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Intermittent Fasting Made Me a Better Yogi

April 25, 2019

…and 4 Other Unexpected Results of the Latest Fitness Fad

I.F. (Intermittent Fasting) seems to be all the rage right now.  Fitness experts are expounding it and every one (and their moms) are trying it. At the risk of sounding trite, I’d say I.F. has changed people’s lives.  It’s helped people shed oodles of weight. It’s reduced the oft present stress around ‘clean eating’, ‘balanced eating’, ‘right eating’ by eliminating eating all together! And in my experience, it’s done a lot that we’re not even talking about.

I’m not one for fitness fads, but I’m also experimental.  I’ll always try something, unless it’s too ‘out there’ for me.  (And, to be honest, few things really are.)

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting is a system of eating where there is a specified ‘ eating window’, and ‘fasting window’.  There are many different styles of Intermittent Fasting depending on these windows. The most common is the 16/8 fast, where you fast for sixteen hours and eat for eight.  You can also do a 12/12 fast, where you fast for twelve hours and then have an eating window of 12 hours. You can fast on alternate days, or once in two days…

And to my surprise I found that this system of eating ‘worked’ for me.  Below are 5 things it did for me, and which have me now.

I.F. MADE ME A BETTER YOGI

I kid you not.  I’ve practiced yoga almost daily for the past decade.  In a world where distractions are many and time a rare commodity, the only way I can do this is by waking up at an ungodly hour to get some uninterrupted practice time before the rest of the world awakes.  More often than not, I’m sluggish and slow in the morning, sore from the previous day.

Enter I.F. and my body feels clearer. I am experiencing a kind of energy I’ve never experienced before. The kind where your brain might say ‘no’ but your body will move into the first sun salutation with no complaints.  By reducing the quantity of food I consume, energy that would otherwise be spent on metabolizing and digesting food is available for morning yoga practice. My asanas are sharper, my body seems to move with no resistance and I am fully present for my practice.

I.F. GOT RID OF MY BRAIN FOG

Yoga is not only a physical practice.  However, even the physical practice of yoga (asana practice) is linked to your mind.  If your mind isn’t awake, your body is unlikely to act. After practicing I.F. for almost a month now I’ve noticed that my brain doesn’t take too long to wake up.  Prior to this I would dilly-dally and procrastinate before finally stepping on my mat. Now I’m on my mat faster, more inspired, energetic and creatively abundant.

I.F. MADE ME APPRECIATE COFFEE MORE

But not because I’m guzzling down any more of it than I was before.  In fact, I’m drinking less of it! Part of my dilly-dallying used to include making a cup of strong coffee.  The aroma used to wake up my senses and the caffeine used to wake up my groggy cells. Now I don’t need the coffee.  An era of coffee enjoyment has started in my Life. I have coffee when I want to and not because I need to. I enjoy a single shot of espresso more than I’ve ever enjoyed it before.

I.F. CONTROLLED MY FOOD CRAVINGS

Along with a decrease in my coffee cravings, my snacking has also reduced.  I don’t find the need to constantly munch something. So I’m not putting junk into my system…and that may be contributing to my high energy levels.

I.F. CLEANED ME UP!

I see my waistline more often than not now.  I.F. proponents scream weight loss more than anything else.  In fact, many say that they have lost weight in spite of eating all the junk in the world! Just to be clear, I haven’t lost any weight, but I still see my waistline because of a reduction in inflammation in the gut.  Because I no longer ingest easy snacks, I’ve cut back on bloat-causing preservatives that I was invariably consuming.

HOW I FASTED

Before I end I’d also like to point out that there are numerous different versions of intermittent fasting.  

  • There are dietitians who say it’s OK to have coffee, tea, lemon water etc while you’re fasting.  I have absolutely nothing except water during my fasting window.
  • I stick to the 16/8 style of fasting.  Basically this means having my last meal by 4 and eating again at 8 in the morning.  
  • I break my fast with nuts or a banana.

I’ve jumped on to the I.F. bandwagon, and I think everyone should give it a go. Would you try intermittent fasting? Have you tried it already? Share your thoughts!

On one of the several Root Bridges during our hike in Cherapunjee last month.
Healthy Living Yoga

The Unwitting Yogi

April 7, 2019

I was a little late jumping on to the ‘Bohemain Rhapsody’ bandwagon, but when I did I was spellbound. The movie was well done, and the portrayal of the characters was spell binding.

Freddie Mercury was perhaps the greatest rockstar of all time, but he was also an unwitting yogi.  While going through a bunch of his pictures on Pinterest I started to notice that a lot of his moves on stage looked like yogic postures.  The more pictures I saw, the more yogasanas I recognized.  So I put together a bunch of Freddie Mercury’s pictures and the corresponding asana.

Trikonasana/Triangle Pose

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The Trikonasanas – I have a love-hate relationship with this asana, but you’ve got to admit it looks like Freddie is performing it in this iconic pose.

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When you practice an asana your mind, body and spirit are supposed to come together – and in this image it looks like they are.

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Vrkshasana/Tree Pose

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That costume & balancing on the toes!!!

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Always try to push the inner edge of the foot into the ground for better alignment. 

And variations of the Tree pose…

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Chaturanga/Plank Pose

Every yogi knows the agony of getting this one right.

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Those biceps though.

 

Virbhardasana/Warrior Pose

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Marichyasana/Sage Marichi’s Pose

This is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but you have to admit there’s a twist there.  Also, Freddie’s flat abs, his chiselled body, the energy – is this the real life?

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Backbends

My biggest challenge…but look at him.

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Can I just point out the clean lines and the lifted sternum?

Hope you enjoyed this blog.  Leave me a comment and share if you did!

Healthy Living Travel Wellness Yoga

The Perahera That Wasn’t

March 15, 2019

The last day in Sri Lanka we thought we would check out city life. It was Poya day and we stumbled upon the preparations for the Perahera. Poya days are the full moon days every month and are holidays. This particular Poya day was also the Navam Perahera Festival. Preparations were underway for a massive parade that would include elephants, dancers, acrobats and the like. We were excited to see the crowds and the buzz. We had planned to see some of the famous Buddhist temples in Colombo, but they were all closed. Although we noticed that many foreigners with ‘special passes’ were being allowed in. Shady business.

We didn’t have the patience to wait for the procession to start, nor the energy to brave the crowds. So we decided to head to Keels, a local supermarket to see if we could do some last minute shopping. All of us picked up some tea, Sri Lankan pickles and some spices.

Finally we took an Uber back to our hotel to sit on the terrace for dinner, as the moonlit waves crashed against the shore.

View from our rooftop restaurant.
View from our rooftop restaurant.

The next day we took an Uber to the airport. As we were driving through Colombo, I was reminded of the city I call home. I penned my thoughts down and you can read them here.

Below are a few more scenes from the vacation. If this is the first blog of the Sri Lanka series that you’ve landed on then click here , here and here for the other two blogs.

In Mirissa we climbed up many many steps to a famous Buddhist temple.
Cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temples.
Cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temples.
Couldn't get enough of the sun, sea and sand.
Couldn’t get enough of the sun, sea and sand.
Sri Lankan food is very similar to South Indian food.  We had it as often as possible.
Sri Lankan food is very similar to South Indian food. We had it as often as possible.
Healthy Living Wellness Yoga

Why Retreat.

March 12, 2019

The key to excellence is repetitive practice. In the ideal world we would all have an hour and a half every morning to devote to our asana practice. We would have eaten light dinners the night before, gotten the necessary hours of sleep, have the energy and the inspiration to practice the same asanas for the millionth time. But every single yoga practitioner knows that there are more bad than good asana practice days. And that’s the method of any spiritual practice. Will you commit with no hopes of a return on commitment?

Every year Iyengar practitioners from around the world make their way to Pune, India to immerse themselves in the practice. Every year I await eagerly for the 4 weeks where I will be able to ‘retreat’ from the rigors of my regular life and give undivided attention to my practice. I usually have a reading list, I introspect through journaling and blogging, and I learn from the experiences of other students.


Retreating is an important part of a spiritual practice. It is to introspect as much as it is to delve deeper into the practice of your choice.

Retreating is an important part of a spiritual practice. It is to introspect as much as it is to delve deeper into the practice of your choice. A learning curve happens after every retreat. I have experienced the greatest growth after every retreat and workshop I’ve attended.

Teaching a retreat is as exciting for the teachers as it is for the students. When the idea of this retreat was a mere spark of an idea, we wondered what we could do to make this retreat unique, fun and helpful for those giving us the privilege of teaching them. We came up with a rough outline of a schedule. We started to think of how we could bring life and relevance to the teachings and the days slowly took shape. Involved as we are in our own practices, the results of a collaboration between Suzanne and I will distinctive.

Our mornings will be spent studying the asanas, in which we will also discuss the Indian/Hindu mythology pertaining to yoga. Our evening sessions will be about winding down the mind and body. There will be walks through the town, swims in the creeks. Conversations over shared dinners and the occasional glass of wine!

It will be a special time for all of us, made more special by those who give us the opportunity to guide them. We hope you can make yourselves available from the 1st-8th of June to join us in Liguria, Italy for a retreat to remember.

Write in to susanne.mayer@yogawest.de or pragya.bhatt@gmail.com for more details.


[This are article has also been published at https://yogaliguria2019.blogspot.com/2019/02/why-retreat.html. You can find more information about the upcoming retreat in this link.]

Healthy Living Uncategorized Yoga

We’re Working Hard And…

June 18, 2017

moving

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” -Socrates.

The last couple of months have been crazy busy for me.  I’ve been meaning to do this post for many many weeks now, but was only able to get to it today.  I’ve been teaching my regular classes, have a couple of retreats and workshops under my belt, have designed new classes and modules (including The Yoga Practice, which I’m so incredibly excited about) and have found time to travel as well!

The year is far from over, and I have my annual trip (study retreat?) to Pune coming up in August and September.  We’re also working on refining The Yoga Practice and getting the word out there as much as we can about it.  My practice is going well, and I see improvement in my students almost daily!  The first half of this year has been very rewarding.

I’ve also been working on consolidating everything I do under one platform.  As my practice gets more focused, so does my vision for ‘Yoga With Pragya’.  At the beginning of this year I had an idea of where I was headed and over the past couple of months the vision has became clearer.  Our new website is a step towards a more organised initiative.  As my practice deepens, my teaching becomes more refined and I’m getting very creative with how I can help people across the board.

We’re building something useful, helpful and, most of all, accessible to all those who are interested in yoga, holistic health and a wholesome lifestyle.  Most of you have been following this blog for many years.  I hope you will stay with me as I grow, expand and evolve further.  Subscribe to our new blog here: http://yogawithpragya.in/blog/.  While you’re there, please browse the site and leave us constructive feedback.  We’re really excited about the great things we have in store for you.  Please share with all your friends and subscribe to our other platforms as well (Facebook, YouTube & Instagram).

 

 

 

Healthy Living Yoga

Improve Your Digestion

February 12, 2017

img-20170201-wa0002.jpgA few days ago I mentioned in one of my updates that you may eat the best food that you can possibly find, but if your body doesn’t assimilate all the nutrients then eating healthy food is an exercise in futility.  To the right are 6 poses which are beneficial in stimulating and massaging the digestive system and maintaining its good health.  However, remember, as always, that yoga poses can’t be practiced in isolation.  For the practice of yoga to work for you, you must incorporate these asanas in a regular yoga practice.

Below are a few important points to remember when performing these asanas.

 

Setubanasana – The Bridge Pose

  • Elbows must be right under the wrists.
  • Back of the neck should be long on the floor.
  • Fingers should be touching while the thumbs are facing away from the body.
  • Knees should be above your ankles.
  • Thighs should be parallel.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift from the hips.
  • Don’t rest your weight on your hands.

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Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose

  • Keep the neck long.
  • Keep the shoulders pushed back.
  • Push the chest forward and up.
  • Lengthen the spine and stretch the abdomen.
  • Tighten the glutes and the groin.
  • Shoulders and wrists should be in one line, arms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Feet not more than hip width apart.

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Dhanurasana – The Bow Pose

  • Neck should be long.
  • Shoulders should pushed back and chest should be open.
  • Keep your glutes and groin tight.
  • Push the legs away from the torso, which will also pull the arms back.

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Marichyasana – Lord Marichi’s Pose

  • Keep good engagement between the elbow and the knee.  Do this by pushing the elbow out and the knee in, creating a kind of tension.
  • Keep your backbone long.
  • Keep both buttocks on the floor.
  • Keep the straight leg active with the heel pointing out and the toes pointing straight up.
  • Rotate the neck and keep the chest open.

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Vajrasana – The Thunderbolt Pose

  • Keep your back erect.

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Pawanmuktasana – Wind Releasing Pose

  • Keep the back relaxed and be aware of the spine lengthening across the floor.

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Healthy Living Travel Yoga

Finding Balance

December 29, 2016

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One of the highlights for 2016 for me is the workshop with Manouso Manos.  Most yogis will recognize the name.  A long time student of BKS Iyengar, Manouso sold everything he owned and came to India in the 70s (in his mid-20s) with his wife.  And they both went back year after year to practice with the master and to discover themselves in the process.  And now, decades later, I feel that he was able to put us a bit more in touch with ourselves, though we only had 5 days together.  I usually blog about my trainings and workshops, however, this time I had resolved not to write about the workshop because I realized after the 1st day that this was more experiential and would require a little reflection, and therefore, it would be difficult to write about the ‘teachings’.

I’m still not going to talk about what I learned.  My students will experience the difference in class and my friends will hear about it all the time (as they have been for the last couple of weeks).  However, there was something Manouso would repeat during classes which I found intriguing.  BKS Iyengar said, “Yoga teaches us to  cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”  Manouso would say something pomelo_20161218181317_save.jpgto the same effect.

Every once in a while he would say something like, ‘Find balance in the imbalance.” or “Find a state of equanimity in the chaos.”  And once even, “Use the problematic pose to fix the problem!”

During the course of the 5 days he would say variations of this every once in a while, and I would think if only he’d allowed us to take notes I could jot down his exact words.  But unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take notes.

However, what BKS Iyengar said decades ago and what Manouso was telling us now, is perhaps the single most important mantra for our lives and times.  Since the new year is just around the corner, most of us are thinking (if only fleetingly) about our resolutions for next year.  It’s important to think about resolutions.  Last night I jotted down a few thoughts for next year, and its a good way to let your subconscious know that there are a few things that need to make a home in it.  But I think the overriding idea and the main message we should all keep in mind is ‘Find balance in the imbalance.’

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2017 isn’t going to magically change us and the lives we live.  Your approach to your food or relationship choices won’t change overnight.  You won’t start to miraculously wake up early and magically stop procrastinating.  Because real change comes from within.  And instead of us trying to go the 100-0 way, what we can do is try our best to keep our resolutions, but at the same time accept that to change habits requires a little bit of hard work, time and patience.  Basically find a balance in the imbalance of life.

Taking it a step further, I would suggest to those of you looking at establishing a fitness routine to work with what you’ve got.  Don’t plan on waking up early AND working out.  That’s two resolutions you have to work on at one go, and if you’re unable to keep one, then you miss the other as well.  If you’re not an early riser, then sleep in.  Workout when you get up, if you have that sort of flexibility in terms of time.  Or workout once you’re done with work for the day.  It will be easier to keep your workout resolution during your waking hours than when you’re fast asleep.  And being under slept and cranky don’t amount to having a good time at the gym.

Whatever the constraints in your life, there is a solution.  Until then, find a balance in the imbalance.  Learn to endure that which you can’t cure.

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Ayurveda Healthy Living Healthy Recipes Yoga

Delicious Yet Nutritious

November 20, 2016

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I get a lot of queries about diet and food.  Since holistic health is largely about diet and exercise, I make it a point to attend as many sessions as I can to gain insight into different food trends and beliefs.  Your diet, like your style of clothing, has to be something that you are comfortable with and that works for you.  Food trends that may work for others may not be suitable for your body chemistry.  A diet which is convenient for others may not be convenient for you at all.  For this reason, I feel we should all be very mindful about our diets, and also willing to experiment.  Beliefs that we’ve been holding on to for years may not hold good for us.  Alternatively, things that we think are not true and ‘don’t work’ may actually show results!

Growing up around the world at a time when Indian food wasn’t easily accessible ensuredimg-20161114-wa0000.jpg that I’m a simple and unfussy eater.  I did have my quirks (like all kids).  For instance, for some reason I couldn’t stand tomatoes in any sabjis and dals and would always fish them out of my food!  However, living all over the world ensured great gastronomical delights such as candy apples in the famous carnivals of Brazil, khubz and fasulia in the by lanes of Yemen and mishti doi in the mangroves of Bangaldesh knowns as the Shundarbans.  Food is a big part of culture and to this day I enjoy sampling local flavors and cuisine.

Rekha Diwekar is a proponent of local food.  Her talk was aptly titled ‘Delicious Yet Nutritious’.  She wanted to dispel the myth that food has to be tasteless and bland in order to be nutritious. Her contention is that it is possible to remain fit and healthy by eating clean and local produce.

Below are some points from her talk:

  1. Your food is responsible for producing the digestive enzymes that will extract the nutrients that you body can use.  The process of digestion starts from the moment 20161115_122609.jpgyou see and smell the food and start to salivate  in anticipation of the delicious food.  Tasteless food creates no enzymes and therefore digestion doesn’t happen optimally.
  2. The process of aging occurs when the number of cells that are regenerated and renewed in your body are less than that number of cells that die.  This process starts at the age of 25.  In other words, you start to age at 25.
  3. We eat food, food eats us too.  Any food that doesn’t nourish you is eating you up from the inside.
  4. One of the main factors you need to keep in mind when choosing is the food miles.  The more local your food, the less it has travelled with artificial preservatives to  keep it fresh for longer.
  5. The food you choose should be traditional and seasonal.
  6. The best way to decided whether you should eat a particular food is to ask yourself two questions about the food: Can I eat this food repeatedly for 15 days.  For instance, panipuri is tasty and it makes you salivate, but in all honesty, can you eat it for 15 days straight with the same zeal and gusto?  Probably not.  The next question to ask your self is whether you feel light and energetic.  If you feel heavy and sleepy post lunch, it would be a good idea to analyse what you are consuming for lunch.  According to Rekha Diwekar, just like some clothes look better on the mannequin, some foods look better in the shop and should stay in the shop and not in our tummies.
  7. Rice is a superfood.  It is a popular myth that diabetics shouldn’t have rice because of the sugar content.  The sugar found in rice is different from actual white sugar.  Plain and simple sugars like glucose and cane sugar have a chemical formula.  They go into your system and react.  Rice has no chemical formula, so what happens to it once it enters your system is different from what happens when you eat sugar.  Rice is an anti allergen so its great for gluten intolerant people.  Also, rice contains Lysine which is the precursor to the Human Growth Hormone (HGH).  The reason you start to age at 25 is because the  HGH production decreases.
  8. Eating rice at night is a great option because rice is easily digested and you end uppomelo_20161115102745_save.jpg feeling light and fresh in the morning.  Although rice has a high GI (glycemic index), when mixed with something (such as curd or dal) the GI becomes low and rice becomes a superfood.  Single polished rice is recommended.
  9. The vitamin deficiencies that have become omnipresent now can be linked to the absence of healthy fats in our current diets.  Vitamins A D E and K are fat soluble.  So you need good quality fats to dissolve them.  Good fats are composed of SCFA – Short Chain Fatty Acids.  When we sit in the sun hoping to combat our Vit D deficiency, we need to also understand that the process of conversion from D2 to D3 will only happen in the presence of good fats.  Ghee is a good fat.  Traditionally we make gajar ka halwa during the winters.  When made with ghee, this combination contains good fats and Vit A.  Also, traditionally women are asked to eat a lot of ‘fattening’ food when they are pregnant.  This usually consists of ghee laden ladoos and panjiri.  During pregnancy your Thyroid has to work overtime and the healthy fats from these goodies ensure that your Vit D levels stay normal.
  10. Another source of good fat is coconut.  Coconuts contain MCFA – Medium Chain Fatty Acids and MCTs – Medium Chain Triglycerides.  Both these are responsible for your physical stamina and mental peace.  Coconut water helps in treating vaginal infections and muscle cramps as well.
  11. Many people I know (and I have to admit I’m guilty of this too) don’t have the coconut chutney with their idlis and dosas.  But the combination of the idli/dosa and chutney is optimal.
  12. Avoid LCFA – Low Chain Fatty Acids.T hese are found in biscuits, fried street food, bakery products and cakes.
  13. When cooking with oil, just use the oil once.  At high temperatures oil becomes rancid and not nutritious for you.
  14. Have local filtered oils.  In the south these would include peanut and coconut oils and in the north this would be mustard oil.  Seed oils are the best oils.
  15. When it comes to Indian food, you will get the most of the nutrients only by following combinations should be followed:
    • cereal + pulses (eg. dal chawal)
    • cereal + milk products (eg. kheer, curd rice)
    • milk + pulses (eg. kadi chawal)
  16. Another food label that we should become aware of is GRAS – Generally Regarded as Safe.  A lot of processed foods contain this label and it is misleading.
  17. The food plan for a typical day would be:
    • Wake up and drink water.
    • Have some fruits/dry fruits.
    • Tea
    • Breakfast
    • Mid morning snack: Fruit/Coconut/Sherbet
    • Lunch
    • Mid afternoon snack: Fruit
    • Another snack
    • Light dinner
  18. Eating a food for a particular nutrient (fiber, protein etc.) is impossible.  Food and our bodies have a complex chemistry and it is impossible to reduce the process of digestion and assimilation to a single nutrient found in a particular food.
  19. For those who are allergic to gluten, millets are a great idea.  Gluten is a non nutrient, so it is OK to eliminate it from your diet.  However, elimination of any food groups should only happen if you are allergic to that particular food.
  20. Sources of good fat: coconuts, nuts, filtered oils, and homemade butter.
  21. All sources of fructose have low GI.  So all fruits have low GI and are easy to metabolise by your body.
  22. Too much fibre isn’t good for you.
  23. Many of us rue our hunger.  However, hunger is a sign of youth.  A growing body feels hungry.  So revel in your hunger because it shows you that you are young and healthy.

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Healthy Living Travel Uncategorized Yoga

On the 2nd of Oct

October 2, 2016

Today was my first Sunday after the gruelling month in Pune.  All I’ve been trying to do these past few days is to get enough rest and practice all I’ve learnt.  But I was lookingpomelo_20161002083729_save.jpg forward to today because I wanted to catch up on some reading and just relax (I don’t practice on Sundays.  I read late into the night yesterday and woke up without the alarm this morning.

1. 6:15 am: Geetanjali and I had decided yesterday to go to the library today to pick up some reading to get us into the holiday mood.  As soon as I woke up I realized it was Gandhi Jayanti and the library would probably be closed.  I texted her and then laced up for a walk.  On days I don’t work out I like to go for long walks.  I think I clocked 5 kms today around the lake.

 

 

2. 7.45 am:  After 2 coconuts (feeling nostalgic about my post practice coconuts in     Pune),  I headed back home and did a bit of stretching.  Post walk/run stretching is a must.  Most injuries are because of lack of before and after workout stretching.pomelo_20161002083719_save.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. 11 am:  Since Eloor was closed we decided to meet up on Church Street for brunch pomelo_20161002134238_save.jpgand book browsing.  There’s always something going on on Church Street.  This time I noticed a bunch of new stores and new artwork!  There are so many awesome places in and around Church Street but we decided to go for our usual India Coffee House.  By the time we got there all the idli and wada batter was over and so we could only have masala dosas.  The dosa was delicious and I had two :).  Reluctant to have coffee at the India Coffee House (fyi – they don’t have filter coffee), we headed to Adigas (down the road) for my first filter coffee after my Pune sojourn.  But before we headed over I quickly popped into Namdhari’s to pick up some stone ground organic whole grain wheat flour (Navadarshanam).

 

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Art on Church Street

 

4.  12 noon:  We decided to explore the recently opened Bookworm instead of Blossoms today.  They were still unpacking cartons of books, but we were able to browse.  They have a wide selection of books (used and new) and they even have beautiful re-furbished classics!

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5.  1 pm:  After this it was either sitting at Starbucks with a coffee or heading back to my house to relax.  Since Geetanjali wanted to copy ‘Downton Abbey’ we decided to come back to my place so that she could copy it.  We came back home, kicked our shoes off and settled down in my living room.  Geetanjali browsed my hard drive while I made us some refreshing lemonade.  It had just the right amount of ginger, mint and lemon (if I say so myself!)

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6.  2 pm:  Once Geetanjali left, I made myself a quick lunch and then dealt with the universal dilemma for book lovers.  Which one to read first.  The Ishiguro won, mainly because I’m returning it to Eloor for Geetanjali next week, and also because I’ve been meaning to read something by him for a while now and haven’t gotten around to it.  And also because ‘Immortality’ is too heavy for a lazy Sunday.  I spent my afternoon reading ‘Nocturnes’.

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7.  5 pm:  After an afternoon of reading I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to watch the latest episode of ‘Kalki’s Great Excape’ (Fox Life, Saturday @8 pm), an intriguing show where Kalki and Joel Koechlin explore the North East on these beautiful bikes.  This show is a travel reality show and it’s great to see how other travellers negotiate the road less travelled.

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Now for some dinner, maybe some TV and then lights out so that I’m geared up for the first day of classes after a month off!

 

Healthy Living Travel Yoga

When the going gets tough…

September 22, 2016

I watched ‘Eat Pray Love’ and later devoured the book.  I loved the book and the movie.  I remember googling to find out what ashram Elizabeth Gilbert had checked into.  My friends and  discussed the book and its ideas to death.  We planned similar journeys.  And finally, all of us hoped that should we ever experience a life altering event, we would have the courage and strength to overcome it just like Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert went on to write another book about her life post marriage with the love of her life (whom she met in at the end of ‘Eat Pray Love’).  I haven’t had a chance to read that book yet, but I do hope to pick it up soon.  Over the past few weeks the internet exploded with news that Elizabeth Gilbert has divorced her husband of 12 years – for the woman she’s in love with.  The thing is, this news wasn’t brought to the world through newspapers and magazine stories; Gilbert put it up on her Facebook page herself.  She included a picture of herself with the woman she loves.

Today while in the Sirsasana, with rivulets of sweat running down(up?) my torso and onto the mat, I think I gained a new perspective.  This morning we were taught how to balance our shoulders and torso in the headstand.  The teacher took us through various moves that helped us understand the positioning and behaviour of our shoulder blades and other parts of the torso.  This was to give us insight into how we can improve our headstand.  I was experimenting with my headstand and the experiments had me almost toppling and definitely very very unstable.

I’m sure falling in love while married, deciding to commit to the woman you love (despite knowing she has terminal cancer) and finally calling it quits on a relationship of 12 years with the love of your life (and which has been immortalized in a couple of best selling books) wasn’t easy.  And it didn’t happen overnight.  There must’ve been moments of uncertainty, of fear, of helplessness, anxiety, doubt, anger…and an overwhelming sense of insecurity.  Deciding to go public with an intensely private matter of this kind also couldn’t have been easy for  a woman known the world over for her soul searching trip to India and Bali.  No one in the public domain is impervious to criticism.  With social media being so pervasive, every detail of your life can be analysed.  You can be publicly berated for your actions, opinions and personal choices.  Therefore I think it was very very brave of her to be open about the choice that she made, and to risk a lot of bad publicity, ‘unfriends’, ‘unfollows’ and ‘unlikes’.  In an age where lifestyle choices are beamed out to the world the second they are made, we are constantly under the scanner.

For health and fitness professionals, it is imperative to look their best in every post.  Even pictures of them looking less than their best are always pictures of them looking fabulously less than their best.  The constant scrutiny from fans and followers creates intense pressure to look a particular way or make certain choices.  For fitness professionals choices such as drinking, smoking and indulging the sweet tooth present a challenge – to broadcast or not to broadcast?  I wonder, for instance, as a yoga expert what if I were to one day get a condition that yoga is meant to prevent – how would I go public with it?  Would I, like Gilbert, have the courage to talk about my experience?  Or what if I were to gain all the weight back (a fear that I constantly live with)?  How would I even begin to talk about it?  Which is why I feel like the protagonist on ‘Eat Pray Love’ is more courageous than what was portrayed in the book.  Her courage is uncommon and her quest for herself is very honest.

This is something we can all learn from.  What if an event in your life forced you to re-evaluate everything you’ve stood for so far?  Most of us are so fixated in our opinions and lives that we can almost never admit that we are wrong.  And what if we had to do so publicly?  I can’t imagine what Elizabeth Gilbert went through, but I think it would have been a process of immense growth and fulfilment.

When was the last time you were faced with a situation that challenged your basics and how did you deal with it?  Was it a process of growth and learning?  If yes, what did you learn?