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By Santha John
Managing Director, JWT Mindset, Hyderabad

When people hear that you practise yoga, they ask very knowledgeably – is it Iyengar or Hatha yoga? Does it matter? It’s like religion: is mine better than yours? You can argue till the cows come home.

Why is yoga so important in my life? Just as a gynaecologist can’t plan when her patients’ babies arrive, we in advertising cannot plan a client’s schedules. I remember getting a frantic call from a certain “Chairman’s” office saying he had to go to Japan and that he needed at least an AV if not a full-fledged corporate film as soon as possible! (I later found out that his office had even checked the temperature in Tokyo to advise the Chairman as to what he should wear, but of course a corporate film was left for the last minute, as it could be pulled out of a magic hat! And guess what? We agencies always ‘manage’. So what has yoga got to do with all this? For starters, it teaches you to breathe and exhale, and not just gasp for breath!

Yoga has a sly, clever way of short-circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety. We pay attention to so many things: fitness through gymming, aerobics, six-pack abs, BP, cholesterol, and what not, but we never ever give a thought to something without which we would die - the breath. Yoga is all about the breath – the longer you inhale and exhale, the fitter you are. Stop and count the breath; chances are the exhalation is shallower than the inhalation. All this somehow leads to a joyful body-and-mind jugalbandi, which can be addictive. You hear people wondering about your boundless energy, your stamina and even youthful looks, and you wonder why everyone around you can’t see that it’s all courtesy yoga! There’s a saying that it’s already ordained how many breaths you will take in your lifetime; so the slower you breathe, the longer you live!

My agency love-hates my yoga institute because it allows them to let their creative juices run and win awards. JWT’s Puducherry Yoga film won the Chennai team glory at Cannes, no less.

Our award-winning yoga communication went like this: There are yoga poses that stretch your muscles, reduce back pain, refresh your mind and rejuvenate your body and there are yoga poses to boost energy, strengthen muscle and tone your body. And you can remove the butterflies in the stomach that you get under stress, read minutes before the pitch that you just have to win with the help of willpower and by using a certain mudra or ‘attitude’.

When you practise yoga on a daily basis, you are truly independent of external stimulants, pills or fitness equipment. You only need yourself to practise yoga - and body and mind are given a chance to harmonize themselves.

Ask yourself : why do you find yoga institutes the world over - AMERICA: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cost Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay ,Peru, Trinidad & Tobago , United States, Uruguay. Venezuela, EUROPE: Armenia, Belgium. Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy Latvia, Macedonia, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, ASIA: China, India, Iran ,Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, AFRICA: Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa. And counting!

I am one with Sylvia Plath in what she wrote: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”

Feedback: santha.john@jwt.com

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