Actor Tota Roy Choudhury on benefits of Yoga
His favourite saying is: “If you don’t take the stairs today, you can’t take the stairs tomorrow”. For actor Tota Roy Choudhury, staying fit and healthy is a lifelong love and journey. “The intellectuals of ancient Rome understood the importance of physical fitness for the mind to blossom to its potential. Swami Vivekananda exhorted the youth to first play football before trying to understand the Bhagavad Gita. He wanted us Indians to be strong and physically resilient before approaching the richly complex tenets of religion. There are no ifs and buts. We HAVE to be fit,” says Tota. A t2 chat with The Girl on the Train actor on International Day of Yoga…
How long have you been doing yoga? When and why did you start doing asanas?
I have been doing basic yogasana from when I was a kid. My Ma had gifted me a Bengali yoga book by Ironman Sri Nilmoni Das, which was well illustrated and the instructions were easy to follow. Ma also told me which asanas would be appropriate for me. The environment in an average Bengali household in the ’70s and ’80s emphasised on a complete development of the mind and body and I remember many of my neighbourhood friends did yoga at home or at yoga centres.
Why is doing yoga beneficial for you?
I know a bit about the various methods and systems of physical development and so I say this with surety that no system can exercise the spine as completely and stimulate one’s internal organs and glands as effectively as yoga. And to think of it that the asanas were designed 5,000 years back!
Truly India’s best gift to the world.
How does yoga add meaning and value to your life?
While other exercise systems invigorate but at the same time deplete one’s energy, yoga calms and centres me and helps me focus better. I combine yoga with other exercise systems for optimal health.
Do you have a specific time to do yoga? Where do you do it?
I do yoga in the morning. Ideally before 7.30am. I do it in the open, on my terrace, to optimise the benefits of the morning sun and the relatively less polluted air, during that time.
What kind of asanas do you do?
I stick to mostly basic asanas with a few intermediate ones. I change my routine every eight weeks to keep things fresh and keep monotony at bay.
You have always stressed on the importance of physical and mental fitness in these trying times. How can yoga help now?
Yoga calms and centres you and promotes mindfulness. You simply can’t go through the motions perfunctorily as you can with some popular exercise equipment like a treadmill. Pranayama, which is an integral part of yoga, is extremely beneficial for the mind and has been medically proven to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
Does one need a teacher to guide them do the asanas?
This I emphasise, if you are a beginner, please get yourself a good teacher/trainer for any exercise systems but more so for yoga. The wrong teacher can ruin your spinal health.
Does one need to follow a diet?
Though yoga promotes vegetarianism, I am an avowed non-vegetarian! But I can attest to the fact that it has not stopped me from deriving the incredible health benefits of yoga.
Have you seen a nice film on yoga?
I would say Julia Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love is a film that encapsulates the spirit of yoga quite succinctly. Though the book by the same name goes into greater depths but the film too does a good job.
Has the practice of doing yoga helped you perform a fight sequence better?
I always incorporate yoga when I’m prepping for an action film. It helps to open up the joints and condition the ligaments, which in turn offer me protection from injuries.