Yoga is for all, provided the approach is intelligent, sensible, and ethical: Dr Mickey Mehta

The holistic health and yoga guru believes people must do yoga to find a purpose in life and not because they want to lose weight and get in shape.




Leading holistic health guru and corporate life coach Dr Mickey Mehta cannot stress enough on the importance of yoga. He has been living, breathing and practising yoga for the last 50 years, “getting his nourishment from nature”. On his 59th birthday, indianexpress.com reached out to him, and asked for some tips to stay healthy — both mentally and physically — in Covid-19 lockdown. What followed was an insightful conversation about the human body, the mind, the connection with the cosmos, and how yoga happened to him 50 years ago!

Excerpts:

You are a leading holistic health guru; what would you suggest for a person’s overall health and holistic growth amid the ongoing pandemic?

Our inner potential has to be unlocked in the lockdown. Champions are born out of challenges. Unless a human being keeps reinventing himself, and hones internal skills, one cannot evolve, rise and become a leader. The pandemic has been an opportunity to unlock the hidden potentials. It has brought self-realisation and self-actualisation — on how stupid we were, and how the reset button has changed everything around us. Introspection and retrospection happens by spending time with nature. Go out to your balcony, spend time under the morning sun, look at the trees, look at the vast expanse of the sky, listen to the chirping of the birds, appreciate the flowers. Mingling with the elements brings you courage. It makes you replace fear with faith. You begin to see life in a perspective — that nature always provides and sustains.

I have been telling people to get closer to their own nature, by getting close to the environmental nature outside. We are made up of the same elements as the environment — we are 72 per cent water, 12 per cent earth, 6 per cent air, 4 per cent fire, and 6 per cent ether. This ratio has to be maintained with pranayama, vegetarian food, dhyana (meditation), and principles of detachment. More important than social distancing, is distancing from desires.

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In meditation, you have to embrace the constant truth that you are a spirit inside the body and vice-versa. Recognising the eternal nature of energy, of soul, not thinking that you are limited, helps. The lures, or the sins of life — pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, avarice, sloth — take you down in the abyss of entropy. To rise, one has to embrace asht-anga of yoga — yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption). A man is the highest level of consciousness and his only purpose is to salvage through evolution.

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If we talk about yoga, how important is it for the mental and physical well-being of a person?

Yoga is the principle of divinity. A yogi is the embodiment of divinity. Yoga births new realities, which is what I call ‘evolution’. Yoga is the congruence of your physical being with the cosmic being. The lines of separation in the body are obliterated in the asanas. Yoga gives you rhythm and flow, which gives rise to ‘swasth‘ (health). It comes from the Sanatan way of life  — the Sanatan Dharma.

Yoga has four principles: conserve your breath, preserve your body, be established in the flow, and synchronize your unit rhythm with the universal rhythm — your circadian rhythm, with that of the cosmos. For you to become superhuman, you need to have insight, foresight, and multi-sensory perceptions.

You have been doing yoga for so many years now; what are some of the myths that you have come across and would like to bust?

That a person who is 80, cannot do yoga. Or a child who is two-years-old should never do yoga. Somebody having a backache should not do yoga. Yoga is for all, provided the approach is intelligent, sensible, and ethical. Please don’t do yoga for weight loss, or only for immunity. Do it to find a purpose in your life and to evolve. Mark Twain said: ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’

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Yoga will help you find your calling. You can contribute to this universe, and find your place in the biggest jigsaw puzzle.

What should a beginner keep in mind? Any asanas that you suggest they absolutely try?

Simply start with stretching up, and reaching for the sky. That will give you a perception of infinity. Then try and touch your toes gradually, without pushing yourself. It will give you an idea of earthing, of bowing down to nature. Then twist to the right and to the left. That will take care of the other two dimensions as well. Then bend backward and forward to be flexible in life, so that you open your mind and body.

Learn chakrasana, a bridge between your physical and spiritual life. Try and get into bhujangasana, in which like a cobra you will become alert. Try your dhanurasana slowly, without forcing yourself. It will help you have a vision. Remember, yoga does not make you religious, it makes you spiritual. It makes you dissolve your ego.

Weight loss and immunity will happen; you need not chase them.

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Any advice for people who want to feel less lonely in lockdown, especially those who are having to stay away from their family?

We are fortunate to be living in the digital era. First connect with the people you are living with. Find your parents and siblings in the neighbourhood. Love one, love all. Reach out and do good to as many people you can. Feed your watchman, and everyone else who is serving in your society and your house. These acts resonate with you and give you wellness at the core. It makes your hormones behave well. People who do a lot of charity will never have heart issues. People who are empathetic and sympathetic will never have hypertension.

Keep in mind that yoga and ayurveda are not preventive, but productive and creative.

Any dietary advice for readers who are looking to stay in shape in lockdown?

Diet is passé; nutrition is in. Nourish yourself with cosmic nutrition first. I soak myself in the sun in the morning. I nourish my ears with the chirping of the birds. I taste the herbal teas and I try to touch the air and the sky with my hands. Then I nourish myself with yoga and meditation, and then prayers, love and forgiveness. I nourish myself with these cosmic nourishments first. Then I go for a healthy diet — vegetarian foods — regional and seasonal. Cleanse yourself with vegetables, heal yourself with fruits, regulate yourself with fasting, and fortify yourself with nuts, seeds, dry fruits and herbs.

On your 59th birthday, you are celebrating 50 years of doing yoga. Tell us about your journey.

As a junior boy scout, or a cub, I used to go to Byramjee Jeejeebhoy School in Mumbai to participate in the ‘cub movement’. I used to see people with huge bodies exercising in the gym. Just a day before my eighth birthday, I told my mother I wanted to join a gym. We used to live in Grant Road, which is actually a red light area. A small community of Parsis used to be nestled there once upon a time. My mother suggested I join a gym nearby. I went there and they said I cannot do weights at eight; I have to be at least 18.

I came back dejected and disappointed, but they had told me to buy some gym equipment. I asked my mother for a small gym at home, which would have cost a few thousand bucks back then. My mother said she couldn’t afford and that I can instead use both my mind and my body. She asked me to learn flexibility and yoga like my sister. I remember my sister would do a 180 degree split. And that is how I started my journey of doing equipment-free exercises, or yoga.

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A few days later, somebody had come home to visit my dad, and had gifted me a book by B K S Iyengar. In this journey, I have distance-learnt from many gurus. While B K S Iyengar became my first guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became my second guru. Osho became my third guru, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Sadhguru became my fourth and fifth gurus. I am completely enamoured with Baba Ramdev. And of course, Maa Hansaji — she is 85 and so fit! I bow before all these gurus, and thank them for being my inspiration.

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Lastly, do you have any health advice or tips for women, especially new mothers?

Every mother is an expression of divinity. Every woman is a healer. Every woman is spiritually and mentally more powerful than a man. She is biologically more powerful and stronger. As such, females should adhere to yoga and not do much of weight training; they must do lots of breathing and dhyana. They must incorporate ayurvedic kitchen therapies in their food-making. They should adhere to regional and seasonal food. If they turn food into medicine, the family will never take ill.

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