Eefa Shrof, the go-to Yoga expert for the who’s who of Bollywood swears by Yoga because it’s perhaps the only reason she can walk – nay, run – today, after an accident that threatened to snatch away every shred of normalcy in her life. It’s been 22 years since that incident, and today, Shrof – stalwart yoga practitioner, trainer and life-guide – has a whole lot to share. From the thirst for perfection she has seen in her tinsel-town yogis, to Gen Y’s frivolous motives in adopting the discipline; from International yoga day revolutionizing the scale of its practice worldwide- to the vanity of the selfie-generation creeping into its sanctity. She tells it all in this interview with with Binjal Shah for Shethepeople.tv
1. What made you turn to yoga?
A road accident in 1996 left me with severe facial and leg injuries. After undergoing painful surgery after surgery for my head and face over months, my 23 year old brain couldn’t think of dealing with another surgery for my leg and I refused it. The doctors told my parents and me that I would be in a wheelchair by age 30 for making such a foolish decision.
It was around then that I was introduced to the idea and practice of yoga through a friend. I picked it up because I really had nothing better to do while in bed for a year. At the end of a few months of practice I was walking without support and in another few months… running. I dived deep into its learnings since and have never looked back or stopped since. Today, I’m 41 and doing more with my legs than most people even half my age.
2. Speaking about yourself, how has Yoga helped you in your own journey?
Yoga has helped me become mature and teach me the spirit of championship. It doesn’t give me answers to all my problems but it creates an internal and external environment that facilitate solutions on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual plane. It’s taught me to grow up, stop arguing about my limitations, take responsibility and do my best personally, professionally and environmentally. Like I said it doesn’t give me answers but it reminds me that I am evolved enough to find them.
3. What remarkable changes have you noted in your clients and students that were achieved through yoga?
My most awestruck observation has always been the same, with myself and with each and every person I have shared my work with for long enough. They come with a physical limitation (pain, injury, stiffness etc.) I also notice some limiting behavior around that problem along with postural deviations. I work with them on correcting the postural deviation which gets corrected sooner or later. Immediately I notice a change in the limiting behavior! And the problem is solved! Its truly witnessing magic in motion!
4. Additionally, what revelations have you witnessed while imparting Yoga to B-town personalities? What are your readings of that clientele?
My private clients, some are superstars, some industrialists, some social entrepreneurs and some philanthropists are all champions at heart.
They have impeccable discipline and clear conscience that creates a freeway for them to cruise on successfully. They have absolute belief in their vision and are not afraid of hard practice. They have razor like clarity and are excellent learners, are humble of their successes and exude class and enthusiasm at every practice. They are never afraid to fail and are clear that they will keep practicing until they succeed. They give top priority to exercise and have a great attitude towards Yoga as well as life.
5. Are there any lesser known facts about yoga and its desirable effects on your body? Have you unlocked any secrets in your experience?
A senior practitioner once said a great thing, He said, “Don’t let yoga ruin your life.” He is so right! Our lives have got to have more meaning that being able to perform postures.
Yoga is the science of the mind, body and spirit. Somehow in the recent years the mind just got removed from that equation. People either use yoga for physical benefits or to ‘calm down’. This is totally fair as long as you realize that that’s just the start. Having razor like focus on my target (goals), clarity of thought and emotion at will are the greatest secrets I have discovered that I can use to live my life at the best of my abilities. Last year I walked across a 10 foot long bed of burning coals a hundred and eight times at one go! For me that was the high point of my practice. The definition of yoga in the yoga sutra clearly states, “yogah chittah vritti nirodah” = “Yoga is the cessation of the mind.” If you can’t control your mind you are not in yoga, it’s that simple as far as I’m concerned.
6. Has the business side of yoga experience a boom, since Yoga came on the radar internationally? Have you noted change in perceptions towards it?
Yes. Lots of changes! On the brighter side more and more people want to practice. On the darker side we are turning it into something it is not. My Guruji used to say yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. Sadly the theory and philosophy part of it got completely taken out of the equation. Why don’t people ask better quality questions beyond how can I fix my backache, not lose my temper, get a better butt etc? I have never heard someone ask how they can build more successful habits; how they may change their beliefs that lead them into destructive relationships; or how they might learn to cook foods which are more nutritious and support their mental make-up?
As a yoga practitioner, I am a scientist of ‘the self’. But these days people are going into debates that they have no idea about. Mastering the Gita does not mean you know yoga! Yoga may have been discovered by a Hindu but it isn’t a Hindu philosophy, it’s an Indian philosophy. Read the yoga sutras, practice the life and body principles and lets get going to make the world a place we can be proud of instead of just selling yoga mats!
7. How do you think would yoga benefit the mind and body of leaders and entrepreneurs?
Yoga to me gives a leader the ultimate edge because it sharpens her mind to a point of focus that would otherwise be impossible to teach/learn. It also makes the body strong and resistant to high levels of stress. When the average performer is calling it a hard day and going home to watch mindless tele, the yoga practicing entrepreneur is just getting warmed up. Besides, yoga breathes freshness and enthusiasm into life’s endeavors. I am now taking the firewalk to corporates as an eye opener so they may ask the same question I did.
“If we can train our minds to walk across burning red hot coals and not get burned…what else am I capable of that I am not doing right now?”
If a man can use this science to levitate, to walk across fire, then what can I use it for?