Life for Tripti Arun Katare was an endless nightmare of pain ever since she was operated for lumbar spondylosis two years ago. Residing in Bangalore, she had almost given up hope of leading even a relatively pain free life, when her sister from Satara called to tell her about “This yoga place in Pune which she had been to and which had helped similar patients.” Katare decided to come to the Kabir Baug Yoga Institute, Pune, for ten days with her daughter and try some alternative treatment. “This is my last day here. Earlier I would get severe pain in my right hand. After ten days of therapy here, I feel that it has reduced by 50 per cent, it’s remarkable” says Katare. She is not alone. Many others suffering from a host of problems have come here and achieved some remarkable results.
Even in the sweltering heat of the afternoon, the Kabir Baug Yoga Institute radiates a sense of serene calm. There are enough shady trees here to impart a welcome coolness, so different from the hot sun outside. The people who come here regularly do so either for therapeutic reasons, to reduce stress or simply because they wish to align the mind and body into a more natural, self healing state. At first glance all seems quiet. But there is a lot of subdued activity going on. From the morning batches which are just getting over, a kids camp, a boys hostel whose inmates is busy preparing for exams, resident patients and even patients awaiting an X–ray or a health check–up, Kabir Baug is a community in itself.
Here you will find patients who are now Yoga teachers themselves. Dressed in the lemon yellow and maroon uniform, they are volunteers who have offered to stay on and help other patients get better through the use of different Yoga techniques. Most of the exercises are based on Yoga techniques, others have been devised by the institute’s doctors. At an early morning batch of older people, one finds different exercises in every part of a hall like room. The equipment is different too. From wooden benches to various straps which are also based on some premises of physiotherapy, pieces are fashioned according to a patient’s needs and judged by the compulsory health check up that patients undergo at the institute.
Kabir Baug dates back to May 27, 1729 when the ruling Peshwa gifted the ashram land to Kabir Gosavi. Since then the place has been used for the spiritual and physical development of mankind. The institute also has a small school for nursery kids and a hostel for rural students. In 1988, Dr. Karandikar started Yoga therapy here. Anil Bhide, was a heart patient who was given a month to live by doctors. He started Yoga therapy under Dr. Karandikar’s guidance and went on to live for seven more years. Bhide who expired recently was instrumental in building the present institute and his wife Anagha Bhide is also one of the trustees.
Says Dr. S. V. Karandikar, who has studied Yoga under Yogacharya B K S Iyengar, “As we grow older, our body shrinks and the spaces between the body tissues and skeletal joints decrease. This results in physiological dysfunction which results in pathological changes. The regular practice of Yoga helps bring back to normal the physiological functioning of the different anatomical systems, which enables nature to re–arrange and repair the diseased parts of the body the natural way.” Dr. Karandikar also feels that imparting this knowledge to others is necessary for society. Which is why 150 teachers are being trained at various levels and the institute is also offering its first diploma course to prospective students. The diploma in Therapeutic and Restorative Yoga is a Post Graduate course aimed at BSc students. It will be based on the Gurukul system of instruction and will require students to stay inside the institute’s premises. Read more about the course in our career section.
“Teaching here, is based on modern methods of instruction. The use of computers and video equipment facilitates better understanding,” says Dr. Nivedita Pingale who teaches at the institute and has also recently set up her own clinic in Kothrud. Pingale also feels that a lot of small Yoga centres have mushroomed in the city recently. “But most of these are by untrained people who often do more harm than good. After all, Yoga exercises mean that you are working your body. If the methods are wrong, serious injury could result. Unfortunately, legal help and laws are sorely lacking,” says Pingale. Her time is divided between the separate batches the institute has for children, adults and senior citizens. There are separate classes for people and children suffering from various disorders and diseases like cerebral palsy, ischemic heart disease, lumbar and cervical spondylosis, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, osteoarthritis and paralysis.
A patient who comes to the institute for the first time needs to pay a one–time registration and consultation fees of INR 100 each and INR 250 per month for three days a week. There are also intensive programmes for people who come from outside the city. These people can reside in the premises itself and attend classes twice daily. Most try this treatment when conventional methods have failed. Others do so because they wish to get in touch with their inner self. Ultimately as with any other form of treatment, it is the benefits which count. So far away patients and people who come to the institute seem very satisfied. They are also motivated and some are now training to take this science to the areas they come from. They helped themselves first, now they are trying to help others.