BY RUKMA SALUJA
Reach out and have fun with like-minded people as you drop your guard and pay attention to your body and mind
Yoga needs no introduction, particularly now that there’s an International Yoga Day in June. At its basic, it is a set of exercises aimed to keep the body supple and agile. There are versions of it including hatha, Iyengar, ashtanga, kundalini, mukti yoga. New age practitioners have developed variations like hot yoga and speed yoga and many others, some that have become popular while others have courted controversy. Practised in the traditional way, yoga asanas must be accompanied by correct breathing, and are not meant to make you breathless. The act of consciously breathing in and out while performing an asana is akin to a sort of meditation.
Most workshops and online classes are geared to work with people in an easy way to bring down stress levels. Sonali Kalgaonkar, founder, Golden Earth – Journeys in Yoga, says, “Stress levels can affect the mind and body extensively and our work always begins there. The retreats are an extension of these practices for many of our students. People who have never experienced yoga also like to participate in the retreats for connection with nature and the self, and it is easier with no daily distractions. This experience opens them to the possibility of how yoga can help them in their daily life.”
To get away from the push and pull of daily existence, getaways are a great way to take a break. Golden Earth offers retreats to panoramic locales that work as holiday and yoga camps. Most retreats are meant for deep healing and relaxation interspersed with travelling and exploring local sights. The goal is to open up and push oneself beyond a comfort zone and at a pace we ourselves get to set. Kalgaonkar has found over the years that people come for health benefits that offer alternative treatments. Workshops focus on healing common ailments or particular body areas with back bends, twists or Surya Namaskar. Some easy asanas that help combat stress include Marjarasana, Setu Bandhanasana, Shashankasana, and supported Matsyasana, Supta Badha Konasana, Shavasana, Viparit Karni with the legs against a wall for extra support.
Age is no bar; senior citizens, kids, young adults and everyone in the working age group take such workshops, classes and retreats. All these are even available online and are suitable for everyone. Regardless of age, the focus is to bring resistance to its minimum, so the body is relaxed at the deepest level possible. “The approach is to first conserve energy, release stress and help change the neural connections within. This approach is very important as I am able to work with a varied age group,” says Kalgaonkar.
Those open to such ideas look for a holistic approach to living and are more willing to embrace other aspects of life- changing habits. Immersion retreats usually have organic and local vegetarian food. This diet then works as a sort of detox from the everyday food that may not be organic or fresh or as wholesome.