Radhika Khanna’s Yoga Secrets
In the larger scheme of things, what does one minute signify? Nothing. Yet in the universe created by Radhika Khanna, fashion entrepreneur and yoga expert, these mini one-minute poses can translate into the difference between stress and calm, good energy and bad health. In fact, utilized well, these minutes can make all the difference in the world of busy professionals.
Khanna knows through her own experience, because yoga literally saved her life. While working in the fashion industry in New York, she got Lupus, for which there is no cure. Normal, day-to-day life was a thing of the past and she found after many treatments that yoga was her best ally in fighting this disease. She is now back full-swing to her fashion career, launching two successful lines. ‘Pose: 1 Minute Yoga Poses Anywhere, Anytime’ is the wonderful little book that she has authored to help other busy individuals enhance their life with 1 minute yogic exercises which can be undertaken even in a conference room or right at an office desk. All the illustrations in this informative book have been done by Khanna, who is a graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
On the cover you have Radhika Khanna, clad in heels and office attire, literally standing on her head near busy Grand Central Station as yellow cabs and other traffic whizz by, capturing the frenzy and stress of every day living. Tongue in cheek, she shows how yoga can set things right for harried professionals. Yoga might sound intimidating to those who have not practiced it but Khanna offers easy quickie poses which professionals can fit into the hurly-burly of their hectic day – just a 2-5 minute break during their working day and a 10-15 minute yoga practice to begin and end their day at home.
Breathing correctly is the magic mantra. “The higher the energy level, the healthier we feel,” says Khanna. “The energy is called Prana – the vital force. Prana enters the body when you breathe, and all yogic exercises focus on our breathing patterns.”
Pose: One Minute to Health and Energy
If you’ve been slaving at your computer all day, your eyes are bound to feel like they’re about to fall off. Khanna suggests a 2 minute break from the computer with an eye roll which strengthens the eyes, followed by palming which soothes the eyes.
Sitting all day at a desk can be detrimental to your digestive system. Vajrasana or thunderbolt pose can be done right at work and is a great option to going for a walk. According to Khanna, the 2-minute Vajrasana is equivalent to a 30 minute stroll, in helping digestion.
Who would have thought there was even a 1-2 minute exercise to balance the mind before important meetings? Well, Anulom Vilom, the alternate nostril breathing, balances the mind. This should help you to make some sane decisions at work.
And yes, if a client is being a pain in the neck, there’s a 2 minute exercise to ease neck muscles and stress!
Going out with clients or associates for Happy Hour? Khanna shows you 3-5 minute exercises to help reduce alcohol consumption.
For professionals who are often up in the air, she has 2-3 minute exercises to make the journey easy, preventing backache and fatigue, and keeping blood circulating with exercises right in your seat.
You’ll be glad to know that there are quickie 7-8 minute exercises to get some zing into your sex life too. One of these is Sarvangasana, shoulder stand. Writes Khanna, “Beat gravity at its own game by flipping upside down. This pose works very well for a healthy sex drive.’
And for a good night’s sleep she gets you in the mood for bed with relaxing exercises such as Yognidra which help you to ‘sleep well, dream big, wake up fresh.’ My favorite of all the exercises is the Shavasana or Corpse pose. This one minute pose is done in-between all the asanas and gives you a great feeling of relaxation and well-being.
Radhika Khanna, who has managed to ward off Lupus with the power of yoga, is now enjoying the joys of entrepreneurship and good health. She is donating the royalties from the book to the Lupus Foundation of America. A good idea to get ‘Pose’ and incorporate the quickie exercises into your daily work life. The rewards are calm, higher energy and good health!
Yoga Moves – 8 Questions for Radhika Khanna
1. In your book you have yourself on the cover in the middle of hectic Manhattan streets, standing on your head and wearing a short skirt and heels! I loved the humor of it all but how do you generally dress when you do your yoga exercises?
I used to wear yoga clothes from the best designers and focus on yoga exercise and flexibility when I started doing yoga for the first time. Then later with time and experience I learnt that yoga is all about your connection within your body and mind. Clothes really don’t matter when you are trying to connect internally.
My morning practice is for 10-12 minutes which is in my comfortable pj’s in my bedroom and then the whole day, my 1-minute poses are in whatever attire I am dressed in.
2. Your tips can be a real boon to busy working professionals. Which is the most beneficial tip you’d like to offer them?
Long working hours can be stressful mentally. We forget about the body which is helping us do everything. Just take out 1 minute out of every 60 minutes to connect your mind to your body. Which is the best way to pay your gratitude to your body for running you and your dreams.
My book helps the readers to breathe correctly for 1 minute in every stressful situation that our profession brings.
3. Your journey into yoga came about because of serious issues with your own health – tell us about it.
I was diagnosed with Lupus and it had affected a lot of my body parts including lungs and blood cells. There is no cure for Lupus. Strong research medicines were given to me as a trial, which are mostly Chemo drugs. I became weaker with the medicines and finally was tired of chemicals and no improvement in my condition. So, I tried getting into homeopathic, iridology, etc. Nothing worked. I became a different person without energy and dreams.
Finally I went to the holistic side of the world. Yoga was one of my options. I tried doing it for a few months in Manhattan after work and it felt good. I felt the connection between my body and mind. I knew my disease was stress related. I wanted to learn more about it. So, I packed my bags, said good bye to Manhattan, six figure salary job, beautiful apartment in a skyscraper building and above all, to all the medicines and went to live in an ashram in Catskill, New York. It reminded of my first time to New York with just two sets of clothes and $100 in my pocket.
It was a 360 degree change in lifestyle. I had no other option but to become my own leader or to let doctors lead me and make me weaker and more fearful. Material comforts meant nothing to me at this point.
I chose to be my own boss. I put my disease in remission by living a stress-free and a healthy yogic life in ashrams all over the world for 2 years. I became a certified yoga instructor and finally I returned back to Manhattan to fulfill my dreams as a designer. Now I live like a warrior with ammunition. My breathing exercises in the book are my weapons, stress is the enemy and having a purposeful life is my goal.
4. How much are health, physical well-being and mental attitudes interlinked?
If you eat healthy food, practice yoga and yet don’t have a positive and a happy mental attitude, then nothing will work.
5. Along with these yoga quickie exercises that busy professionals can fit into their daily routine, what meals do you suggest for them? Many tend to skip breakfast and eat something store-bought and unhealthy at their desk for lunch.
Breakfast is the king of the meals. Most important part of your day is morning. You are getting your body started for a productive day at work. In an ashram, we used to get two main meals per day. One is at 10:00 am in the morning with lots of organic whole grain, fiber, fruits and fruit juices. It fills your stomach for the whole day until the second dinner meal is served at 6 p.m.
But, being in the professional work environment, we burn a lot of energy and two meals are not sufficient. So, for breakfast we should eat fiber, grains, fruits and fruit juices with all kinds of vitamins. Lunch should be raw salads or grilled sandwiches.
At sunset, dinner must always be something like very lightly cooked lentils with cooked vegetables that the body can digest easily as the physical activity decreases by that time. I prefer organic food at all times.
6. You have done all the illustrations in the book. When you were studying at FIT, you probably could not have imagined that you’d go on to becoming a yoga expert, write and illustrate a book on yoga and have your own fashion labels too! Your thoughts?
I somehow feel very blessed to have undergone these problems to realize how important a healthy and happy attitude is. My illustrations have been utilized in the most purposeful way in the book. I am grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to become more than just a fashion designer.
7. How important is family in this whole equation of mental and physical health?
You don’t realize the importance of family until you go through a rough time. My family is the most important part of my life now. The only family member in the US is my brother Vikas who is a chef and is extremely busy 24/7. He plays the role as my Dad, Mom and my other oldest brother Nishant.
Any time Vikas hears my voice with low energy, he leaves his most important meetings and comes to my place to check on me with my favorite food cooked by him. My family’s care and feelings make me feel strong emotionally and physically at all times.
8. Your best words of advice to harried professionals?
You are only a “driver”, the main part of the journey is in your vehicle, your “body”. Make sure you take good care of its maintenance if you want to win the race.
1.It only needs positive, happy and a generous attitude.
3. Oxygen ( breathing exercises) at all times.