These yoga gurus were top engineers, too

These yoga gurus were top engineers, too

The build-up: Massive plans across the City to observe International Yoga Day tomorrow

These yoga gurus were top engineers, too

One might wonder what yoga has to do with science. But in an interesting coincidence, three of the acclaimed yoga experts Karnataka has given the world are basically engineers.

Dr H R Nagendra, a former engineer at NASA, is the president of the City-headquartered Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-Vyasa); Dr S N Omkar, an aerospace engineer with the Indian Institute of Science, coached the Indian cricket team and the late Ajith Kumar, who had degrees in mechanical as well as electrical engineering, created a big bunch of yoga trainers.

S N Omkar
Dr S N Omkar was drawn towards yoga as a high school student on reading about it in a Kannada weekly. Ask him about what inspired him to choose yoga as his other “profession”, Omkar is quick to correct it and say “passion”. He has been teaching yoga for over 35 years. He has to his credit of being chosen as a yoga coach for the Indian cricket team.

“I began reading about it in the weekly and practised it initially. Then I went to learn the B K S Iyengar yoga. From then on, I have pursued it with great passion,” he said.
Speaking about the initiative to observe International Yoga Day, he said it was indeed a matter of pride for a country that is the motherland of yoga. “Yoga is not something new to Karnataka. Even the kings of Mysore had a Yogashala started inside the palace premises. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is with whom it began to pick up and then B K S Iyengar took the lead.”

Even as he was happy that the world had agreed upon to observe Yoga Day on June 21, he had a word of caution. “It is important to understand that getting into the stream systematically is important. One must bear in mind the health conditions and not get carried away by group dynamism,” he said.

Underlining the need to have more scientic evidence documented about the positive effects of yoga, he said, “India might be ranked second when it comes to yoga. One must note that the difference between the first and second ranking is vast. From 2000 till date, the USA has produced more papers on yoga than India.

“A day should not come when we refer back to their work. We must have our own instead. For the same, better funding and support of leading institutes ought to be there.”

Dr H R Nagendra
With qualifications having nothing to do with yoga, Dr Nagendra, who holds a PhD (Mechanical Engineering), has to his credit 30 research papers in engineering and 60 papers on yoga. He has co-authored 35 books on yoga.

He began his career as faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the IISc.
He then went to Canada as post-doctoral research fellow in the University of British Columbia, and moved to NASA Marshall Space Flight Centre, USA, as post-doctoral research associate.

Passionate about yoga that he was, he joined Vivekananda Kendra working there full time. He then served as the All India secretary, Yoga Shiksha Vibhag, Vivekanand Kendra, Kanyakumari, and between 1979-1986 as secretary, Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Therapy & Research Committee, and as the All India vice president of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan are among some VVIPs who have learnt yoga from him.

Ajith Kumar
The often suggested Kannada book on yoga for learners is undoubdtedly “Yoga Pravesha” by the late Ajith Kumar (1934-1990). He was a gold medallist in both electrical and mechanical engineering branches from the University Vishveshwaraiah College of Engineering, Bengaluru.

The legendary yoga guru B K S Iyengar and another iconic yoga teacher Pattabhi Jois were his mentors.

Ajith Kumar was an authority on yoga and many who were trained by him are now well-known yoga teachers. Ajith Kumar was the founder of Hindu Seva Prathishthana. He was the Karnataka Pranth Pracharak of the RSS when a road accident cut short his life when he was just 56.

Ajith Kumar, who was jailed during the Emergency in 1970s, had taught yoga to many political bigwigs who were lodged along with him at the Bangalore Central Prison. Former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde was one among them. While paying his last respects to Ajith Kumar, Hegde had recollected his yoga guru’s expertise in the field.

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