Healthy Living, Yoga Practice

Lead from the Heart


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.


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.


Kamal Maliramani

Yoga Practice

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.


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.


Kamal Maliramani

Healthy Living

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.

Kamal Maliramani

Yoga Practice

Why love Headstand


The first thought that comes to most of us when we think of a Headstand is…. ‘Can I do it?’.
We go through mixed emotions of fear, anxiety & uncertainty.

So is it worth the journey… ‘Yes it is’.

Here are five strong reasons to love Headstand:

It’s Anti-ageing

Gravity keeps working on us every moment and keeps pulling the organs towards it, most visible being the sagging face. Headstand gives a face lift by allowing gravity to work in the opposite direction. It works similarly on all parts of the body thereby acting as an anti-ageing agent. Get ready to get younger.

Builds Confidence
When we start working on Headstand everyday we make slow but steady progress. Each milestone achieved boosts our confidence and make us believe that final Headstand is possible. We start overcoming our fears. This positive reinforcement of confidence starts reflecting in other aspects of our day to day challenges, thereby, adding to our inner strength…mental and emotional. Headstand is the secret to great confidence.

Improves Focus
One of the key components of Asana practice is to develop ‘Focus’ and a Headstand can test it best. While most of the standing, forward bending, supine Asanas can be performed with little focus, a Headstand is just not possible without it. We might manage to get into it but to achieve steadiness ‘Focus’ is the most essential component of a Headstand. So get into a Headstand and get improved Focus.

Makes us Physically Stronger
A steady straight Headstand demands strong hands, shoulders, spine, core, legs…almost every part of the body. Getting into a Headstand daily will keep adding strength and energy making us stronger. Boost your strength with a Headstand everyday.

Gives Emotional Stability
In this age of instant coffee/messaging our mind gets used to working fast, we start seeking instant solutions to everyday challenges. While the real world moves at a more slow & steady pace. This disconnect from the real world leaves us disgruntled, irritated, angry & depressed. Working towards achieving a steady Headstand would take months of regular practice, the slow and gradual development connects us with the pace of real world. Over a period of time the slow & steady approach becomes second nature to us bringing back control in daily challenges and making us emotionally more stable & stronger.

Apart from the above, there are many more physical, mental and spiritual benefits to share but I choose to keep this note small & simple.

Do not allow the fears in your head keep you away from the Headstand.
Move on in life from ‘I cannot’ to ‘I can’.


Kamal Maliramani

Healthy Living

The power of Rest

We are in love with the new age 24×7 lifestyle. We love to talk about how busy we are (not necessarily constructive), how we are making the most of our time. Work, play & party hard is the mantra…there is no room for sleep or rest. Rest seems to be a waste of precious time. So much so that if we do get some spare time we start feeling uncomfortable, unproductive and depressed. Chasing the clock has become our daily routine and habit.

So do we really need rest? the answer is a firm ‘Yes’. Its as essential as eating, walking or breathing. When we rest, our body gets time and energy to repair and restore our muscles, joints, cells etc that are a part of our physical being, it helps the subconscious to assimilate thoughts and provide us with solutions, it reduces strain and stress that accumulates during work. It’s like going on vacation…when we get back from vacation we have more energy and enthusiasm. So right kind of rest will also bring in energy and enthusiasm in abundance.

Feel like you are dragging yourself from day to day and feeling fatigued when you get up in the morning? then rest assured you need rest 🙂 With proper rest we can be assured that our channels of thinking work most efficiently thereby making us more efficient in all the tasks that we take upon us.

Here are two cases that I share from my classes.

The first one is a gentleman from Mumbai who is in his early 40s and had developed heart problem. The fast paced life running behind the clock displayed in his body with a paunch around the abdomen, marks below the eyes and the skin looking dull and lifeless. He turned to Yoga looking for a solution and gave me one week time. To put him through a routine of asanas was not possible cos he had never spent time for fitness and coupled with this was his weak heart that could not take much physical exertion. I realized his immediate need was proper and effective rest. For one complete week we worked on only Pranayaam and Yog Nidra. This brought familiarity and importance of rest in his life. The result was there to see in just one week…his skin firmed up and was shining, eyes and face expressed freshness, the bloated body restored to normal and he also developed a positive mindset that life can be restored. When he returned to Mumbai his wife called to thank and said “he looks so much more younger!”

The second case is of a lady who delivered her second baby after about 6 years of gap. Now managing the home with a school going kid and having a new one who would not let her sleep was taking a toll on her. Exhaustion was visible on her face, eyes and body language. She had practiced Yoga earlier and now she had turned to Yoga once again for fitness, balance and weight loss. She was very efficient with asana practice earlier but now standing forward bending was making her dizzy. She was unhappy about this and so was I concerned. BP check brought in normal reading and that was a good news. On further discussion and contemplation I explained that it was lack of rest that is displaying itself in various ways. Once again for one whole week we just worked on Yog nidra in the class and she recovered. No more dizzy head and what more she also started loosing weight. Her efficiency in performing asanas improved and even bettered the earlier stint.

Rest is a biological need and lack of it can make you irritable, angry, unclear & unpleasant. So what is proper rest. If you think lying on the sofa reading a book or watching your favorite television show is rest then you are mistaken. Proper rest involves minimal nerve stimulation and absolute suspension of use of muscle, joints and the mind. Rest is complete when its more than just physical, we need psychological rest with suspension of use of mind. As we age and responsibilities multiply we need to relearn the art of resting that would help us lead a meaningful life with focus and clarity.

Here are quick benefits of proper Rest or Sleep:

– Keeps weight in check
– Make us look healthier and attractive
– Adds years to life
– Strengthens immune system
– Reduces stress
– Improves memory
– Improves creativity
– Sharpens attention
– Brings clarity to thought
– Improved enthusiasm & Positive thinking

Shavasana in the Yoga system reinforces the importance of rest, performing Shavasana at the end of a Yoga session helps channelize the energy gained while performing the asanas or praanayaam.

So till next time take care and do rest.

Kamal Maliramani

Yoga Practice

what are you looking at


We are gifted with 5 senses that keep us connected with the outside world. The mind constantly receives inputs and keeps responding to the stimuli. Among these, the mind follows ‘Eyes’ the most. Most of our memories are also stored as experiences of the eyes. Most part of our lives are spent to make things visually appealing…. including ourselves. And they do create an impact….looks do matter.

The Eye is so powerful that our mind starts thinking in the direction we are looking at, we see an old friend and the mind is delighted, we see someone who has helped us in life and the mind will gather feelings of respect. One of the three monkeys of Gandhiji also emphasized on not looking at bad things. The influence of what we see is profound.

The system of Yoga identified this aspect of the Eye and utilized it to bring in focus and balance.

I distinctly remember one of my students who attended sessions religiously everyday but noticed that his eyes would always keep moving looking at others practicing or staring at things around. This student could not perform Pranayama for over 2 minutes with eyes closed cos his mind loved to be distracted. Distraction had become his habit. Constant reminders failed to keep his eyes and mind pondering on things around and this reflected in his poor practice.  Looking at others during Yoga practice is strongly not recommended cos it instantly brings up thoughts of comparison and judgement.

The fact that eyes can bring in focus and balance can be experienced once we move into intermediate and advanced asanas which would involve deep forward bends, back bends, inversions and arm balances. We just cannot bring in grace into our postures if our eyes and mind are not focused.

There are several aspects of Yoga that involve the Eye to develop focus…. Tratak, concentrating on an object to develop in meditation, visualization in yog nidra and so on. Ashtanga Yoga practice that comes from Mysore and also the Iyengar system of asana practice have specific emphasis on where we look at while we perform the asana.

There are eight points of gaze also known as ‘Drishtis’ that have been identified to keep the practitioner engaged with the current moment and being aware of the asana….the eight points are:

– Broomadhya: between the eyebrows
– Nasagrai: tip of nose
– Angustha ma dyai: the thumbs
– Nabi Chakra: the navel
– Urdhva: up to the sky
– Hastagrai: the hands
– Padhayoragrai: the toes
– Prasva: far left or far right

Using the gaze points helps mind to get focused and also develops inner focus. Thereby, taking us a step further in the aspects of Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation).

So next time in your Yoga session and also through the day, think of what you are looking at.

Kamal Maliramani