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What yoga means to me

On International Yoga Day, we speak to practitioners to understand why their practice is important to them

All yoga practitioners find their practice extremely helpful
All yoga practitioners find their practice extremely helpful

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Yoga means different things to different people, but one emotion that holds true to all yoga practitioners is that all of them find yoga extremely helpful. Whether it is to relax their aching muscles, tone limbs or beat the stress, yoga plays an important role and keeps people returning to the mat daily. On International Yoga Day, we ask Mint Lounge readers what role yoga has played in their lives.

Also read: How to deepen your yoga practice

Ghazal Alagh, 33, co-founder and chief innovation officer, Mamaearth, Gurugram

Favourite: Surya Namaskar

The 33-year-old used to be the sports captain at her school in Chandigarh, but once her career and family started taking up a big chunk of her time, yoga became a part of her routine. “I enjoy waking up early and start my day with meditation followed by yoga. I have been a yoga practitioner for years, and this has been one thing that helps me maintain balance in my life. Yoga has really helped me enhance my awareness of myself and has helped restore balance in my life,” says the entrepreneur and mother of two. She finds that doing Surya Namaskars help in synching her body and mind and also helps improve her mind and body coordination. Yoga played a big part in helping Alagh navigate the tough times during the pandemic when the whole family started doing yoga together every day, which helped lift their mood and spirits.

Tushita Patel, 52, author of cookbook Flash in the Pan, Bengaluru

Favourite: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana or handstand

Tushita Patel has been doing yoga for nine years now and absolutely loves it. She also walks, goes to the gym and swims, but yoga is the activity she is most consistent in. “Yoga is about practice. That’s why it is called yogabhyas. If you keep doing it, you are bound to improve and also feel better,” she says. There has been a marked improvement in her yoga practice since she tries to be as regular as possible and loves having a go at the inversions. Yoga has helped mould her body shape as well. “I am 4 feet 11 inches with a round Botero-type body,” she says, referring to the Colombian artist famous for his plump paintings and sculptures. “I have been doing yoga for nine years, and I feel that my limbs look leaner, longer and less rotund. My stamina has increased, and that helps me perform better cardio workouts.” Patel finds the handstand the most joyful asana of the lot, and she feels it keeps her youthful. “I can only do it with wall support, but I look forward to this inversion every time,” she says.

Simta Sharma, 34, software developer, Bengaluru

Favourite: Adho Mukha Shvanasana or Downward-facing dog

About years ago, the 34-year-old recreational long-distance runner started yoga as part of her stretching routine to help her recover from her running training. Sharma has moved jobs and cities but has continued to keep yoga an integral part of her training. Regular yoga has helped improve her flexibility, and recovery between her runs is now faster. “I follow the Yin Yoga principles where I hold each pose for two to three minutes. During that time, the mind switches on; I become more aware of how my body is feeling, and I become more alert and calm at the same time. Yoga has helped me tremendously in becoming a better runner, and I feel a lot more relaxed both physically and mentally after a yoga session,” says Sharma, who feels she performs a lot better on her runs the day after she does yoga. Yoga has improved her balance and mobility and kept her injury-free.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

Also read: Should yoga be a competitive sport? We ask yoga trainers


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