Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

Sharath Jois on Balancing the Body for a Stable Mind

After wrapping up his three-city U.S. Tour, Sharath Jois reflects on how our daily habits effect our yoga practice and how building a more consistent routine can improve quality of life.

Author Image
Yoga Master Paramaguru

Last month, I was on tour in the U.S. where I got to meet many students. People can’t always come to Mysore, so it is very important that I go to see them. Over a few days, I give conferences. I always ask students if they have sensible yogi questions. My answers, I hope, will help them understand what yoga is so that they can experience it in this lifetime.

I remember a student asked me about sleep. If you sleep too much then you become very lazy and your body becomes unhealthy. We are not lions who sleep 20 hours. Six to seven hours is good. This is common sense, but it is also mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, which is a sacred Vedic text, “Yuktāhāra-vihārasya, yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu, yukta-svapnāvabodhasya, yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā.” [This translates to: “One who is regulated in habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. ”]

One should regulate food intake, too, by not eating too much and not eating too little. The body needs only a certain amount of food to keep it nourished. If you go to India, you might order a thali, which is a platter with several small dishes laid out around rice with chapatti. If you eat this three times a day you will die; it’s too much food.

Related: Sharath Jois U.S. Tour Report: A Journey to Stanford to Start a Yoga Revolution

Bhagavad Gita says to regulate not only food and sleep, but also to manage work and recreation. Eight hours of work is enough. You can’t work 20 hours. You can’t be at a festival for 20 hours. If you do too much of any of these, your yoga will suffer.

So yogis should be very careful with what they do, how much they do, how much they sleep, how much they eat, how much they work. This is called tapas, which can mean how you dedicate or organize your life. Upsetting your body’s rhythm will disturb your own sadhana and practice. Good habits are very important. If you habitually eat one day at 8 o’clock and the next day at midnight it will upset your body. Try to eat your food at the same time each day. Keep your sleep habits the same. If you keep on the same schedule, your body stays balanced, and you better focus your energies.

A student asked me about drinking alcohol. Why do you, or does anyone, drink alcohol, to relax, to feel differently, to lose your senses? It’s like external ecstasy. You give up on finding this sensation naturally so you go for something external. It’s common sense if you have alcohol over time you damage your body and organs. It’s like ahimsa, you are doing ahimsa to yourself. Because your mind is very weak, you are attracted to something external. You can’t control yourself. You crave this external help. Four months back, I quit coffee. Alcohol is a higher addiction, but coffee is also an addiction. My body craved it. I felt shaky. But I had a strong mind. I never had coffee after I quit.

So you have to strengthen your mind. This Ashtanga practice is to strengthen your mind. What happens if you have alcohol in the night and then come to practice? The hangover is there the next day. You are exhausted, not blissful.

I can live, everyone can live, without these things. And things like too much or too little food, sleep, work, definitely affect your yoga practice. Overindulging or intoxicants disturbs everything. But once a stable mind is there, you can do anything. You can get rid of all the delusions. This is the main thing yoga does. Regular practice is compulsory for everyone. Don’t worry about how much you’re bending or not. Be on the mat. Try to do whatever asanas you can. Try to do the breathing techniques. Padmasana, sirsasana, sarvangasana, these asanas strengthen you mentally and physically. Many habits that don’t work for your mind and body, you can get rid of when you practice yoga, but when you overindulge then your yoga will suffer.

Photography by Tom Rosenthal



Comments (0)

A 3-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

Reset your diet to feel healthy and energized with Sonima’s free six-page guide designed to keep you satisfied as you cut back on calories, sugar, and processed foods!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

  • Looking for a quick at-home workout? Try "The Tens" from Stacey Pierce-Talsma, DO, RYT: Start with 10 burpees, 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, 10 lunges, and 10 squats. Then you do nine of everything, then eight, then seven, all the way down to one. "I like to time myself and see if I can get it done in record time. I enjoy this workout because it usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, yet I’ve totally gotten a good workout in and strengthened most major muscle groups of my body," she says.

#homeworkouts #WorkoutFromHome #fitness #exerciseroutine
  • During times of uncertainty, it can be a struggle to find time for self-care. But a few minutes of quiet can do so much for your well-being. In our guided meditation, Deepak Chopra, M.D., invites you to take a few moments of mindful attention so you can center yourself and make space in your mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Click the link in our bio. 
#meditation #selfcare #mindfulness
  • Many yogis chose to decorate their bodies with intellectual and emotional reminders of the practice. The symbology of the yogic tradition from chakras to Sanskrit letters has been paired with universal symbols of love, life, breath, and oneness to create a yoga-tattoo canon of sorts. The symbology has been overturned and reinterpreted over time, so that the scope of a “yoga tattoo” has actually become quite wide. Here we present a collection of body art, which honors the diversity of the many yoga lineages and the masterful and artful creativity of the modern yogi:

Check out the link and then tell us: Do you have any yoga tattoos?

#yoga #tattoos #bodyart #yogaart #bodyink
  • Start your day with this empowering mantra. "It sets the tone for the morning and can help me come back to my truest self and feel like I can take on anything," says @sophie.jaffe. 
What's your favorite mantra to kickstart the week? Tell us below!

#mantra #mondaymantra #quotes
  • Have you ever noticed that spas tend to smell of flowers such as lavender and ylang ylang? Studies show that these scents increase calmness, which is right for that setting. If you were to look for an essential oil that had the opposite effect—one that made you more energized and alert—choose peppermint. This distinct odor has the opposite effect of soothing essential oils, although it’s still a pleasant scent. Peppermint can even enhance your memory. #energyboost #boostenergy #essentialoils #memorybooster #naturalhealth #naturalremedies
  • If you find it hard to concentrate, try this practice from @alive.awake.empowered at least once a day: Count breathing cycles. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. And so on.

You may be able to get only as far as two or three at first. But with practice, you will improve, and so will your ability to concentrate. Do what you can, and when a thought interrupts, go back to one.

#meditation #concentration #focus #mondays
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!