BENGALURU: Ask anyone what their day was like and you’re likely to hear activities that involve eating, sleeping, working away on a computer or socialising. Ask any Bengalurean what their day was like and you’re likely to hear the same variation of activities plus a complaint about how long they were stuck in traffic. Many, however, are discovering yoga as a way to stay fit as they fret about the congestion.
As a yoga teacher, Shyam Prasad Nair is often driving around conducting various classes but says that finding an hour for his own practice is a “rare luxury”. Eventually, he took to doing simple yoga exercises while commuting and says, “It helps me relax and catch up on exercises I would have missed out on during my regular practice. I usually do some pranayama (breath control) while I wait for the traffic to get moving.”
According to a study titled ‘Mobility and congestion in urban India’, released in June last year, in a ranking of 20 cities, Bengaluru was the second slowest, after Kolkata. According to Basavaraj Saunshi, yoga master at Sarva, while traffic congestion is a major contributor towards stress, the time spent in commute can be efficiently utilised to gain better health.
“Three long ‘Om’ chants can calm your mind against traffic. You can try the following exercise even if you are in the driver’s seat: Alternate nostril breathing to balance both hemispheres of the brain and improve your body’s functions or Uddageet Pranayama (slow release breathing). Inhale while counting to five in your mind and when you exhale, count to six,” suggests Saunshi, adding that you must not stop your breath or you could get dizzy.
Besides breathing techniques, simple movement exercises (neck movements from left to right, top to down; upper body twist from your waist; shoulder rotation without lifting your hands, ankle movements etc) can also aid in better blood flow and preventing strain on muscles. Deepa Kannan, Yoga Acharya at Yogasopanam Wellness, explains: “Most neck, shoulder and arm movements are fantastic for lymphatic circulation which will help relieve inflammation, lower localised stress, and help even brain health as it prevents accumulation of stagnant lymph fluids.”
Yoga teacher Divya Nichani often relies on the ‘one leg folded forward bend’ while stuck in an autorickshaw. Such techniques can still help in incorporating some much-needed movement in transit-time, she says. “I practise this every time I have an auto seat to myself: Fold one leg on the seat and stretch your arms forward as you rest your head down. Get a nice relaxed breath and relief from back pain too,” she explains, adding that the move helps improve circulation and mobility in leg muscles and joints.
On the move
Sitting upright, grab the right side
of your head with your left hand and pull down towards the left shoulder. Repeat the same on the other side
In an upright position, interlock your fingers and push the wrist upwards.
Bend forwards and backward (push your sternum forward and hunch your back).
Push down your toes and flex the foot.
Put your left hand on your right knee and twist to the right and repeat on other side.
Inhale through your nose for a count of four. Once done, exhale through your nose again for a count of four.
With your right hand is on your shoulder, rotate your body so that your left shoulder is rotating to the right. Move slowly and gradually. Repeat on other side.