Ok, everybody get their tie-dyed combats out...The Times
June 2, 2008
Warrior pose turns Indian yoga soldiers into deadly foes
Rhys Blakely in Haridwar
Those who assume yoga is for peaceniks should prepare to have their prejudice shot down. The Indian Army is poised to adopt the ancient practice after a trial showed that it makes for a deadlier fighting force.
Chants of âOmâ and elastically athletic poses may seem out of place in a barracks but after three months new soldiers of the Bengal Engineering Group who did 50 minutes of yoga a day combined with 40 minutes of traditional exercise had steadier hands, stronger grips and leaner muscles than peers who underwent a 90-minute military workout instead. âThe yoga group showed an improvement in activities requiring co-ordination and concentration as well as muscular strength and endurance,â said Shirley Telles, the principal investigator on the project. âThis would be especially useful for activities such as shooting.â
The interest of the Indian Army - the second-largest in the world after China's - coincides with a broader yoga revival. The military's routine is based on the teachings of Baba Ramdev, a guru who has championed yoga across the sub-continent through a combination of plain speaking, fierce diatribes against Western lifestyles and a cable television channel.
The study is being carried out at Patanjali Yogpeeth, a yoga-focused research centre in northern India led by Ramdev. âOnly if India exists will I be,â he told The Times. Indications that his methods help soldiers chime with anecdotal evidence from those already using yoga to combat soaring levels of stress in India's military. Since 2005 suicides have claimed the lives of 100 soldiers a year in Kashmir. Incidents of âfraggingâ - where soldiers from the same force turn on each other - are soaring.
Indian troops serving in the disputed region have a standing order to engage in a weekly one-hour yoga session. They are taught 14 poses to soothe nerves frayed by near-constant low levels of insurgent activity.