When I got up in the morning, I found stiffness in my back and a fleeting pain near the lower spine. I stood up straight, put my hands on my waist and stretched backwards and then twisted my torso first to the left and then to the right. I bent sideways to the left and right. I felt better and the stiffness was gone. They say yoga helps to rid back pain. I was wondering whether the exercise I did was a form of yoga.
When we think of yoga, an image, of a person sitting on the ground doing some kind of posture, flashes before our minds. We associate yoga with various forms of stretching exercises with a multitude of body positions for working-out different muscles in the body.
But the workout that that helped in mending my back did not include any of the classic yoga postures. It seemed more like the physical education exercises that I had done in school. This thought brought up an important question in my mind. What were the body exercises that helped me the most in my life?
I clicked on the search engine in my brain to list them and then opened the memories of the time when I slipped on the sleet in a parking lot in upstate New York. I had fallen and broken my ankle. My leg was put in plaster and when the cast was taken off, I found that I had lost my gait. I was walking with a limp! I tried hard to walk straight, but to no avail. Then suddenly an idea struck me. Why not try the march? There is no straighter walk than marching. Left right, left right and so on. When I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my body picked up the rhythm after almost 40 years! I had done regimental training in the Cadet Corp with my group in school with a deputed army sergeant. It was for a four hours a week for a few months. The parade had conditioned my body to march with a straight gait. And all those muscle reflexes came back into my feet as I began to march. A few days of deliberate attempts to march straight gave dividends and I began to walk normally again. I reviewed all those memories and concluded that marching had been the most beneficial exercise in my life. But my thought returned to yoga and I mused whether marching in a military parade was a kind of yoga.
What is the difference between doing a parade and classical yoga? Both are forms of physical exercises, but there are significant divergences. The military parade trains the body to obey an external order, which the body must understand and implement instantly. There is a rhythm involved in parading. The leg muscles must respond to split-second timing. Moreover, when marching in a parade, the manner of walking needs coordination and synchronization between the marchers. Marching movements appear rigid to the onlooker as only the select muscles are moving in a timely manner keeping the other muscles stiff. On the other hand, yoga exercises loosen the muscles by stretching, making the body supple and preventing it from getting stiff. Yoga gives little importance to timing of actions and pays no heed to coordination and synchronization with the group. While parade is a team movement and a collective exercise, yoga is for the individual. Though in my case the march had worked for me as an individual like yoga!
But there is a form of exercise, which is a combination of yoga and parade: the physical education exercises taught in school! Exercises of stretching out arms and legs to the sides and to the top, jumping, bending to touch the right hand to the left foot and vice versa, twisting the torso and turning to look to one side and then to the other. The movements are brisk and done on the count shouted by the teacher: one, two, three, four; and repeat. These exercises have a rhythm in them like the parade, but they also are stretching exercises to make the body more flexible like the yoga. There are millions of school children doing this drill. Though done collectively the exercises are for each of them for their personal benefit. I thought therefore this might be the largest form of collective yoga practiced in India, if you expand the definition of yoga to include all kinds of body exercises.
And with this all-encompassing view of yoga, my mind jumped to the next level. In a flash I had opened a new folder called “YOGA” and put all types of physical exercise systems in that folder. I put the military parade in the yoga folder, as it was a proper physical exercise system for keeping the body fit and healthy. Incidentally, this yoga will have a blessing for you to regain your normal movements in case of any accident or mishap. Parade training also helps you to a dignified posture and to take out sloppy actions in everyday living. Haven’t you noticed how well the army guys walk? But apart from the incidental boon and good poise, the main rewards of marching in the parade are the health benefits that it gives to the marcher.
Health concerns are now the top agenda for the people. We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge in consumer interest in physical well-being. Gyms are attracting a huge number of members. Yoga studios are mushrooming all over the World. Aerobic exercise classes with music are another popular fad for fitness. It’s obvious that people are keenly interested in spending more time and more money for training and for taking care of their bodies. And they are looking for new ways for doing it. Therefore the parade could be the next raving attraction for the consumers for physical training!
Taking part in a parade for marching in formation will allure the young and old alike. It is a great form of exercise and will attract even the veterans to remember the good old days! It will not be the training for combat and survival; it will be a training to keep your body healthy and fit for everyday life. It will not be a training to fend off any external attack; it will be a training to save your internal health. So the parade would be toned down in its intensity and duration and tailored to the body requirements of different age groups. The modified parade in its new avatar “The Parade Yoga” will turn the military exercise into a fun workout. Moreover, it is a worthy business idea for many a veteran. He could set up a “Parade Yoga Club” with a place for training civilians to march. He could organize weekly or even daily parades for his members to enjoy, which would also act as a great advertisement for the venture.
An advertising guru could go further and write up the wonderful physical and psychological benefits of the Parade Yoga for a powerful viral marketing campaign. News on mass media with the interactive websites affiliated to other health and fitness sites, Twitter and Facebook activity for Parade Yoga will strike millions of eyeballs with lightening speed! If you let your imagination run, Parade Yoga will explode into a fantastic new physical training business with franchisees in different locations. You will see Parade Yoga Clubs sprouting in hundreds of cities all over the World!
Parade Yoga Clubs could organize ceremonial marches on important days, and offer to its members the experience and the joy of the joint exercise! These Clubs would make the marching in the Independence Day Parade a dream realized for the civilians! There would be thousands who would love to do the actual march rather than passively see only the servicemen doing it. The inner joy of voluntary participation in the celebration of doing the march-past and saluting the flag on the Independence Day is beyond description in any language!
In conclusion, we can say that the military parade could be modified into an enjoyable form of exercise system, which can be looked upon as a dynamic form of yoga, the Parade Yoga! It has the potential of a successful business enterprise and at the same time it will do significant good to the society. I do wish that Parade Yoga Clubs soon come up in many places and contribute to the health and happiness of the World!