For a forever marriage, dial Dr Hansa
The director of one of India's most prestigious, and the world's oldest yoga institutions, has written a new book that tells you how to make marriage work using yoga, but not as you know it
In 2015, when Dr Hansa Yogendra's son, Hrishi, was readying to get married, she made a request that seemed "rad" to the family. "I wanted the girl to come live with us and figure if she wanted to marry my son," she says when we meet at The Yoga Institute in Santacruz East. The arrangement made practical sense. "When you are dating, you see the best of a person. Cohabitation is the only way to know them inside out." Hrishi agreed, the experiment was successful, and he and Pranee are now husband and wife. Not all stories have happy endings, though.
In her stint as director of the world's oldest and most prestigious yoga centre, Dr Hansa has played agony aunt to countless students and continues to. Her role as advisor, however, is not restricted to sharing tips on mental and physical health. It's often about relationships. "In fact, it's love and marriage where most people find themselves fumbling," she shares. The yogini decided she needed to intervene when she came across marriages falling apart with alarming regularity. "It began to feel like an epidemic." And, she had to do something.
After co-authoring 50 books on yoga, including Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and How to Reverse Heart Disease, Dr Hansa is now the proud author of the just released, The 12 Yogic Principles for Making Marriages Work. The slim, 130-pager (Rupa Publications) launched by former president Pranab Mukherjee last month, offers guidance on "how to be marriage-ready, not just wedding ready". Dr Hansa clarifies that it's not asanas that will help you achieve the goal. Because yoga is more than just gravity-defying postures. "Yoga is also about habits, attitude and values," she says. She has tried to mend broken hearts and has been successful at all times but one. "It was a Canadian couple with grown up children. They respected each other but had fallen out of love. They wanted to go their separate ways, follow their own calling. One wanted to head to the mountains, the other was keen to turn entrepreneur. It was best that they parted."
Dr Hansa's cardinal rule is to sign up for marriage only if you find the right person. "Else, don't bother," she shrugs. To make it easier to navigate, she has divided the book into categories of in-laws, health, money and children, and so on. Here, for the sake of brevity, she picks her favourite four tips.
Marry to better yourself Most people get married believing that it is an opportunity to influence and change their partner's behaviour. If people did it instead, believing that it could be an opportunity to learn and better themselves, more marriages would be successful. After all, it is the ability to re-engineer your own self that separates humans from animals. Only humans can aspire, if anyone, to be better humans. You will never hear a cat wanting to be a better cat.
It will all be gone anyway Yoga helps you realise that everything is impermanent...therefore, don't get attached to anybody or anything. Never nurse your ego by convincing yourself that you are superior. Only do your duty and live in the moment.
Say it nicely Words matter, how they are uttered, matters. Call a person a fool and he will blow his top. Put your arm around him and tell him gently to stop being a fool, and you will have him eating out of your hand. Same message, different effect.
It's not always about you According to yoga, you aren't the one around whom the universe revolves. Marriage is an opportunity to learn humility, to learn to walk in another's shoes, to learn to become sensitive to another's feelings. Remember that the universe revolves around each and every person.
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