Mindful Living: Dr Hansaji Yogendra’s Approach To 21st-Century Challenges

Dr Hansaji Yogendra shows Anil Sadarangani how to navigate life in the 21st century and tackle the challenges that come our way.

Dr Hansaji Yogendra, a globally acclaimed spiritual yoga guru and the Director of The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, has enriched the world with her wisdom and deep knowledge of yoga for over 50 years. She shares some vital nuggets on navigating 21st-century life with a yogic lifestyle as we face unprecedented challenges daily, including digital addiction and mental health issues.

Excerpts from the interview…

Everyone aspires to improve their health and wealth. How can the yogic lifestyle help us achieve this?

A yogic lifestyle means a balanced lifestyle. It helps you never forget your purpose. You don’t go to extremes and you don’t get stuck. You know what’s to be done, how it is to be done. You think before every action.

Despite seeing success, many people still feel empty. How can we be truly fulfilled despite material acquisitions?

Material things fill an abyss. You can never be satisfied. Often, I ask people what purpose does money fulfil for them. You can’t get peace, love, health, time and good relationships with money. Pursuit of wealth is fine but spending 24 hours on it is not. Instead, spend eight hours on it. Spend the remaining time on your relationships and yourself so you are at peace.

Your new book ‘The Sattvik Kitchen’ is out. Can sattvik recipes work for a house party?

Sattvik recipes definitely work for parties. It includes a variety of drinks, soups, starters, main dishes and desserts. Sattvik recipes are very tasty and can be prepared quickly, they are balanced and easily digestible too. The idea that we need multiple ingredients for meals should be discarded. One ingredient done and cooked well can give you maximum benefits. For example, so many varieties of soups, chapatis and other items can be made with a legume like peanuts.

Many organisations endorse a work-life balance but don’t walk the talk. How can business leaders help their team’s mental health?

Organisations need to include relaxation techniques at work. If you are sitting at your desk for a long time, get up and go for a walk after an hour. Every 20 minutes, go to a window and gaze at a distant object. This helps relax the optic nerves and brain. You can also do one or two asanas.

How does yoga help in mental health wellness?

The mind can make or break a person. The human mind, if it is in the right direction, can take you to the best state. However, if it is affected by anger, worry or greed, it creates stress and disease. The mind needs channelling, direction and education. People should learn yoga philosophy and psychology to help their minds remain in a good state.

Should one take up an offline or online yoga course?

Replacing the physical teacher is not possible but technology can offer a middle path. If you don’t have the right teacher, you better not learn. You should select a teacher who has imbibed the spirit of yoga correctly. If a person is not a yogic personality, its effect would be just like entertainment. Post pandemic, even we at The Yoga Institute have been imparting yoga education online, but staying with us on campus for at least 15 days is compulsory.  

How can yoga help young people who prefer pursuing more vigorous exercises?

People doing vigorous exercises also have a vigorous state of mind! There are cases of people doing vigorous exercises and suffering heart attacks. Just vigorous exercise doesn’t work. You need relaxation – you see a flower, smell the fragrance – this approach is also vital.  Slow down, be steady because that wins the race.

People often confuse being religious with being spiritual. What is the difference?

I always tell people, don’t be religious, become spiritual. What is the essence of religion? To have faith in a higher reality and be relaxed with yourself. There is something else that is taking care of you. You have a soul consciousness within you and also universal consciousness (aatma-parmatma).

If you don’t remember this and just live life as you please, you make mistakes. But if you know God is there with you, you stop complaining and doubting life. This can be done only by a spiritual person. Such a person will always try to control their senses.

Digital addiction seems to be a major ailment today. Can yoga offer some remedies?

Digital addiction drains your phone battery and brain. The blue light doesn’t allow the sleep hormone, melatonin, to set in. Sleep deprivation lowers your concentration and weakens your memory. Be digitally savvy but know how to use it wisely. Monitor your screen time. Yoga helps because it is a science of awareness and a culture of consciousness.

Do you have a message for our readers?

‘Society Achievers’ magazine is doing a fantastic job of conveying people’s life experiences to many. Life is not just about listening and thinking. What is more important is application. Yoga gives you an experience beyond your sensory organs – eyes, ears, mind. Practise today!

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