Yoga and meditation helping wrestler Pooja Dhanda iron out her flaws
The Haryana wrestler has not yet qualified for the Tokyo Games and lost twice in the selection trials held to pick a national team for the Olympic qualifiers.
CHENNAI: She was offered a role to portray Babita Phogat in Bollywood blockbuster Dangal but Pooja Dhanda declined it to concentrate on wrestling. In her words, “It’s better to tell the world your story rather than portraying someone else’s role.”
Pooja did tell the world her story three years later when she defeated Geeta Phogat, Babita’s elder sister, in the 2018 Commonwealth Games’ selection trials and went on to win silver in the international event. For the record, she had defeated Babita a couple of years before the offer.
Confined to her home in Hisar due to the countrywide lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the 26-year-old grappler is making the most of her free time by ironing out her flaws and practising meditation and yoga to improve her concentration.
“It (lockdown) has given me time to practice yoga and meditation. In the national camp, we have training sessions twice a day but struggle to work on the mental aspects. Wrestlers need to be mentally strong as well. These days, I meditate and do yoga for at least 1-1.5 hours in the morning and undergo physical training in the evening for around 1.5 hours. Various yoga asanas help me in maintaining weight and improving flexibility and agility while meditation helps me in improving my concentration power,” said the 57kg wrestler.
Physiotherapist Satyaprakash Singh has given Pooja a programme to follow during this period and she is abiding by it to keep herself fit and in the best of her shape. “People might be struggling to find things to get themselves involved in but nothing has changed for me. Given the schedule my physio has given to me, I hardly find free time. The two sessions keep me busy throughout the day.”
The Haryana wrestler has not yet qualified for the Tokyo Games and lost twice in the selection trials held to pick a national team for the Olympic qualifiers. “I’ve never felt so confident in the past. Injuries have hampered my progress quite often but these days I am in the best shape and free of all injuries. I am confident that I will make the Olympic cut,” said the 2018 Worlds medallist.
She has been spending quality time with her family after quite a few years and Pooja doesn’t want this opportunity to slip out of her hand. “This is a unique situation. Even my parents haven’t seen anything like this before. But as this situation has been forced upon us, we try to make good use of it. I am also cooking a lot these days. Being a vegetarian, I faced difficulties while being away from the country. So I am learning how to cook healthy and nutritious vegetarian food. Decorating the house is the other thing which is keeping me engaged these days.”
The wrestler is also making sure she attends online workshops started by the Sports Authority of India for athletes. “It’s really helpful. The lecture by the nutritionist the other day really made me aware of a few things. It’s also very useful for the beginners.”
Pooja is also analysing her opponents by watching their competition videos. “While competing, we hardly get time to do this but these days I am watching videos of my probable opponents and doing shadow-practice to stay in touch with the game.”