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Yoga is probably the greatest discovery of my life. It has helped me find my center and shown me a path to return to my inner self and my steady state-of-mind no matter how complex and complicated the outside and external world gets.
We had a chance to speak to Garima Bhandari, an internationally acclaimed Yoga Coach and an Ashtanga Yoga Practitioner and Mentor. She breaks down complicated Yoga Techniques into simpler alignments and has in-depth knowledge of movement with breath. In this conversation, not only do we learn more about how yoga helps in our day-to-day lives but also take a peek into her life and routine, managing kids, family, and practice.
How has Yoga personally benefited you?
I am always connected to who I am internally . In addition to that it has taught me a lot about self-reliance and how to establish a symbiotic relationship between the mind, body, and the soul.There are multiple external benefits as well, such as great physical , mental health, emotional succour, sharp motor skills, a clean lifestyle and I am definitely able to reverse my signs of ageing gracefully so!
And all this put together gives me nearly endless & enormous energy to accomplish a lot more
What would you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
I would have to say having the courage to set off on my own and tirelessly working super hard to finally be in a position to be able to take the message of yoga to lakhs of people in India and across the world. The kind of love, respect, and adulation that I get almost everyday on my live interactive sessions , incessant messages on social media channels which is flooded with wonderful feedback for my yoga practice and gratitude to me for helping them get started with this magical practice and discipline of yoga is so gratifying and rewarding !
Another small feather in my cap is when my kids whisper in my years that I am their role model and that for me is truly precious and one of my best achievement by large
How does yoga help practitioners of other sports?
Yoga allows creating a balance between the outside and the inside. Any professional sportsperson will tell you that sport is as much mental as it is physical, in fact more mental in some instances, which is why we all love when the underdog wins. A balanced mind and body is a great weapon, especially in sport. In a more tangible sense, yoga increases the capacity of our lungs, it clears our mind to decrease our reaction time, increases endurance and strength, and because of its range of isometric movements with dynamic breath control, yoga activates muscles that even powerful exercise forms cannot.
Do you think yoga is beneficial, especially for women?
Most certainly. There is a whole stream of asanas dedicated especially for women. Yoga offers specific asanas for the pre-natal period to condition and assist in women physically and mentally for a natural childbirth and extremely therapeutic to alleviate the signs of post-partum delivery (PPD) .Helps to keep their weight in check and gives a natural glow to their skin , prevents hair fall and combats the PMS and other hormonal imbalances.
Extremely therapeutic in regulating thyroid disorders and nourishes the reproductive glands
Yoga for youngsters, how is it beneficial?
Traditional wisdom says, we are all born with yoga in is. And it is so true if we observe a baby, we could perhaps see how beautifully and naturally she practices yoga every day. When she is an infant, she tries to lift her head, we call it Shalabhasana when she crawls and stops to look up, we call it Marjariasana, when she flips over playingly, we call it Halasana. When the baby rocks holding the big toe it’s called anandbalasana and so on.
As a child grows up, he or she starts to lose the inclination and ability to perform these asanas that came to them most naturally and instinctively. The sooner we initiate children in the practice, the more of that natural yoga they are able to retain and benefit from through a lifetime and longevity
Do you follow a specific diet to complement your practice?
I don’t specifically follow a diet for my practice. I eat clean, fresh, and home-cooked , Ayurvedic freshly prepared plant-based diet and stick to having my last meal around by 5.30-6 pm everyday with the sunset .Basically, my meals are all done between sunrise and sunset. Yoga is brilliantly complemented by an Ayurvedic and a Sattvik lifestyle. One has to only follow the principles of both in unison and never need to worry about dieting again.
Yoga – prevention v/s cure
Yoga is most importantly a preventive and an integrated therapeutic alternative to Combat lifestyle-induced hitherto diseases as opposed to the medicinal approach. It is the only practice that gives a thorough internal cleanse and perpetually like a workout for our internal organs as well. Yoga practice greatly strengthens our inbuilt disease-fighting mechanism which is commonly known as immunity to keep diseases and stress at bay greatly. So, always prevention if the choice exists.
Do you also train or take classes? How do you do it? Physically or digitally?
Yes, I do. I take classes on various platforms digitally.But most importantly my training videos are available on all my channels. Primarily @garimabhandariofficial on Instagram and Garima Bhandari on YouTube and various other fitness aggregator forums.In today’s day, during this unprecedented COVID lockdown , there is no question of physical classes , so more and more digital classes are the natural outcome of that . Now I mostly take corporate or group classes in larger numbers to cater to larger and larger audiences.
Biggest misconception about Yoga you have ever come across?
It is not so much a misconception as to the mutation of the practice. Biggest misnomer is that this practice is only meant for flexible people whereas flexibility is mere an outcome of this beautiful practice .
People seem to think it is ok to develop their own version of the practice. This isn’t just disrespectful but also dangerous. Yoga is a 5,000 year old science that works on a set of very specific instructions and is a traditional parampara ( lineage ) for a very specific set of outcomes. Think about it this way, would anyone alter a chemistry experiment and not fear the lab blowing up?
Similarly, modifying asanas to suit your convenience can cause injuries and sometimes lasting irrevocable repercussions and injuries.
How do you structure your days? How do you balance your practice and family?
Ah, that old chestnut. Well, if I am to be honest, it isn’t easy in the least, especially now. There is no help and the entire responsibility of the household has fallen squarely on my shoulders. I do exactly what I preach. I make it a point to get as much practice as I can whenever I get the time. Because paradoxically, it is my practice that allows me to empower every other aspect of my life. So, if there’s one thing I cannot compromise on, it is that.
What equipment do you find indispensable for accomplishing your practice?
Your body is a brilliant machine and the kind of resistance and counter-balance it can provide can send you into a magical trance. Any equipment that you might use might just get in the way of that. Imagine connecting to the universe while holding a dumbbell in your hand, doesn’t quite work, does it?
What do you find are your biggest challenges and what are the best ways you overcome them?
To be honest, right now the biggest challenge is school work! Balancing my work, housework, homework and my practice, my classes, emails cramping my inbox, messages, zoom calls, cranky bored quarantined kids !! Haha all this enough to drive anyone up to the wall. Now imagine doing it all by yourself. Thankfully my children are my angels. They understand my situation well and responds beautifully and are very supportive and empathetic to offer prompt help. That surely keeps my mojo high and is the only way I can manage my life and my work the way I can. So grateful
Any advice you want to give enthusiastic beginners?
Sthiram Sukham Asanam. Which translates into saying that only go as far as your body comfortably and affectionately allows you to.
This is not a race or a competition and you need to mindfully experience the practice to truly be able to understand what it can do for you which first starts by taking baby steps. Instead of pushing to go further in your posture, just breathe deep and rhythmically and that would lead you into the realm of your inner light and consciousness. Let your body be your guide to help you delve deeper into your asana practice . Trust me on this, it is all instinctive.
What’s next for you?
My future undoubtedly involves taking this sacred practice of Yoga to the world in whatever capacity I can and definitely requires a huge lashing body’s intervention as an aid to help us do that and take it on a larger scale . The last two months have made me realise that the importance of this discipline even more so with the COVID outbreak and the no of mental and physical cases escalating globally daily, as per me, it isn’t a choice now but a necessity and must be treated so.
Simplicity is one of the exceptional characteristics of the 44-year old Yoga Teacher Sai Bhatt from Bangalore. The way he can communicate the teachings of yoga is extraordinary. He does not push you into it, but very gently leads you through the practice which opens the doors of physical and mental fitness and much more for you.