Sukshma Vyayama is an ancient component of yoga not known to most of the schools of yoga today in the world. This was developed, designed and propagated originally by his His Holiness Maharishi Karthikeyaji Maharaj of the Himalaya. He had great kindness and compassion for humanity and taught Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, who in turn propagated it to the modern world, including the Nehru family. Dhirendra Brahmachari also produced books and established institutions in Delhi and travelled throughout the country to teach a large number of people. Shri Surya Raghava Dikshitulu of Secunderabad learnt from Shri Dhirendrandra Brahmachari in the 1950s and I had the great fortune of learning from Yogasana Acharya Shri Surya Raghava Dikshitulu from in 1964 onwards.
Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaawas developed by Maharishi Kartikeya Ji Maharaj on the basis of some of the most essential but normally not understood, mysterious aspects of Hatha Yoga relating to the Mudras and Bandhas. Though the Hatha Yoga literature is filled with references to the profound importance attached to the Bandhas and Mudras, many of the modern yoga schools both in India and abroad have comfortably ignored this aspect perhaps due to their own ignorance of this subject. It is also true that the Bandhas and Mudras are very complex can be practiced by advanced yogis in the original form as prescribed in the yogic texts namely HathayogaPradeepika, Siva Samhita and so on.
The science of yoga itself was restricted to the yogis who have renounced the world and who have given up all attachments and gone into the forest or the Himalaya. Yoga was taught and practiced only for them, by them and amongst them. But in the 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 by Shri Dhirendra Brahmachari and various other yoga experts. So, in conformity with the approach of bringing to the common people and normal society, some of the simplified and easier aspects of Hatha Yoga, this system of Sukshma Vyayamaa was developed, designed and propagated by His Holiness Maharishi Karthikeyaji Maharaj.
As mentioned earlier Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa 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 domain. It is so sensitive, so powerful, so scientific so deep and yet so simple that even a child after crossing the age of ten can easily practice it and derive benefit. The benefits claimed are very great and there are also experiences collaborated by lakhs of disciples of Shri Dhirendra Brahmachari, my own teacher Sri Dikshtulu and my many of my students. The benefits of Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa are so great that even without practicing the rest of the aspects of Hatha Yoga such as Asanas it is possible to derive extremely tangible benefits in a very quick manner.
The other beautiful and more important aspect of Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa is, that it is the only system of exercises in the world where each and every part of the body including Each organ, each joint and each muscle is taken into consideration, and a particular exercise or set of excercises associated with a specific type of breathing in a specific type of position with a specific point of mental concentration is prescribed.
So, starting with the top that is 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 excercises are very rarely prescribed)
the knees, ankles, foot, foot muscle and joints, toes and finally the big toe.
So, literally "from top to toe" is the coverage in the above mentioned sequence which is something very unique in the entire world, in the past, present and possibly the future too.
So the Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa as is implied by the name, is meant for the subtle body or Sukshma Sarira. It is not meant for the gross body or Sthula Sarira. There is a separate set of exercises for the gross body - Sthula Vyayamaa which succeeds Sukshma Vyayamaa but it is just about half a dozen exercises of gross nature similiar to other gross exercises such as swimming and running or various physical and cultural excercises. Yogic Sukshma Vyayamaa, however, is on a different footing. It is meant for the subtle body of the human being, as per Indian traditional philosophy. As per the yogic philosophical tradition there are five bodies for every individual - the physical and the subtle: the annamaya sarira, pranamaya sareera, manomaya sareera, vigyanamaya sareera and anandamaya sareera. So, Sukshma Vyayamaa deals with the second level, that is the subtle body or the pranamaya sareera.
The main features or components of Sukshma Vyayamaa are (1) breathing (2) concentration point (3) actual exercise - which involves motion most of the times though not always. Breathing of different types: very light or very fast or very deep, sometimes through the mouth although mostly through the nose. This is a brief about Sukshma Vyayamaa.
The benefits once again are immense and are direct and immediate. Within a month of regular practice,
preferably twice a day, morning and evening, or once a day in the morning,
before bath if warm water, or after bath if cold water,
before any kind of food,
with a tight underwear and shorts,
on a mattress,
either open air or indoors,
without any cold or heat or rain,
will lead to development of extraordinary levels of capabilities and faculties of various aspects of the personalities both mental and physical.
For those who have maladies and problems of different kind, Sukshma Vyayamaa alone is capable of curing and preventing without taking the help of asanas or other aspects of pranayama or kriyas. Though we do not prohibit the other aspects, Sukshma Vyayamaa is solely capable of handling all problems, both curing and preventing, and increasing the strength and vigour of different organs and systems in the body.
Sukshma Vyayama, though it looks very simplistic, is also going to awaken the Kundalini if performed correctly for a long period of time on a regular basis. The other aspects of classical Hatha Yoga which have been incorporated into package of Sukshma Vyayama, by his Holiness Maharishi Kartikeyaji are the Sambhavi Mudra, Shanmukhi Mudra and also Tratak. The eye exercises are from Tratak, and the ear exercise is Shanmukhi Mudra which was used in the classical yoga to get into the trance state of deep meditation though in Sukshma Vyayama it is only used for calming and quietening the mind for a common man.
So, to conclude, the mudras and bandhas are utilized along with the modern motion of exercises, movement of the muscles and bones to the extent of each and every joint of the body, each and every bone and the muscle and organ, being given an exercise to improve its' vigour, to improve its' capabilities, faculties and the performance of the individual as a whole.
For the actual exercises, follow the instructions here