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Lotus turns a new leaf


With pet or without clothes, in the toilet or at the airport. . . there is one yoga variant for everyone. The traditional types may fret and fume on their mats but the iPod generation is getting creative with their poses. Broga, anyone? That's yoga for dudes, bro. TOI-Crest helps you brush up on your yoga vocab.

Relieve Yourself | TOILET YOGA

The best ideas often pop up in our heads when we are perched on the loo seat. Considering yoga is the path to enlightenment, or en-loo-tenment if you please, it couldn't have been long before people started using toilet cubicles to perform asanas. No, we are not talking about the pawan mukta (wind release) asana, but hold your breath anyway. Toilet yoga or looga, the latest offering in the world of remixed yogas, involves performing side lunges, stretches and much more in the bathroom cubicle.
It is not just about relieving yourself of the heavy lunch, it is about literally relieving yourself (of stress and stiffness). You don't have to be ultra bendy. Everyone who poops is qualified for toilet yoga, but it is especially beneficial for office goers who are glued to their seats for long hours and suffer back aches and cramped joints. So, the next time you take a pee break, try the Stall-asana devised by New Zealand-based yoga teacher Sarah Berry: clasp hands behind your back and bend forward, with bent knees, bringing hands overhead to loosen up your shoulder muscles. Yoga practitioner Susmita Pattjoshi recommends asanas like Tada and Kati Chakra and this easy exercise - place your hands against the stall door, stretch out calves and then bring your back at a right angle to your legs, stretching it out. "But avoid pranayam in the toilet - there's too much stale air in there, " she advises.
So, take a seat and join the movement.


More than a decade ago in New York city, an American called Jayadev decided to start 'Midnight Yoga for Men' a group that was supposed to meet and practice asanas in the nude. A few years later, Hot Nude Yoga was introduced, giving guys a chance to do something different. Practitioners insisted it gave them greater freedom to practice asanas without being bound by their clothing. But yoga teacher Nischint Singh will have none of it. "People in the West do this all the time. Why take away from the essence of yoga? Next, they will come up with Moon Yoga - there's no end to the gimmicks. In any case, yoga should ideally be done around sunrise, not at midnight. And why nude? Yoga can easily be done with comfortable clothes on, " she says.

Smooth Landing | AIRPORT YOGA

After services like manicures, pedicures, head and body massages and even nail salons, flyers may now stumble across yoga centres at airport lounges as well. The San Francisco International airport kickstarted the trend with a yoga studio and it won't be long before other airports follow suit. The idea is to do a bit of meditation and yogic exercise before you take off 30, 000 feet above terra firma. As one frequent flyer, businessman Amit Desai, says, "Sitting in a cramped seat for hours is hardly a joy ride. So, it's good to do de-stressing exercises at the airport instead of staring into space or guzzling coffee and eating junk food. " Our airports should get a yoga lounge on a priority basis, suggests Pattjoshi. "Flyers are generally very stressed. A little time spent in meditation and some light yogic asanas in the airport lounge can do a world of good, " she adds.


We've heard of dance yoga, a series of slow, continuous and graceful movements meant to enhance your inner life that many Bollywood A-listers like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Bipasha Basu are believed to be doing. And there's another one too - Kathak Yoga, being taught by Najma Ayashah in the US, who merges the traditional dance style with rhythmic compositions and yoga. According to her, these routines are designed to stimulate the chakras and awaken the senses. Now, keen dancers can include disco yoga to their exercise regimen - by reviving the retro era with numbers like Stayin' Alive and Funky Town. Wanitha Ashok of Bangalore is teaching Disco Yoga to an enthusiastic group of about 150 students. With salutations to the sun (Suryanamaskar), downward dog position, warrior poses, lunges "while sticking to the right breathing technique", Ashok says she has modified it into a cardio-strength workout. "I call it hybrid yoga, " she states. "It's good to bring in innovation because the body responds to new exercises more readily. "

Pooch-asana | DOG YOGA

Your pooch has been growling too much lately? Or snapping without provocation at passers-by ? Or become too clingy? Well, it needs help. And if you have no time to take it to a psychiatrist, try doing yoga with it - it's sure to calm your baby down. After all, if humans can have yoga, dogs can have doga. But patience is the buzzword here because doga could take some getting used to. After all, your dog might have other ideas when you decide it's time for him to do some yoga moves. A wee-bit of stretching of the limbs, massage of the ears and the tummy and the doggie could start enjoying these sessions. Other exercises for it could include the sun salutation, tree pose, downward facing dog, and the doggie twist. Suzi Teitelman, the US-based yoga instructor, who started the canine yoga movement, may think that dogs love doing exercises with their masters, but Dr Narendra Gandhi of Dr Gandhi's Pet Clinic has another take on it: "It's still early days. It may not benefit your dog as is thought it would. " His reason is simple: "Dogs are creatures of nature. Why try to alter their temperament for them? Give them enough exercises, take them out for walks, don't provoke them unnecessarily and they'll be fine. Don't meddle with nature. "

Steamy Session | HOT YOGA

Hot Yoga entails doing asanas in a steam room - which US-based yoga guru Bikram Choudhury likes to calls 'Bikram's torture chamber'. He got hot yoga to India last year and many are now striking poses in a room heated to a cruel 42 degrees Celsius at the Bikram Yoga Studio in Mumbai.
This steamy yoga version caused a storm around five years ago when Choudhury applied for a patent for it. While most practitioners were up in arms saying yoga cannot be appropriated by anybody, the bad boy of yoga (that's what some in the US media call him) insisted it was his. Baba Ramdev was among those who were not impressed. "Hot yoga is extremely harmful. Yoga should be done in cool conditions, otherwise you can end up with hypertension, heart problems, depression and problems related to the nervous system, " he had told TOI-Crest. Says Nischint Singh adds, "I too am a traditionalist when it comes to yoga. It should be done in open air, in accordance with nature, not in artificially created conditions. Our sages said that yoga should be done to build up your body temperature to beat any outside temperature. And it certainly does not include doing it in a steam room, " she says.


If one can dance in the air (suspended from ropes like Isha Sherwani), why not yoga? Here, you switch ropes with hammocks, suspended about three feet above the ground. All you need to do is climb in and swing softly as you move through poses of this yoga form created by former gymnast Christopher Harrison. Like aerial dancing, the moves look beautiful and Harrison insists it works to heal the body and the mind.


Illustrations: Ajit Ninan

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