Yoga for the Army

Our late General Joshi had approached the Bihar School of Yoga for training the army personnel, especially in the Siachen glacier area and in the Bikaner desert area because of the extreme climactic variations. Two swamis went and conducted specific training programs in Leh, at the base camp in the Siachen area and in Bikaner. While the swamis were conducting those training programs, they underwent similar exertions as those the army personnel undergo, to experience for themselves what happens, how one can manage and how we can teach the military to cope with it.

The results were incredible, especially in the Siachen base camp. You are well aware of the difficulties that soldiers face in such harsh conditions, where their worst enemy is isolation due to the complete disconnection of communication; they suffered a lot from mental and emotional stress.

At that time, what helps their mental condition and state? They were taught a few practices of concentration. The first practice was of trataka, fixing the gaze on a point of light, like the tip of a candle. Normally we use trataka to improve concentration, to improve one-pointed awareness, yet in those conditions, it also helped stop the dissipation of their emotions and thoughts, reduced the level of fear, insecurity and the level of anxiety.

Another practice taught to them was ajapa japa. Ajapa japa is the practice of repeating a mantra with inhalation and exhalation. To give you an example of japa, repetition, we chanted the mantra Om three times before the start of this discussion. Now for many of you, it might have seemed like religious chanting. I can assure you, it is not a religious chanting; it has a scientific background.

1995, Delhi