Published: 27th April 2020
Grand Master Akshar's five steps to practising yoga for mental peace
Want to develop an interest in yoga but wondering where to start? Let Grand Master Akshar, who has a chain of yoga centres, show you the spiritual way that will also help you through the lockdown
Practising yoga could prove to be a lovely gift that keeps on giving, especially during this lockdown. Physical fitness, mindfulness, spiritual connect and many more goals can be achieved with its help. "When you practise yoga, the effect is wide-ranging, it helps us physically, mentally and spiritually. Most importantly, certain exercises can help us strengthen our immunity as well," says Grand Master Akshar, Founder, Chairman and Course Director of Akshar Yoga, the chain of yoga centres. The Grand Master, who has trained Geeta and Babita Phogat among many others, takes us through a few simple asanas and chants that will help us during this particularly difficult time.
1. Surya Namaskara
The Grand Master informs that regular practice of Surya Namaskara would help us develop control over the body and the heart. "Once the body and heart are in control, mood swings, boredom, heaviness and all this will cease to affect us," says the Grand Master, who has shared his knowledge with former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, actor Sushmita Sen and others.
Called a bridge in acrobatics or gymnastic terms, the first effect of practising this asana would directly be on your shoulders and neck. Then, slowly, it will positively impact your kidney, liver, colon, small intestine and so on. He suggests that we must learn how to do it slowly first
This asana is also known as the bow pose. "For strengthening immunity, it is very important that you inhale, exhale and hold your breath in a regulated manner as this impacts the blood flow," he reminds us poignantly. It particularly strengthens the back and other muscles
For this particular asana, the Grand Master says that one must hold the thumb. "This directly stimulates our nervous system," he says and adds that, "This also helps strengthen the spine, which is considered as the foundation in yoga." Keep practising these asanas and soon, you will observe a holistic shift
5. Akash Ganga Dhyan
This is not an asana, it is a kind of dhyan, a meditation. "When you do this regularly, your thinking will take a more and more positive direction," he says. Chants or mantras like the Maha Mrityunjaya, a verse from Rigveda, should also help with the same, he suggests
Are you eligible for meditation?
Don't be in a rush while picking an online yoga class, cautions the Grand Master. "Firstly, verify on the internet if it is an authentic class with a proper instructor. Then, make sure you observe first and give your 20 per cent. Slowly, increase your application. This is because if there is some misadventure and you hurt yourself, things can get difficult," he says.
But how does one involve kids during this lockdown, remains the big question since they consider yoga too slow or boring or both. "Just make yoga games or use asanas while telling a story," he says. Narrating a story involving dogs (Adho mukha svanasana or the downward dog pose), frogs (Mandukasana or the frog posture) and more as characters should do the trick. To involve the elderly, simple asanas like tadasana (mountain pose) or vriksasana (the tree pose) should be helpful.
Meditation, of course, is a different ball game altogether. But the Grand Master suggests that we start from being more mindful. "It is when your senses align that you can really concentrate. So, no matter what you are doing — talking on the phone or anything else — do it with complete focus," offers the Grand Master who is busy taking several online classes during the lockdown. Sitting still, taking a few minutes to concentrate on breathing right after getting up and holding the dhyan mudra will really help make us more eligible for meditation, he informs
The Grand Master | (Pic: Grand Master Akshar)
Hope for humility
"In these tough times, we have to remember that there is something above us, it doesn't matter whether you call it God, universe or the super soul," he says. He implores that humanity must take this as a lesson and learn to be more humble in nature
Why yoga? Why now?
Prevention is always better than cure, the Grand Master reiterates this adage. Which is why we must use yoga to strengthen our defense system, stay positive and bounce back with more confidence
The Grand Master | (Pic: Grand Master Akshar)
For the kids
It is important that yoga is implemented in the curriculum at the school-level itself, he says. "We must feed it into their memories while they are kids so that they can keep practising it," he suggests. This will also help them control their stress, frustrations and irritations
Hatha Yoga Pradipika | (Pic: Internet)
What to read to ignite an interest in yoga, as per the Grand Master:
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika: A 16th century manual on hatha yoga and a very influential one at that
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A collection of sutras on theory and practice of yoga
- Markandeya Purana: He has written a lot about yoga, especially pranayam, the Grand Master informs
Turmeric | (Pic: Internet)
What we should eat to increase immunity:
- Turmeric: Especially mixed in water or milk
- Ginger: Just add it to your sabji or dal
- Amritavalli: Also known as Guduchi, it is a herb that boosts immunity
- Oil: He recommends using mustard or coconut oil
- Mint leaves and ajwain will also help immensely
- Include fresh fruits in your diet