BHUBANESWAR : A city-based yoga practioner has taken it upon himself to popularise floating techniques through ‘aqua yoga’ and save as many lives as possible. For 45-year-old Ashok Baral, drowning could be prevented just by appropriate positioning of the body in the medium. All one needs is to align the body suitably.
Practising yoga since childhood, Baral turned to aqua yoga in 2018. In the process of exploring yoga forms in water he discovered that one does not have to learn swimming to float or for that matter control one’s breath which is considered the pre-requisite. Only a suitable positioning of the body - forehead parallel to the sky with nose and mouth above water surface - suffices to keep one afloat. Since then, he is not only practising various asanas through floating, but also mentoring youngsters to adopt the techniques as he believes in human body’s natural tendency to float.
What inspired him to take up floating as a medium for yoga? “In a coastal State like Odisha, where drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths, popularisation of floating could save thousands of lives. Aqua yoga serves the twin goals of fitness and safety. It allows one to stay afloat just by aligning oneself appropriately. Just imagine how many lives could be saved if we learn the basics,” says Baral, who started a campaign ‘No more drowning deaths’ three years back.
A native of Resinga village in Nimapara block of Puri, it took Baral over six months to practice ‘Anulom Vilom Pranayam’ in water and that’s when it struck him that holding one’s breath is not necessary to float. The key is in the Archimedes Principle, he says recounting how his experience prompted him to read up on Fluid Science in the OUAT Library in 2019 and the basic floating properties of a body.
It takes two to four months to learn swimming but just few hours to learn floating by just sticking to Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy where the weight of the body has to be the same or less than that of the displaced medium in order to stay afloat. This can be achieved by positioning the body in a way the nose and mouth are above water and parallel to sky.
Baral believes that our bodies are naturally designed to float, a knowledge few have tapped into. Also a freelance journalist, he now plans to take his campaign to villages once the pandemic situation eases.