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Yoga at NASA – A experience of a lifetime!

300 yoga enthusiasts Yoga at NASA. Photo credit; Vijay Pallod

300 yoga enthusiasts Yoga at NASA. Photo credit; Vijay Pallod

by Manu Shah
The Orbiter’s replica at NASA, Houston’s premises inspired awe with its outer engineering but the sight of 300 yoga practitioners who had gathered there on June 26th to work on their inner engineering for calmness, clarity and health was no less a striking scene.
A rapidly growing movement, Yoga is a holistic exercise that appeals to different people for different reasons regardless of ethnicity, religion or color. This was clearly evident from the broad mix of people that turned up at the event organized by the Indian Consulate in Houston. For instance, Victoria Garcia was drawn to yoga after she lost her son in a tragic road accident but observed that as a staunch Christian “yoga did not clash with her faith and in fact enhanced it.” While many like Indrani Parthasarthy came for the flexibility that yoga offered or Dustin who “found it the best way to start the day and clear the mind”, some like Jorge Bonilla noticed that yoga made him “less grumpy.” His wife confirmed this statement!
The yoga session at NASA was a sequel to the 2nd International Day of Yoga celebrations in downtown’s Discovery Green. NASA’s choice of venue in the words of Consul General Anupam Ray was the best place “to link the ancient science of India to the present day cutting edge technology which brings the modern and the ancient together in a very interesting way.” Mallik Putcha, a retired NASA Contractor Systems Engineer and Project Management Specialist played a key role in securing the necessary permissions from NASA.
A practicing yogi himself, CG Ray also thanked the 15 plus organizations and volunteers who “worked so hard to make the event successful without expecting anything in return.” He later joined the gathering for the yoga workout.

Consul General Anupam Ray addressing the participants at NASA> Photo credit: DroneforceStudios.

Consul General Anupam Ray addressing the participants at NASA> Photo credit: DroneforceStudios.

Welcoming the gathering, Shekhar Agrawal observed that Yoga takes “care of our hardware – the body and our software – the mind and makes it virus free.” He began the session by inviting the attendees to put all their energies together by joining in a powerful Rig Veda mantra that emphasizes the unity of minds to create happiness and harmony for all.
Brother Mark, from the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center in Houston has been practicing yoga for 25 years and describes it as a “medicine to conquer stress.” He led the gathering in a brief meditation practice “to harness the power of the mind” and set it in a powerful consciousness so as to get the maximum benefit from the day’s yoga practice.
This stilling of thoughts was followed by several asanas such as tadaasana, vrikshasan, padahastasana, ardhachakrasana and suryanamaskar under the clear and crisp instructions of Director of SVYASA, USA’s Vishwarupa Nanjundappa. Emphasizing the importance of synchronizing the breathe with the body’s movements and fusing insights about the instant benefits of yoga, Vishwarupa concluded the 45 minute session with some pranayama practices.
The event ended with the recitation of a mantra from the Upanishad which sought blessings for happiness and peace and freedom from illness and suffering.
Interestingly, VYASA, Houston, a renowned Yoga Institute, has a collaboration with MD Anderson since 2003 conducting yoga classes every day for breast cancer patients. They are currently running the biggest study in the world with 600 patients where they offer each patient 18 sessions of yoga during chemotherapy and radiation. According to VYASA’s Director Nanjundappa, the study shows that regular practice of yoga can combat the side effects of cancer treatment and helped patients improve sleep patterns and quality of life. He cited the case of a patient who had been taking sleeping pills for 30 years and at the 11th session announced that she had for the first time in 30 years “slept like a baby” without the medication.
Volunteers of Sewa International, USA provided a respite from the hot sun by distributing bottles of cold water and bananas to an appreciative gathering.


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