Lead from the Heart

childhood

Imagine hopping on to a time machine and zooming back to some of the best days in our life…childhood! Life was easy and making friends without questioning their background or color, was easier. We learnt new things without rationalizing their use. Simplicity filled our lives with joy. Keep it simple stupid was exactly what we did! Life was filled with positive energy each new day, smiling and laughing was easy. We lived our hearts out.

Then as we start maturing and enter our teens, the mind starts taking over and most of the conflicts faced during this period make us or break us for life. We seek answers about following the heart or the mind. Society teaches us to apply our mind and life starts changing. The entry into adulthood brings in the era of logic and rationalization. The mind is now in business and takes over.

Do we see the distinction?

The heart is about gratitude, love, harmony, peace, happiness, forgiveness and non-violence. The mind on the other hand, is the seat of greed, anger, lust, destruction and ego. This is why a major portion of Yog Surta is dedicated to how the mind works and deceives us. In fact the prime objective defined in the Yog Sutra is to still the mind (Yogas chitta-vritti-nirodhah). So is the idea of stilling the mind to allow the heart being heard?

Keeping the larger challenges of life aside let’s look at our Yoga asana practice closely. Follow any system Hatha, Iyengar or Ashtanga and whether it’s a back bend or forward bend or twisting. We are expected to open our chest while moving into the asana. In other words offer our heart or lead from the heart. We are expected to practice with devotion, gratitude, kindness, self respect and all these are properties of the heart. If we bring in the mind to our practice it will be all about display, moving faster, injuries and feeding the ego.

heart

Let our practice lead us from the heart. See the bigger picture here…take the hint and let your heart enable you to lead a better & richer life.

Namaste,

Kamal Maliramani

http://www.energizeryoga.in
http://www.facebook.com/EnergizerYoga

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Follow your inner Guru

The practice of Yoga has established itself and survived over thousands of years; it deals with the union of mind, body & soul with the universal energy. In the recent past there have been articles published that the practice of Yoga is causing injuries thereby building fear towards Yoga practice in the community. I am yet to come across articles that dissuade public from driving cars cause they lead to accidents or travel in flights cause they crash sometimes. In a recent TV episode of Mahabharata one dialogue by Shakuni Mama made loads of sense “its easy to do adharma on people who follow dharma”. These articles reflect the same bad spirit.

The practice of Yoga involves eight stages: Yam, Niyam, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahaar, Dhyan, Dharan and Samadhi. These have been listed in this order with sufficient reason. The very first stage addressed in Yam is that of Ahimsa or Non-violence. It says that one needs to respect every aspect of our life around us including ourselves and our bodies. This spirit of non-violence has to reflect in all our further stages of Yoga practice whether its physical, mental or spiritual.

Often these crucial stages of Yam and Niyam are ignored or are not properly understood and absorbed in Yoga practice. If the foundation is not strong the practice further will be faulty.

“Yoga causes injury” also is a classic reflection of the human ego which looks for possible reasons outside to blame for their misery. Recently I saw a huge inflatable outside a hospital with salt in the form of a monster and the supporting line said “Salt monster is hurting your friends and family” which made me wonder if Salt was the monster? or are we humans the monsters that are over consuming salt. Its convenient to put blame on others.

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When we practice Yoga asanas in a group class we start comparing our practice thereby feeling insecure if someone around is better or it feeds our ego if we are the best. But the critical element to understand here is that each individual is unique and the picture perfect postures may not be perfect for each one of us. In short, when we fail to respect the practice and come to class with the attitude of demonstration & showcasing to others how perfect we are, we land up in the trouble zone. Our desires to get into advance postures too early is also the culprit. Sometimes the ego of our Yoga instructor could also land us into trouble if he/she pushes us beyond our limit to showcase their capabilities.

Its good to remember that we need to prepare our body, modify our lifestyles and stay committed to asana practice to get to advanced asanas. More importantly, Yoga is an inner journey and asana practice is one element that helps us move further. An individual with a short hamstring is equally qualified to be a Yogi as much as a practitioner with long hamstring who can reach his head to the shins in a forward bend. The important aspect is to develop inner silence.

Our body communicates with us and guides us provided we are willing to keep our desires & ego in check to listen to it. One piece of advice that I always keep with myself during my practice came from a dear friend and a senior Yoga teacher Paul Fox of UK who said “Follow your inner Guru”. So very true.

Namaste,

Kamal Maliramani

http://www.energizeryoga.in
http://www.facebook.com/EnergizerYoga

10 steps to healthy eating

There are loads of advice about diet plans and what to eat but there are even more basic and essential points that we miss to understand or implement while eating. Here are ten such aspects, if followed, that can keep us healthy, fit and lean:

1) Drink solid. Eat liquid.

You read that right. The process of digestion begins when we start chewing and saliva acts on it. It makes sense for the food to spend sufficient time here and get prepared for the digestive track. The idea of drinking solid is to chew the solids till it turns liquid and we should allow liquids to stay and relish it, not just gulp it. Chewing food properly prepares the stomach to be ready with the digestive enzymes and makes it easier for it to break the food for further process.

2) Remain stress free 

The primary role of our Energy system is to combat stress, be it physical, mental or emotional. This is followed by helping the process of digestion. Now if we are stressed in any form and eat it would be of no help to us cos the system needs to first manage stress. Remember the good words from our parents that discouraged us from eating immediately when we ran back home. Learn to stay focused on food and eat with a peaceful mind. Ideally before eating wash your feet, hands, face and pour a little water on your neck which helps you to get fresh and relaxed.

3) Eat half full

When we eat in a rush or in stress there is tendency to over eat. This is not desirable. The ideal formula for healthy eating is to eat half stomach; quarter is for water and quarter for air. When we overload a mixer it has to work harder and could also burn the machine, the same principle applies to our digestive system – never overload. Sitting in sukhasan on the floor helps us to gauge when we are half full. An interesting quote I once read said “there is no harm in eating less”…but remember do not starve yourself.

4) Keep entertainment away

It is common to see members of family sitting in front of the television or internet while eating. If that was not enough our smartphones keep us engaged. When our mind is distracted with entertainment, in any form, we tend to lose control on how much we are eating. Eating becomes a mechanical process and the hand would stop only once we are filled up to the throat. Overeating then becomes an everyday habit; that would be an open invitation for several diseases.

5) Avoid whites in your food

Too much of Sugar, Salt or Maida in our food is an absolutely no. Vegetables if cooked properly take care of the salts, sugar and mineral requirements for our body. The additional salt required is very limited but we tend to keep taste as our priority. Our sweet tooth keeps us glued to sweets and maida while it is heavy on the digestive track, it tastes great. Also we should not forget that all these available to us are processed and treated with chemicals to look and taste good. No wonder BP, Diabetes and Constipation are so common.

6) Don’t skip breakfast

We need more energy during the day than night and so having a healthy breakfast is essential for the day. After dinner this is the next meal with a gap of about 12-14hrs, this is reason enough that we provide our body with essential nutrients and minerals that would aid our energy and keep us alert and active through the day. Important aspect being that the food should be healthy, one that supplements’ your energy and does not drain it.

7) Last meal by 7 pm

Having a healthy gap of 2-3 hrs between eating and getting into bed is a great habit. This gives sufficient time for the body to digest the food. Our body at night gets into repair mode and so if the digestive system is still active, it interferes with our rest and restoration. Eating late and sleeping immediately also disrupts your digestive process cos gravity aids the movement of food and this gets deprived when we sleep. A light meal is sufficient to keep us going for the night. This habit also keeps check on our weight.

8) Do not drink water while eating

Water contains essential salts and minerals for the body. Water needs no digestive enzymes to work on it and is immediately moved to the intestines for direct absorption. Therefore, when we drink water while eating food it would carry with it undigested food from the stomach into the intestinal track. This unprocessed food gets difficult to work on and creates unnecessary drain on our system. A few sips of water, if the food is very spicy however, is acceptable.

9) Eat five/six small meals a day

Eating small portions five/six times a day is better than eating more than just 3 meals. This habit keeps blood sugar levels steady. It helps keeping ‘feeling of being fatigued’ away. Eating smaller portions five times will also bring in variety into food ensuring the right nutrients get into our system. When we stick to three meals a day think about how we come to the table like a hungry monster and this brings with it the tendency to eat more than required. One of my favorite quotes on food ‘you can have it all, just not all at once‘ also reinforces this.

10) Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables

Nature provides us with the right foods at the right time of the year. Water melons before onset of summer, oranges/mangoes during summer etc. Advanced scientific techniques have enabled the availability of every type of fruit or vegetable mostly through the year but we need to sit back and think about our food habits w.r.t seasons. The kind of food we eat alters our temperature and metabolism and the more we respect the cycle of nature the better for us. One easy way to get to know the food for each season is to enter a market and check for fruits and vegetables that are most visible and economical.

Namaste
Kamal Maliramani

http://www.energizeryoga.in
http://www.facebook.com/EnergizerYoga