S. Sridharan, a noted yoga expert from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandir, one of the largest yoga centres of Asia.
Q. We are focusing on problems affecting the working professionals especially stress, alienation, depression and insomnia. So how can yoga benefit them with the fact that there time is limited?
A. Not only working professionals, you can take school going children, college students, adults, homemakers. All have stress. There is no special stress for working professionals. The source is different. So basically everyone is under stress. The Sanskrit word Dukkha is very common where we probably think that stress leads to pain. But the concept is same. Stress is pain and pain is stress. Everyone has that. How will you understand the stress of a librarian professional? You will always find him in a composed situation. You go to a traffic constable. He is also a working professional. There is no difference in stress compared to both the professionals. Sometimes a librarian will be more stressed than a traffic constable. So the stress is not in the job. The stress depends on the individual. There can be some work related stress. The situation matters to describe the intensity of the stress. I was myself a working professional. I gave up when I was 50. I know what professional stress is. I have felt it. But I could manage because of yoga. So the question is how did I find time? I also had stress. In the back of my mind I knew yoga can save me. So I knew I had to somehow find time. I am giving you an example. After the meeting is over, a press meet is there. After that I have a meeting with the brokers in the evening. Instead of wasting my time, after lunch I utilize my time. Before going into the next meeting, I do yoga.
Q. So does yoga need a lot of time?
A. It is not the matter of the time. But the comprehension can be done within 20 to 30 minutes. There are 3 segments in our system. One is our body, other is our breath and the third is our mind. The body and the mind are connecting. There are three important tools, one is the aashana which is physical posture, second is the pranayam and the third is the meditation. In these you will move all the joints. The spine and the health of the spine is the most important part. If you maintain the health of the spine, you have done your job. So maintain your health of the spine with good postures. With one posture you can move all the joints. That depends on the individual, what is the technique will be different. Nobody will be able to do yoga for one hour as it is not possible as they don’t have the proper mindset and an ambience like Rishikesh. My experience is once you start doing yoga it touches parts of your brain which stimulates it and ask for it again and again, like an addiction to smoking or drinking. So, if you get into it you will somehow find the time for practising yoga regularly and according to me 20 minutes course which is packed with three of this will be enough.
Q. How much is this institution helping the cause of yoga? Is it reaching out to a larger demography?
A. We are not interested in larger demographic at all. We are interested in giving relief to those who come to us. We deal with one to one cases. We don’t give group classes. For designing a 20 minutes, I will be taking about an hour to see the things which the person will require to do. We do 300-400 consultations per month, and a total of 1000 classes. We are just probably crossing 80,000 from the day the yoga institution started. We are very personalised. Yoga can do more harm than really giving benefits. It is very difficult to relate the dangerous effects of yoga and we should have a large amount of research. Yoga is moving towards integration. It is neither supplementary, complementary, nor alternative, it is all about integrating. But any system of yoga has to be developed to deal with the risk factor and in yoga the risk must be zero and the return must be hundred. From the professional side, I need to spend a lot of time on the client. If the client wants yoga in the evening, I have to work on that as the yoga done in morning and evening is completely different as the person’s body will be working differently in the early morning, than in the evening after the day’s work.
Q. What are your tips and guidance for the proper functioning of the spine?
A. A comprehensive and wholesome course at the level of the body is to move all the joints with regard to the spine. The spine can be moved in five ways- forward bend, backward bend, side bend, twist and inverted. The major joints can be moved and spine is integrated with all the joints. Alignment of the body is important. Move towards the proper alignment and remove extra flesh in the body. A diaphragm breathing or deep breathing works on the nerves and that will help. A good pranayama will also help. I feel, a good breathing and focus on the breathing is crucial. At the end of it you should be happy. Your day for yoga will be done if you become calm. The whole message is calmness; deep calmness is the opposite of stress.
Q. So who are the persons who should not do yoga?
A. Everyone should do yoga. Age is not a criterion. Regarding health, as long as the person can breathe, they should do yoga.