Ashtanga Yoga Guru Sharath Jois’ latest book is all about ways to remain young physically and mentally
By Arathi Menon
Title : From the source of Ashtanga Yoga : Ageless – A Yogi’s Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life
Author: Sharath Jois (With Isha Singh Sawhney)
Price: Rs. 299
Publisher: Juggernaut Books
How old would you feel if you didn’t know how old you were? What if the concept of birthdays didn’t exist? Would we ever grow old? Would the gravity and weight of age weigh us down? Perhaps, not. Unless of course, our bodies begin to wither with time and slowly succumb to the vagaries of nature.
As much as we hate to admit, ageing is an inevitable and natural process in every living organism. Like a leaf that sprouts, matures, ripens and then slowly sheds to make way for new, younger leaves to grow and thrive, every human being should go through the ageing process and leave the earth one day. Every cell in our body participates in that action quite methodically. If it is so natural and inevitable, why do we resist ageing then? Perhaps because we have forgotten the art of ageing gracefully.
With medical advancement, it is now easy to add more years to our lives. But how about the quality of life in those years?
Traditionally, Indians had devised ways to prepare the mind and body for the eventuality of ageing and death. With the passage of time and exposure to Western culture, this priceless knowledge has been lost to the newer generations. Who better can help you get back in touch with it than a Yoga Guru who is the epitome of grace itself?
A Mysurean and the most respected Ashtanga Yoga Guru in the world, Sharath Jois’ latest book “Ageless — A Yogi’s Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life” is full of tidbits on adding quantity and quality to our lives.
Published by Juggernaut, the book has already garnered a lot of attention. According to Publisher Chiki Sarkar, Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most respected and well-known schools of yoga in the world and so, it was a no brainer for them to reach out to Sharath Jois to write a book.
“We wanted the subject to be bigger than just yoga asanas; an idea that tapped into the larger philosophy of the school and the everyday practises of the Yoga Gurus — from eating to sleeping — that we could take inspiration from,” she says.
Much like Ashtanga yoga itself, this yogic knowledge of living well has been passed on to Sharath through generations — from the father of modern yoga T. Krishnamacharya, who lived a 100 healthy years and his own grandfather, K. Pattabhi Jois, who was physically and mentally active until he passed away at 93. Sharath, all of 48, functions like a 25-year-old.
The underlying mantra is simple — simplify every aspect of your life and a long and healthy life is not difficult to achieve.
Personal experiences to take inspiration from
The book begins with his own difficulties growing up as a sickly child and regaining health and vigour by making yoga asana practice an integral part of his life. It goes on to explain how the diet of yoga practitioners should be, how they need to eat, the importance of cleanliness and adopting non-violence in life, how fasting can cleanse the body and the need to be involved in seva for a fulfilling life.
The book busts some popular nutritional concepts of modern times. Do you believe in breakfast being the most important meal of the day and strive to make it fit for a king? Sharath, on the other hand, staunchly advocates a very restricted diet with just one big meal a day which has to be had during mid-day. His logic is simple: The body cannot function optimally on a full stomach. So ensure your stomach always feels light. But since food is the fuel for the body, have it at a time when the digestive process of the body is at its peak.
Raised in a South Indian Brahmin household, Sharath also recommends keeping the meals sattvik as much as possible by restricting the intake of tamasik foods like onion and garlic. The book also features some classic South Indian recipes from the Jois family that can be easily prepared at home.
Asanas and a perfect daily routine
When a yogi writes a book, the reference to yoga asanas cannot be avoided. Sharath understands that not everybody can dedicate two or three hours of their days to yoga asana practice like a dedicated Ashtanga yogi would. So he simplifies that too by listing 10 beneficial asanas that anybody can practice on a daily basis. There are also reference to some essential pranayama and kriya techniques that can be practised by anyone.
The chapter on “How to perfect your daily routine” makes for a very interesting read for the modern man as it lists ways to cleanse our daily lives some of which include taking a break from the artificial world of social media and connecting with the real world. Walk barefoot on the ground at least occasionally to remain grounded, he advises through the book. He advocates waking up during the auspicious hour of Brahma Muhurta every day, dedicating some time of your day to prayers, keeping your body and living quarters clean, taking a day off from the internet, etc.
My favourite part of the book is the Jois household tips peppered throughout the book that gives us a peek into how this renowned yogi and his family stay healthy and agile. There are plenty of traditional and natural tips and tricks to treat various ailments like allergies, cough, constipation, et al that you can adopt in your day-to-day lives.
Priced at Rs. 299, the book is available at all bookstores and online on Amazon.