— Jasmeen Dugal
With a doctorate in sports medicine and yoga, Yoga guru Bharat Thakur has transformed lives including those of Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor-Khan. Having come under the tutelage of Yogi Sukhdev Brahmachari at the age of four, Thakur believes in using his knowledge of yoga and other spiritual traditions to live life to the fullest. We spoke to him on eve of the launch of his app that aspires to help us stay fit with tailormade sessions and information capsules that address specific health Issues including heart care, diabetes and hypertension.
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. 3. Trust is life — I was four when my master took me with him. It was tough to live in the wilderness with no familiar faces but my master trusted in life completely and that taught me to trust everything that was happening. When I look back it was because of this trust that my experience of life was so profound. 4. Work with your hands — my master taught me that 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 training; we are meant to be agile and dextrous even with our eyes, our hands, our feet. 5. Don't get serious — enjoy everything along the way. Being spiritual is not about getting all serious; it is just that pause you create in your life, a speed breaker. Happiness is the goal. 6. Stay in the middle — avoid extremes. 7. My master placed a lot of value in being humble to the 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: mother, father, playmate, friend, protector. 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 certain families, who understand the ways of mysticism, gave a child to their Guru so that he could bring the child up in his lineage. You can imagine the kind of trust they had in him! My Guru had taken responsibility for our wellbeing as per the guru-shishya parampara; this is what it takes to keep the wisdom stream alive. So living with our Guru was something that as a child we got used to as it was the only way we knew. Now after living in society for many years I know what that life was on comparing… There we were close to nature; exposed to snow, ice, rain, harsh sunlight, pitch darkness; we didn't wear layers of clothing or thick jackets yet we got acclimatised to the freezing temperature. We learnt breathing and concentration techniques to avoid frost bite! Sometimes we would get stuck and spend the night in a remote area and so we learnt to trust the wild. As we grew older we became curious, we had questions about certain powers and when we asked a question often he would send us to a Yogi who had mastered that art and we would spend a few months with him, learning, and be back.
Please share with us the essence of 'artistic yoga'.
Modern life is fast paced; it has almost eliminated physical activity because we have easy access to food and entertainment. But the body is not made to live like this so there is obesity, stress, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, disconnect. If we want to enjoy technology, food and leisure that modern life provides us we should also learn to remain healthy. Everyone knows this .. and yet we are not able to do anything because there are three issues here — we have less time; habits are very difficult to kick off; and 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. It is result oriented — you loose weight fast, you lose the stress, you sleep better, you eat better, you look better and you start smiling. This is because Artistic Yoga works on all five aspects of fitness namely strength, endurance, flexibility, agility and balance.We focus on specific parts of the body so that the intensity of the workout is greater on the targeted muscles and results are better.
What is the most common question you receive from your students?
Each student has a different question — 1. How can I lose weight? 2. I want to get back to how fit I was when I was in college. 3. The doctor has said such and such a disease is something I have to live with; can yoga cure it? But beneath all questions I hear the common doubt, 'Can I do it?' My job is to create a road map for him or her because if ten people come to loose weight each will have a unique road map not only because of different height-weight ratio, body composition and health profiles but also because of different mindsets. The motivator's job is to feel the pulse and respond appropriately.
What are the health conditions under which an individual should abstain from doing artistic yoga?
Children below 12 shouldn't stretch much as ligaments and tissue are not fully developed so it may cause deformity and injury. During pregnancy we should avoid rigorous or jerking movements in the first twelve weeks and throughout pregnancy avoid strain on the abdominal area and the back. If you have chronic conditions, retinal problems, hernia, high or low blood pressure check with your doctor about the do's and don'ts.
Finally do tell us about the app.
It is my gift to the people of India. A very vital one in these times when we are all learning ways to remain fit at home. The app lists ways to boost immunity, yoga being paramount to that. Research proves that exercise is the greatest immunity booster and I think every Indian must download this app and practice yoga.
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