Stay ageless with ashtanga

Stay ageless with ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga is the toughest form of yoga, but it can purify your mind, body and soul, reveals yoga expert Sharath Jois in a conversation with Aparna Shivapura

Sharath Jois.

Ashtanga yoga, or the eight-fold practice of yoga, can take you on a life-changing journey of self-management and self-healing. This ancient practice synchronises body movements with breath control and takes you towards inner re-engineering and rejuvenation through a process of purification. This eight-fold practice covers yama (moral codes), niyama (discipline), asana (proper yogic postures), pranayama (breath control or yogic breathing), pratyahara (control of sense), dharana (focus or concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (enlightenment).

Sharath Jois’s new book, Ageless: A Yogi’s Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life, offers nuances into the ancient form of vinyasa yoga which was popularised globally by his grandfather, the legendary K Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. Here, in an exclusive conversation, Sharath suggests ways to internalise this ancient practice into a simple yet structured format, and also describes the many benefits of ashtanga yoga:

What is ashtanga yoga? What are its benefits?

Ashtanga yoga focuses on physical strength and muscle training. The long-term practice of this form of yoga can tone control and strengthen your body, leading to a longer and a better quality of life. It also works on your mind and soul. For multiple issues related to the mind including stress, mental pressures and issues related to the brain, this practice can significantly calm and rejuvenate your mind. It also enhances your emotional well-being by enabling you to control and balance your emotions.

How does one become ‘ageless’?

Simple changes in your lifestyle, food habits, daily practices and overall routine can completely transform your health and drastically reduce your medical bills. From my own discovery, practice and experience of ashtanga yoga, I made the transition from sickness to health.

The book covers some significant changes that can be achieved through simple practices such as: eating less to live longer, eating like a yogi, perfecting your daily routine, fasting every 15 days, taking deeper breaths for a long life, helping others to help yourself, and last but not the least, being positive. Channeling positivity first thing in the morning offers a cure for anxiety as one can introspect to find answers for contentment.

What are the biggest lifestyle myths in today’s age?

We have many myths and notions around our eating habits and general lifestyle, and the book dispels all that. For example, there is no need to eat like a king in the morning, which means that there’s no need to have a super heavy breakfast! There is a need for balance in everything — never overindulge in sleep, food, work or recreation. If your body is balanced, your mind will be balanced, too!

What does a yogi eat?

Being conscious of what we eat and in what proportion and at what time is key here. Some foods eaten by yogis are sacred because they form the building blocks of all energy and life. Some best practices include: yogis eat foods that grow above the ground, they eat rice, drink milk (unadulterated), eat ghee (is a lubricator and a source of butyric acid which is excellent for the stomach wall and reduces gut inflammation). Yogis eat curd and pickles (produces good bacteria); yogis eat coconuts (aids in boosting metabolism and fat loss); they eat jaggery (an excellent source for energy as it kills fatigue), and of course, spices (heal a variety of illnesses).

How is pranayama helpful?

Pranayama’s far-reaching benefits include improved blood circulation, deep mind and body relaxation, ability to relieve stress, depression and hypertension. It also helps in curing many severe health ailments and diseases, neurological illnesses, and much more. There are over 1,000 types of pranayama delineated in the hatha yoga pranayama methodology.

A healthy tonic for the body, mind and soul, a long-term practice of the right form of pranayama can increase your prana or lifespan, qualitatively increase the supply of oxygen to the body, and improve the central nervous system. So, its time to breathe right and deep!

Can kids take up yoga?

Actually, there’s a rise in mental disorders and challenges faced by children, especially in urban India between the ages of 10 and 18. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the child has a healthy lifestyle devoid of junk food, gadget addiction and stress. An early inculcation of yoga ensures that the child is calm, away from unwanted thoughts and maintains an internal balance. 

Making ashtanga yoga a way of life offers one a wholesome combination of not only physical exercises, meditation and asanas, but also facilitates one to develop a better outlook and approach to life by making one conscious of everything they do to achieve their life goals.