Ashtanga trainer to the celebs Deepika Mehta was in town for X Yoga and she gives us an insight into her art.
WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON THE FITNESS WAVE IN BOLLYWOOD? DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THE CELEBRITIES\ ARE ABLE TO ADHERE TO THAT KIND OF DISCIPLINE THAT YOGA REQUIRES?
Yes, it is incredible because the Bollywood actors are such role models to everybody in the country, they are able to have such a huge influence on the people and I think it’s incredible because once a Bollywood actor says that fitness is so important for them, it is going to send such a huge message to most of the people in India and I think they are really in need of that! Getting more and more into fitness is very important for all. I think once people get into any form of exercise movement, it doesn’t have to be yoga; these kind of changes makes them more disciplined, their priorities get more clear, they become so much healthier, people don’t necessarily want do stuff like alcohol and drugs and its important especially for the youth, so I think this is incredible. I think celebrities are disciplined because they have such a tight schedule, the nature of their job requires them to be quite focused. I have noticed when I have trained celebrities in the past, even if they have an hour, they don’t waste it, they are really focused and are concentrated, and yoga helps them get mind space and gives them sense of peace which is very important in their lives.
WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN A YOGA PRACTICE?
To me a lot of things are quite important in the yoga practice, to make sure it’s a mind body practice and it has an element of spirituality but if I would just say one thing, I would say maybe the breath because when you connect breath to movement or when you connect breath in your Asana, this is what makes it powerful for the transformation and without that connection to the breath it would just be an exercise.
HOW DOES ONE FIND THE RIGHT KIND OF PRACTICE FOR ONESELF?
In terms of what practice, one would figure for themselves I think when people try a bunch of styles of yoga, they can maybe see what style they resonate with, and also it depends on what they looking for; if they are looking for health reasons, if they have any health issues therapeutic yoga like Iyengar yoga is good. I really love Iyengar yoga, it’s incredible for therapy; if they have a very stressed out life or maybe if they do too much, their sympathetic nervous system is a bit too wired then maybe then Yin yoga would be good because it really calms your nervous system, if it is the kind of people who are very lazy then Ashtanga is great becauseit kind of wakes you up and gives you a sense of energy and flow or even Vinyasa; it really depends on your personality also, it also depends on what teacher you connect with because I think that the teacher and student relationship in a yoga practice is quite important, also the energy that the teacher brings can really make the student connect. I think those two things help, what your needs are and what teacher you connect with.
HOW CAN ONE FORGE THE IDEAL BOND WITH THE TEACHER? WHAT DOES IT TAKE FROM BOTH SIDES TO DO THAT?
I started my journey of yoga with very old school styles; when I started yoga it was not mainstream and was not part of a popular culture so I still have this very deep reverence for each one of my teachers and I think that element of devotion that I feel for my teachers to me is also very important for my practice. Maybe I am too old school but these days today yoga is like a fitness trend and people sometimes do not even know their teacher! For students it’s very important to have respect for the teacher because the teacher is representing the practice so, you don’t have to touch the feet of the teacher or call them your Guru but definitely not get too casual, I like that, it’s like you have a reverence, as soon as you walk into your yoga space you create a sense of respect for the practice; it’s both ways, even for teachers, they have to have respect for their students, we have to want to help them as much as possible and I think that’s a very important quality for a teacher to have empathy and compassion and want to really help to make the students the best version of themselves.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR BENEFITS OF YOGA THAT HELP TO COPE WITH THE MODERN TIMES?
I think in today’s times one of the major benefits of yoga in this world of over stimulation and always looking at the outside, is that it really gives you the space to go within, it gives you a lot of mind space, helps you ground your energy which is to me very important. It becomes a tool to help you stay grounded, it helps you to connect to that sense of calmness and helps you to take a moment to connect to your own self and this is not just for anybody who really wants to become spiritual or any of that, but everybody needs that!
HOW DOES ONE KEEP A POSITIVE OUTLOOK DESPITE DAILY CHALLENGES?
Having some rituals to stay positive help me, meditation helps me stay positive, I like to read a lot of books on spirituality and positivity, I love cheesy motivational positive books and also having a belief in some greater source, you can call it God, you can call it higher power, the source, whatever it is that you want to label it with,but having some belief in this power this helps me stay positive because it helps me to connect to that positive energy in the universe that I know is always looking after me. I pray a lot and I have rituals that help me stay positive and even if something terrible happened to my life I have hope; this is some stuff that I have done in the past and I have always believed in.
WHAT IS YOUR DAILY PRACTICE LIKE? I MEAN WHAT ARE YOUR WELLNESS RITUALS?
My daily practice is my Ashtanga practice, I do it 5 times a week, other than that I like to maybe once a week do some other form of movement, could be long walks or doing some cardio because I also want to be cardio fit, and I like to dance a lot. Once a week I go out for a dance practice which is like a space where there is no alcohol, no phones, I like to go this place and go crazy dancing once a week. I do hand stand training again maybe once or twice a week but mainly my regular daily practice is Ashtanga. I like to drink a lot of water, I pray every single day and I meditate for at least 15-20 minutes daily and maybe twice if I have the time. I journal first thing in the morning, I have a gratitude list that I write, and I also write a list of things that I would like to manifest or the vision that I have for myself, I like to drink green juices if I have access to them.
DO YOU FOLLOW ANY PARTICULAR DIET?
I used to have an incredible diet, like I used to eat a lot of raw food and really take care of myself but the last 2-3 years since I got married and we are travelling a lot and it’s very difficult to be very strict on the diet as we are in different places and I don’t want to be very fussy, so right now my diet is whatever the best that I can get and I just try to eat clean as much as possible.
YOUR TOP WELLNESS TIPS FOR DUBAI RESIDENTS?
May main tip to people is, don’t get too addictive to your phone and to social media, yes I am on social media and yes I post quite regularly but I like to spend a lot of time without my phone as well because I feel that in today’s world it is very important to not get addictive to this over stimulation and alway shaving to tell everybody what you are up to, I feel this takes away from your space of stillness and eventually it does start messing up your mind so I think it’s important to have your own space, create an oasis for yourself where you can find peace and stillness. Stop comparing yourself to other people on social media because everybody who is putting up stuff including myself is showing you the best stuff going on in their life, they are probably not showing you the other side stuff that goes on. Just really enjoy your life, have a great time, be present, enjoy the small things. People in Dubai are very healthy they love fitness, they look great they all look unbelievably perfect, so I don’t think I need to give them anymore wellness tips.