Strongest village in India

SPEAKZEASY

Asola-Fatehpur Beri is the strongest village in India.  For generations, men have held 2-hour workouts every morning and evening in the countryside community on the southern rim of Delhi.
bouncers1_110913020130From pre-teens to men nearing 50, bodybuilders sweat it out at one of the most popular training spots, Akhada ( a Hindi word for ‘wrestling arena’)  This is where brawny men wrestle in mud, climb ropes and perform a few 100 sit-ups and push-ups, balancing their hands on bricks.  They carry each other on their shoulders —- all part of traditional Indian way of working out.
A group of about 40 males exercises outside, each wearing a simple loincloth.  “They eat healthy and on time, they practise here every day and that’s why they are so strong,” says Vijay Tanwar, the head-trainer at Akhada.  The musclemen of Asola-Fatehpur Beri are capitalizing on their brawn by working as bouncers in New Delhi’s…

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Freeing up your time

The first thing we need to do is to be aware of how we spend our time. Without awareness, you cannot measure it. Without measuring, you cannot analyse it. And without analysis, you cannot amend it. 

So, as a pre-exercise routine, you would need to perform a few tasks:

  1. Commitment – The first step to achieve anything is firm commitment to the cause. This is an addiction – the only way to get rid of it, and get back control, is to commit to making a change. Link this commitment to a reward – a small treat once you achieve your milestones. 
  2. Set up a screen-time option on your phone. iOS (the iPhone) has this option in settings, and you can download the Digital Wellbeing app for Android devices. 

Measure this for a week, without making any changes to your screen usage. Then, go to the screen time feature and see your results. I have discussed the iPhone-related options here, but am sure that the Android equivalent would have the same categories. 

You will be shocked to see how much time you actually spend on your phone. Pay special attention to:

  1. Your average screen time per day – that is the time you spend looking at your phone. I’ve had people coming back with 6-7 hour screen times per day – thats nearly half your waking life spent looking at a phone, excluding the other devices (laptops, television, iPads) that you may have… 
  2. Your ‘Most Used’ apps – This shows which app you are addicted to the most. Chances are that Instagram and the browser will share the top spot. 
  3. Categories – All apps are grouped into categories. For instance – WhatsApp, Instagram, FB etc., come under Social Networking. Notes, Voice Memos, Hubspot (CRM), email, calendar apps come under Productivity, Books, Wikipedia and information sites come under Reading & Reference. Am sure that your Social Networking group would win hands down in these stats, since most people use their phones primarily for social apps. 
  4. Pickups – this is interesting. It shows how many times you picked up the phone. I’ve seen scores above 200…per day! Also pay attention to the ‘First Used after Pickup‘ stats. This is the app you picked the phone up for, mostly because you got a related notification. Can also be the app you check for updates frequently. 

Now that you have seen the extent of the problem, let’s get down to the solution.

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And what do we take with us?

नामुत्र हि सहायार्थं पिता माता च तिष्ठतः । 
न पुत्रदारं न ज्ञातिर्धर्मस्तिष्ठति केवलः ॥ २३९ ॥

nāmutra hi sahāyārthaṃ pitā mātā ca tiṣṭhataḥ | 
na putradāraṃ na jñātirdharmastiṣṭhati kevalaḥ || 239 ||

Manusmriti 4.239

The Manu Smriti tells us: namutra hi sahayartham pita mata ca tisthatah. na putradarah na jnatih dharmas tisthati kevalah. “When you depart from this world, your father will not come with you, your mother will not come with you, your brother will not come, your sister will not come, your husband will not come, your wife will not come, your children will not come, your money will not come, and even your body will not come with you.” 

Then what will come with you? The verse mentions that your spiritual merit alone accompanies you. 

Everything else remains here – life goes on, the assets that we accumulate pass on to the next generation, or wither away. How many of us can recall (or even know) the names of our great-great grandparents, and their parents? Even our names will be forgotten within 2-3 generations, and that is the truth. 

How we live everyday counts – not towards any credit that we can cash out on when we depart, but towards our growth now.

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Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga, or अष्टाङ्ग (Ashtanga Yoga), is an 8-fold path followed as a discipline in Yoga. Ashta is eight, and anga means limbs.

The eight limbs of yoga are: yamaniyamaāsanaprānāyāma, pratyāharā, dhāranā, dhyāna, and samādhi.

Yama and niyama are codes of ethical behaviour and restraint. Yama is ethical behaviour, and niyama is the self-discipline that follows our ethical behaviour. For example, to practice ahimsā, or non-violence (yama), one has to practice santoshā, or contentment. The desire to harm usually comes from discontent, doesn’t it? Without going into too much detail at present, let me just say that as good conduct and restraint are the foundations of any moral society, the practice of yamas and niyamas gives a foundation to the journey of yoga.

Āsanā is the third limb of yoga, one that is the ‘most popular’ and has off late become the face of yoga practice. While āsanās are important, over-reliance on postures without understanding (or working towards) the larger goal merely reduces this powerful practice to a sequence of twists and stretches.

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On choices

We are but a sum total of the choices we make. 

Life is all about choices. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to bigger decisions such as the career we choose, to where we live, even our life partners. It is said that we humans are the only beings on the planet who can make a conscious choice – who can think, evaluate a situation and then arrive at a decision. But how many of us truly make conscious choices?

You are browsing Zomato to look for options for dinner tonight. As you scroll through, images of succulent burgers and cheese-filled ‘delicious’ pizzas waltz by. An occasional healthy bowl of salad drops in, but you quickly pass it, since today is a ‘cheat-day’. A burger it is!

These seemingly innocent options may just give you an introduction to Preya and Shreya

The Kaṭhopaniṣad (Katha Upanishad) says that the human body is like a chariot drawn by five horses, which represent the five senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. We run behind what appeals to these senses, for short-term gratification. This is preya. Attractive, delicious, much like that juicy burger that you got tempted to order. Shreya, on the other hand, is not as appealing, but is good for you – gives you long-term benefits (like the salad you passed by). 

Eknath Easwaran describes preya as ‘the passing pleasure that seems pleasing to the senses but soon fades into it’s opposite, is what we choose when we indulge in injurious physical habits or retaliate against others. Shreyathe good that leads to lasting welfare for the whole, is what we choose by cultivating healthy habits…by putting the happiness of those around us first.’

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