Urban yogi

Yogacharini Maitreyi.  

I arrived in Chennai after teaching Arkaya (light, healing, inspiration) sessions in Hong Kong and Dubai and had to re-adjust to the buzz of a city. Though I live in Vancouver, Canada, it is relatively quiet, lush with trees, mountains and the sea close by.

As I was wading through the urban maze, I stayed connected to the elements and the earth through the prithvi (earth) mudra.

Living in an urban environment makes it even more important to make healthy food choices to counter pollution. Lifestyle choices play a big role in deepening one’s yogic life. Eat more sattvic foods as they are rich in prana (life force) and enable one to be calm and alert.

Avoid refined flour or maida, refined sugar and refined white rice. These add to the toxins in the system and cause diabetes and various other ailments. The polishing removes the outer layer which has maximum nutrients. They also have a high glycemic index. This means that your blood sugar will spike and drop sharply, causing mood swings and straining the pancreas. Fruits, cucumbers, dry fruits and nuts are healthy snacks. Eat organic grains that are not refined. Substitute white sugar with organic jaggery, coconut sugar, brown sugar, molasses or honey.

Buy hand-pounded rice and millets like foxtail millet ( kangni in Hindi and thinai in Tamil) samai, ragi and varagu, which are a great source of B vitamins. They are rich in iron and trace minerals and some have much higher levels of nutrients compared to rice. These can be used like rice and eaten whole after boiling with curries or can be made into adai, dosa, kheer, kesari and other dishes.

Millets are seeds and are gluten free. They also require much less water to grow than rice (only around 30 per cent) and hence do not stress the ecosystem. They are also pest-resistant so do not need pesticides.

I eat these organic millets in India and quinoa and buckwheat in Canada.

Depending on where you live, find varieties that are either native or cultivated there. Don’t get drawn into the super-food hungama that is now overtaking the west.

The prithvi mudra

Prithvi means earth. Mudra is a gesture for both interpersonal and intrapersonal communication. Just as a smile can communicate joy as well as trigger endorphins or feel-good hormones, a mudra can bring about positive changes within by initiating biochemical changes in the brain and body.

This mudra balances the earth element and reduces fatigue. It nourishes the skin and bones and helps rid one of irrational fears and beliefs. It helps one become materially grounded (with 30 to 40 minutes’ daily practice — can be done in 15 min segments as well).


Tips of the ring finger and thumb touch. Keep the other fingers stretched out yet relaxed. Sit in any comfortable position like the sukha asana (comfortable position) or padmasana (lotus position). However, the sitting asana that allows maximum detoxification is the vajra veerya asana.

Vajra Veerya asana

Vajra means a diamond or a thunderbolt and Veerya means courage. This asana puts pressure on the nerve endings in the toes and helps detoxify the system. Sit in this position for short spurts as it can be painful initially. The length of time may be increased with practice.


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Printable version | Jun 8, 2021 7:07:48 PM |

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