My experience with illness occurred unexpectedly one day in October 1977, while I was completing a tour in Aurangabad. Suddenly I felt a heaviness creeping up my legs so that I could not walk properly. After consulting a doctor who felt I was suffering from calcium deficiency, I took some prescribed tablets and slept for several hours. Upon waking, I found that my legs had become heavy, like stones, and I had no sensation up to my hips, making movement close to impossible. I was also unable to pass urine.
I was promptly admitted to the hospital where doctors examined me thoroughly. Their diagnosis was transverse myelitis, which later proved to be incorrect. Over a period of weeks, however, my condition somehow improved with the treatment of tablets and physiotherapy. I was discharged from the hospital with normal use of my legs.
But almost two years later in September 1979, the symptoms returned and once again I was admitted to hospital. The anxiety I felt created an increase in blood pressure to 180/110, and the doctors could not lower it. Finally, by December, I was taken to hospital in Bombay for investigation by specialists in nervous diseases.
Suspecting a problem in the spinal cord, a myelegram and X-rays were taken, but all this proved futile. Their diagnosis was demyelination (multiple sclerosis) and I was advised to continue physiotherapy. I was told there was no known cure for this disease.
Just as I was beginning to feel hopeless and despondent, my brother advised me to try yoga therapy at the Raigarh Ashram. Because of his enthusiasm for the Bihar School of Yoga, I felt that it would be worth a try. Meanwhile, he taught me basic pawanmuktasana exercises, as well as yoga nidra, which stabilised my blood pressure after fifteen days. I also read an article on sclerosis in YOGA magazine, in which the symptoms of the disease were described, and this helped to clarify the problem and resolve my doubts.
I arrived at Raigarh Ashram, my walking now reduced to a hobbling gait, still feeling somewhat pessimistic and resentful. But the swamis treated me warmly, and soon I became absorbed in the ashram routine, rising every morning at 5 a.m. taking cold bath, doing jala neti and receiving personal yoga therapy from one swami. I was prescribed the following asanas: pawanmuktasana, shashankasana, majariasana, paschimottanasana, bhujangasana, shalabhasana. The pranayamas given consisted of: nadi shodhana, brahmari, sheetali, sheetkari and bhastrika. In addition to this, I was given a yoga nidra session every day.
The vegetarian diet, consisting of rice, dhal, chapatti and vegetables, was satisfying and easy to digest. After the evening meal, we enjoyed kirtan, singing different bhajans for one hour, before retiring for bed.
After only a few days, my outlook on life had changed. I felt happier, more confident, and my health simultaneously improved. After fifteen days, my weight had reduced three kilos, which made walking easier. At this point I felt strong enough to leave the ashram, return to my duties, and continue yogic therapy on my own. Although I realise that my willpower is also responsible for my cure, I can assure the readers that yoga essentially restored me to my present state of good health - all in the course of six weeks.