Some wisdom from my Yoga teacher Amrish Mody Sir (to be contd…)

Photo: Unsplash

Thoughts, feelings and actions should be in synchronisation. We should give importance to things beyond our indriyas to awaken latent knowledge and get out from deep sleep. To go beyond the stack of memory – our past, marriage, children’s future…

There is no problem with the body but with the mind, the body knows how to work in itself. Body is like a child – innocent but the mind is an adult – corrupt.

Asana

Seat. Yoga is not about getting in the asana and coming out it is about STAYING THERE. It is all about relaxing in the posture. There should be no imprint of asana on the body. The aim is that of mental clarity not flexibility. Flexibility without firmness is dangerous! Every part of body supports the other. It is to develop stillness – we are addicted to vibrations!

Do the posture to see if you have learnt anything new about yourself? Would you cook a fresh meal from stale food? But you do that all the time with your memories and experiences. Where you always try to relate the present situation with the past. Hence you are not able to create anything new, all of it comes from relating to old stack of memories. Yoga is about creating a new experience and coming out the old stack of memories and experiences. Are we all a bundle of reactions from our circumstances? Or we really have the ability to create something new?

Beefing up and running around only increases hunger which is unnecessary wastage by increasing input. The environmentalists are screaming their lungs out about saving the planet, but they are also destroying the planet. We all are. The need for materialism and constant consumption is emptying the planet of all the resources. Yogis knew how to use resources well. They used the resources of their body wisely so it could last for 200 + years, now we use it all up within 60 – 80!

Life is full of suffering, the apparent suffering in yoga is to reduce the suffering of life. You train your body now so that it does not have to suffer later.

Never breathe from your mouth.

Ahimsa is the base, once you keep hurting yourself other vices will kick in like Asatya, Steya, Parigraha, Abhramacharya

When opposing forces unite there is non-duality.

We have developed an incorrect posture due to watching phones.

Instead of burning in the fire of the world, burn in the fire of your own yoga practice.

Stomach – all actions should come from the stomach not the extremities. The entire body is working to feed the stomach so the stomach should also work optimum. Stomach is the mouth. Eyes on chest. Tongue below.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Questions we need to ask biased and elitist media

Photo: Unsplash
  1. Why target people like Sadhguru for environmental destruction but not the advertisers who fund your papers? Example: Unilever has caused innumerable environmental issues around the world!
  2. Why target Baba Ramdev when you cannot stop raving about documentaries like Heal, The Magic Pill, What the Health, Forks over Knives etc. How is holistic healing a nicer word than Ayurveda – when it is actually a small part of Ayurveda?
  3. Why is Tarot Reading and Angel numbers cool whereas astrology is not?
  4. Why is it that punarjanam is made fun of, and books like Many Masters Many Lives make it to bestsellers?
  5. Why is it cool to be a vegan but not a vegetarian? Why is it that when someone talks about cow protection one turns into a bhakt?
  6. Why is it correct when one says that PM CARES fund should be audited, but a bhakt when one says the PM never said lighting diyas/ banging thalis is to show solidarity (but not kill the virus)?
  7. Why are celebrity deaths so important, not farmer suicides?
  8. Why is everything Indian is uncool until it starts doing rounds in elitist circles example Hindustani classical music?
  9. Why is it Islamophobia when one points to the declining number of Hindus in Pak but when it comes to screening movies like Sacred Games/ Leila it is creative freedom of expression not Hinduphobia?
  10. Now you make Yoga seem all cool because it is an international trend but never propagate what real Yoga is. We see Hot Yoga, Goat Yoga, Beer Yoga advertised in the media…which is not Yoga!
  11. All people who support the PM are brainwashed and biased and you are not? Constantly writing sensational news, avoiding talking about capitalists that fund your papers and giving so much importance to celebrity gossip…
  12. If Modi is really a Hitler as per you…then how are you alive after saying he is so?
  13. If India has lost all freedom of expression then how are you still talking?

Journalists should really be in the pursuit of truth but not propagate their own biases and agenda in the name of journalism.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

What should you do during the lockdown?

First lets start by being honest.

When we were running the rat race, we convinced ourselves that we were toooo busy to do the things that we love doing or pursue our long forgotten hobbies and passions.

What are we doing during the lockdown? Reading the endless whatsapp forwards? Binge watching? Cribbing about whats going on in the world? Fearing that the virus will catch us?

Let’s not forget that this lockdown is an excellent way to use our time, energy, mind and body to work on the things we always wanted to work on. It is the much needed break from chaos.

It will heal nature and it will also heal our mind/ body by giving us the much needed break.

The next question – BUT HOW?

So let me take you through certain points which will help you clear your mind and work on yourself.

  1. Stop panicking and overloading yourself with information. Clear your mind with the help of yoga and mindfulness practices so that you have space to think about the things that will help your growth.
  2. Sit down and make a list of what you want to do – be it your hobbies or habits that you want to break or form.
  3. Make a timetable of how you will do a few things in the day to achieve point 2.
  4. Eat healthy and move around the house so that your body and mind do not get stiff and try to make a healthy sleeping routine
  5. Do some fun activity with your family or whoever you are locked down with – be it sketching, yoga, karaoke, antakshari, dumb charades – you choose.
  6. READ – this is the most underrated thing. Not only does it help you improve your vocabulary, but helps increase focus and mindfulness. Don’t believe me? Try it
  7. Most importantly keep your emotions in check and channelize all your irritations, anger, anxiety using the tools listed above.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy lockdown.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Combating stress through awareness

In this super fast paced and stress filled world, is it really possible to de-stress?

Several studies and research done on people who incorporate Yoga and Meditation in their daily life – both which have awareness as one of the core principles – say that it indeed is possible to combat stress via these practices!

Stress is primarily caused due to worries and anxieties about things which may or may not happen.

When we dive into awareness, stress does not have a place to stay because it is caused due to being disconnected with the present moment and constantly thinking about another time space – either the past or the future.

Few tips to combat stress in daily life

  1. Start doing Yoga with awareness. Focus on how you feel, which muscle is used, which bone is used.
  2. Walking meditation – walk without the gadgets or music on. Select a space with less distractions and focus on walking slowly and with awareness. Focus on each leg – hand – body movement. Focus on your breath.
  3. Focusing on your breathing. Take up a comfortable sitting position of your choice without distractions. Make sure you are comfortable in this position and focus on your upper lips and feel the air coming in and going out.
  4. Focus completely on what you are doing whether it is washing utensils, reading an article or watching a movie or cooking.

Most importantly, do not suppress any of your natural emotions or urges because they are the ones which are the cause of stress.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Patanjali’s Definition of Yoga

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra says Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha. This means the cessation in the fluctuations of the mind and stoppage of thinking of both negative and positive thoughts.

But a mind that is distracted, bombarded and traumatised by so many thoughts, is it possible to achieve this? Traumas of the past, anxieties of the future…Let alone getting over the fluctuation of the mind, is it even possible to concentrate on reading something or watching something for more than a minute without being distracted these days?

Patanjali also points to the path to enable us to achieve no-mind. The eight limbs of Yoga are an excellent method to reach this state, if not the state itself, it may get us to a more sorted mind and thinking pattern.

The five Yama – the five precepts – Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Aparigraha and Bhramacharya keeps us away from unnecessary greed, violence and over use of our senses.

Niyama – Saucha, Santosha, Tapa, Swadhaya, Ishwar Pranidhana encourages us to look within and clean our thoughts and body and purify them.

Asana and Pranayama help us balance both our body and mind.

Pratyahara helps us restrict our senses and point them inward. This helps our mind to be stable. This is very similar to getting our mind conditioned for focusing on the desired goal.

Dharna helps us to concentrate on a single aim, goal or object. This works like goal-setting and steers the mind in one direction.

Dhyana helps us to focus on this object for long periods of time, this helps in developing the consistency to holding on to that aspect of our mind which we need to. Heard of 10000 hours as the success mantra or repetition? Exactly that.

Even if we are unable to achieve the complete cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, we will at least be able to achieve something close to what we constantly think and work on – a good career, relationships etc and will be able to overcome the negativities which plague our mind.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Its time I open up about skinny shaming

No, this is not a rant and never have I ever spoken on skinny shaming on the internet before. Because I wanted to have the peace and clarity which I now think I do, to address the subject.

Skinny shaming is something thats not generally spoken about and I now feel I have the moral responsibility to talk my experience with it.

“You dance well, but you look like a skeleton”, “Whats your figure like? 15-15-15?” “Ay be careful while walking on the seashore else you’ll be gone with the wind” “do you ever eat?” and the list is endless.

But what I realize over the years is that, no matter if you are fat or thin, if you are fair or dark, if people really want to comment on you, they will, for one thing or the other. Most of these people do it because of the force of habit, because they genuinely have nothing better to talk about, because they are somewhere deep down unsatisfied with their body or simply because they are assholes.

I have worn jackets to cover my “thin” arms even in sweltering heat cause of the fear that I do not want to respond badly when people shame me. Imagine being in a Yoga class, where the teacher is supposed to teach you all about balance and acceptance and he shames you every class. I had almost decided to stop going to the institute all-together but I switched to another teacher. Also, as the last resort, I have shamed people back example fat/ color shaming people who skinny shamed me only to make them realize the pain of being shamed for simply being who they are.

If you are skinny, you tend to look younger, and that more often than not makes people think that you ARE younger/ employers tend to think you are less experienced. And apparently that disarms people and they think they can pass any comment and get away with it.

After having considerable experience of nasty comments I have come to the some solutions to deal with any kind of shaming/ criticism – the key solution being acceptance. And no this does not involve meditations that will make you imagine a future you who has the “perfect” body or copy-pasting someones body to your vision-board. When I say acceptance I mean loving yourself for who you are and what you are instead of constantly berating yourself (mind or body) for being a certain way. I know sometimes the societal pressure can get on to you and make you doubt yourself, but whose voice to listen is ultimately your choice.

The most important point is then to work on your health. And no! Health does not equate to being a certain size, weight or measurement. Working on your health is really about recognising if you have any physical, mental, emotional and relationship issues and trying to find out “why” they exist and how to resolve them.

Now working on yourself and acceptance may sound mutually exclusive ideas but they are not. You ultimately have to live with your own-self and you are not going to be a good companion to yourself if you constantly loathe who you are.

Last but not the least, sarcasm, comebacks and wittiness always works in emergencies.

Keep reading and keep loving who you are.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Afterthoughts on a 1997 movie, Aastha

Mansi( played by Rekha) is a woman next door, a homemaker, she loves her husband Amar( played by Om Puri) and their daughter dearly.

Amar is a college professor. They have enough for all their needs and wants and live in an antique apartment which is given to Amar by his friend and they have made sure that their daughter has the best education possible.

Other students in her class are well-off and they have great shoes, so the daughter asks Mansi to buy expensive shoes for her too. When Mansi discusses this with Amar, he tells her that we all live in a world where nothing is manufactured as per our needs but, in turn, it is our needs that are manufactured. Mansi replies by saying that their daughter is too young to understand this philosophy.

The next day she withdraws Rs 500 from the bank for the shoes and walks into an expensive store. She selects a shoe that she thinks is the best as per what her daughter’s preference but learns that it is for Rs 700 from the shopkeeper. Unaware that Reena(played by Daisy Irani), another customer, is eavesdropping this conversation, she is ready to let go of the shoes when Reena stops her and offers to buy the shoes for her. Mansi insists that she cannot accept this as she doesn’t know Reena, but Reena is persistent and asks her to introduce herself if that’s the problem.

Little does Mansi know that Reena is a pimp who looks for soft targets like herself to lure them into sex work. Reena offers Mansi a car ride to a hotel she is staying at, and unaware of what will unfold next, Mansi happily agrees and hops into Reena’s car. Mansi had never been to such an expensive hotel before. When Mansi is washing up in the bathroom, Reena has already invited a customer for Mansi. Mansi does not realize anything till the sexual act is over and deeply regrets it. But because of Reena’s subtle threats, she keeps continuing sex work and making money to buy things for herself, her daughter and her husband, things they could not afford with Amar’s humble salary.
It is a long time before Mansi could make Amar understand her predicament, which indicates that it was long before she could stop doing sex work.

The problem is not in the sex work per se, it was about how Mansi was manipulated to do something she did not know she was signing up for, and she kept slipping into it deeper and deeper. It is the same with most of us. We sign up for things that we do not like, to maintain our life, and keep on doing those things on loop because our mind and body are too drained to snap out of our current situation. How our needs, like the shoes Mansi wanted for her daughter are manufactured in the market, and how we run to buy it without thinking for ourselves if we need it.

This movie was made in 1997 and it was way ahead of its time and progressive, I wish we are exposed to more such cinema which urges us to think for ourselves, not the mindless bull-shit that works like opium to dumb us down.

Some cool things I did in 2019

Last year I documented the things I had achieved in 2018 and here is that list: Some cool things I did in 2018. Since then, I decided to keep documenting things I do throughout the year to keep up with the previous year.

  1. Tried to keep up with my “drawing again” in 2018

2. My articles on Yoga got published in a magazine called Yoga and Total Health

3. Did a cool Yoga photoshoot ❤ – more pictures on my Behance website

4. Attended a Van Dyke Brown photo printing workshop

5. Attended two conferences cum trainings by Thomson Reuters Foundation – one was in Delhi on Land Rights Reporting and the other on Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Reporting in Kolkata

6. Got quoted in New Indian Express and Indian Express – the first snapshot is my quote on the popularisation of Yoga, the second and third are my opinions on marriage and Black Friday respectively

7. Visited the Shiv temple on my birthday the credits for this goes to Baba – he knew I really wanted to go and he braved the rain and drove ALL the way. It is a beauty isn’t it?

8. Realised that my head-shave article was published by THREE more digital media namely SpeakingTree IndianExpress and Indiatimes – previously published on Mumbai Mirror Online, Feminism in India, Humans of Bombay, Manorama and various other blogs

9. Started cooking and how! – from someone who did not know to reheat things to making roti, bhaji, dal, chawal, different kind of rice dishes like pulao and palak rice, hakka noodles, thalipeet, pulse salads, aampanna, thalipeet and smoothies I have come such a long longg way

10. Completed my Yoga Teachers Training certification, got a Yoga portfolio shoot done and started teaching Yoga and Mindfulness professionally

11. Started my own YOUTUBE channelgo subscribe ❤ I also started reviewing again on Zomato – go check that out too! A glimpse of the kind of pictures you should expect and 100 percent genuine reviews too 🙂

12. Contributed to the live blog of the Lok Sabha elections, did a few other stories as a freelancer and my photograph got published at an international media page TRTBelgesel – in accordance to what I was paid, it is my most expensive photograph till date. PS All people who think freelancers work for free – NAH – I do paid work ONLY! soon going to start charging for giving advice too!

13. Tried to start home gardening – have not been consistent but there is 2020 to make up it. We all should plant!

14. Participated in and got selected as a finalist for the Imagica Photography contest – look at the cute goody bag that come along!

15. Maintained my dream journal throughout the year, completed a few online yoga challenges for myself! Started putting more of my photography work on Behance and Shutterstock. Maintained this site – from the cool things in 2018 to this article its a total of 12 articles. Made and maintained my Instagram portrait photography account, it is called @priyamvada.photos – go check it out. Some pictures from the page

16. Won TWO giveawaysyayy!

One was a financial workshop by Wealth Cafe and the other was a box of sweets from Hari Prasad Mithai Wale.

I am planning to blog and write more about Yoga, Mindfulness and my journey. Let’s connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. View my writing and photography work on Behance and Shutterstock. Until next time ❤ :*

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Rendezvous with cooking

My cooking experiments began shortly after I started learning Yoga. To be honest, the Yoga course that I did, can be called a Yoga cum cooking cum reality check course. No – not cause I learnt cooking in Yoga class, but applying the Yogic philosophies, I could bring myself to start cooking.

As a kid, I was not only not a foodie, but also not very fond of eating real food. I mean I loved to eat chocolates, pastries and ice-creams almost every other day. My shop then, had an ice-cream box and a chocolate box and it greatly supported my habit too. Hello in-house sweets!

In 2016, for once, when I mustered up the guts to start cooking – making salads. I picked up something from Reliance Fresh that is not popular in Indian homes – a broccoli. And the story goes like, the broccoli had insects in them, and I could not spot/ clean it well so I got badly infected and suffered from amoebiasis. This meant a few months bedrest and about a year or two to cure it completely. My fear for cooking got really solid even though, I knew I wanted to learn it so badly.

Here is how Yoga came into picture. In December 2018, I joined a Yoga course. And one of the things that I learnt in the very first months was Patanjali’s first Yoga Sutra, “Atha Yoganushasanam” which translated to “now begins the practice of Yoga”. This particular Sutra emphasised on the importance of now and its interpretation spoke lengths about it. It just struck me that how important it was, for me to take an action in the present moment, when it came to cooking for example instead of pushing it indefinitely.

It is still fine when the world criticises you, but when you criticise yourself, it stops you from doing things that you want to or you like.

I really had to keep aside my self critique for my cooking skills and turn a new leaf. I started with cooking tomato rice for myself everyday till I perfected it. I was still scared of cooking for other people thinking they might not like it. Then I graduated to making roti and later, capsicum aloo bhaji and daal tadka + jeera rice. Slowly, now I have started cooking for my family too.

This cooking would not have been possible if it wasn’t for my dear friend Reshmy who is/ was a professional chef and teacher. She trained me about the basics on Whatsapp and phone and some stuff I learnt from YouTube channels like Khana Khazana, NishaMadhulika, MadhurasRecipe Marathi
and more.

To learn Yoga and Mindfulness from me, DM priyamvadamangal or mail priyamvada.mangal@gmail.com! Online classes open for everyone, everywhere.

Is losing all hope freedom?

There are times when you sit with yourself and realize when there is nothing to do, these thoughts of anger, feelings of regret or the fear of missing out surfaces.

Almost in immediate defence we resort to either bargaining with these thoughts or as pop-culture demands, we start muttering affirmations on how what we are thinking is not true and how we are so much good and so much better.

Since we never really confront our fears or face them, it makes us more and more difficult to come out of it.

Can we for once ask ourselves, so what if my ex never loved me?

So what if people do not appreciate my talent?

So what if I am messed up?

And so what if my life means nothing up to this point?

And still be okay with the answers we get?

Maybe if we do not hold on to hoping so fiercely and let it go then we would be able to also let go of so desperately wanting to hope and desperately wanting to be free. Maybe when we let go of hope, we will truly be free.