Sirsasana or Headstand: King of Yogasanas

In Headstand (Sirsasana), the body is inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms, while the crown of the head rests lightly on the floor. The practice of sirsasana increases the flow of blood to the brain; improve memory and other functions of the cerebrum and physiological benefits of the drainage of blood and lymph.It improves many ailments, such as nervousness, tension, fatigue, sleeplessness, dullness, fear.It stimulates the most important endocrine gland the pituitary gland that is responsible for our very existence, for it keeps the body mechanism in good working order. Pituitary gland is called the master gland of the body. As a consequence, the practice of the headstand helps us to get relief from many of our troubles, physical as well as mental, or to prevent them. It helps to put the spine into correct alignment. It restores the position of vital organs by reversing gravity.The quality of sleep is improved. Poor sleep is often due to an excess of nerve impulses from the reticular formation to the cerebral cortex in the brain. The headstand causes an increase in circulation to the neck, which stimulates the baroreceptors in the neck. This calms the reticular formation down, causing reduced nerve impulses to the cerebral cortex. This results in a peaceful, deep steep. Because of the many benefits of the headstand, the yogis often refer to it as the ‘king of the asanas’.

Sirsasana is contraindicated for persons having abnormal blood pressure (high or low), glaucoma, detached retina, brain disease, brain injury, neck injury, and back injury. Don’t do the headstand if you have high or low blood pressure. First get your blood pressure normal by natural means by appropriate food and nutrition, aerobic exercise and other asanas. Atherosclerosis (blocked blood vessels) or any history of stroke is also contraindication to doing the headstand. You must improve your circulatory system first, before attempting it.If you have any serious eye diseases, ask your eye specialist’s advice about doing the headstand. Avoid this exercise if you are suffering from constipation, when the stool is excessively dry, if you have pus in your ears, if you are suffering from chronic nasal catarrh, or from very weak eye capillaries. If you suffer from a neck injury or osteoarthritis in your neck, you must improve your neck condition first.

Sirsana or headstand may be practiced for fifteen seconds at first, adding fifteen seconds more per week up to optimum time of 15 minutes for daily practice. It should be preferably done in conjunction with other yogasanas. Sirsasana is one of the toughest asana to practice, so it is always preferred that one should practice it under the supervision or guidance of yoga guru or instructor.

Dr Mahesh Chandra Panda
Yoga Practitioner

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History of Sai Satya-vrata Puja

As described in Chapter XIII of Shri Sai Satcharita, “One Bhimaji Patil of Narayangaon, Taluka Junnar, Distt. Poona, suffered in the year 1909 from a severe and chronic chest disease, which ultimately developed into tuberculosis. He tried all sorts of pathies (remedies) but to no effect. Losing all hopes, he ultimately prayed to God, “Oh Lord Narayan, help me now!” It is a well-known fact that, when our circumstances are well, we do not remember God but when calamities and adversities overtake us, we are reminded of Him. So, Bhimaji now turned to God. It occurred to him that, he should consult Mr Nanasaheb Chandorkar, a great devotee of Baba, in this respect. So, he wrote to him a letter, giving all details of his malady and asking for his opinion. In reply, Mr Nanasaheb wrote to him that, there was only one remedy left; and that was to take recourse to Baba`s feet. Relying on Mr Nanasaheb`s advice, he made preparations for going to Shirdi.

He was brought to Shirdi and taken to the Masjid and placed before Baba. Mr Nanasaheb and Shama (Madhavrao Deshpande) were present there. Baba pointed out that, the disease was due to the previous evil Karma and was not disposed to interfere. But the patient cried out in despair that, he was helpless and, sought refuge in Him, as He was his last hope and prayed for mercy. Baba`s heart melted and He said, “Stay, cast off your anxiety, your sufferings have come to an end. However, oppressed and troubled one may be, as soon as he steps in the Masjid, he is on the pathway to happiness. The Fakir here is very kind and He will cure the disease and protect all with love and kindness”. The patient used to vomit blood every five minutes, but there was no vomiting in the presence of Baba. From the time, Baba uttered the words of mercy, the malady took a favourable turn. Baba asked him to stay in Bhimabai`s house, which was not a convenient and fit place but Baba`s order had to be obeyed. While he was staying there, Baba cured him by two dreams. In the first dream, he saw himself as a boy, suffering the severe pain of a flogging, which he received for not reciting his poetry lesson before his class-master. In the second dream, someone caused him intense pain by rolling a stone up and down over his chest. With the pain, thus suffered in dream, his cure was complete and he went home.

He then, often came to Shirdi, gratefully remembering what Baba did for him and prostrated before Him. Baba also did not expect anything from devotees but remembrance, unswerving faith and devotion. People in Maharashtra always celebrate Satya-Narayan Puja in their homes every fortnight or month but, it was this Bhimaji Patil, who started a new Sai Satya-vrata Puja, instead Satya-Narayan-vrata Puja, in his house, when he returned to his village”.

Shri Satchidananda Samartha Sadguru Sainath Maharaj ki Jaya

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Shirdi Sai Baba devotee

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Reciting Mantra as Yoga Practice

Mantra is a path to purification of the mind. One can realize the benefit from reciting mantras by practicing it as a daily yoga practice. These mantras came into existence as part of yogic practices. All the great gurus and yogis talk about mantras. One may not even know the meaning of the mantras, but if one has the intention of learning, he will benefit from the vibrations. The mantras are composed of Sanskrit words.

Mantras invoke positive vibrations within us. The yoga practitioner just needs to know that he has to repeat or recite something that will clean up the mind. So while practicing it, the yoga practitioner as spiritual seeker ought to have belief and faith that something good will happen. The practitioners repeat Sanskrit words to fill the mind with beneficial sound vibrations. Sanskrit syllables have a therapeutic quality, whether they are spoken aloud or said internally.Mantras bring about a state of resonance between the individual and depths of his inner being. The sound patterns of the mantra stimulate the mental & psychic nature of the yoga practitioner and the purpose & meaning of the mantra maintain spiritual health.

Om written universally as ॐ or Aum written as ओ३म् is the mantra said to be primordial mantra in Sanskrit. Reciting the mantra as a part of daily yoga practice provides the yoga practitioner an opportunity to connect with the spirit and stay on the path of spirituality for realizing divine light.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Yoga Practitioner

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Vairagya or Detachment is Complementary to Practice of Yoga and Spirituality for Spiritual Growth

Practice is crucial no doubt, but without detachment or vairagya, it does not bear the desired result in practice of Yoga and Spirituality. Without detachment or vairagya, knowledge of scriptures does not make a spiritual aspirant to grow in his spiritual quest. Without vairagya, one cannot properly follow any Yoga or Spiritual discipline.

A seeker in the path of Jnana Yoga needs to develop detachment from body and mind. A seeker in the path of Karma Yoga needs to develop detachment of the will from the fruits of action. A seeker in the path Of Bhakti needs to develop detachment to all worldly feelings that come in the way of his love for the Divine Beloved. And a Raja Yogi has to develop detachment to all distracting thoughts that make the mind restless. Whatever be the path of Yoga, detachment is complementary to practice in getting the desired result.

Practice without detachment is lame and detachment without practice is blind. What one needs, therefore, is a harmonious combination of both practice and detachment in yoga and spirituality for spiritual growth.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Strength or bala for Spiritual Life

One cannot achieve anything great in life without strength or bala.

Jagat-bala, worldly strength includes bahu-bala, physical power; artha-bala, money power; buddhi-bala, power of the intellect. Dharma-bala, the power of dharma is manifested by righteousness of dharma. Yoga-bala, the strength that comes from yoga is very powerful as it is based on purity, selflessness and compassion. Samyama-balam, the power of self-control by inextricably linked dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (ecstasy) controls the senses and the mind to become stronger. This power is strongest when it is tapo-bala, power of tapasya. Atma-bala is the strength of the Atman. When one thinks of oneself as the infinite Atman, one`s strength and power will be infinite. This is mukti, which makes one fearless and the person becomes the Self of everything.

One may read the scriptures and understand them, but it is almost impossible to digest them or make them practical without spiritual strength. We can acquire spiritual strength or Atma-bala by practising dharma,yoga and samyama.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Attitude to Create Opportunity in Each Circumstance

Attitude is the energy generated in our thought process when put in to action can create opportunity in each circumstance. Attitude is more a feeling than a thought, but it is affected by what we think. If we choose thoughts which create confidence to take up greater and wider sphere of activities, we feel empowered to execute the activities with much confidence. It determines how we react to the events in our lives and act in the times to come.

I and my wife after my retirement from the post of Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa on attaining the age of superannuation i.e. 60 years of age on February 29, 2008 preferred to stay in a joint family with our offspring than to stay as a nuclear family at our native place in our old age for better physical, mental and emotional support in a joint family set up. On the other hand I had to leave my comfort zone of leading life with friends, relatives and old colleagues in my native place, district and state where I was having a worthy social recognition as a professional doctor amongst the public. Consequent upon my extra-ordinary decision, I had to lead my post retirement life in a completely changed social setup having only company of own family members. After residing in Gurgaon Haryana (N.C.R. Delhi) for about one year, we relocated to Bangalore Karnataka where we are residing at present.

In the changed circumstances, intuitive thoughts came to my mind that the present global world is connected through internet via World Wide Web and it will be wise on my part as a senior citizen to give something back in innovative and creative way to the society of my native place, district and state; and my country India and World as a whole by complementing and supplementing my post retirement activities of Yoga and Spirituality with my scientific knowledge of medical profession. To work out my ambition, I had to acquire the knowledge and skill of information technology after my retirement at the age of 60 years.

I created my own blog Yoga and Spirituality in the website of WordPress.com on May 2, 2010. I have been publishing monthly average 2-3 articles on Yoga and Spirituality since May 2010 consistently for last 50 months up to June 2014. I registered my name as a user in social networking website Facebook on June 15, 2011. It is 3 years since then, I have been posting daily average 2-3 posts on health magazine, inspirational quotes, yoga and spirituality, photos related to functions, festivals, tours and travels in Facebook wall page and groups. Most of my old friends and colleagues with whom I had worked during my service, tech-savvy cousins and relatives have become readers of my blog Yoga and Spirituality and friends in Facebook. Readers of many countries throughout World are reading my articles posted in my blog Yoga and Spirituality as documents available for public view through Google and other search engines in Internet. Moreover I have been able to create a new circle of friends world-wide through social networking in Facebook. I have the pleasure to mention here that many of them both old and new are actively associated in posting likes and comments on my articles and sharing my photos and posts as readers, viewers,friends and comment authors.

Our attitude is everything. With proper attitude we can create opportunity in each circumstance to create something new.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Bangalore

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Spiritual Journey as Shirdi Sai devotee

Shirdi Sai in BTM Layout Bangalore

After my retirement from the post of Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa in February 2008, I along with my wife settled to stay with my son working in Gurgaon, Haryana (N.C.R.Delhi).It so happened that being devoid of rendering public service at the new place of settlement, I went back to my old place of work at Bargarh Orissa to serve the public in private capacity. I served as an honorary physician in Saikripa Hospital Bargarh for a very brief period from August 19, 2008 to September 11, 2008. However due to my ill health in old age I came back to Gurgaon to stay with family. The honorary service at Saikripa Hospital initiated the spiritual inspiration of Sai Baba in me by the time I came back to Gurgaon. On returning to Gurgaon, I got attracted to see the Sai Baba T.V.serial in Hindi telecast daily in evening. One night I dreamt Sai Baba was calling me to meet him in Sai Dham somewhere nearby located. On October 14, 2008 I searched & located the nearby Sai Dham at Sohna Road Gurgaon within one KM distance from our residence. I had a mental & spiritual desire to accept some one as my Guru to guide me in the twilight phase of life. When I attended the evening arati at Sai Dham in the assembly of devotees enjoying the Sai nam and bhajan, I took the Sankalpa that I will accept the discipleship of Sadguru Sai Baba. After the arati was over, I deposited my Guru Dakhina as donation to the corpus fund of the trust managing Sai Dham, bought one photo of Sai Baba for Guru puja at home, audio cassettes of Sai Baba bhajan for listening and books depicting Sai Baba`s leela for reading. Thus I was attracted towards spiritual philosophy of Sadguru Sai Baba in my mental, emotional and intellectual planes; and I became a Shirdi Sai devotee on October 14, 2008. During my stay at Gurgaon, I used to attend Sai Dham with family at casual intervals to attend arati and bhajan sandhya.

We had to relocate to Bangalore consequent upon acceptance of assignment of a higher job by my son in April 2009. I continued the practice of visiting Sai Dham with family at casual intervals in Bangalore; but almost after one year of initiation of devotion in Sai Spirituality on October 12, 2009 I reaffirmed my faith (shraddha ) and patience ( saburi ) in my spiritual guru and made it a part of my daily life to attend noon arati and have Darshan of Sai Baba at Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Anand Ashram, BTM Lay out Bangalore. I also decided to donate some amount of my monthly pension that I receive every month towards generosity and spirituality. I use to give Dakshina to Sai on Darshan, monthly donation towards Annadan for poor, needy persons and anathashrams and annual donation for management of ‘Sri Sai Free Medical Clinic’ and ‘Sri Sai Free Dental Clinic’ functioning in the campus of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Anand Ashram to Sri Sadguru Sainath Seva Samithi (Regd) BTM Layout Bangalore. I have made it a part of my spiritual life to read the book ‘Shri Sai Satcharita’, the Bhagwat pothi for Sai devotees. I also read ‘Shri Sai Teeka’ written in Oriya. I listen to Sai Nam & Sai Prarthana in Hindi and Sai Krupa bhajans in Oriya. I have the fascination for Sai Baba images used as wall paper of my desktop and often posting photos of Sai Baba in my blog. As a part of Self-Expression of my devotion in Sai Spirituality, I have been publishing articles on the wonderful life and teachings of Shri Sai Baba in my blog Yoga and Spirituality and contributing the same as an author to the blog of Sai Shraddha; and to Shri Sai Sumiran Times New Delhi internationally circulated printed monthly magazine both in Hindi and English medium on Shirdi Sai in its English Section.

I had the privilege of Sai Darshan in Shirdi Dist. Ahmednagar Maharashtra India on November 18, 2010. I had Darshan of Shirdi Sai in Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Flushing Queens New York City on August 18, 2013 during my visit to U.S.A. as a Visitor. During these years I had Darshan of Shirdi Sai Baba in Gurgaon Haryana (N.C.R. Delhi), Bangalore, Bhubaneswar and Bargarh during Orissa trip, Shirdi Dist. Ahmednagar Maharashtra in India and New York, USA. I have the spiritual connotation that Sai is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.

Shri Satchidananda Samartha Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jaya.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Shirdi Sai devotee
Bangalore

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