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— Jasmeen Dugal

EXCLUSIVE! Among yoga gurus, Bharat Thakur is something of a cult figure. Having been under the tutelage of his master Yogi Sukhdev Brahmachari, since the age of four, Thakur 'reads' the mind and bodies of his students, assessing weaknesses so he can help them live life to the fullest. In conversation with the master.


Bharat what is the invaluable lessons and guidance you gleaned from your guru, Yogi Sukhdev Brahmachari?


Some of the lessons I got from my master are —
1] Be a lifelong student: when you see life as an ongoing lesson you never get stuck, you never get hurt.
2] Live like it is your last day — that is the Aghori way. Everything can wait but not life.

3] Trust is life — I was four when my master took me with him but I remain four to- seven years old in spirit even today because that is when I learnt to trust. It was tough to be in the wilderness with no familiar faces but my master trusted in life completely and taught me the same. I am what I am today because of that lesson.
4] My master always said 'use your common sense.' No knowledge or achievement, material or spiritual, is worth it if you lack common sense. If you learn to use common sense then that in itself is enough to be happy.
5] Work with your hands —  working with the hands connects you to the heart. I learnt how to make an entire shoe with my own hands! Training just one part of the brain is incomplete; we are meant to be agile and dextrous with our eyes, our hands, our feet.
6] Earn your own living — he said 'apni haath ki kamaai par jeeyo.' That is why, when we started Artistic Yoga, we did not go the ashram way; my master insisted we earn our living and trained us for that so we set up a company.
7] Don't get serious — enjoy everything along the way. Being spiritual is not about getting serious.
8] Take the middle path. Avoid extremes — 'extreme is an ego trip', he would say. 'Be content And do your job quietly, kahe ko hungama karte ho.'

9] My master placed value in being humble to people who serve us — people who are vulnerable… people who are deprived. He would say 'show your strength amongst equals and be humble with the people who serve you.'


Do share the experience with us.


My master picked me up when when I was a little kid. He became my everything i.e. my mother, father, playmate, friend, protector and family. That is the way, I, as a child looked at it.  Today I see it from the other side; we were four disciples and he was sharing his life with us. All of us came from well established families who had parted with their children only for him. It is part of an ancient tradition that families who understand mysticism gave a child to their Guru so he could continue his lineage. You can imagine the trust they had in him. My Guru had taken responsibility for our wellbeing;  you could ask why someone would do that… this is the ancient master-disciple lineage. This is what it takes to keep the wisdom stream alive. Yoga is a rivulet of this wisdom. So living with our Guru was something that, as a child, we got used to. It was the only way we knew; after living in society for years I know the difference.  There we were exposed to snow, ice, rain, sunlight, darkness… we didn’t wear layers of clothing yet we got acclimatised to freezing temperatures; we learnt breathing and concentration techniques to avoid frostbite and other things! I took a liking to drawing on walls, on mud, on snow, making installations. Sometimes we would get stuck and spend the night in a remote area and learnt to trust the wild; as we grew up we were like any children. I used to play pranks and get punished! As we grew older, we became curious. We had questions about certain powers and when we asked a question he would send us off to a Yogi who had mastered that particular art and we would spend months there.


Please share with us the essence of 'artistic yoga' and how it is more suited to the modern fast-paced lives.


Artistic Yoga is result oriented. Modern life is fast paced. It has almost eliminated physical activity! We have access to all kinds of food and streams of entertainment. The body is not made to live like this so there is obesity, stress, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, panic or disconnect. I am not saying we should change our lifestyle; if we want to enjoy technology, leisure and entertainment that modern life provides us, we should also learn how to cope with its effects to stay healthy. Everyone knows this and yet we are unable to do anything as there are three issues here: we have less time— habits are difficult to break off— the most difficult thing is to stay motivated. Artistic Yoga is a response to this.The principles of Yoga are the same but we have adapted it to today's times. 1] You don't need to know yoga to practice artistic yoga 2] You do not need to subscribe to a belief system 3] You don't need to be fit to practice it; it is meant to change you from being unfit to becoming fit. 4] You need three hours in a week or twelve hours in a month to be fit! 5] It is easy to do 6] It is result oriented: you lose weight fast; you lose stress; you sleep better; you eat better; you breathe better; you look better and you start smiling. 7] It is motivational in its approach so the chances of success is higher!


What is the most important thing your practice has taught you?


Anything is possible. There is a stage in the practice where you enjoy the newness. In the next stage you enjoy the skill you are developing. In the third stage, you enjoy the results and you feel the confidence. This is when you begin to feel anything is possible… you know you can achieve. So, you must pursue your dream — a lot of obese people are afraid to practice because they are worried people are going to be staring. They doubt they will ever achieve their dreams but this is purely psychological and thinking like this makes you lose interest in caring for yourself. Some people say that you lack will power but I have observed that people seem to lack not the will, but the desire, because they are not living the excitement of their dream. And if you hear what successful people say… those who chased their dreams… they hold the memories of failures close to their heart as that is how they achieved that feeling of 'I may not have a kingdom but I am a king.' That feeling is what a dreamer is after… success and failure are merely part of the game.


What is the most common question you receive from your students?


Each student has a different question. 'How can I lose weight' is one of the most common. 'I want to be as fit as I used to be in college.' 'Doctor has said xyz disease is something I have to live with but can yoga cure it' are some of the questions. But beneath all these questions I hear a common doubt, 'Can I do it' and my job is to create a road map for him or her; if ten people come to me to lose weight each will have a unique height-weight ratio, health profile and mindset. The motivator's job is to feel the pulse and respond. I am also asked how Artistic Yoga is different from other forms of Yoga and I take this as a compliment because as a Yogi I strive to make a contribution to Science. That is the dream of each researcher… to contribute to science… and I feel Artistic Yoga would make a mark if it is known for its research and motivational result-oriented approach.


What are its long-term benefits?


Complete Fitness. You can get completely fit with Artistic Yoga — except building a gym body, of course.


Personally did you ever envision artistic yoga becoming so popular?


Yes I did. I was always a dreamer. I thought big and I backed up my dream with effort. Also, my training was rigorous and I had a lot to give. I have always believed in looking at the bigger picture and the big picture here is that for the next two hundred years artistic yoga will be the need of the hour, to be happy, healthy and fit.


What are the health conditions under which an individual should abstain from doing artistic yoga?


Children below twelve shouldn't stretch too much as the ligaments and tissue are not fully developed so it may lead to injury and deformity. During pregnancy, avoid rigorous or jerking movements and strain on the abdominal area and the back. Do not practice when you are sick, injured or bed ridden. If you have chronic conditions, retinal problems, hernia, high or low blood pressure, check with your doctor about the do's and don'ts. During periods, avoid inverted postures.



Bharat Thakur
Bharat Thakur
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