Read our interview with Yoga instructor, Rohil Jethmalani on how one can adopt and take up yoga to maintain a more stress-free and healthy lifestyle especially during these times.

Indian culture is represented through various art forms that carry mythology and ancient stories that made this country so rich. Yoga is one of the most immaculate art forms of Indian culture that went on to become a global practice. People from across the world are studying and adopting the art of Yoga to keep themselves fit and healthy. Yoga instructor, Rohil Jethmalani has taken up yoga to live while educating people about the importance of the same in our everyday lives.

Rohil has been conducting various retreats and yoga instruction seminars in India, Bali, and Morocco. According to him, yoga is not just something that one practices physically but also something that helps one understand the ideologies behind these sacred traditions. He is currently pursuing a course in Cognitive science to understand the various scientific bases of performing yoga. He has spent long periods of time learning & practicing Ashtanga in the traditional Mysore style and classical Hatha with his teachers in Mysore and Rishikesh. As we celebrate International Yoga Day, here’s our interview with Rohil Jethmalani on how one can take up yoga during these times.

Here’s what he had to share:

First of all, what made you choose yoga, and how did this journey begin?

I began practicing yoga right from childhood. My parents are practitioners and they used to encourage me to join them. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what it was all about. However, over the years I realized that the understanding of breath, meditation, and body awareness were seeded at that young age itself. I re-discovered the practice for myself during university. At the time, I was running extensively and took up asana to gain more mobility. I also started meditating regularly and was amazed by how good it made me feel. On the other hand, I never thought of teaching or making a career out of yoga. This was something that happened naturally. The more I practiced, friends and family gained interest and I found myself teaching my intimate circles. Later this organically grew into teaching on a regular basis. 

How would you describe yoga as a lifestyle?

Yoga is much more than a lifestyle, and yet it’s not possible to practice yoga effectively without making it a lifestyle. Yoga as a holistic system brings all aspects of our lives into harmony. It’s only effective if we consume foods that are high in nutrition, balance our sleep cycles, our careers and professional lives in a way that reduces stress, increase efficiency and relaxation. 

How encouraging do you find it when you see yoga being adopted by people around the world?

It’s amazing to see more and more people approaching yoga these days. I believe that yoga is increasingly relevant in our modern stress-filled lives. Primarily, most people today are using it as a defense against the maladies that arise from excessive busyness. Yet, yoga can also be used to create a life of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. 

What kind of lifestyle changes can a person experience upon adopting yoga?

I believe that lifestyle changes don’t happen automatically. One has to want to change their life for it to happen. What yoga helps with is in increasing our level of awareness. We’re more aware of our physical reactions to certain types of food, sleep patterns, or any other substances that we might take. With greater awareness usually arises an urge to change and refine our lifestyle. Yoga makes you more aware and awareness forces us to see patterns that don’t work for us. 

During these tough times where people might experience stress, in what ways can yoga help them deal with it?

Stress is experienced when the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) is activated which results in the release of the stress hormone – cortisol. Yoga has been known to calm down the nervous system as well as act as a means to stress-proof ourselves in challenging times. As we gain control of the nervous system through asana, pranayama & meditation, it’s much harder for a challenging situation to take us away from our peaceful centre. 

What are your thoughts on all the other variations such as power yoga, hot yoga among others?

For me, any variation that sticks to the principles with which the system of yoga was conceived and designed is alright. For instance, though power yoga only focuses on the physical aspect of yoga, it still sticks to principles of vinyasa (movement with breath awareness) and will thus be beneficial to those who practice it. On the other hand, hot yoga, beer yoga, and others that stray away from the principles of yoga are not effective. They will not provide any benefit to the practitioner and one will end up wasting time and possibly harming themselves in the process. For instance, in hot yoga sweating as a result of external heat has no detoxification effect, whereas when we practice yoga by generating internal heat, it leads to detoxification. Somebody practicing this system for a decade or so must never assume that they know more than the accumulated knowledge of many generations, gathered for over 5000 years. 

What asanas would you suggest people try at home to deal with their WFH stress?

If one really aspires to practice yoga, they must do something that incorporates all aspects: Surya Namaskaras, Standing Poses, Seated Poses, Twists, Forward Folds, Backbends, Relaxing poses, and Inversions. This is because each type of asana works the body’s internal systems in a different way. Just choosing one or two asanas to deal with stress is a bandage approach to a deep wound. 

Are there any asanas that people can perform in between their work breaks?

In work breaks, it’s good to do slight backbends (these can be done on the chair itself) to release the upper back. Also twists to release the lower back from sitting for so long. Additionally, if people can sit cross-legged while working, it’s highly effective.

How do you find Trell helpful when it comes to reaching new people? 

Trell has been a blessing in terms of reaching out to people in the younger age brackets in India. I have found that it is easier to gain eyeballs on my content compared to what I receive on other social media platforms. It’s also great to talk about yoga and wellness with the youth of India.

Rohil Jethmalani

You can follow Rohil Jethmalani on Trell, @shivatman_yoga to be updated about his teachings.

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