Breathe new life

Updated: Dec 22, 2018, 09:28 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

We speak to Sharath Jois, an internationally known teacher of Ashtanga, a yoga form practised by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, about his new book which captures his journey with the practice

Sharath Jois trains a class
Sharath Jois trains a class

How did Ageless (Juggernaut) come along?
I had been writing smaller pieces on a website called sonima to start a conversation around yoga. Then, many students started asking why I wasn't writing a book. We also had many readers who liked the work, and that's how it started. I have written another book called Ashtanga Yoga Anusthana, but it was mostly about asana practice whereas this is about my personal experience.

In the book, you talk about how Ashtanga yoga helped you overcome your illnesses as a child. Can it be helpful in curing or alleviating mental health issues, which many youngsters are grappling with?
Many do not understand Ashtanga properly because it looks very physical but there are other elements in it such as breathing techniques, which are crucial. I touch upon them in my book, too, where I have an entire section dedicated to them. Breathing can calm your mind and helps develop your stamina. You are only stressed when you cannot manage something, but if you get to the source of it, you can train your mind to be calm in any situation.

Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow demonstrates an asana at a show
Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow demonstrates an asana at a show

While reading the chapter, Eat Less to Live Longer, a qualm we had was how youngsters as well as those suffering from eating disorders could misread your suggestions. Could you clarify?
People who are dealing with mental illnesses could sometimes tend to eat more. But our body doesn't need a lot of food. When you eat, it takes the body six to seven hours to digest that. Eating modestly is the best and that is what I was trying to highlight. In the old days, yogis would walk on foot and eat very little and yet they lived longer.

Ashtanga demands discipline and dedication, but most importantly, time. How would you suggest the time-strapped young working professional navigate this?
We all have time to be on Instagram or catch up on social media, right? So, you have to make time for yoga just the way you do for lunch or to brush your teeth. Try to inculcate the habit of incorporating some form of workout as soon as you wake up, even if it isn't yoga. Slowly, it will become part of your life.

Sharath Jois
Sharath Jois

Fact check
. There is no need to nosedive into Ashtanga. Begin with any form of physical exercise.
. "Eat breakfast like a king," Jois says, is a myth. He recommends eating small but sufficient portions for all meals instead.
. Waking up at 3 am might be normal for yogis, but enthusiasts can practise the form whenever they wake up.

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