There are as many as five million blind persons in India and their welfare should be the concern of all Indians. These unfortunate people, who suffer for no fault of theirs, should be given adequate opportunity as may help them to lead a decent life and earn their livelihood by several professions that they could pursue in spite of their natural handicap.
Yogasanas have proved value for all types of persons and blind are no exception to it. They may be young or very old, or ailing. All such persons have derived benefits from regular practice of Yogasanas which are means for physical as well as mental development of its practitioners, usually called Sadhakas. One of the greatest advantages about Yogasanas is they require no external equipment. For doing Yoga asanas the only requirement is the space required for all to freely move his limbs and a bit of initial training from the adept in Yogasanas. Such an advantage may not be available with any other kind of sports or games that require elaborate arrangement usually not within the means of average Indian, not to speak of an average blind person. The other physical exercise system of danda-baithak is the only available alternative for the blind, but then the superiority of yoga asanas of this kind of exercise is a proved fact should need no dialogue here. Only this much may be mentioned that danda-baithak is only physical. An exercise that could improve muscular structure of the human being, physical, mental as well as spiritual and thus the most suitable form of self culture that could be safely recommended for the blind would be Yogasana and Yogasana only.
Now comes the training part which is most important and delicate matter about Yogasanas and this side must be handled by the most well qualified teachers of Yoga who should not only be the adept in doing several Asanas or postures correctly, but he should be the perfect practitioner of all the eight stages of Yoga. For teaching Yogasanas to the blind pupils, the teacher should have an added ability to impart training without visual assistance. Such teachers may not be available readily and efforts should be made to train up Yogic Instructors. This is the task that must be undertaken at the national level.
Books are a necessary part for all kinds of teaching and training programmes, hence efforts should be made to bring out books and charts on Yoga and Yogasanas in brail so that the blind may use them with benefit. By practicing Yogasana the blind may be expected to achieve greater benefits, in as much as their very handicap of absence of visions gives them a boon also as their energy does not get frittered away and they are known to have greater ability for concentration. Whenever a blind is properly trained in any fine art which requires no use of vision, as music, he excels his non-handicapped counterpart for the simple reason he is better able to concentrate on his art. Therefore, a blind student of Yoga might turn his handicap into a boon and might excel other students of Yoga who have no physical handicaps. Normal persons with vision can see and find for themselves any shortcomings and improve; this facility is wanting in case of the blind. This deficiency can made good by practicing yogic postures (Asanas) which are the surest and safest means of correction of body as well as mind. This added to the natural calmness and better ability for concentration of the blind may work out some of the most desirable faculties and might provide an edge over the normal persons.
Thus it might have several potentialities that remain to be uncovered yet. Experimentations in this field might bear most desirable results and it should be undertaken by the pioneering institutions in India that are specialising on the humanitarian cause of the Blind Welfare.
Hari Om Yoga Kendra of Indore has undertaken the task of Yogic Training of the blind at M. P. Welfare Association for the Blind's School, Indore recently with the spirit of such an experimentation and such of the results as are seen in due course of time shall be reported and reviewed from time to time and may go some way towards this unexplored field teeming with several desirable results.