(Continued from Part-1 - Dinesh Kashikar: Journeying with The Yogi)
In the first part to Dinesh Kashikar’s interview, we explored his yoga journey through the years, how it all began, how he started teaching Art of Living Yoga, and his interests in life. In the second part, he expresses his view points on yoga, talks about its various schools and how yoga helps add zing to our everyday life. Read on…
Q: The definition of yoga in your words?
Dinesh Kashikar: This has been attempted so many times and because there are so many different kinds of people in the world, yoga means many different things to many different people. Yet, if there is one way of looking at it, it is how we can unite with our self.
We go through life doing a lot of activities, yet we lack the identity about ourselves. Who am I ? What am I doing ? If I ask you, “Who are you?”, then you would probably say your name but that’s a name which has been given to you after your birth and it’s not a part of what you are.
We live all our life doing things for ourselves. We say, “I want to earn money to be happy”. I find it contradictory that we don’t know what we are and we are doing things for ourselves. The ability to find out who am I, what am I doing is such a subtle aspect and the very fact that the pathway to this knowledge is through something as gross as moving the body, putting it into some different postures, that is a source of amazement for me!
For me, yoga is something that can take me from the very gross to the most subtlest part of what I am, make me realize who I am.
Q: There are several schools of yoga today. Which branch should we ideally choose and how do we know it is ideal?
Dinesh Kashikar: Well, Art of Living Yoga has made a difference to my life and so I can vouch safe for it. Just like an ice-cream shop has many flavors and once you know which flavor you really like or want, you don’t want to go and keep shopping for more. So in the same way, it's best to find out for yourself which yoga school you want to choose; nobody else can give you the answer to this. If you ask me, Art of Living Yoga has all the different flavors of yoga - there is Bhakti Yoga, Gyana Yoga, Hatha Yoga and meditation.
Q: We know that yoga helps improve the quality of our everyday life. But if we were to convince somebody who's not a yoga practitioner to do yoga, how can we do that?
Dinesh Kashikar: The quality of our life depends on the state of our mind. Some days, even small things can irritate us, some days even big things just pass by and we remain untouched. And if there's some way by which we can influence the state of our mind, then we can change the quality of our life. The practice of yoga, both at the physical and at the mental, emotional and spiritual level, brings that impact because the state of the mind is linked to both the breath and the state of our body.
A person who is unwell feels the impact of the sickness not just at the body level but also on the mind. Same way, if you are healthy and enthusiastic, the effect is seen both ways. It's a linked organism – the state of the body and the state of our mind.
Consciously or unconsciously, we are already doing yoga in our everyday life. We go to a sea beach or our favorite spot, watch the sunset and we feel nice, that is also yoga. You go to a gym, work out and feel nice, that's also yoga. So yoga is already there in our life but when we learn it formally, then it makes it much more focused. For instance, you may be a talented cricketer but when you put on your pads and go to a coach, you can be a part of the team, represent the country and make a difference to your life.
Q: But how to find time for yoga in everyday life?
Dinesh Kashikar: Again, it’s the same story as the chicken or the egg – what came first ? When we start practicing yoga, it will give us more time in our life by improving efficiency. We are able to do the same things that we do everyday much faster.
This is what happened in my life. When I was in college, I would need at least eight hours of sleep to perform even reasonably well. And a lot of the time, I found myself catching up on sleep during lectures, which obviously had an impact on my academics. Then I started practicing yoga and Sudarshan Kriya everyday and I realized that I was sleeping 4-6 hours and that was more than enough for me to cope up with my requirements. I used to stay fresher, not sleep during lectures and it made a big difference to my daily life.
So actually, by doing that one hour of yoga, I gained more than three hours of time everyday! I would say that if you are pressed for time, then it’s even more essential to do meditation and yoga.
Q: Is it necessary to be a vegetarian in order to practice yoga?
Dinesh Kashikar: It is definitely suggested but the choice is always yours to make. Some of the practices, especially meditation, works much better on a vegetarian diet. Again, this question of vegetarianism vs. non-vegetarianism is age-old and there are people sitting on both sides of the fence. But just because of this debate, if you say, “Oh! I will not do yoga because I first need to be a vegetarian is foolish. It's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater! It’s better to hold on to the baby. At least do yoga first and then we can take care of the rest gradually.
Q: How do you look at the future of yoga?
Dinesh Kashikar: It’s obviously bright. I have seen this whole transformation happening over the last 15 years and I’m confident that it will continue as we move along. My personal experience has given me so much confidence, so much faith on the path of yoga that the more I do, the more faith it brings me. I can see so much transformation happening all over the world and this is the best indicator that of course, it’s going to go ahead.
Q: Any message to our readers?
Dinesh Kashikar: Eat, drink, be happy and do yoga! The whole point of doing yoga is to bring more happiness, more contentment, more joy in life. So be joyful and happy.
To those who are already doing yoga, I would say that the practice of yoga brings joy but if you feel that you are not joyful, it does not mean that you are not doing yoga. Continue practicing and experience the joy too.
Some of the most practical tips for a yoga practitioner I found in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, where Patanjali talks about the obstacles on the path, how to overcome them and what yoga really means. If you are looking for a shortcut, it's not there but the yoga sutras are for practitioners to assist them when they encounter setbacks on this path. Just go through the whole series of Patanjali Yoga Sutras and implement them in your life. Any challenge that you are facing now, you will find a solution there.