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Home Cover Features Healthy Living!

Healthy Living!

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Healthy Living!

Thanks to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the 69th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014 extolled the delegates to adopt Yoga. And it was on December 11, 2014, that the 193-member UNGA approved June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’. On this occasion, we take a look at the benefits of Yoga with Hyderabad-based Yoga guru Uttara Sharma, who runs Uttara’s Power Yoga & Pilates studio.

In reality, looking slim and beautiful is everyone’s dream. For this one tries out all kinds of things like dieting, walking, running, working out at the gym, sometimes one sees instant results but it is difficult to retain the physique for long. Have you tried the country’s ancient scientifically proven Yoga? The answer may be a big NO. For this, the reasons would be many ranging from – ‘I can’t even touch my toes, I can’t do Yoga!’, ‘Yoga is such a ladies thing!’, ‘Yoga is slow and boring!’, ‘Yoga is not intense and doesn’t help in losing weight’ among many others.

Uttara Sharma, qualified power yoga teacher who has been practicing yoga for over 16 years, and teaches students at her Secunderabad Studio, says: “This is not a competition where you are under pressure to perform! As you keep doing yoga, your body will become suppler and stiffness will be a thing of the past! Be compassionate with your body and give it some time.”

She says that the best known and most respected yoga teachers around the world have been men. “All forms of yoga that we practice here work towards complete health solutions. This includes weight loss / gain and body toning,” she says.

Healthy Living!

According to Uttara, there are many benefits of Yoga. “Yoga is Injury Free Workouts, Increases Muscle Flexibility, Increases Concentration, Reduces Anxiety, Helps in Weight Management, Lowers Blood Pressure and Lowers Stress Levels,” the Yoga teacher says.

Walking into Uttara’s Power Yoga and Pilates studio at Secunderabad, I wondered what was Power Yoga. Explaining this, Uttara says that Power Yoga is a commonly used generic term to describe any vigorous yoga practice. “The term first became popular in the mid-1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ more accessible to western students. Power yoga is one of the best ways of staying fit and healthy. This technique was modified to allow people in performing yoga in a more energetic, lively and appealing way. These features make it extremely popular among the modern generation,” she says.

Uttara says that the first step of power yoga training revolves around two significant approaches, synchronising your mind and body and flushing out the toxins from your body. “The next step of power yoga training will concentrate on increasing your muscle flexibility and stamina and will also work by cleansing your nervous channels. The benefits offered by power yoga are immense. As you complete a series of postures of power yoga, you will be able to stretch and strengthen your body and have a relaxed and calm mind,” she says.

Apart from Power Yoga, the other forms of yoga taught here include Vinyasa Yoga, Fusion Yoga and Hot Yoga. Uttara shares that Vinyasa Yoga includes sun salutations, standing poses, balancing postures, seated and reclining poses, backbends, core isolation and strengthening. “Special emphasis is placed on moving into and out of postures safely, correct alignment, using the breath, and learning to quiet the chatter of the mind to find peace and inner stillness,” Uttara says.

Healthy Living!

On the other hand, Fusion Yoga is a strenuous technique that involves the stretching and strengthening of all the body’s major muscle groups, creating a slender, streamlined shape rather than bulk. “It enhances posture with its main focus being to strengthen the core postural muscles where the abdominal, lower back, pelvic floor and buttock muscles meet,” yoga guru says.

Hot yoga is nothing but doing yoga in a heated room. “The room is usually maintained at a temperature of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity of 40%. Most often, hot yoga tends to be a flowing, Vinyasa style of practice in which the teacher instructs a series of linked poses,” she states. The biggest advantage of hot yoga apart from weight loss is that the heat makes the body more flexible making it an injury free experience. “Hot Yoga is for the strong. It is a very powerful workout technique which works on your body to give you the best results, during and after the session,” Uttara says.

Combined with Power Yoga, Pilates is also taught here. Deciphering it, the Yoga teacher says that Pilates is a method of exercise, which aims to encourage the use of the mind to develop core postural muscle strength, stability and flexibility resulting in more efficient and graceful movement. “This merging of the mind and body was originally developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s.Pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility and long, lean muscles, strength and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back,” she says.

Uttara dispels many nutritional myths too. She says that many believe that a high protein diet is the best diet for weight loss. She says it is not true, in fact the body is made up of a combination of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, salts, sugars and fats.  Many also believe that Rice is Bad, but she states that Rice is a best source of vitamin B1. “As rice is rich in carbohydrates, it acts as fuel for the body and aids in normal functioning of the brain. Eating rice is extremely beneficial for health, just for the fact that it does not contain harmful fats, cholesterol or sodium. It forms an integral part of balanced diet. Rice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fibre, iron, thiamine and riboflavin.”

The guru says one must have a balanced diet to maintain health and a sensible body weight. “ A balanced diet should contain protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibre in the form of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, all in the right amounts, providing you with a good supply of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and of course fresh drinking water,” she says with a smile.

Healthy Living!

‘Yoga’ Visa

Ahead of the International Day of Yoga on June 21, the Union Government is planning a ‘yoga’ visa of two nights and one day. A senior government official said that the Modi Government was planning to introduce a new category of visa to promote yoga, to help make India the world destination for yoga enthusiasts. Currently, there are 18 types of visas which include diplomatic, mountaineering, employment, tourist, medical, student, research and conference, among others. The official said that since U.N. had also designated a day for yoga, to attract people to India, the government was planning to create a special type of visa.

First to Introduce Hot Yoga and Pilates in city

Competent in various forms of Yoga and Pilates, Uttara is an experienced yoga professional specialising in weight and stress management. She lays emphasis on improving overall health - physical and mental. She has worked with some of the most respected yoga instructors and experts worldwide. Apart from attending several workshops in Hong Kong and New Jersey, Uttara has conducted yoga training at Yoga retreat in Los Angeles. She draws inspiration from internationally acclaimed Yoga practitioners Ana Forrest and Bryan Kest. She is the first to introduce the concept of Hot Yoga and Pilates in the city.

What drew you to Yoga? It is not an easy method to lose weight?

At the age of 23, I tried many things like aerobics but could not see much improvement. I tried yoga under my guru M Kundu. He is here every day in my studio and he also has a session with the students here. I have also learnt under many gurus. Yoga with Pilates helps in mental stability, physical strength and stamina. Yoga is a proven science. Anyone can do it, from young to old.

Healthy Living!

How many months did it take you to lose weight? Did it contain any diet restrictions?

I practiced Power Yoga with a balanced diet and had Satvic food. I could see the difference soon and kept practicing it.

When and with how many students did you begin yoga classes?

I launched my studio in 2006 with one student and after 10 years, there are over 200+ students in nine batches. There are no classes in the weekends. Earlier, I had other Yoga studios too, but as this is a one-man show and I want everything under my supervision, I function only from Secunderabad studio now.

When did you add other elements to yoga to make it interesting?

From 2007, onwards I have weaved many things to power yoga. In India, I underwent teachers training from VYAS (Bangalore), and in the US, I did Advance Power Yoga teacher training, Advance Vinyasa teacher training and Pilates teacher training. At the studio, emphasis is on strength, and here we use free weights and dumbbells also.

Name some A listers, who have joined your Yoga classes?

Cream of the society attends my classes. They are from all professions – dancers, musicians, doctors, sportsmen and many others. A session here helps many to fight lifestyle diseases, build stamina and strength. They remain active and energized the entire day.

Do you think yoga should be taught in schools with Physical Education?

Parents are to be blamed for their child’s ill health. At an age, when they should go out and play, they are being compelled to study to score high percentages. But when their children are in the age group of 15-25, they turn for help. Some of them become fat, girls have menstruation problems etc. Physical fitness is an important part of life. Yoga should be taught in schools, it is unfortunate that many schools don’t have proper playgrounds also.

On Yoga Day?

Yoga day is celebrated all over the world now. It is a great initiative by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is becoming very popular and Yoga is a proven science and not a religion.

Before signing off, she says that women are not bothered about their health. “In fact, they must take care of themselves to take care of their family. Staying fit and agile is very important for them too.”

Healthy Living!

Yoga Course

Yoga guru Uttara Sharma conducts two-month Internationally Certified Power Yoga Teacher’s Training course. The yoga guru says that the style they teach is a creative, dynamic and intelligent flow which can be easily adapted to different levels. “The philosophy is based on the ‘8 Limb Path’ of Patanjali and the asana practice. Over 84 poses are covered in-depth during the training with special attention to anatomical sequencing and skillful assists. At the end of the training, one is fully qualified to teach Power Yoga and its variations such as Power Flow or Core Flow, as well as various levels of Hatha Yoga,” says Uttara.

Yoga Practice Guidelines

•  Clean Surroundings

•  Should be done on an empty stomach

•  Use a Yoga mat

•  Wear comfortable clothes

•  Always breathe through nostrils

•  Do not push your body vigorously

•  End Yoga session with meditation

•  Take food or bath only after a break of 30 minutes

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