Maintaining balance between yourself and everything around you is what yoga trains you for. Practicing yoga in daily life has a significant impact on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. To understand the impact of yoga on our health and day-to-day lives better, we got into a conversation with Pooja Nidadavolu, a Hatha Yoga expert. Pooja began her yoga journey when she was just 15-years-old. Over the years as her interest in yoga grew, she quit her corporate job from the media field to start Yoga Love to share her love for yoga with others. She’s a certified yoga teacher from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta. She’s also a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, USA. Here’s what she has to say.
ThinkRight.me: How did Yoga become a part of your lifestyle?
Pooja Nidadavolu: Yoga has always been a part of my life, from a very young age, thanks to my mother, who is a certified Yoga teacher too. I have grown up watching her practice asanas, and it is her influence that has made me someone who always prioritises her health.
At the age of 15, my mother enrolled me into a short 5-day Art Excel course by the Art of Living Foundation, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Later, at the age of 26, I joined Ananda Yoga in Pune and attended their asana classes over the weekends only due to a highly demanding job. Occasionally I would even go for their Sunday evening Satsangs. Being a part of the corporate world, my life was always action-packed. However, I never let go of my health – practiced my asanas, other physical exercises and was always mindful of my eating habits.
I then moved to Bombay and joined the Yoga Institute, and at this point when Yoga became a more constant part of my life. My high-pressure job at a leading media house allowed me to make it for only three morning sessions a week, and I grew fonder of this beautiful art. A few years down the line Yoga became an integral part of my life, and I decided to take the next step – i.e. quit my job and do a teachers’ training course and spread the goodness of Yoga with others around me too!
TRM: Why do you think Yoga should be a part of our daily routine and how does is affect us?
PN: I believe that Yoga is a lifestyle. In most cases, Yoga is perceived as mere asanas. Commonly, people start their journey with only the physical aspect of it, i.e. the asanas, which is perfectly ok. However, as one gets deeper and more consistent into their practice, one must explore more about the science of Yoga.
According to Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams, there are 5 points of yoga:
- Proper Exercise (Asana)
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
- Proper Relaxation (Shavasana)
- Proper Diet (Lacto-vegetarian – however, it’s not a compulsion to turn vegetarian to begin the practice of Yoga. It can be an organic change along the way)
- Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)
Looking at the above 5 aspects even without much elaboration even, don’t you think they make so much sense to live a healthy and balanced life?
If we can incorporate a basic asana practice and breathwork, consciously relax our minds and bodies that are so overworked because of our stressful lifestyles, be mindful of what we eat (fresh, home-cooked, seasonal food), and have a positive attitude towards life, we can surely see a lot of beautiful changes coming into our lives, gradually.
TRM: What motivated you to teach Yoga to others and start Yoga Love?
PN: As I started getting deeper into the space of Yoga and overall wellness, I started enjoying my corporate life less. I realised that Yoga and wellness was my calling at a point where I was doing extremely well at my job with one of India’s leading media publications.
However, my job failed to give me the satisfaction that I drew from Yoga, and that motivated me to quit my job and take it up full time. It was the best decision of my life. This is when Yoga Love was born. My intention is to do my best to educate people about Yoga and wellness. Most people think it’s a quick fix to lose weight. I want people to understand that Yoga is not a fad but an incredible science that can really enrich your life. Weight loss is a by-product of practicing Yoga.
TRM: You come from a media background and this has been a huge change, what do you want to do in future?
PN: It’s been a 360-degree change indeed and I am loving every bit of it. When I quit my job to take on this journey I didn’t anticipate the pandemic but to be honest, while that has in some ways slowed down the process that I had laid down for myself earlier, I also feel it’s been a blessing in disguise. It has given me the time to slow down, reflect, sometimes, even do nothing, travel a lot – things I haven’t done as abundantly as I would have liked to in the last decade.
I wish to grow Yoga love into a brand that is synonymous to wellness – healthy eating, travel, wellness retreats, fitness programs, etc. There will be both services and products to support this vision. One step at a time, let’s see where we go!
TRM: What does a typical day look like for you? Any specific mindfulness activities that you follow to ensure you give your hundred percent to the day?
PN: I am an early riser and wake up at 5:30 am. I begin my day with my Pranayama practice, followed by mediation. This morning routine really makes me feel centred and energises me for a busy day ahead. Another integral part of my mornings is spending time with my plants while I sip on some warm lemon and honey water. I am a nature lover and cherish my time just being around my plants, feeling them, watering them, and just absorbing their beautiful energy.
My Yoga practice then comes into the picture and I give it a good hour and a half. As a Yoga teacher, I feel that it is important to be regular with my own practice. Practice what you preach!
I then conduct Yoga sessions, either online or in-person throughout the day. I try and wind up my classes by 7 pm so that I can have an early dinner. Post dinner, I spend time with the family, occasionally watch something on Netflix and/or end my day with a book and lots of gratitude to the universe.
On my days off, I love to go out and meet my friends and let my hair down.
TRM: What will be your advice for those who want to start their own Yoga journey?
PN: I believe that Yoga is for everyone. You do not need any superpowers or special attributes to practice Yoga. All you need is a mat and the will to take care of your body and mind. Start small but be regular. Consistency is the key. Practicing for a few minutes regularly is much better than doing long yoga sessions inconsistently. Bring out that mat and start with a few breathing exercises and Surya Namaskars. This will barely take 15 minutes. Doing this regularly will convert it into a habit and Yoga will become a part of your lifestyle, just like we eat and sleep.
The only way to start your Yoga journey is to just start and then make small and sustainable changes along the way. I say sustainable because most of us tend to get too ambitious when we start something new and are not able to keep up with the high goals that we set for ourselves. So best to start slow and steady. You will fall in love with Yoga eventually, and then there will be no looking back!
Reaching out to someone who is already practicing or is teaching Yoga can also be a great way to remain focused and stay on the path. One can do wonders under the guidance of a good teacher if you have the access to one. Otherwise, there are some wonderful Yoga bloggers on social media sharing vital information and guidance. Make sure you wisely choose who you follow.
TRM: Five things that we should do everyday to maintain our emotional and physical wellbeing
- Physical Activity – a minimum of 30 mins – Yoga asana/ exercise/ walking/jogging/cycling. Exercising is the key to good hormonal health that keeps anxiety and depression at bay. Of course, weight loss and looking good is an amazing by-product!
- Pranayama – Kapalabhati and Anulom vilom. Breathing exercises strengthen your lungs, build immunity, bring in a sense of calm, patience, and focus.
- Eat healthy – at least 2 out of your 3 meals should be simple, home-cooked, and fresh. Ditch those packaged foods full of preservatives! Eat a good mix of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts for a wholesome diet. Both overeating and undereating are very harmful to our bodies. Be mindful of what you are eating and recognise the difference between eating when you are hungry and eating when you are emotionally stressed or bored. Don’t starve yourself to fit into those skinny jeans, you will feel lethargic and irritable. Food is fuel for the body. Appreciate it, and enjoy your meals without any guilt or negative thoughts.
- Good sleep – get a minimum of 6- 8 hours of quality sleep every day. The benefits of good quality sleep are innumerable and so underrated.
- Be grateful – Write down all the things that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude gives you the ability to draw positivity from within yourself. Once you start feeling thankful for all the things that are great in your life, it will bring in a sense of happiness and a lot of positivity.
We hope this inspires and helps you to adopt yoga as a daily habit.