle or diet. Yog sets you free and this can definitely not be given by one who is himself tied in the bondages of maya and charges a fee/favours from you.

Hence any Yogic practice needs to be done under the Guidance of a Guru and there is no monetary or material exchange between the Guru and the Shishya. Asans when performed correctly activate the higher centers of the brain as a result of which a practitioner can change their physical form as per their desire. One attains complete control over the five senses and the physical body. Many such demonstrations have been given by practitioners at Dhyan Ashram and are documented and validated by the medical fraternity.

Note:  While performing asans ensure that you are wearing comfortable clothes made from natural materials; avoid deodorants, perfumes, aftershave...basically anything artificial. Keep your eyes closed and maintain internal awareness of the body part that is being worked upon. Maintain ujjai breathing and synchronise the movement with your breath.

Shoulder Push in Utthanasan: Stand with legs apart, toes pointed outward. Keeping the back and neck straight and buttocks squeezed in, bend the knees to go down by about ten inches. This is utthanasana. Bring your hands in front of your chest, palms open facing outwards in a pushing stance. Inhale in ujjai, expanding your stomach as much as you can, and then as you exhale push swiftly in one go, using not hands but the strength of the shoulder. It is imperative to keep your spine erect. Repeat seven times. This asana must not be practiced in case of uterus prolapse and after three months of pregnancy.

Torso Circles in Utthanasan: Maintain the utthanaasana. Raise your arms above the head, palms rolled into a fist. Moving clockwise carve a circle with your upper body – bend forward with a flat back, pivot to the right, from here to back and through left come back to centre. This makes one circle. Do this seven times clockwise, inhaling half circle, exhaling half circle. Repeat seven times anti-clockwise. Remember to keep the spine erect at all times.

Plank posture: Lie on your stomach, bring your elbows close to the chest, forearms resting on the ground and palms rolled into fist, to attain a push up posture. Inhaling, gently raise your body parallel to the ground, balancing it on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in straight line, elbows directly under your shoulders. The body looks like a plank. Gently, exhaling lower the body flat on the ground. This completes one round. This asan is to be done seven times dynamically. This asan strengthens the arm and leg muscles and gives a stretch to the stomach too.

The breath rate or heart rate should not should not go up while doing any yogic kriya. These asans are to be done dynamically, and the count can slowly be increased in multiples of seven up till 49 repeats of each asans, as the body grows in strength and stability.  It is advised that you visit your nearest Dhyan Foundation center to learn the correct way to practice asans.

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at www.dhyanfoundation.com.

The members of the club appeared a disgruntled lot as their President conducted their weekly meeting.A bespectacled man, normally very quiet, but today greatly agitated, rose from his traditional place near the door, his face pale and manner perturbed, “Mr President,” he said, and his voice quivered with concern, “There is not much importance given to our projects by the governor of our association!” The other members nodded vigorously, happy that one among their midst had expressed their deep anguish.  “We have planted two bougainvillea plants, given my old computer to a school, gifted a bedsheet to an orphanage, but the governor has not acknowledged or congratulated us in his communications!”

There was a murmur of disapproval, and the President beckoned for quiet, “I am well aware of the silence of our beloved governor,” said the President, “and let me assure you it has disturbed me greatly, “I think our problem is the photographs we sent him!”

The members clapped at their wise president’s observation. They had seen the pictures taken by one of the members and had quietly agreed they were not of the best quality.

“Yes,” said the member who had initially raised the point, “I agree! Our projects could compete any day with those of other clubs; why our president looked so cute planting those two saplings, much better than all those other club presidents donatingtoilets for railway stations and building classrooms for poor students! Bah anybody can do that!” The members clapped lustily.

“We need better pics!” shouted the immediate past president.

“I second that!” said the present president.

“From now on let us use only iPhones when pics are taken!” said another member.

“Samsung quality is equally good!” said the same bespectacled member, raising his phone to the ceiling.

“Order! Order!” shouted the President.

“I think I have a better suggestion!” screamed a lady member above the din.

“What is it madam?” asked the President, who preferred calling all ladies ‘madam’ so his wife wouldn’t get upset. “We would love to hear what you have to say madam!”

“I agree to the importance of good pictures that should be sent out and put up on social media!” said the lady member, “I have observed that the better the picture, the more appreciation a club receives! I propose we induct a cameraman as a member of our club! A photographer of such precise technic and expertise who’s pictures will immediately have us catapulted into the eyes of the higher ups!”

The roar of approval that swept the club, could even be heard in the parking lot and the drivers there smiled their bosses were in a good mood, “Bravo! Bravo!” cried all the club members as the club approved the motion and the members went home, determined to induct the best photographer in town, who would change their fortunes in the district, and maybe raise one of them to be a future governor..!

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Everybody’s complaining about potholes during the monsoons, but I really can’t figure out why. Potholes are good and we need to congratulate our government for allowing us to keep them for such long periods of time.

Follow me to a dinner party; what do you think everybody’s talking about? Why potholes of course. There was a time when people didn’t know what to say to each other once they were introduced, now it’s so different. Instead of staring at their glasses and getting drunk, they’ve actually got a common topic: “I just encountered two pot holes on the way here.” Says a pretty young thing to a millionaire.

“Two? I’ve left my car behind in one of them!”

“What car was it?”

“A Mercedes!”

“Are the front seats comfortable?”

“We’ll have to ask my driver, he’s still in the pothole!”

“Shall we go and pull him out? I‘ve never sat in a Merc!” says the pretty young thing and an instant friendship is formed!  

Now just imagine, what these two people would have had to say if potholes did not start them going?

Then there’s so much adventure in potholes. A friend of mine who spends most monsoons climbing the Himalayas was grinning the other day: “Bob, there’s adventure right here,” he said. “You get into a pothole and just like mountain climbing, your whole life is at stake! You’re not sure you’ll come out with broken limbs or malaria or cholera. No mountain could ever give me such an element of risk. From now on its the potholes for me!”

An American who got off the International Airport grinned at me, “You guys are into water sports in a big way huh?” he asked. “I need to warn our Olympic team about this!”

“About what?” I asked looking round slightly puzzled.

“This,” he said, “these mini swimming pools all over. With so much swimming you chaps should walk away, sorry swim away with the gold. Poor Phelps!”

“Potholes,” said a government medical college psychiatrist lecturing to his students, “helps make us a tough people. We should be grateful to a government who year after year have helped produce strong countrymen! After a ‘falling in a pothole’ episode, our people are able to handle overcrowded buses and trains, no pavements, unhygienic slums, overflowing garbage, flooded roads, riots, strikes and bomb blasts!”

“Sir, should we like a letter to the government thanking them for potholes?” asked a bright medical student, who was tipped off to win the gold medal in mental trauma.

“Go ahead,” beamed the psychiatrist lecturer, “but be sure to mention my name. I’m doing a paper for the international community to learn from our pothole therapy!”

Like I said, just can’t figure why everyone’s complaining about potholes. They’re good for us and we need to appreciate the government for allowing us to keep them even after the rains have gone..!

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Dr. S. Ganesan

Regional Director, IGNOU

Human learning is not always from structured methods. Many of our learning come from variety of unorganized ways too. The gateways of learning of human being are the five sense organs, namely ears, nose, eyes, tongue and skin touch. Mostly the eyes and ears play a major role in our learning process as compared to other sense organs. Learning from a reading material like book can be considered as one way of structured, formal learning process. Because, the contents of the books is logically, sequentially organised for the benefit of reader. In Open and Distance Learning (ODL) method of education process also, the printed study material (books) are developed to facilitate self-learning process of a distance learner. That is why the printed material of ODL systems are called as ‘Self -Learning Material’ (SLM) instead of normal terminology of ‘study material’ or book.

Four wall class room method of learning normally end at school education level and slowly the self-learning process takes-off at college /university level education. This transition is natural and sometime unnoticed also. Having provided the syllabus /outline/topics of a subject, the college student search the relevant matching books from libraries to learn the subjects. For some subject, the classroom teaching-learning process may complete full portion of the syllabus. Contents of a subject being huge, the normal classroom teaching at college level can able to cover only certain part of syllabus only. Here, the college student claims the ladder of Self-Learning (SL). The degree of self-learning depends on the individual. Some students prefer more of SL and others may expect classroom support. In higher education systems, the degree/quantum/level of self-learning increases at UG, PG, research degrees. In other words, the requirement of SL is high in PG courses as compared to UG courses. Thus, the SL process increases with our age also. The matured adult learner becomes autonomous (independent) learner in a phased manner.  That is, the dependency on teacher becomes to a lower order as SL grows to a higher level. This sea-saw balance effect is quite natural in education system. The skill of SL itself is a art & science. The SLM develops, facilitates skills of SL to become a successful distance learner in ODL system.

Getting admission in a ODL system/distance education university is easy; but, getting-out with qualifying degree/diploma is not that easy. The path of success in ODL system is determined by your SL skill. The basic self-motivation of a learner promotes the SL skills gradually. It updates automatically too. Normally, Distance Education universities provide 10% of credit hours for academic support services (like classroom tutorials); the rest 90% of academic learning is left to adult autonomous distance learner himself/herself. The learner has more Self -Learning skills, higher the level of independence. Thus, we can easily notice the positive relationship between SL and independence. The ODL platform provides the independency through SL process. This truth is being experienced by almost all the Distance Learners of ODL system.

As a self-evaluation process, if one tries to answer the following questions, it will give a measure (level) of SL skill of a person. Testing the level at the entry time in ODL system and also at exit time, will give the improvements in the skill upgradation in a person, if any. These questions are also sensitizing an adult to become successful Self Learner.

•               Do you have sufficient self-motivation to read / study the study material of IGNOU regularly? 

•               Do you appreciate and ready to practice the self-evaluation process in Study Material?

•               As an adult learner with high level of autonomy, will you be self-committed for your own study in IGNOU?

•               Your learning style / methodology will match with distance learning mode?

•               Are you capable of deciding your own study time, its frequency, duration of study etc.?

•               Are you able to take the ‘responsibility of a teacher’ so as to carry out your independent study by your own?

•               Do you have the capacity to plan and organize your studies on daily / regular basis, without the support of a teacher / facilitator?

•               Do you capable to understand the non-verbal items such as maps, graphs, charts etc. in your study material?

•               Do you think, you have enough ‘Reading Skills’ for self-learning process?

•               Do you have any idea of SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review) technique of reading?

•               Do you have the reading habit of 'Index', Contents, Glossary, introduction, Summary etc of a book?

•               Do you keep a pencil / pen while reading a study material, for note-making purposes and also maintain your active reading process?

•               Do you know the purposes of wide margins given in printed study material of IGNOU? 

•               Do you use audio, video, other media / material support items to compliment / supplement your independent learning in Open and Distance Education system?

•               Are you able to manage your studies using the self-explanatory, self-contained study material of IGNOU?

•               Will you be ready to supplement your readings by writing additional notes / remarks / observations on blank page(s) provided at the end of Unit / Block?

•               Do you have the curiosity to check ‘your responses’, with the ' possible / model answers’ given at the end Unit of IGNOU Study Material?   

•               Do you think, you are more independent and less dependent on a teacher for your study in distance education?

It is a well known fact that the learning process is facilitated by peaceful, calm and comfortable environment. It promotes the concentration on reading the material. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have such good environment for reading and studies. I hope, you all will agree with me. Thousands of Government Officers come to A & N Islands on transfer for few years tenure. It is possible, when they submit their joining letter (while reporting on duty), we can provide admission letter in any academic programme of IGNOU like ODL system. Similarly, latter at the end of their tenure completion of 2 or 3 years at A & N Islands to get reliving letter along with a certificate/diploma/degree from ODL system is possible. This possibility of returning main - land with one academic certificate can be explored by all Govt. units of A & N Islands. It will definitely convert the A & N Islands as a virtual classroom for Govt. servants on transfer.

Hence, it is obvious to conclude the existence of correlation between Self -Learning and independence in education. Let us all provide the Self -Learning skills to our younger generations, to develop more and more independence, for the growth and self -sustenance of our country.

(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (M-8900936718)

Yogi Ashwini

Last time we discussed three asanas for getting a beautiful, healthy and shapely figure. These asanas are a part Sanatan Kriya and focus primarily on sculpting the body in the desired shape or form. It is important to understand here that asanas are just one of the 8 limbs of Ashtang Yog. To reap benefits of Yoga, it must be practiced in totality under the guidance of a Guru. 

Asanas must not be confused with exercise. For while exercise increases metabolic rate, asanas make it optimum. Sage Patanjali described an asana as “SthirSukhamAsanam,” it means that posture that you can hold for any long period of time, peacefully, with it giving you pleasure, is an asana. Only when an asana is perfected do you feel bliss and stillness in that posture which is indicative of you having thoroughly gone over the yoni, which that asana is indicative of.

Note:  While performing asanas ensure that you are wearing comfortable clothes made from natural materials; avoid deodorants, perfumes, aftershave...basically anything artificial. Keep your eyes closed and maintain internal awareness of the body part that is being worked upon. Maintain ujjai breathing and synchronise the movement with your breath. 

Taadasana: Stand straight with spine erect, look up, inhale and stretch your arms above the head while balancing on your toes and then exhale bringing the heels and arms down. Repeat this asana 7 times dynamically.

Teeryak Taadasana: Stand straight with spine erect. Inhaling, raise your arms keep them close to the ears. Bend to your right from the waist and in the same breath bend to your left and then come back to the first position. Exhale and bring your hands down. Repeat this asana 7 times dynamically.

Hast Utthan and Pad Hasta asana: Stand straight, raise both your hands above the head, inhale and bend forward and touch your toes. Exhale, come up and bend backward as much as you can without causing any stress to the back. Bring your hands down to your side. This is one round. Repeat this seven times dynamically.

The breath rate or heart rate should not should not go up while doing any yogic kriya. For learning how to practice the above asanas properly with chakra awareness and to reap its benefits it is advised to visit a Dhyan Foundation center in your city.

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at www.dhyanfoundation.com.