When Mumbai’s former demolition man and ex-deputy municipal commissioner G R Khairnar was rushed to hospital after a marathon yoga session, reports blamed his condition on his monstrous obsession with yoga: He would practise for 12 hours a day.
‘If someone has practiced something the wrong way, it doesn`t mean you can blame yoga. It`s like saying, `Is too much dancing going to kill you` or `Is too much cricket going to kill you,’ says Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh, an Iyengar yoga teacher in Mumbai for the last 15 years.
Zarthoshtimanesh lays down a list of 10 don’ts, which should propel seekers towards practising this unique art, science, philosophy and a way of life in the proper way.
1) Do not attempt yogic asanas or so-called breathing practices without expert guidance. Beware of `three-day or one-week certified courses`, which promise quick cures for complex problems.
2) A good book is better than a bad teacher, but no book can ever hope to replace a guru/teacher (The Light On Yoga by B K S Iyengar is considered the definitive guide and is called the Bible of Yoga).
3) Do not attempt pranayama or meditative techniques (like mind-control) without refining or culturing the body first through asana practice. To access the content within us (that is the tissues, mind, breath, consciousness etc), one has to move from the gross (the body) towards the subtle, and not the other way round.
4) Do not do asanas on a full stomach. Wait for at least four hours after a meal to perform asanas. Similarly, eat half an hour after the practice session.
5) Do not hold or control your breath during the initial days. When you pour water on a half-baked vessel, the pot cracks and shatters. Similarly if you load the half-baked body with breath (control) it will damage the nerves and internal organs.
6) Do not assume that yoga demands fasting, and excessively regimented food habits and lifestyle. In fact, the proper practice of yoga will effectively guide you to choosing the best food and a healthy lifestyle.
7) Do not practise jal neti, dhauti and nauli for the simple reason that these practices have been superseded by more evolved and safer yogic techniques.
8) Do not practise asanas in random or in isolation. The correct asana practice is usually a group of postures, which help you to not only target your problem, but also deal with it holistically.
9) Do not do sirsasana (head balance) without a teacher`s help. And if done, sirsasana always has to be followed by cooling postures like sarvangasana and the forward extensions.
10) Do not experiment on others. Learn to be a student before becoming a teacher. An art cannot be mastered in a day, or a week or a month