By Ravindran Duraisamy
Ravindran Duraisamy is an accountant living in a small town. He does yoga every day, without fail, to stay fit and slow down the ageing process.
TEMERLOH (Bernama) -- I remember asking a yoga master what it took to stay healthy. He advised me to bend down and touch my feet 3,650 times.
I looked at him in consternation, knowing it was an impossible feat to achieve.
That was almost 30 years ago in 1988. The master, S. Singaram, was more than 70 years old then.
Singaram, a former technical assistant (TA) with the Drainage and Irrigation Department in Temerloh and Jerantut, advocated healthy living through regular exercises.
What he actually meant was to regularly do exercises like bending and touching the feet at least 10 times a day without fail. That would easily add up to 3,650 times a year.
Singaram said that bending the joints regularly would keep the body fit and help prevent cramps. The exercises also aid bowel movement, in turn preventing constipation. Bending also gives the backbone a good massage and the muscles of the entire body is stretched well according to physical trainers.
Though Singaram passed away a few years ago at almost the age of 90, the regular exercises and yoga movements had kept him in excellent health throughout his life.
He does the bending and yoga exercises in a slow but steady manner without placing too much exertion on his body. It helped him stay as fit as a fiddle even as he approached 90 years of age. There also seemed to be an additional benefit – he had such good eyesight that he was able to read the newspaper without the aid of spectacles even at that age.
MY YOGA EXPERIENCES
I learnt yoga from him and have been practising it without fail every morning. I do the simple suria namaskarams - a set of about 10 exercises that comprise arm and leg stretching exercises, body bending, headstand, shoulder stand and back rocks.
I must admit that yoga has kept me healthy, as at the age of 57 I can still work actively in my farm.
Although I will not recommend anyone to immediately do a headstand, other yoga moves are simple enough to start and anyone can do it. I always tell my friends to start doing the bending exercises first – touching the feet and back, at least 10 times a day so that they will have bent 3,650 times in a year. They will be able to feel the difference just by doing this exercise. The simple bending and stretching movements of yoga may seem slow, but it is working deeply to invigorate the muscles, nerves and blood capillaries.
However, my favourite is the headstand which I do for about 2 to 7 minutes, whenever I feel at ease. That is the time I pray and thank God for giving me another day of good health. A headstand is done with the forehead and the arms resting on the ground at the elbows but care must be taken or else one may easily fall backwards.
For those who want to try to do a headstand, it is best to start with regular exercises and be fit first. Never force yourself.
The shoulder stand is another good exercise. Nevertheless, for beginners, it is best to start slow but on a daily basis. The 10 bending postures must be adhered to strictly before attempting a shoulder stand.
A SPORTSMAN’S VIEW
The national kabaddi coach K. Palanisamy concurs that simple bending is the best way to keep healthy.
“My players do bending exercises at every training session. Simple bending can work miracles for the players as they will experience less body injuries and tissue tear while their speed and vigour increases.
“If simple bending can help keep a kabaddi athlete fit just imagine what it can do for the rest of us,” says Palanisamy, who is now training players under the Kabaddi Association of Malaysia (KAM) for the next Asian Games.
Meanwhile, long distance runner and chairman of the Amateur Athletics Association of Temerloh, Datuk Mohd Musa Noor Mohd, believes that regular bending exercises is a simple way to prevent backaches, leg cramps and foot numbness.
Musa says that many today do not do simple exercises like bending, even though it can benefit them greatly – especially for the older age groups.
The 58-year-old, who still actively engages in sports, believe that simple exercises will also reduce the need to go to the doctor’s.
The former coach has trained many sprinters and says that the secret to creating fast runners in the early days were simple exercises like stretching and bending.
Car mechanic Oh Ce Mai agrees on the benefits of simple but regular exercise.
“I am almost 65 and I find myself fit. I can do all the repair work for my customers as I exercise regularly, do lots of simple bending movements and some Tai Chi,” says Oh.
Nearly half the adult population in Malaysia is overweight or obese, according to recent studies by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia.
Athletics coach G. Sivalingam of the Pahang Sports Council agrees that is a serious cause for concern and urges everyone, regardless of age, to not delay in starting to exercise.
The avid sportsman who hails from a family of athletes has made a name for himself in many ASEAN games. His own sister, G. Shanti, who was the fastest woman on track during her heydays in the 1990s.
“I never see myself being 60, many say I am just 45,” said Siva about his age.
As an international boxing referee, Siva spends a lot of his time doing exercises as he coaches.
There are many benefits to exercising regularly, as advocated even by the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. At 93, he is the oldest prime minister in the world but seem to have the fitness level of a much younger man.
Dr Mahathir regularly cycles and goes horseback riding. He recently recommended government offices and the private sector to allocate 15 minutes for exercise at 11am and make it a culture to promote a healthy lifestyle among the staff.
He noted that these days, workers would go to the office and would not get up until evening.
“Muscles not used in the long run will become weak. Our bodies must be active. We must use all that is given to us. Stay active if you want to live a long life. If not, we will be weaker and not live a long life,” said Dr Mahathir, who is a medical doctor.
Edited by Sakina Mohamed
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