On the International Yoga Day, I wanted to take you all on a journey through the mind of a yogi. So, I contacted and interviewed my friend, an expert yoga instructor Saigaurav Prabhu to understand his perspective about yoga and it’s benefits on physical and mental health of people across all ages. I have known Sai for nearly 5 years and little did I know about his strong inclination towards yoga and holistic lifestyle until one day, I stumbled upon his Insta profile @the_corporateyogi.
Yoga is a part of my daily routine and I can comfortably classify myself as intermediate level yogi. Having discovered the common chord with Sai, I connected with him to discuss a project on writing a book on Yoga. The focal point of our book is discussing yoga poses and how these poses can help alleviate some of the common health problems many of us have in today’s fast paced life. Our book writing project is underway and we are working hard to achieve this milestone. It’s an amazing journey for both of us discussing the different aspects and poses of yoga and connecting the science behind yoga to anatomy of our body and overall human health.
On that note, let me take you through Sai’s yoga journey, and his thoughts on living a holistic lifestyle. So friends, let’s understand the importance and benefits of yoga through the mind of yogi.
Please describe your journey to yoga. How did you get introduced to yoga and how yoga has changed your life?
It took me 25 years to realize the importance of yoga, but as it is rightly said, “Better late than never”, I started my Yoga practice in mid 2016. My father (Shri Suhas Prabhu) is an experienced advanced level expert and full-time yoga teacher for 25 years, and he has been a powerhouse of inspiration for my spiritual growth and yoga journey. I learned advanced level yoga from my father and I decided to coach and mentor all the budding and beginner level yogis with an intent to touch their lives’ by guiding them to a path of holistic and healthy living. I aim to coach and mentor corporate employees and young kids to strike a perfect work -life balance embracing positivity, gratitude and good health that goes long way for overall well-being of an individual.
I got introduced to yoga from my childhood days but my journey begin after an incident in my life. My full-time profession in IT industry as a technology manager took a toll on my health due to odd long working hours, disruptive sleeping patterns and unhealthy eating habits which were part of my daily routine. It was in 2015, I learned my lesson the hard way, when I got diagnosed with first level hiatus hernia (swelling in small intestine). I was hospitalized and got treated for my problem. This incident was an eye opener for me. I got mentally determined to keep my health on top priority and my journey towards adapting holistic lifestyle and yoga practice begin from that point on. Ever since then, I never got back to unhealthy lifestyle, my daily yoga and meditation practice has helped me achieve a perfect balance of healthy life and continued spiritual growth.
I admire all forms in Yoga, I particularly love Ashtanga Yoga as it pushes me every single day and challenges me to try something new. The physical contortions I practice are just a part but the real bliss lies in the breathing practice of controlling my flow of breath.
What is your fitness mantra? and How do you start your day?
I think it is very important to realize that self-discipline and consistency are two fundamental traits to change a habit into a lifestyle. These are the key traits you must adapt to, if you are determined to stay fit. As you know, one must be physically fit to be mentally fit too. I advice my students to be physically and mentally fit and most of them have seen the results for being consistent in their practice.
To stay fit, you must follow this rule, “Early to bed, early to rise”. My day starts at 5:00 am with 30 mins of meditation followed by 30 mins of breathing practices (this session includes different pranayama and bandhas). This 1 hour is like the Bramha Murtha (Divine hour) for me as I am completely absorbed in myself and it helps me being energetic, mindful and fresh throughout the day.
I have healthy breakfast in morning before starting my work related activities related to my corporate job of 9:00 am-5:00 pm, I practice my physical asanas from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. I take my dinner by 8:15 pm post which I spend time with my family and end my day by 10:00 pm. I make it a point to practice the physical asanas 5 days a week and breathing practices on all 7 days.
What are some of the major misconceptions about diets and exercises?
One of the most common misconception many have is fasting and restraining diet along with yoga will aid in speedy weight loss. In my opinion, this is a wrong approach to follow as it may impact one’s metabolic activity. Today is the age of instant gratification, and quick results. But body weight loss should be done in a proper way and is a gradual process. Patience is the key, and doing it the right way is the mantra.
To achieve results, people should follow moderation in their diet and be cautious on type of the food consumed. With a check on dietary intake and consistent yoga practice, the results are sure to follow. I had like to advice everyone that some workout and exercise is better than no exercise at all.
In some cases, I have seen obese people have a blocked mindset that overweight will hinder their yoga practice and may not show instant results. I had like to clarify this misconception, being overweight or obese should not deter you from practicing Yoga. In fact, irrespective of your bodyweight you should start practicing yoga under proper guidance and later align your personal fitness goals with the specific Yoga asanas to achieve desired results.
How can yoga help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
“The answers you seek will not come to you when your mind is busy, it will come to you only when the mind is still”. To still the mind, one must practice meditation. To start with, make a habit to meditate at least 30 mins daily along with Yoga practice. Once the habit changes to a daily routine, you can increase the meditation time to one hour. It’s important to incorporate the different breathing exercises too as a part of your daily routine to develop consciousness and mindful living. Breathing exercises help to regulate the breathing pattern which aid in calming the mind. One should also include basic asanas that include back bending, hip opening and core exercises under the guidance and supervision of a mentor post discussing preexisting health problems.
Remember, patience is the key. Some may progress faster while some may take more than 4-6 months depending on one’s body type and composition but one who dedicatedly continues his/her practice is sure to see the results. The benefits of yoga and pranayama are immense and long lasting.
You will see the benefits in overall lifestyle in relation to eating habits, sleeping pattern and overall mental health. Do it today and see the change for yourself. People suffering from back-aches, PCOD, arthritis, stiff legs, acidity and migraine can benefit a lot if they continue to practice yoga and pranayama daily.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to practice yoga?
You must bring in good habits in your life to change your future for better. Decide and start today. Do not procrastinate on activities that bring a positive change in life. I recommend, parents should attempt to make their kids learn yoga and pranayama from their childhood days. It not only develops a healthy lifestyle at a young age, but will also develop their morale and confidence positively for their adulthood. People from corporate sector, must take out time from their busy schedules to incorporate this healthy change in life. Implement this in your daily routine and bring positive change in your life and for those dear to you. This is art of living in peace, happiness and harmony with self and in Nature.
How does yoga and daily exercise contribute to overall well being and happiness of an individual?
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of spiritual practices that has existed since 3000 BCE. Over the centuries, the importance of Yoga has grown incessantly. There are scientific publications describing overall health benefits of yoga in treating a wide array of medical illnesses and problems. With such a massive evidence, one simply cannot ignore to consider doing yoga and pranayama for overall well being and happy life. Some of the key benefits of yoga include; it improves sleep and digestion, increased metabolic activity and energy regulation, increased flexibility and muscle strength, lowers blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and improves cardiac health, boosts immune system, tones and helps in reduction of body weight, strengthens bones and improves spine health. Considering the plethora of health benefits, yoga is the ultimate key to good health.
One personal level, yoga has not only improved my overall health but has also helped me get more focused and mentally fit. It has helped me tackle life’s biggest challenges by taking mindful decisions and keeping my emotions in check. It took me to discover the path of self-realization. A path that is as sharp as the edge of a razor but it is not difficult to tread that path with perseverance. I discovered how to be happy, and grounded in any situation, situations where you let go of emotions, situations that bring peace and harmony no matter the outside chaos of the world. Such is the beauty of yoga. You must dive in to drink the nectar of life.
What is your message to our aspiring audience?
My father always mentioned “Your certification will not qualify you as an instructor but your practice will”. The more you practice not just the physical asanas but the theoretical aspects behind each of the asanas and how does one regulate the breathing by opening the specific nadis in the body will help the person progress. “Knowledge without action and action without knowledge helps no man”.
Honesty is the key to progress, be true to yourself and good things are sure to unfold. One can enroll themselves in certain Yoga schools (Mysore and Rishikesh) but always remember “mere 200 hrs of training is not going to help but more than 20,000 hours of practice surely will”. Make Yoga and Pranayama your lifestyle, day in and day out.
Interviewed by : Nimisha Sharma
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