Sunday, October 23, 2016

Yoga & Stress

By Stephen Wilson

Second City teacher interviewed a Russian Yoga instructor Alesia

Losminskaya on questions concerning the nature of Yoga, how it

might help people cut stress in this chaotically bewildering world

of ceaseless change and her impression of her travels in India.

Before this , I had attained mixed responses on what constitutes

Yoga , from warnings that it was part of a dangerous religious cult , to

others who simply stated :"it kept them in good physical form ".

What is clear is that Yoga remains controversial in Russia . It is a discipline

which literary means 'to rein in on' or harness' mind and body. It appears

to have deep ancient roots stretching back 4000 years or more , linked to

the 'Great God ', Lord Shiva, who is often depicted in sculture and paintings

sitting calmly upon a tiger skin on Mt Kailasa or surrounded unperturbed in

a great fire.

Unlike many advocates of Yoga , Alesia does not indulge in hyperbole or

view Yoga as a panacea for all our troubles. On the contrary, she 'll point

out the discernible limitations as well as advantages.

Second city teacher

What is Yoga ? I mean is it a religion or philosophy ? Some Russians

have warned me it is part of a dangerous religious cult !

Alesia : Well I'm not a very religious person and not all Yoga teachers

go about reciting mantras at their lessons or say prayers to Shiva . My

mother , who is Catholic looks upon it as part of a negative religion.

Yes, there are some Yoga instructors who might chant mantras or are

Hindui . But Yoga is not a cult because no instructor forces their students

to pray or sing mantras . An Indian instructor even told Russians to stop

reciting mantras because the pronunciation was wrong and therefore

would not help their Yoga practise.

Second city teacher

Why did you begin Yoga ? Did you do it to cut down your weight ?


Well, actually that was the initial reason. During my first pregnancy I

had put on a lot more weight. However, I don't like to tell my instructors

this or they will be disappointed and not impressed.

Second City Teacher

How long have you been doing Yoga ?

Alesia :

I have been doing it for ten years but took a break when I seriously

fractured my knee. The doctor x-rayed me and informed me I

needed a special operation to correct it. Since the operation would cost

100,000 rubles and I learnt that following the operations, patients had

to continue taking special injections, I decided to avoid this operation.

I could not afford it . The doctor warned me I could never do Yoga

again. So for a year and a half I stopped doing Yoga. Then, I began

to get better and even found I could run again as well as swim. So I

thought , if I can run again, why can't I do Yoga ? Of course, when I

feel pain in my knee , I resort to lighter exercises.

Second City Teacher .

How can Yoga cut the stress of Russian school teachers?


Well, two of my students happen to be school teachers , and they were

going crazy with stress . They told me "I hate my job " and I saw this

psychological madness. I helped them to take more control of their

minds more -they could react to negative events and energy around

them with more composure and ease.So they could respond with more

control over a negative situation. The teachers later told me they felt

less stress and more in control over situations than before. Now they

can relax their bodies and they feel their minds are stronger. I hope

they have more patience with their school children . Yoga helps

people to make decisions and cope better with their situations.

Second City Teacher

What are the benefits of Yoga ?


Generally speaking , if you practise Yoga and are not lazy. , you get

a stronger mind, body and health. You obtain more control over your

posture and breathing . You are also able to take control over emotions

and thoughts and how you react to negative people. For example, if

I come across a person running me down or making negative comments

I don't lash out but take it calmly. So it improves human relations with

people. Your learn not to indulge in negative gossip or speak foolishly.

I can also sleep just four hours a day so Yoga can change your life


As for health, If I practice Yoga on a regular basis then I stop having colds.

I can't remember the last time I had a blocked nose ! When I practiced

Yoga every day I stopped falling ill. But if I only practice Yoga , twice a

week , then I get a cold and experience the usual problems of illness.

However, Yoga tends to make your spine longer and makes lifting

heavy weights as well as running more difficult. So you can't run as much

as you want.

Second City Teacher

Why is Yoga popular in Russia?


I don't think it is popular in Russia. Okay, Vladimir Minaev (a colleague)

thinks it is popular in

Russia but I don't. It is not as popular as in America. Whereas we

tend to have maximum classes of up to 100 , their classes can rise to

200. And In India itself, Yoga is not popular. Most of the students who

enroll in classes are foreigners and very few Indians join the classes.

This is despite the fact the fees are far lower for Indians.

Paying for Yoga lessons might strike beginners as strange to many new

students when they encounter instructors. They don't appear to do

much formal teaching or instruction but tend to just observe students

and occasionally intervene to correct a student who is doing an action

incorrectly. For example, one instructor, just handed me pictures of

instructions on how to do so many Yoga postures and told me : "Go

ahead and do this " And I did this. This might seem strange to many

students who expected more direct action and supervision from


Second City Teacher

Which school of Yoga do you belong to ?


I belong to the traditional school called Ashtanga. Of course, now there

as many different new schools and styles. Alot of new schools resemble

acrobats rather than Yoga . But learning is not always easy. You can't

learn Yoga if you are lazy. Learning Yoga is hard practice. For example,

to begin with , learning not to be distracted by your problems and to

cleanse your minds of everyday worries and distractions is not easy.

It takes time for many people to learn to meditate .

Second City Teacher

You have visited Indian several times ? How did you find it ?


I love the craziness about this country. The Indians do things in their

own way which is different from us. They drive differently from us,

on the left side of the road and at times zig-zag on the road from

one side to another. It was not difficult to get a scooter when I had

to translate my driving licence to a company. I just translated one word

' bike', and they immediately gave me a bike.

You need a lot of patience . When I was staying in a hotel I complained

that an electric current could be felt coming from the water in the

shower. Later, for many days, 8 workers were coming to and thro, trying

to fix it. They fixed it on the last day of my trip when I was leaving.

They eat differently from us. They will feed you not with a plate but hand

food to eat out of their palm ! Usually they are very tolerant in religious

matters and don't insist their religion is the best in the World.

Their attitude to women is different from Russia. A female who is less than

thirty has to ask permission to go to university from either their husband

or parents. I heard that Indian men don't like clever Indian women ! Then

Indian women are expected to cover their bare shoulders or upper arms.

So in many ways India can be a very conservative country.

They seem very childlike and do things spontaneously !

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