Yoga For Better Skin, Hair & Life Explained By An Expert - Ami Ganatra | The Ranveer Show 255 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Yoga For Better Skin, Hair & Life Explained By An Expert - Ami Ganatra | The Ranveer Show 255".
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As I said, yoga is a school of philosophy which perceives reality. So what he says is Yoga chitta vritti nirodha tadha ad rashto swarupa havasthanum Only when your mind is quiet will you be settled in your actual truth where you will see the real truth. What will happen when the mind doesn't settle? Your emotions all that will get mixed up. Correct. You will see your reality according to those vrittis with a biased lens. What is getting control over your senses? Ideally, I see something. Immediately my memory is triggered that oh I liked it. But I forget that it had not done good for me. Because for that I need to use my thinking brain. Yeah, that is only taste. Taste is like oh I want it. Now if I don't get it, I will go into this mode of anger, frustration. So I need to tell my senses that oh if things you don't get what you want, it's fine. For the last two years of my life, I have dedicated my research to the world of meditation and yoga. Because I am building a meditation and yoga app. This episode is an attempt to bring you the ABCs or the 101s of yoga. Not how the world knows yoga. It's not just about the stretches, the asanas, the exercises. It's about the philosophy. It's about the reasons to do yoga. And it's about the end goal of yoga. If you're someone who wants to learn the truth about yoga through our shastras or the ancient scriptures of India, this is the episode for you. We've got one of our TRS All Stars, Ami Ganatra, who's given us some blockbuster episodes in Hindi to explain yoga to you folks from a very basic perspective. This is one of those episodes that's evergreen. It's going to be relevant even 50 years later. So you're going to enjoy this episode. You're going to learn from it. Remember to check out Level Supermind, the app that I've been working on for the last two years. Lots of guided meditations, lots of guided yoga workouts coming your way. And of course, make sure you follow us on Spotify. Every episode of TRS is available on Spotify 48 hours before it's available anywhere else in the world because TRS is a Spotify exclusive. This yoga special has a lot to give you, so just be in a state of absorbing fresh knowledge and perspective building opinions from Ami Ganatra and yours truly. Ami Ganatra, welcome to the Ranveer show for the first time because you've done a bunch of blockbuster episodes on our Hindi channel. But this is our first English episode. So welcome. Thank you so much Ranveer. Always a pleasure. Any channel with you is fun. Any chat with you is fun. You know how deep and crazy this one's going to go because this is our first ever yoga special on the show. I wanted to do it with you because I've seen how deep we can go with our yoga conversations in Hindi.
Detailed Discussion On Yoga And Related Concepts
Yoga Special introduction (03:05)
We have a lot of international listeners and this one's for them, mainly Ami Ganatra. I think you need to clear the misconception about what yoga is to begin with because when urban audiences plus international audiences hear the word yoga, they automatically visualize someone doing something from a Surya Navaskar, some kind of yoga asana, some yoga exercise. What is yoga according to the ancient definitions from Indian scriptures? So the foremost text on yoga is Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Patanjali Ji was a Rishi who compiled the information on what yoga is. Yoga is a darshan, what we call darshan. It's one of the six darshanic schools of India where we have one is Uttara Mimam, Purva Mimam. We have Yoga Sankhya, Vaishya Shikha and basically how do you see the reality? How do you perceive the reality? What is a darshan? Darshan is what we very simply translate as philosophy. Darshan. Darshan is to see. See what? Reality. That is how it basically breaks down to. So how do you make sense of reality, reality of truth? Okay. Deepa question. What have you learned about reality? Are we living in a simulation? So if you go by Vedanta or Advaita, we say that this is all Maya.
What is human reality? (04:28)
You will have to also explain what Vedanta and Advaita are. So Vedanta, very simply understood, it is Vedanta, end of the Ved. What is at the end of the Ved? End of the Ved are the Upanishads. Upanishads. So Vedas have two, three parts but to be very simple about this, two main parts. One is what is called Karma Kanda and the second which is called Gnyana Kanda. Karma Kanda is about rituals because we have always been, I don't want to use pagan civilization but a civilization that worships nature. Right? Our deities so to say were all related to nature in some way. So we are a civilization that worshipped nature and hence there were certain rituals around that. The prominent being what we call Yajna. In English we call it the fire sacrifice. Right? The sacrifices which are done. But basically the Yajna where you have the fire and you put ghee in the fire and you know havesh and all of that in the fire. So there are certain invocations you do when you do the Yajna. There are certain material benefits that you seek out of doing a Yajna. The larger thought is that by doing the Yajna you are propitiating the deities. You are giving them something and expecting that they will take care of you. Yeah? So it's like you give them something and expect them to take care of you. Ask for their protection. Ask for help. All of that. So how to do those? What were the rituals around it? How to... when to do what Yajna? What are the rules? Who could do? What should be chanted in those? All that is called karma kanda. So rituals around that. That is one part. The last part usually, I mean last because that's the second part. Sometimes it also comes in the middle of the Vedas. It's called jnanakanda. So jnanakanda has to do with wisdom knowledge. Knowledge of what? So our rishis have always been perplexed or let's say they have been trying to understand these questions of you know, existential questions what we call today. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of this life? What is this world? How did creation happen? You will also have to explain who are rishis. So rishis are the word translates into one who achieved realization through knowledge. That's what we say. But rishis are people who basically could go deep into meditation who had a lot of wisdom to perceive things which were not easily available to common people. So in one way these were like the realized scientists of past day. Let me now again break away into a little bit of modern history. I call it modern because this is what the world of history is talking about a lot lately. Which is the evolution of man. So if the first homo sapien arrived on the earth 300,000 years ago. That's a very long time if you actually think of the fact that Jesus Christ was only born about 2000 years ago. 3 lakh years is a very long time. They say that humans have spent a lot of time in history which has been lost because archaeology has its own limits. How much we know about the past has its own limits. And in India it's believed that Indian civilization has been around for a very long time. It's been around at least for the last 15,000 years or so because one of the oldest texts the Rigveda has been dated back to then because it mentions the Saraswati river which is now submerged. It's gone underground but it was a phase in history where the Saraswati was on land. So even if we just take that 15,000 year bracket rishis are probably people who were meditators. They were trying to go deeper into the world of yoga and they were trying to figure out the truth about human life through meditation through contemplation through research. That's all I understand about rishis. I would also like to believe that the timeline is not as short as 15,000 years ago. I feel it was at least a few thousand year, thousand year decades more than that. By which I mean maybe I would realistically like to believe it's about 40,000 50,000 BC. What's the evidence for this? I don't know. In saying that if you actually read the stories of our Puranas, our Itihas, we talk about years and times in lakhs of years in that kind of a scale. And it's probably taken lakhs of years to figure out that much about the human mind and body. Now go on Ami. So the Indic view on time is not linear. We look at Indic view of time as circular. That civilizations happen, they get lost, again the civilization happens. So from that perspective we date ourselves like lakhs of years old. But let's talk about what we know right now. And you are right. The information we have right now is probably 15,000 years of some evidence of human life. Some Indic researchers have actually traced back Mahabharata to 5000 to 7000 years, Ramayana to 7000 to 9000 years. So this period is already what we have. Then we know that there was, when we read Ramayana, we know that they also talk about the past. So stretching it back, I think atleast 15,000 years I would agree with you. Let's take the rough time frame. Rishis have existed throughout and as you very rightly said, these were the people who through deep meditations found the truth of life, found answers to some of the existential questions that we still ask. But beyond that, we also have Rishis who were deep into mathematics, who were deep into astronomy, who were deep into Ayurveda sciences, like health sciences. These were all doing research, they were all going deeper into any domain specific subjects they had to answer questions either in the philosophical domain or even in the material domain. And as a civilization, we have always valued knowledge. So even in Gita, they say that there is nothing better than wisdom. The wisdom itself will lead you to salvation or liberation. That is how we believe. One thing I just want to mention here, especially for our international listeners is that if they've watched Game of Thrones, have you watched Game of Thrones? No. So there is a concept of a Maester in Game of Thrones, which is a sort of guru who lives in a castle. He's also a doctor. He's also a teacher for like the princes, etc. Maesters are educated in this one particular place in Game of Thrones.
On ‘Game of Thrones’ (11:30)
I can't remember the name right now. I think it's called the citadel. And the citadel's concept was based on ancient Indian universities. Wow. The Gurukuls. Pakshashila. Yeah. Yeah. Nalanda. All these places. Yes. Which for international listeners were basically massive universities where people from all over Asia would come and study.
Facts about Universities & Gurukuls of India (11:55)
So we had a podcast with an archaeologist called Anika Mann recently whose subjects of study are related to Nalanda and Pakshashila and these ancient universities, which existed as recently as a thousand years ago. Yes. You know, 800 years ago. Even to be able to visit these universities, if you were a scholar from another country like a Chinese culture or Japanese culture, you had to give an entrance exam just to be able to go to these universities because this is a land that's been obsessed with research and deeper knowledge about philosophy. And I think the fruit of all that research is what we call yoga. Now let you continue again. So just to add to what you're saying, a lot of Chinese philosophers of yesteryears, they used to come to study in these universities and there are movies of Yun Zhang, Fa Hin, like the Chinese travelers that, you know, there's a place called Xi'an in China. In Xi'an today also they have this place, which is also a tourist destination now, where they have carvings of how Yun Zhang, he actually came to India, the kinds of troubles he faced, the university he came to, how he collected manuscripts, how he took them back. And they talk about them coming and visiting these different universities of India. So yeah, and this is 800, 2000, 2000 years old. However, the concept of Gurukul itself is much, much older. You'll have to explain what a Gurukul is. Gurukul is like a university where students come, live, study, and then they graduate. Let us take an example of Taitri Upanishad. So of course we have the Gurukul example in Mahabharat where the Kaurav Pandav, they study in Dronacharya's Gurukul, right? There they get trained in Shastravidya, in weaponry, warfare, all of that. But not just weaponry and warfare. There they learn about Ved, they learn about philosophy, they learn about what we call Raj Dharm or administration, polity. All that is required for future leaders, future kings. They learn all of that there. In that also there is a mention of Gurukul of Shaunak Rishi. So it is basically in this Gurukul of Shaunak Rishi that the first time Mahabharat that we know, the Mahabharat that we know was narrated to Janmajay, like in King Janmajay who is one of the descendants of Pandav. So he is the son of Parikshit. So Arjun, Yudhishthir Arjun, Arjun's son was Abhimanyu, Abhimanyu Parikshit, Parikshit, Janmajay. So Mahabharat was rendered publicly first time by a student of Vyaji in his yagna. There there is a Rishi called Ugrashrava Sauthi. He hears, listens to the Mahabharat and then he is travelling and he reaches Nimesharanya where there is another Gurukul, University of Rishi Shaunak. Where his students ask him that, "Ok, Ugrashrava Sauthi, where are you coming from?" And he tells them that, "Oh, I just heard Mahabharat." And they ask him to repeat or narrate it to them. That is the Mahabharat that comes to us which was also narrated in the Gurukul. But even beyond that, Tetri Upanishad which is the part of the Vedas, there the Tetri Upanishad basically starts with a Guru, with the Guru, the teacher giving a convocation speech. So he has a group of students who are graduating. So people who graduated from Gurukuls were called Snatak. Today we call bachelors as Snatak. Yeah, bachelor degrees those who. So the same thing is used there also. So you go through some 10-12 years of education and you become a Snatak. So there he is actually giving a convocation speech to his students who are going to graduate. And he is telling them how should they live their lives. So even in Upanishads we get this concept of Gurukul. And archaeologically we have evidence of Nalanda, Takshashila, all of that. So that's how long back it goes. How do you explain the origin of yoga as a concept? And now I'm talking about the western definition of yoga which is the actual exercises, the meditation. Where do you think all that began? Because what I've been told is that meditation came first.
What are the origins of ‘yoga’? (16:06)
Like prayer and meditation came first. Contemplation, silence. Because I mean it's a very everyday human life observation that when you're quiet, if you're alone, sometimes you can feel a creative surge. Sometimes you get thoughts about these things. That's how Twitter is even a concept. That's how the best tweets come out. What I've been told is that there's a legend that says that there was a bunch of Rishis meditating. And then they kind of went so deep into the meditation that they allowed their bodies to take whatever form the body was going into and that's how the asanas were created. And eventually because of the study of the asanas they figured that oh this exercise helps with this particular benefit. Or this exercise helps this organ. But what's the origins of yoga? So I had started talking about Patanjali Rishi right? You'll have to explain who that is. Yes exactly. I will do that. So Patanjali Rishi, that's where the Rishi thing came from. So Patanjali, he is a Rishi who compiled whatever information related to yoga was there into something which is called Patanjali Yoga Sutra. This is the book we refer even today where in a sutra format. So sutra is something like think of it as mathematical formulae of today. So there is no big explanation. There are one-one lines given to explain deeper concepts so that in a very compact comprehensive way that could be passed on. So he created that sutra text Patanjali Yoga Sutra. In that he gives the definition of yoga. He says yoga ha chitta vruti nirodha ha tadad rastung swarupa evasthanam. He says yoga is the cessation, the settling down of the chitta vruti. What is chitta? Very simplistically let us understand that is our mind. And vruti. Vruti are let's think of them as the different thoughts that keep coming to us. So he is saying settling down of this continuous activity of your mind is achieving a state of yoga. You mentioned the state of silence. The state of silence not just like there is no voice coming from outside. That silence has to happen inward. Because as long as, so when we say our mind is disturbed, what is really happening? The mind is not at rest. There is something or the other going on in the mind. Sometimes we think about what happened to me 15 years ago. Then we think oh but tomorrow I have an exam. Then that thought comes. Oh but what do I eat? Oh my god I have become so fat. The brain is never at rest. Something or the other keeps going on. And that disturbs us. Now if that goes to a level where you can't even sleep at night. The natural process of waking up and sleep is hindered. That is basically your mentally completely disturbed leading to anxiety, depression, all of that. So that is because of this continuous activity of the brain. Now when that activity subsides, that is when we actually experience that state of silence. So what he says is yoga is achieving that state of silence. Which we now call Samadhi. I mean he talks about Samadhi as well but that is that stage of Samadhi. That level of Dhyan or meditation. What is meditation supposed to do? Quieten our mind. So that activity stops. We can either focus on any one thought that has come to us or anything that we want to focus on. But basically quieten the mind. That is yoga. He has a much more spiritual significance. The reason why Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha has to happen is as I said yoga is a school of philosophy. Which perceives reality. So what he says is Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha, Tadaad Rashtum, Swarupaaya Avasthanam. Only when your mind is quiet will you be settled in your actual truth. Where you will see the real truth. What will happen when the mind doesn't settle? Your emotions all that will get mixed in. Correct. You will see your reality according to those Vrittis with a biased lens. You will not see what is your real form but you will see it with whatever is going on in your mind right now. So the association that you make of reality will not be right. It will be with those ephemeral thoughts that are coming to you. Ephemeral memories that you have which might not be right. For example if I am wearing goggles, red, brown, whatever. If I look at you, I will see you as brown. If I forget that I am wearing goggles, I am wearing shades, I will think you look like whatever colour that is. Red, I might see you as red. I might think everything is red. But actually the issue is not with you or with me. The issue is with that obstruction that I have created. Only when I remove it will I see you for what it is. So that is settling of the mind. This obstruction angle is the most relevant modern day context for sure. It is probably relevant throughout times but in the modern day there are so many easy ways to spot obstructions around you. There is overstimulation because of our phones and social media. There is overstimulation because of the wrong kind of foods that is out there and food is a big part of yoga. And probably generally people are not as physically active as their bodies are meant to be in the modern day. Which is why yoga is probably coming to the forefront everywhere all over the world. Because people are understanding that we live in these urban jungles, we have urban lives. We are not going to be able to solve many of those situations. But yoga at least begins to undo the effects of those situations initially. And then after a point when you realise you don't need those situations in your life. Then you can go deeper into yoga anyway. But that process which is balance out your mind and body. It is a very good modern use case of the system. Absolutely, so although yoga the ultimate outcome expected is to reach that stage of what we call Kaivalya. Where you become one with the Parmatman. So, okay let's go back and understand what is the meaning of yoga. Okay. The word 'Yoga' is a Sanskrit word which comes again from a root word. Every Sanskrit word will have a 'Dhatu' a root word from which it comes. Okay. The root word for yoga is 'Yujya'. Now you know we say 'Yoke' in English. That is also a related word which comes from 'Yujya'. 'Yujya' is to achieve a state of union. 'Yujya' is also to achieve full focus. That is also 'Yujya'. 'Yogasamadhao' 'Yogayujya'. So from both of these the word 'Yog' comes. So union of what? So we look at it in two ways. One is union of mind-body Atma. Okay. The second is union of the Atma with the Parmatma. When your soul combines with God. Yeah. Like whatever is that reality that we talk about right? The Brahman, the concept that we have. The all-pervasive reality. All-pervasive reality. We understand our reality and we understand that we are basically that. Like the Vedvakya's that we have that 'Aham Brahmasni' or 'Tattvamasi'. So the larger, we are basically that larger divine 'Tattva'. And realising that is also 'Yoga' which happens when you achieve that ultimate state of 'Kaiwaliya'. Okay. To kind of simplify it maybe for some of our western audiences. This is what the Buddha achieved 'Moksha'. When he said becoming a Buddha, Nirvana. These things, that's the ultimate goal of yoga. Which is why when people on the show, especially entrepreneurs ask me on the show what the meaning of life is. I want to explain this to them but not everyone's ready for this definition. You know I had a very big mentor of mine recently asked me what my purpose of life is. I looked at him and said I actually just want to escape this cycle of murder and death. And he looked at me like I'm crazy because not everyone's ready for that definition. The thing is the more you stick to yoga the more you realise that that's the actual game. And if you chase that game your material game will take care of itself. Of course you've got to put hard work there and all also. You can't use yoga as an escapism. You've got to learn to live in both worlds. You've got to achieve your material purpose which is different for everyone. And everyone has to achieve this purpose eventually in their soul's journey. Absolutely. Though I will say what your purpose is, the realisation of your purpose comes from. Like it is very different for every individual. While that is the eventual goal for everybody, not everybody will have the realisation which you have. Then is yoga not for them who don't have that realisation? No. That is why I said there are two types of unions. One is which you are seeking. Like you know merging with the ultimate. But there is another which is very simple. To achieve the union between your mind and body. Yeah. I have a friend who's actually been on the show. His name is Saket Modi. He's a cyber security expert who's also very very deeply read in yoga and yogic philosophy. He said that one of the physical goals of yoga is just balance. What is this logic and where in the yoga sutras is this written? Where does this balance angle come in? Because I think that's what you're getting towards. So again balance is physical posture balance and the other is mental balance. And again both are linked. So even in Bhagavad Gita Krishna says Samatvaam yoga uchchate. This samatva is yes balance but it is also equanimity to good bad happiness sorrow. This is a more mental one. But within yoga we also talk about balance in the sense of homeostatus within the body. Balance in the sense of postural balance. All of this is a part of yoga. Now how does that happen? So for example as I said yoga is achieving the union of mind and body. Let's keep it to that level only. Let's forget the spiritual part of it completely. Because even then I think it is a lot. It's basically for everyone to achieve the mind body union. And what is mind body union? So again that is health. Being healthy. We talk about holistic well-being. Mentally happy, physically fit. That is also the definition of health in our shastras. But anyway so what is that health? Physical fitness is about being physically strong muscle wise. Physically you are fine. All that is good. Your muscles are strong enough. They can stay in a state of sitting for example for longer. Achieving this happens through asana. So asana is one of the parts of achieving yoga. There are eight libs, eight parts. Yoga anushtan basically the practice of yoga has ashtanga. We have all heard the word ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga. Eight angas of yoga. Eight limbs of yoga. Of that eight limbs one is asana. So how do you achieve yoga? Through the practice of... We have a process flow given. You want to achieve this project, this is the process flow. So Patanjali has actually simplified that for us and said okay these are the eight things you need to do to achieve that state of eventual kaivalya. But forget that eventual kaivalya. Even if we don't get there these eight things itself give us lot of benefit. How? Because he says asana. When your friend said balance. The definition of asana itself says, Theera sukham asanam. We tend to see asana as all those weird jing jang poses. That is not yoga. I mean that also is yoga asana. Yes. But the purpose is to achieve a state of sthirata, stability. Stability can come only through balance. That stable position where you get sukha, where you are happy sitting there. You don't have to fidget. Your legs are not hurting. It's not hurting exactly. Now only when you can sit quietly for say longer periods, multiple hours together. Can you sit in meditation? Otherwise you will keep fidgeting. So asana was in a way to help us get into that state of meditation. Because that was the ultimate goal of you. But think of it how it helps us in the current life. Our bodily movements are controlled by something called as cerebellum. Now cerebellum is what is called the reptilian brain which is in all living organisms. This cerebellum is what controls our postures, our movements, our motor actions and stuff. And this is under the influence of our cortex which is the thinking brain. Now very simply put brain has three main parts. Very very simplistically put. One is the reptilian brain which helps the movement which is a part of medulla oblongata cerebellum. Then there is an emotional brain which we also call manna. So emotional brain which senses happiness, sorrow, threat, relaxing, all that. What I like, pain, pleasure, all that is in that emotional brain part which is also called the limbic brain. Then we have the thinking brain solving maths equations. Doing analysis, taking what we call objective decisions where you weigh pros, cons and then take a decision. I think this is like the whole left hand side, right hand side along with the reptilian side you are talking about. Yeah, so left hand, right hand is also a part of your cortex only which is the thinking brain part. Now the difference between human being and other animals is that our cortex, the thinking brain is a lot more developed. For others they have the cerebellum. It's largely the reptilian brain which is there. They all need that, some part of limbic brain. For us limbic brain and the thinking part is a lot more developed. So the cerebellum is controlled by both the limbic brain as well as our thinking brain. Limbic brain is the emotional brain? It's the emotional brain. So for us to achieve that balance, you practice yoga, you have done it. Say you want to stand straight or do what we call vrikshasana, the tree pose which is basically standing on, bending one leg and standing with your hands up. It's not that difficult but if your mind is disturbed even that you can't do. Holding that balance itself is difficult. Why? Because the cerebellum also gets disturbed because our emotional brain is disturbed, our cerebellum also gets disturbed and we can't even hold that pose. We can't keep that balance at all because the balance itself is driven by cerebellum. But when our mind is quiet, when it is not disturbed, usually at that time what happens is that our cortex is taking care of our cerebellum and we are able to keep that balance. Basically there is no disturbance happening on the cerebellum. It's doing its job as it is supposed to do and we are able to hold that pose which is balanced. So if a person is in continuous stress mode, continuously mentally disturbed, then the balance itself will not happen. And hence you will see that a lot of people tend to slouch or they are always fidgeting. They don't even know that they are fidgeting but they are fidgeting. All this happens because the cerebellum is not being controlled properly. It is not doing what it needs to do properly. And when we say that let's do yoga asan, that itself because of the impact it has on our nervous system, and I will maybe explain this nervous system a bit later. Our emotional brain becomes stronger. Our emotional brain is properly controlled by our thinking brain and that's how even our cerebellum is controlled by our thinking brain. Yoga helps strengthen our thinking brain and manage our emotional brain. Very simply put. That's what helps us achieve balance as well. We often talk about mind-muscle connections in the world of fitness. In terms of if you are doing a bicep curl, you need to think of your bicep actually growing. You need to feel each rep. That's why they say don't listen to music or podcast when you are lifting weights. I feel it's the same case with yoga. Even Sivanand keeps stressing on this that ideally you should only be thinking about the body part that you are stretching.
Body and Fitness (32:30)
Or if you are doing a pranayama, only be within the breath to really get maximum benefits of it. Now I have been a fitness trainer and I try looking at anything related to the body with a scientific lens only. I am understanding as I go forward my own yoga journey that your mind can definitely control the way your body moves. For example, if I am happy, my mind is feeling happy but my body reacts by smiling because the muscles on my face get pulled etc. Now I remember reading this report about how that's a nervous pathway. But parallelly studies have shown that if you force a smile on your face, it has a certain kind of happiness related effect on your mind. You actually feel happier in your mind. So you are using your body to manipulate your mind. As in you are going reverse on that particular nervous pathway. Now this brings me to yoga. In terms of, I am sure at this point I have been stretching at least. I have not been doing a high level of yoga but I have just been opening up my body. A crazy amount for the last one and a half years. And I feel I have gotten much more relaxed as a person. My mental health is in a much better place. I am a much more flexible person not just physically but also in my mind. In terms of things that would bother me out of my own stiffness, out of my own aggression to get them done. Now don't bother me. I am more adaptable to life. I have truly understood what Bruce Lee meant when he said that be water my friend. Now I have started to feel aspects of that. Parallelly I have a friend who is also into yoga and she is also trained in Indian classical dance. And Indian classical dance talks about this thing called conscious dancing where if you just allow your body to move in whatever way it wants and sync it up to some kind of beats. You will notice that in a few movements you end up feeling a little too emotional. So you are doing something with your fingers and suddenly you are feeling a lot of emotion. What they believe in both Indian classical dance as well as yoga is that emotions get stored in our bodies as well. Now again I don't understand the science of this. Maybe there is some linkage to the emotional side of your brain being linked to that particular body part. There might be a nervous connection. I don't know what the logic is. But I will tell you this that there are particular yoga asanas which I have done. Which I am like at the peak of my stretch and I start crying. I cry because of a certain thought that is triggered. When I told my friend about this instance in my life she said that is how conscious dancing works. We end up stretching a part of our body and then suddenly there are tears that come out because your body makes your mind go to a particular part of your past. And they say that often these niggles, these small injuries that don't leave you are always trying to teach you something. That's a philosophical way of looking at things. But I would like to know this whole aspect and I think this is related to your nervous system angle. And for me that's the highlight of yoga from a mental health perspective as well as in this episode. This is what people really need to gain out of this episode. I'll let you continue. So your observations are bang on. Even the part of smile that you mentioned. Let's take another example. When a person is stressed, what happens to the breathing? Very fast. Very fast. They are running all over the place, not able to decide the brain doesn't work. Usually when they are super stressed. What is our immediate say I come to you and I'm in a super stressed state. I'm blabbering away, not knowing what to do, frigitting away. What will be the immediate thing you tell me? Usually. I'm a little scared to say chill or calm down. This is what you will say, right? You'll be like chill, relax, breathe deep. Sit down, take a few deep breaths. Then you tell me what happened. Let me understand. Now, as soon as they sit down, take a few deep breaths. What happens? Their talking becomes clearer. They start making more sense because now they are able to stitch their thoughts together. Yeah. What is really happening in this? Your sympathetic nervous system is getting switched over and your parasympathetic system is getting more turned on. Correct. So we have one, what is called a central nervous system, which manages our, you know, body reactions, motor nerves and all that. And second, we have what is called as the autonomous nervous system. Basically it all starts from the brain. Yeah. Our brain is like our CPU, which processes information, makes us act in a certain way. It also is evolutionary, right? Because it should help us detect threat and to save ourselves from threat. We need to survive. That's a survival instinct also. That also has to be taken care of by the brain. So autonomous nervous system, it has two parts to it. One is what is called the sympathetic nervous system, which is flight and fight system.
How to manage stress? (37:15)
The other is parasympathetic nervous system, which is called the rest and relax system. Now, why do we need the sympathetic nervous system? For survival. For survival. If today there's a lion or a tiger here, we shouldn't be thinking, "Arrey, will that tiger eat me? Is that tiger hungry?" Maybe not. If by the time I'm thinking and analyzing and all that, the tiger will kill me, right? So my body should reflexively make me run, right? As soon as I have, there is an input from my eyes of the tiger, immediately my emotional brain, which has my pleasure and pain point. This is also where I recognize threats. That threat is recognized even without me not thinking about it, right? That threat is recognized and I need to run. Now, if I need to run, I need more oxygen. I need to breathe faster so that I need more oxygen. I need blood flowing into my legs and my limbs so that I can just run. Now, for that to happen, my arteries in my limbs need to expand. My heartbeat needs to increase. I need to breathe more. All that is happening. Now, while this is happening, if one side is activated, there is something else that would have... From where the blood flow would have to be directed? Where it is from my digestion? The whole digestion process. Because it is going on anyways, yeah? But now that the threat has been identified, the blood flow will go away from the digestion and all that, which are not immediately required at that point. Also from my thinking and all that and be directed towards the activity that I need to do most so that I can run. It's this whole case of react versus respond. Correct. You're more ready to react. I'm reacting and I need that at that point. Fantastic. I need to run at that point. I have run. I have saved myself. This was a real threat, right? Now, what happens if I'm continuously in this state of threat? As I said, when I sense threat, there are some activities which the blood flow will happen in such a way that some actions will get more blood. There will be more blood sugar, there will be adrenaline, which will make me all hyper and running and all of that. Yeah, lot of energy release. But the other activities like excretion, digestion, thinking, repairing, immunity building, creating, all that will just go away. If this happens at an extended period of time, my digestive system, metabolic system is sure to break up. It will break apart. And I'm continuously in that state of activity where I'm not thinking or anything. I'm just reacting, reacting, reacting to situations. Clearly, this is going to lead to a lot of wear and tear within my body and in my mind. That is what is stress. And this is the reality of the times that we live in when we say mental health issues are spread all over the world. This is actually what's happening. This is exactly what is happening. We are always in our sympathetic mode because we are continuously taking inputs and even the way we grow up, we are not used to hearing no. We get everything on a platter. So, the moment we hear a no or things don't go according to how we want, we see that as a threat. That is not a threat. It shouldn't be a threat. But our mind perceives it as a threat, as a pain and immediately our sympathetic nervous system kicks on and we are forever in that mode. Now, we… but the body can't take it that way because you need to rejuvenate, your immunity needs to be built, the repairing, relaxation, all that needs to happen. What takes care of that? It is a parasympathetic nervous system. But your parasympathetic nervous system can come and play only after your sympathetic nervous system is relaxed. Right? Now, what happens in the parasympathetic nervous system when it is activated? Basically, all the arteries which had, you know, expanded and constricted and all that, they come back into its original usual form. Heart rate comes down, so blood pressure decreases. Blood sugar level comes into its own, yeah, the normal level. Metabolic system, metabolic activity start happening and the body, the mind perceives that there is no threat anymore. So, I am fine. My breathing becomes deeper. So, all that happens in the parasympathetic mode. Now, very easy, right? Ideally, I should always be in the rest and relaxed mode unless and until there is a threat situation, a real threat situation, right? Then if I am normally in my parasympathetic nervous… parasympathetic mode, my energy conservation will be the best. All my activities will happen best. My thinking brain will be more active because also there is blood flowing and everything happening, right? But that doesn't… we don't allow it to happen because we are forever in the pleasure pain, pleasure pain, pleasure pain mode. The amygdala, the pleasure pain points are always active, leading to stress. Now, what does yoga do? Like you said, when we smile, we send a message to the brain saying that everything is in order. So, although the person was stressed, the moment we asked that person, "Arrey, relax, breathe deep." When that deep breathing happened, immediately a message went to the brain, to the emotional brain and the cortex that things are in control. Things are in control means parasympathetic nervous system came into action. The rest and relaxed system came into action. Thoughts started becoming clear. Blood flow started happening properly. Blood pressure decreased. And the person became lot more understandable. Yeah? So, this is what the parasympathetic nervous system does. Now, if we do yoga, so what we do, we really do, you know, even when we do asana. So, we are always bringing our thinking brain into play. Now, in the stress system, it is our emotional brain which is controlling our nervous system. Okay. That is why when we perceive something as threat which is not actually a threat, our actual brain is not thinking. It is just the emotional brain kicking off the sympathetic nervous system. By doing yoga, you actually take away the control from the emotional brain and you give it back to the thinking brain. How does it happen? Because you are doing everything slowly, right? When you are trying to hold an asana, that can only happen if your cortex, your thinking brain controls your cello-bellum. So, the moment you try to balance, you are shifting back the control to your thinking brain. Yeah? That is why if your mind is very, very disturbed and your cerebellum continues to be in control of your emotional brain, you cannot balance. But if you say, "Okay, no. Deep breath. I am going to hold this position now." Yeah? Then it will happen because now you are bringing awareness to it. Bringing awareness to anything is shifting back gears to your thinking brain. That is what happens in pranayama as well. Yeah? The moment you sit and breathe deep, it becomes a conscious activity, not involuntary. Now you are doing it consciously. That invigorates your vagus nerve. That invigorates your parasympathetic nervous system to come back into the rest and relax mode. It has... So, when you do yoga, if you do it once, the impact stays for some time. If you do it once, for some hours you feel really nice and relaxed, right? Immediately after doing the practice. If you do it continuously, again we have memory. Our neurons are very elastic. So that state of relaxation continues to keep increasing. Now when that state of relaxation continues to keep increasing, on its own the firing of your mind, when it is not required to fire, comes down. That is basically also what we say, disciplining of the mind. Getting control over your senses. What is getting control over your senses? Ideally I see something. Immediately my memory is triggered that I liked it. But I forget that it had not done good for me. Because for that I need to use my thinking brain. That is only taste. Taste is like, oh I want it. Now if I don't get it, I will go into this mode of anger, frustration. That my body reads as stress. That translates into sympathetic nervous system kicking off. And again, my whole system goes for a toss. So I need to tell my senses that if things, you don't get what you want, it's fine. That is controlling your senses. Ideally they should not desire what is not good for them. And even if they desire, if you say no, they should be able to not kick in your sympathetic nervous system. That is what achieving Indriya Nigraha or control over your senses is all about. That is where you eventually get to in yoga through Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana. It's basically exercises that help you become an adult. It's adulting exercises in so many ways. Disappearing, absolutely. Unfortunately, I don't think adults have actually achieved that kind of discipline. You just grow up. I think while you're growing up, it's very important to keep your inner child alive. But you should know what elements of your inner child you need to kill off as well. And one of my regrets in life is not actually beginning Hatha Yoga early on. Which means yoga is just related to the asanas. That's what Hatha Yoga means, right? Yeah, yeah.
What is Hatha Yoga? (46:49)
So Hatha, basically the purpose of yoga, as I said, is achieving that cessation, that state of clarity about what reality is. That is called Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a way of achieving that Raja Yoga. But how? As I said, there are eight limbs of yoga, Ashtanga. So the first two are Yama and Niyama. Yama and Niyama are basically the value systems that we live with. Like be a kind person, do good, etc. Correct. So one is values which we live with the external world, which are Yama. So non-violence. And non-violence is not just an action, even in mind. Non-violence, non-stealing, non-attachment, all of that is one. Then Niyama are your value system with yourself, which is about Shaucha, superiority, cleanliness. Shaucha, Santosh, being satisfied with what you get. Not just I need more, I need more. Not always being in the state of greed. That state of Santosh where you are happy. Again, when you are in the state of Santosh, you are in your parasympathetic nervous system. And then the parts of Kriya Yoga which we have. Tapasvadhya ya ishvar pradidhan. Having some faith, Shraddha. Because when things don't go your way, what is it that you hold on to? It's usually the Shraddha that ya, things are fine. I don't have a larger perspective, but I will be taken care of. Faith, Shraddha. What else did you say? Swadhyaya ya. Swadhyaya is self-study. Studying of philosophy, reflection, all of that. Tapa is your actual practice, whatever Anushthana that you have done. That you have said, I will study for one hour every day. Or I will do asana for one hour every day. Disciplines. Disciplines. So those are the first two. The third is asana. Basically becoming physically fit. Because physical fitness is extremely important to achieve that state of Raja Yoga as well. If you are ill, if there is some disease in your body, you will be mentally disturbed. That is one of the reasons of not achieving or rather one of the obstacles in path of achieving that state of samadhi. Is fatigue, illness, ignorance, delusion, distraction, all of this. So asana is a way of achieving that physical fitness. So at least disease free. Your muscles are strong. Then you have pranayama, which is having control over your pranavayu, which is your life force, your breath. Again, why breath? Because your breath is directly linked to your parasympathetic nervous system. Basically your nervous system. In hatha yoga there is a saying which says, "Chalevate chalam chittam nishchale nishchalam bhavit". If your breathing is disturbed, your mind will also be disturbed. As we saw, when your breathing is in control, your mind will come back to control. Hence, when we say breathe deeper, the mind comes back to control. So then that is pranayama. Then we have pratyahara, where we start getting all our senses inwards. So trying to take away food, trying to take away our senses from indulgences. Then you go to meditation and dharana, dhyanana and eventually samadhi. So these are the 8 limbs. So Abhiju and the 5 that we spoke about are what is called bahiranga yoga. So the external practice. Then as we discussed, the eventual goal of yoga is to turn inwards. To turn inwards, settle the mind.
What is the end goal of Yoga? (50:26)
That is through what we call dharana, dhyanana and samadhi. Dharana basically means to hold a thought. The beginning of the meditation. Where you try and focus on one aspect and then initially you will hold it for few seconds. That thought. Then as you keep practicing, the span of how much you can focus will keep on increasing. The more it increases, then that becomes dhyan. So desha bandha chitta sya dharana. That is what they say. Basically, focusing on any singular point, singular thought. It could be anything. That is dhana. When that becomes longer, that focus becomes longer, that is dhyan, which is meditation. And then eventually is the state of samadhi. When actually you are in an extended state of no thoughts or minimal thoughts. Now this samadhi can be of multiple types. One is where there are some sanskaras that stay. Then which is sabija samadhi, then nirbija samadhi. Anyways that goes to a more spiritual level. But that stage of achieving focus is where dhyan, dharana and dhyan start coming. Where we say have right concentration. So now what has happened? Again going back to our mental model, the autonomic system. When we are doing asan, our cerebellum is controlled. We are saying thinking brain control my cerebellum. So you are taking the gears, giving it to the thinking brain. In the pranayama, because it is related to the emotional brain, that is where the autonomic system is initially, autonomic nervous system. The first, you know, how do I say, the cells related to the neurons related to it are around where the limbic brain is, the parts of the limbic brain are. So it is immediately in control of the emotional brain. You take the control back and say no. Thinking brain start managing my breathing as well. So then I get back into my parasympathetic mode. When we move to dhyan, dharana, dhyan, we are basically now strengthening our thinking brain itself. We are strengthening that itself to start focusing more, longer, deeper. Basically the whole exercise of yoga is to strengthen this consciousness, the awareness which comes from the thinking brain. And ensure that our mind comes in as required. We need emotions. Emotions have their evolutionary value. And emotions are required to sustain relationships, manage relationships, nurture and all that, right? But they shouldn't come in the way of our objective decision making. They shouldn't lead to our destruction, right? That is what yoga is, to also manage your emotional system in a way that it is conducive to your growth. Yeah. Now there's a very beautiful image if you allow. Yeah, go for it.
Bhagwad Gita explanation (53:30)
Explain it. In Bhagavad Gita, you know the image that we see in any Bhagavad Gita text? It's basically a rat, a chariot, there is Arjun standing, then there is Krishna and he's holding the reins. And there are horses, yeah? So in Katho Upanishad, they talk about this whole controlling mind, the mental mind-brain complex. They say the horses are your indriyas, are your senses. They always want to run around, right? Because they want, okay, I see something I like, I want it. I smell something I want it. I like the taste, I want it. So the horses, which are our senses, they keep running around everywhere. They need to be reined in so that I can go to the destination that I want to go to, right? But if the Sarathi, which is the buddhi, the charioteer, which is your brain, the thinking brain, is not holding the reins, what is the reins? Your emotional brain, yeah? If the emotions are not being controlled by the buddhi, what will happen? The senses will take the chariot anywhere it wants, right? And if one horse is running here, the other horse is running there, the chariot will not go to wherever it needs to go to. So to make the chariot run properly and achieve its destination, the thinking brain, the sarathi, the charioteer, has to hold the emotional brain tightly and steer it in a way that the senses also are in the control of the thinking brain. So this is what even Bhagavad Gita says, that how do you achieve that state of yoga, where your thinking brain is in control of your mind as well as your senses, yeah? Now this is the more physical part of it, of course there is spiritual significance, but for most of us, getting this much is enough. Yeah, this is a great ABC of yoga kind of episode. I think we've covered everything. You know, probably for the end of this episode, I want to leave people with a bit of a CTA, a call to action.
Why Should one Practice Yoga? (55:33)
I feel that at this stage, if you're just getting into yoga, there are certain kind of ground rules you need to know if you actually want to get your body to do it. The first of which is guidance. I think that's the obvious one that yoga schools, etc. I've built a yoga app myself for the same reason because I feel like when you're building products, you first and foremost build it for yourself. You need the right kind of guidance. What are the second and the third steps? Could it be that you invest yourself completely in your yoga or meditation or pranayama sessions? Like what would you say? So actually this reminds me that I forgot the hatha yoga part, yeah, which we were discussing because this question also relates to it. So I'll just combine the two, right? You'll have to explain what hatha yoga is. Exactly. So I started off saying that Raja yoga is getting to that state of oneness, union in the mind, body and atma as well as union with the atma and paramatma. But let's leave that aside. And to get that yoga, that state of Raja yoga, we had these eight limbs. Now these eight limbs have asana, pranayama as a part of it. But Patanjali Yoga Sutra does not expand on what asana to do or what pranayama to do. Hence, other rishis, they picked up that concept and they said, "How do you practice that?" In sutra, he told us, "Do asana, do pranayama." Asana he explained as "Thira sukham asana", getting to that state of balance and stability. But what all do you do to get to that state of stability? So there are texts written that expound on that and then they tell us about which asana to do. What should be, you know, how do you prepare your body to get into asanas? What should you eat? What should you not eat? What are the breathing exercise that you do to eventually get that state of extension of prana, which is pranayama? That came to be known as hatha yoga text. The foremost of that text is hatha yoga pradipika, which comes from the Gorakshanath tradition. Anyways, so that is hatha yoga where you actually start practicing the angas, the limbs of ashtanga yoga. Eventual goal of hatha yoga is also kevala raja yoga haitha yoga upadishthi. That is what they say, that only to achieve raja yoga, we talk about hatha yoga. But hatha yoga is basically that practice which includes your cleansing techniques, your various forms of asana. So now where they start explaining what all asanas to do, what are the benefits of doing various asanas? How do you do some of those asanas? How do you do the breathing exercises? All that is now what we get into hatha yoga. Hatha, so again we said yoga is about balance. So hatha, ha is called the surya, sun, th is moon. Surya and moon basically hot and cold, right? You get into that state of balance of the various fires, the agnis that you have in your body as well. So achieve a state of balance within your body which is also what we call homeostatus. How do you achieve that? The practice of getting to that state which eventually leads to raja yoga through physical practice is hatha yoga. Now you spoke about different schools of yoga, like we should immerse ourselves into different schools of yoga. There are lots. People can go experiment, some might work for them, some not. But essentially people also ask this question that ok this is hatha yoga. Then what is vinayas yoga? People hear about anahata yoga, ayanga yoga. So there are these different schools. Now what is that? Is hatha yoga different from all of that? So no. Hatha yoga is the base. It's like the overall umbrella. Individual practitioners learnt from that and they added their own styles to it. They experimented with it and started there and maybe in vinayas yoga what they do is it's a flow exercise. So they found certain asanas which came very well with one another and it is a little more faster than normal practice. Similarly anahata yoga has its own style. Hot yoga which people do which they do in a certain temperature and all of that. So the base, the substratum of all this is still hatha yoga. Then individual practitioners took it and experimented on it. Different styles work for different people depending on what our body type is and all of that. But it's worth just trying and if people have not done that before it's always best to get some guidance from any school of yoga. Eventually it is also something. The thing in hatha yoga is also we have to start observing our own body and see what works for it and what not. Because we are all different. We are all different. Different things might work for us. We are all at different levels. Some of us are naturally more flexible than the others. So how do we start becoming more, leading ourselves on that path of flexibility? How do we, you know, some people are genuine, are by their own self a little more calm. Others are not. So how do you start managing that? What works for you? It's something which you can go experiment and find out. But it's always good to have some guidance for that. I think when we began this particular episode we spoke about how most of the world perceives hatha yoga as yoga. But this was an attempt to explain what yoga is. And even specifically we just want to highlight hatha yoga. It has a lot of cosmetic benefits. Your skin, hair, anti-aging, all sorts of things which I think people have started to realize all over the world. And the world of science is starting to do more research into the world of yoga. Let me give you an example from hatha yoga itself. Like when we talk about science, what do we say? That we need to be able to measure progress. So you need to have very measurable parameters. Then if science, if something achieves those parameters, then you say okay that thing works or not. In hatha yoga pradipika itself, they have given parameters. They say that you should check this to see if your yoga practice is on the right lines. What are those? They say your body should start becoming leaner. Now it starts becoming leaner not only because the fat burning is happening, as we say calorie burns. No, it is because your metabolic system is in order. If your metabolic system gets into order, you will eat the right quantity. You will not overeat. Your digestive system is in order. So whatever you eat will be digested properly. It will not just go and get stored as fat. So your body becomes leaner. Your skin, there is a glow that comes on your face. Your drishti cleans up. Your vision improves. So they have actually given parameters to say all this you will see if you practice yoga. And actually even if somebody practices yoga for 3 months, right? Some of these benefits already start coming. Yeah, 100%. Again, it is very important from a modern mental health perspective but also modern sexiness perspective. And let's end this particular conversation here. Amiga Natra, thank you for another epic show. We're looking forward to breaking down yoga from a much more advanced standpoint.
Last thoughts (01:02:58)
So any last message for our listeners before we let go of this one? I would say yoga is for everybody, especially Hatha Yoga. Whatever is your eventual goal, definitely give it a go. If nothing else, it will help you as you mentioned, right? Both physically as well as mentally. And yoga is such that it grows on you. Once you practice for 3 months, it's very rare to not continue practicing. So it becomes a part of life and you will make time for it. 100%. Just get past the 3 month mark. Which is why some people just kind of gym for 6 months and then leave it. But I feel if you go past those thresholds in these physical activities, in these exercise rituals, you become addicted to it. Because you really see what it does for the 23 hours that you're not doing it. Absolutely. You start feeling happier because that is eventual goal, right? You might be doing a physical exercise but you will just observe how it is benefiting you, keeping you happier. And then you want to do it. Why not if you're getting so many benefits out of it. Amiga Natra, thank you for explaining the ABCs. We're going to be back with a lot more advanced Gyan and yoga very soon. Thank you so much. Thank you. That was the episode for today. Ami and myself have already planned a sequel episode to this one where we kind of go deeper into the world of yoga.
End of the podcast (01:04:13)
Go a little bit where we touch upon the advanced aspects of it. Everything from yoga nidra to surya namaskar to actual asana guidance. What do you have to keep in mind when going about a yoga session? But if you're someone who wants to begin right now, Level Supermind is the place to be. It's the app that I've dedicated the last two years of my life to. So please download it. The link is given down below. It's meant for audiences from all over the world. If you want to begin your yoga and meditation journey, it begins on Level. And also request you to follow us on Spotify because we're a Spotify exclusive and every episode is available on Spotify. 48 hours before it's available anywhere else in the world. The Ranveer show will be back soon with a lot more Health 101 for you. All you.