Viraj Malik, founder, Utsav Yoga, talks about how yoga is helping promote body positivity, why aerial yoga is beneficial and why the pandemic has made yoga a cool fitness form
The pandemic saw a sudden surge in the number of people practicing yoga and gravitating towards the fitness form. What is your comment on that?
Pandemic has put a pause in everyone’s life and lot of them have gravitated towards practices which helped them to overcome anxiety and stress due to covid and at the same time help them to take care of the body and fitness levels while locked up at home, Yoga offers both the options and there has been a huge increase in the number of people who embraced yoga. At Utsav, we made it a provision for people across the nation to join us in our online sessions at an affordable rate. The purpose is to offer something that would help people to find their bliss.
Several social media pages are dedicated to nude yoga. They don’t just promote yoga but are also promoting body positivity and normalising nudity. Do you see that happening in India any time soon? Is there any advantage of nude yoga?
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. What may look aesthetic to someone in one culture may look vulgar to others in a different culture; what may be body positive for someone maybe body shaming to someone else. There will always be cultural and legal aspects to nudity and popular culture and legal framework of geography keeps changing. Indian culture at some point had a nude sculpture of Khajuraho, we have had Jain masters like Mahaveera who shed clothes and nude woman saint Lalla Yogiswar from Kashmir and it was an accepted aspect of art and spiritual tradition. Yoga eventually helps us to see life beyond body and mind.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about yoga?
That it’s only a physical fitness regime. Yoga is a mind, body soul affair. A lot of people feel yoga is great for weight loss but not ideal for strengthening one’s muscles. Would you like to elaborate?Yoga is great for holistic health which includes having natural weight and healthy and strong muscles are a natural outcome of any form of Asana practice, Yoga believes every individual to be unique and there are no notions of ideal weight and its approach is to manage the root cause of weight problem rather than the western calorific concept of weight management.
What are some of the mistakes one makes while doing yoga?
Doing too much too soon. Yoga is a gradual journey and one should enjoy the journey without having too many expectations of the outcome.
Currently, aerial yoga is being spoken about a lot. Why should one take up aerial yoga?
Aerial Yoga is an improvisation of physical Yoga practice which mixes principles of yoga with dance, aerial acrobatics, Pilates, and calisthenics, Apart from the usual benefits of Yoga like stress relief and general body fitness, it offers additional benefits to people who can take help of the aerial hammocks as extended props to do advanced postures and it offers additional flexibility with strong back and flexibility.