Doing yoga for one day will increase your life by ten days’
Thursday June 28 2007 20:37 IST
More secrets to long life from Dr Asana Andiappan
Dr Asana Andiappan never wears footwear, a watch, or a ring. He does not eat solid or cooked food (he lives on fruit juice… “one day cucumber, one day orange”). Never goes to hospital (not even to visit a sick relative). Does not wear glasses. Practices yoga every single day without exception (even if he is on a train, he does it in the passage way or on the platform). And the 80-year-old yoga master got his BA Music degree just this year (a fact he is really proud of because he has been practicing hard for the exam every morning between 6 and 7). Andiappan is now onto his next mission in life — to make sure physical education masters are not allowed to teach yoga in schools. In fact, Andiappan, now the president of the Tamil Nadu State Yogasana Association, stood in the Vrksasana (tree pose) for an entire day, along with other teachers and students of yoga, to protest the new government order. He’s still fighting the case.
Andiappan credits everything to his exercise regime. “Doing yoga for one day will increase your life by ten days,” says Andiappan, who lives on the ground floor of his base yoga centre in Anna Nagar, Chennai. “I do three hours of yoga a day. I know I am going to live to the age of 110. No doubt about that.”
Andiappan learned yoga at the age of 20 and says that he toured with his master and “performed” at various cities. It was at a yoga conference in Mumbai that he was nicknamed ‘Asana’ Andiappan by the other yoga professisonals because of his ability to do 100 asanas in ten minutes, something he can still do, he says.
A few years later, Andiappan donned a black underwear, twisted into a complicated variant of the ek pada asana pose, got himself photographed, plastered posters of it all over Chennai and the “asana” Andiappan brand of yoga was born. At the age of 80 he remains the mascot for Asana Andiappan College of Yoga and Research Centre and has not relinquished that. Today, he has centres in Chennai, one in every district in Tamil Nadu, as well as centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, England and Germany. He’s roped in the whole family — while his son manages the Hong Kong centre, his wife has joined him on the posters to make women feel at home, and his son in-law helps him run the business in Chennai.
Andiappan says that most schools of yoga only teach the basic asanas and then move on to pranayama and meditation, skipping the more complicated postures. But Andiappan says that’s why he has decided to specialise in asanas which he feels is the most important aspect of yoga. “There are lakhs of asanas,” he insists. “Yet, most other than the basics are ignored.”
As for why he never goes to a hospital, he says it is to maintain his brand image. “I am a VIP. People recognise me. I have not had any illness in the last 50 years, not even a fever. If I go to a hospital, people will think I am lying about the benefits of yoga.”
Live long, live healthy
Asana Andiappan’s tips for longevity and well-being
Wake up before sunrise. Andiappan wakes up at 4 am.
As soon as you wake up, drink one litre of room temperature water and then make yourself vomit. “It washes your stomach clean.”
After that, have a bath. Only then must you embark on your asanas. “The bath lubricates the system.”
The older you grow the less you must eat. “You must rest your digestive system if you want to live longer.”
Eat only sattvik food. In other words, be a vegetarian. You can do yoga only four hours after food.
Do not eat after sun set. “I believe that if you do not eat at night, you will live longer.”
Pranayama or breathing exercises must be done at the beginning and end of a yoga session.
Don’t try and stop your vices (smoking, alcohol etc) before you start yoga. “Yoga will ease you out of your vices.”
Do your yoga everyday. The asanas you need to do everyday are — Pavana mukta asana (where you twist and turn every joint from the fingers to the neck and toes). “There are 45 positions, which you can do in 45 seconds.”
Surya namaskara: Sun salutation Viparita karani: An inverted pose, where you lie on your back, with your legs perpendicular to your torso. “This, in my opinion, is the most useful asana as I feel it is best for overall well-being.”
Sarvangasana: Literally means a pose for all the parts of the body.
Ardhasirasana: Half headstand
Breathing: Deep breathing (breathe in fast, breathe out slow), breathe in through left and out through right and then in through right and out through left.