CHENNAI: Living in Malad, Chirag Shetty has been having a hard time while reading the news. The doubles shuttler’s fears turned into paranoia, with Mumbai’s cases increasing at an alarming rate. More than 11,000 people have tested positive. However, meditation and painting have helped Shetty retain his sanity.
Having returned home in March from Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, the 22-year-old’s new morning routine involves yoga and meditation for an hour and a quarter. The yoga classes are taken by chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, with coaches and support staff joining the 60-odd shuttlers through Zoom.
“We have an early morning session at 6.45 am, four days a week. It consists of yoga, surya-namaskars, breathing and stretching. It’s more about calming your body, finding stability and concentrating on breathing. It definitely keeps your mind relaxed. In the current situation, it is one of the best things that one can do,” said Shetty, who won Thailand Open and finished runners-up at French Open last year along with partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
Shetty admits that this new motto of “early to bed and early to rise” has helped him overcome lethargy. Apart from yoga, the academy players also do fitness training in the evening on alternate days. “We have running and weights session in the evening. But if I don’t do yoga in the morning, I become lazy. If I don’t train, I wake up late. But I have realised that my day is a lot better if I’m up early. All laziness goes away.”
Shetty has also grown fond of painting. It began in March, when he visited a supermarket to purchase groceries and whimsically picked up a paintbrush. He has not put it down since.
“I’ve never painted before, but I always wanted to. One painting takes two, three hours. So far, I’ve done seven, eight with poster colours. I use sketchbooks too. I watch YouTube videos for methods and techniques.”
The shuttler has also busy with a course conducted by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), his employer. The topics of these online assessment tests range from cyber-security to plastic-waste management. Having a bachelor’s in commerce, Shetty initially found these assessments tough.
“There are 140 tests to choose from. IOC has asked me to complete 20. I have finished 12. It has topics related to handling of methanol and ethanol. To pass, you have to score at least 80 per cent. If you fail, you need to keep trying until you pass. It was a bit hard at the beginning.”
With the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down, Shetty is content to just focus on fitness, both the physical and the mental aspects.