Sukshma Vyayama, a lesser-known component of yoga, was developed by His Holiness Maharishi Karthikeyaji Maharaj. He taught it to Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, who in turn spread it to the modern world, through his books, institutions, TV shows and travels. One of his students was Yogacharya Shri Surya Raghava Dikshitulu. My yoga guru Shri CSR Prabhu learnt it from him – and taught it to many - including me.
Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa was developed by Maharishi Kartikeya Ji Maharaj based on some of the most essential but mysterious aspects of Hatha Yoga - the Mudras and Bandhas. The Hatha Yoga literature is filled with references to the profound importance attached to these aspects. But many of the modern yoga schools have comfortably ignored it, perhaps due to their ignorance. Besides, Bandhas and Mudras are very complex. They can only be practised by advanced yogis in the original form as prescribed in the yogic texts, namely Hathayoga Pradeepika, Siva Samhita etc.
The science of yoga itself was restricted to the yogis who had renounced the world, given up all attachments and gone into the forest or the Himalayas. Yoga was taught and practiced only for them, by them and amongst them. But in recent times some of the smaller, simpler and easier components of the yoga system were brought out from the mystery and secrecy that shrouded them, for the benefit of the modern society. This was done by Shri Dhirendra Brahmachari and various other yoga experts. So, to help the common man to get benefits off the simplified and easier aspects of Hatha Yoga, this system of Sukshma Vyayamaa was developed, by His Holiness Maharishi Karthikeyaji Maharaj.
Yogic Sukshma Vyayama is a unique system of exercises not available anywhere in the world, in any other form either in the yogic domain or in the non-yogic, physical or cultural realm. It is so sensitive, so powerful, so scientific, so profound and yet so simple that even a child of ten can practice it. Even without practising asanas, you can get benefits from Sukshma Vyayama.
Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa is a system where every part of the body is involved. Each organ, each joint and each muscle is taken into consideration. A particular exercise ( or set of exercises) is associated with a specific type of breathing, in a specific position, with a particular point of mental concentration.
So, starting with the head, we cover:
various parts of the brain,
the eyes, nose, ears, and neck,
the shoulders, arms and arm joints, finger joints and even fingertips
the upper chest , middle chest and abdomen and trunk in different aspects
the thighs and buttocks, even organs like rectum/anus and the bladder (for which exercises are very rarely prescribed)
the knees, ankles, foot, foot muscle and joints, toes and finally the big toe.
Nothing is missed out!
Yogic Sukshma Vyayama is meant for the subtle body or Sukshma Sarira. It is not for the gross body or Sthula Sarira. There is a separate set of exercises for the gross body - Sthula Vyayamaa which succeeds Sukshma Vyayama. It consists of six exercises, similar to swimming or running. Yogic Sukshma Vyayama, however, is on a different footing.
As per the yogic philosophical tradition, there are five bodies or sheaths for every individual –
the annamaya sarira - nourished by food
the pranamaya sareera – sustained by prana
the manomaya sareera (related to mind)
the vigyanamaya sareera (related to discrimination) and
the anandamaya sareera (related to bliss)
Sukshma Vyayamaa deals with the second level, that is the subtle body or the pranamaya sareera.
The main aspects of Sukshma Vyayamaa are (1) breathing (2) concentration point (3) actual exercise - which involves motion most of the times. Breathing of different types: very light or very fast or intense, mostly through the nose
You can feel the benefits within a month. Do the practice before a bath, if you are bathing with warm water. Else it can be done after bathing. It should be practised on an empty stomach, wearing tight underwear and shorts, on a mattress, either outdoors or indoors, preferably in pleasant weather.
Other aspects of classical Hatha Yoga which have been incorporated into Sukshma Vyayama, are Sambhavi Mudra, Shanmukhi Mudra and Tratak. The eye exercises are from Tratak, and the ear exercise is Shanmukhi Mudra. This exercise is used in classical yoga to get into a trance state of deep meditation. In Sukshma Vyayama, it is used for calming the mind for a common man.
Sukshma Vyayama utilizes the mudras and bandhas along with the movement of the muscles, bones, joints and organs. The vigour, capabilities, faculties and the performance of the individual are greatly enhanced.
For the actual exercises, follow the instructions