As a child, Ira Trivedi disliked the yoga she attempted at school. Fast forward 20 odd years and today she spends considerable time teaching yoga, doing television shows on yoga, writing (at times about yoga) and is one of India’s most enthusiastic champions of this ancient Indian form. “Yoga needs to be taught differently to kids,” Trivedi says. “It can’t be so breathing focussed.” We have to introduce it in another way to children, feels this yoga acharya. It can be done with “a lot of fun movements along with music and sound”.
Just like Om the yoga dog, the character from her My Book of Yoga which taps into the asanas derived from the animal kingdom, “There’s crocodile, frog, horse-face, cow-face… using animals and yoga together creates a very nice energy. The reason for creating this character was that kids can feel inspired and feel yoga is fun. It doesn’t have to be boring, sometimes the way it is taught in schools, it can be forceful.”
With nine books, both fiction and non-fiction, to her name, besides another one in the works, Trivedi is the founder of Namami Yoga, a foundation that works with children and young adults from underprivileged backgrounds and also teaches yoga to individuals and organisations. And she just launched her mobile app, IraYoga, which offers short modules for learners from the corporate world. “It’s my first adventure in the business world, my mission of promoting wellness for people who perhaps need it the most.”
Too many things on her plate? Not at all. She has the key to keeping refreshed—Yoga!
Make yoga your way of life
Ask her what is her vocation today, and Trivedi is sure: “Yoga is my calling, not just yoga of the body, but yoga of the mind, and I’ve integrated yoga in my writings as well. I try to keep the values of yoga intact by using my place on this planet to help those around me.” The idea is not to try to pursue something that is wholly selfish “because that will not give you satisfaction”.
Trivedi urges everyone to take out a minimum of five minutes every day, and do some basic exercises for neck “sitting in chair”, if they so prefer, calling it “desk yoga”. “Once your spine gets used to stretching and understands how beautiful it feels, you will want it more. It is like drinking water, the more water you drink, the thirstier you get, the body wants more and more, if you stop drinking water, your body too will stop demanding it.”
She lives by this philosophy too. “I try and do my practise in the morning, if you don’t do it in the morning then something will always come up in the evening. Just do one round of Surya Namaskar, Anulom-Vilom, and Kapalbhati for 15 minutes. Waking up early is a struggle at times, but I never regret it.”
Unlike ‘gymming’, yoga is never a shock to the system, it eases you gently into your day.Ira Trivedi
Reset and recharge
“Besides my personal practise, I make sure that I’m always teaching even with very busy schedules, minimally a class a week, that I spend time in nature.” In the summer when it is too hot, Trivedi takes out half an hour for a swim or likes to go for evening walks. “I try to spend half an hour outside, even if I’ve to take work phone calls, I like to go out and walk in the park and take them, seeing the greenery around.”
With so much emphasis on natural living, we are increasingly going back to the roots in our food habits. Sharing her personal favourites, Trivedi says: “In our family we make this kadhi (a buttermilk, gram flour preparation) in the summer with moringa grown in our garden, it is delicious and cooling. I avoid the chawal (rice), so I have it like a soup.”
Though yoga works on us from within to give an outer glow, Trivedi has picked up good old beauty regimes from her mother. “She is a huge proponent of face masks. Earlier I used to get bothered but now I really appreciate it and even ask for it. Currently she is really into potatoes. They are very good for the skin, get rid of bloating and marks. She uses home ingredients to make masks—crushed fruit with some turmeric, saffron, or aloe vera.”
Start a regime
I have so many rituals but one thing I feel is really important is a pre-bed ritual. If you relax correctly, your sleep quality will be so much better.
“It is a meticulous ritual: I wash my feet (even if I’m taking a shower) with pumice stone and wash off all the dirt because I love to be barefoot a lot. There are so many nerve endings on our feet so having them clean before sleeping is important. I always do an oil massage for myself. Then I brush my teeth, do the tongue cleaner—it is very important to clean the tongue, it is a very old ritual that a lot of us have forgotten. I put nasya drops to lubricate the nose, it keeps the sinuses lubricated, protects from allergens. Since I like to have a nice scent around me, I light a candle, so when I’m sleeping, I’m surrounded by a nice aroma… It sounds like a lot but it only takes about six to seven minutes. It is worth it because it results in much better sleep.”
For a good night’s sleep
Sleeping is a very essential part of Trivedi’s well-being. “If you look at my body type, I tend to have a vata imbalance [according to Ayurveda]. People who have vata-dosha need more sleep and a very good sleep pattern, so I’m careful about my sleep. I’m a solid sleeper,” she says knocking on wood. “I need to get between seven to eight hours of sleep every night. My body is very calibrated because of yoga. I try not to sleep in.”
Cautioning against breaking the sleep routine, she adds: “Even if you have a late night, it is very important to wake up on time. You can recover the sleep during the day. For me that time is around 10-10.30 am. I do yoga nidra (psychic sleep) for 20-30 minutes, it creates a condition of deep rest in the body but it is not actually asleep.”
Up next for Trivedi is a global project: an interview-based “non-fiction book talking about the beauty epidemic” which is likely to take about two years. And yes, the Bengaluru Police have signed up for the IraYoga app among other enthusiasts. Stressful? Nah! “It is good to do yoga and writing, after all yoga is about finding that balance!”