Yoga for Physical, Spiritual , Health Benefits – Business Standard- Yoga, with a few jokes thrown in
On the 12th April (Saturday's) edition of Business Standard Weekend a lovely write up about new age yoga came out. The write up is all about how the concept of yoga has changed with time and how more and more people are getting inclined towards yoga and its benefits. Yoga is no more about serious spirituality and ‘gyan’.
Navneet Joshi, who trains corporate clients of Kairali Ayurvedic Group was also quoted in this article.
Yoga, with a few jokes thrown in
A number of yoga teachers are taking the exercise regime out of the realms of solemnity and giving it a more down-to-earth feel with levity and selfies
April 12, 2014
Dressed in a
loincloth, Baba Ramdev whips through a series of yoga poses as millions watch him on television. The sun
has just begun to peep over the horizon but the hirsute guru is already leading
his charges. “If you sweat this much in the morning, you will never get old,”
he says, the left eye winking involuntarily. Ramdev says pranayama, the art of breath control,
can cure an array of diseases. “Its practice leads to a surge in kundalini energy,” he intones as his belly makes
waves with each sharp intake of air. Around him, the men and women start
breathing in unison, eyes closed. Some faces begin to show a near-mystical
glow. They are entering the ‘zone’.
Is yoga as pensive an activity as Ramdev wants it to be? Not quite. Some yoga teachers, in the true tradition of yogic postures, are turning the exercise culture on its head. They crack jokes, chant to peppy songs and hang out with disciples once the sessions are over. Garima Batra Sharma, founder of The Yoga Lounge, believes in being less solemn. “There is a perception we belong to another planet. But I don't let people take things too seriously in my class,” she says. The idea is not attainment, she explains, “flow instead.” Really? So, what about obtaining spiritual creaminess? “Very few seek that. Most come to lose weight.”
These yoga gurus don’t claim to be saints or prophets — or that they emit cosmic energy. “I am a new-age yogini. I love to dance, travel and dress excitingly,” says Deepika Mehta, who coached actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bipasha Basu for Dhoom 2. Must the road to enlightenment be paved in sincerity? Not all all. “Fun is important. Once in a while, I crack a joke. After class, I hang out with students. We chill out, drink coconut water, get breakfast and get silly sometimes,” laughs Mehta.
Television yoga guru Suneel Singh, 52, too, has a tendency to lighten things up. “There are two simple therapies. One is laughter yoga and the other, clapping yoga,” he says. “Everyone laughs. There’s no judgement.” Singh believes ego is the enemy of both humour and yoga.
The new bunch of yoga teachers do not believe in “giving gyan”. “Not everyone is on a spiritual path. Some are in search of a social environment, too,” says Navneet Joshi, who trains corporate clients of Kairali Ayurvedic Group. Sharma remembers during the early days of her studio when she had shown the door to a man who had come in search of phone numbers rather than enlightenment. But Joshi believes there is scope for spiritual networking, and Sharma allows social networking by way of yoga selfies (self-photos). “I understand the excitement that comes when doing the headstand for the first time. I oblige them with a picture that I email to them.”
Pune-based Jaspreet Singh, a yogi, cites the tranquillity he has found after twisting his body into knots. Sometimes, he says, his third eye itches. “Who your yoga teacher is and what he represents are no small matters in modern life,” he says. “Once I fell asleep in the middle of savasana and started to snore lightly (I was told). They just left me there until the class ended. I woke up to an empty room and saw the teacher putting away the mats.” But there is no embarrassment here. Singh says, “If we refuse to feel embarrassed, liberation is ours.’
Celebrity yoga teacher Payal Gidwani, who coaches star couple Kareena Kapoor Khan and
Saif Ali Khan, says there is no need to feel ashamed, even when some poses
force wind out. This is the purpose of yoga — to relieve suffering, and
flatulence. “Relieving wind is illusory,” philosophises Singh. “You are not the
body, and therefore not the karta (doer).”
Yet the fear of being embarrassed refuses to let go. As Gidwani points out, “Thousands of years ago, yoga was practised only by men. It was designed by men, for men.” Yet today, getting the men in is not always easy. Sharma says, “There’s one man for every five women in a class. Mostly, men accompany wives. Also, most men leave after a month or two. It’s the women who are consistent.”
Paloma Gangopadhyay, director, Bikram Yoga India, says, men initially find themselves stiff and inflexible. But the 26 postures done in a studio that is toasty at 42 degrees Celsius often gets them hooked.
This challenging, possibly dangerous, hot yoga may appeal to a guy’s sense of self. Yet, points out Mehta, embarrassment is never far behind. “A guy’s worst nightmare is not being able to do a pose that needs strength and flexibility.”
Worse still are the men who wear loose-fitting shorts for comfort, prompting discomfort in others. Sharma says she urges her students to wear longer yoga pants or capris. But Joshi insists shorts are better. “This way, the teacher can keenly observe your body postures.” Singh suggests a simple way to ensure your jock credentials are not advertised during an adventurous pose. “Sit down and twist to one side; squat — did you feel a breeze back there?”
A youngster forced to take yoga for bad grades tells us about his experiences. “We are made to do yoga in a cramped room. The air is thick with sweat, everything seems in slow motion. However, it’s the close-pressed flesh of others that we admire most. This gives you the chance to smack someone.” He adds pawanmukta asan (wind-relieving pose) is his favourite.
Yoga, played by the rules, can fetch you enlightenment in this lifetime. For this, it is necessary to do it the right way, have your posture corrected by a teacher. But Singh doesn’t appreciate a teacher who lingers and breathes hot all over you. “No concept of personal space,” complains Singh.
Sharma, like other likeable teachers, says her approach is to establish a relationship with students. “This takes a few classes. I take it on myself to correct them. Mostly they get it right by seeing me. But if that doesn't happen, I physically correct them.” Some students tend not to follow the herd. But that is not a problem. Mehta says some even go solo in the chanting of Om. “I prefer to let people express themselves. If someone’s Oms are not in line, I find it sweet,” she says.
Published on: 12th April 2014