Love yourself enough to live the wellness lifestyle! I so believe in those words, so do Pradeep Teotia, a great yoga teacher from San Francisco! We met in Brussels to discuss wellness concept. And I tell you, wellness is a new black! It is so IN and it will be a trend which will not go away!
Last time ,we met with Pradeep on his yoga workshop in Brussels, I interviewed Pradeep and we mainly discussed yoga. I was so impressed with the way he run his classes, that I couldn’t let him go back to San Francisco without knowing the inspiration for his amazing yoga teaching. Pradeep is a well renowned yoga teacher, travelling around the world with his workshops and retreats on which he pass his passion for yoga and conscious, healthy, wellness living. This year, as we again met during the workshops, I wanted to focus more on wellness lifestyle and holistic approach towards health. We share the common vision on that. We both believe there is a need for many changes and wake up call for many people. We met over the coffee on a Sunday afternoon in Brussels, before him heading to other countries to run yoga workshops. I recorded the long and passionate exchange we had. It is not a traditional interview, rather a discussion on wellness lifestyle, holistic health concept and the need of self development in our life. Moreover during this conversation, a new ideas and common wellness projects were born, but I will tell you about it, when the time comes!
“Health is a state of body, wellness is a state of being”
Marta: Pradeep it is so great we are meeting again here in Brussels. Last time I asked you a lot about yoga. Now, over the coffee, we have been discussing wellness philosophy and natural way of living: respect towards our body, what we eat, but also how we take care of our mind and soul. We both agreed: people needs to awake themselves a bit. Why do you think it is becoming so important?
Pradeep: We are part of the nature and people needs to admit it. The artificial food, chemicals, too much of medical drugs, it simply does not work. People end up exhausted, with many illnesses, with burn outs, with depression. If you take medicine not for the right reason, it will bring you just more problems.You will get extra ones, additionally to what you already want to heal.Before you are able to heal one problem, you suddenly have two problems, as medicines usually have side effects. You can not heal symptoms of the sickness with chemical pill, without even understanding what is causing the sickness. This how modern medicine works. Sometimes simple things and choices you make every day, would be enough to help you: eating good & clean food, produced in sustainable way, practising yoga, using knowledge from specialist who knows about the food and are specialized in healing human bodies in a holistic way. There is so much knowledge out there. At the same time many simple ways to treat your body in a balanced way. Our bodies adapt and functions together with the nature, so for example eating according to the seasons will always be the best choice for you. There is old knowledge of Ayurveda, herbal specialists,acupuncturists and doctors using holistic approach and focusing on encouraging people for wellness lifestyle!
M: You mentioned acupuncture and actually acupuncture saved me already. I was suffering for chronic sinus infection some years ago, being constantly sick. Nothing and nobody was able to help. Doctors wanted to treat me just with antibiotics. But as a curious person, I knew there must be other solution. And acupuncturist did help me. Moreover I found that reasons of my problems were much deeper and complex than I thought. That’s why I say it saved me.
P: Yes, because it saved so many before you. It is an old system focusing on treating the cause, not only the symptoms. It is a healing system without forcing you to put the chemicals into your body. If you add also yoga to it, which heal the body as well, you can get amazing results.
M: I completely agree. Many people don’t listen to the signs of the body. And this is such a complex but magical system, which constantly shows us what is good and what is not. But we just don’t listen. You feel pain , so you don’t question yourself from where the pain is coming from. You just take a pill. But with little more dedication you could heal many things naturally. Sometimes you feel pain in your bones system. Instead of taking another pain killer, you can go and see osteopath, add yoga into your life, maybe acupuncture and you can help yourself in a natural way. Modern medicine can make incredible things, save life after accidents, surgery on open hearts, help with really serious stuff. And I do not question that. I would not even dare. But we have influence with the lifestyle we choose and natural way of healing every day, so we can avoid development of civilization diseases.
P: Exactly that. If you take chemical pills, like pain killers or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for every symptom you get, what’s gonna happen? You cover the pain. Chemicals will poison your nervous system. Yes, for a while you will have the feeling you have healed yourself, as you don’t feel the pain any more. But the problem is still there. It’s gonna come back soon, and next time you will need two pills. And three pills, until you destroy other parts of your body.And still without healing and solving the real problem. After a while, even certain medicine will stop working. Your body get use to it. It’s a vicious circle. You are not able any more to recognize what is the problem and where is the cause. And you make pharmaceutical companies richer. The point is you always need to find the reason of your health problem. And remember, so many daily pain and little health problems which in the end can cause big troubles in your body and chronic and serious illnesses, can be avoided just with healthy lifestyle: food and proper amount of sleep and rest. Body and mind need rest! Our body works so much. It’s a constant work. You need to learn how to properly rest.
M: We are living in a culture in which we are slightly “deprived” from sleep, due to the trend for success. We are focusing on productivity. We are achiever’s society. And the sad thing is that when we need more space or time to achieve our goals, we would not give up unnecessary things. We would give up sleeping or healthy food. And once you don’t provide proper food and rest to your body, you are not able to sustain yourself for too long.
P: Yes, and body can not cope with such a lifestyle for too long.We are not made to cope with so much stress and tension.Body, although strong, is such a natural and fragile instrument. You have to really take care of yourself. Good food, good sleep, good exercise. Because this is the way to get your energy back. Any exercise is good for you. But of course, with yoga you provide type of exercise on physical, emotional and mental level. Movements which emphasize breath, which is crucial in healing system. Nowadays we even don’t know how to breathe properly. So any type of exercises with focus on deep breath will help you to do so much good to your body and mind. People need to return to the roots, to change approach from the pharmaceutical to natural one.
M: Yes, here I wanted to come back to the wellness concept which we discussed before. The whole concept and holistic approach towards body, mind and spirit. Because although self awareness is growing, there is still too much of cutting out the healthy lifestyle just to the weight management, dieting and losing weight. You discussed it during your workshop. If people approach exercising just because they want to lose weight, without changing their mindset, changing the lifestyle forever, than it does not make sense. People are in the constant circle for trashing themselves and stressing their bodies and mind to lose weight. And basically nothing change. No healthy, balanced approach towards food, towards yourself. That’s why I believe the wellness concept needs to be promoted more.
P: Maintaining your weight or loosing weight should not be a problem. But still many people have the problem with it. Maybe they are not well educated in this matter. They want to have quick fix, without proper life changes. But quick fix is never a sustainable solution.
M: We are living in a culture of quick solutions. There is a headache so there is a pill. There is a pain or discomfort so there is pill. Without questioning what causes it. Maybe emotions are the cause ? Maybe stress or bad food? This is the concept we are living nowadays.
P: Yes, or maybe you simply didn’t drink enough of water so you have a headache. But the only solution you are used to is the chemical, magic pill. Sometimes the solutions can be so simple. Yet natural and good for you.
M: And that’s why I will advocate for wellness philosophy to be promoted. Because people are stressing about the body image, but they don’t have healthy approach towards food. Food makes them stressed because of the weight, so all their life they spend on diet. And oh my, how long we can live like that? With such a tension and stress towards our bodies. Nobody is born overweighted. And the point is we don’t need to look the same. There are many images what healthy body looks like. But what is sure, we are all able to take care of our body in a proper , healthy way. But we need to start living consciously. Being aware how the food industry is functioning as well. I believe there is so much awareness raising job to be done.
P: We are beautiful because we are different. Healthy body has many shapes. But we have to change the mind-set. Start from the love, devotion and compassion towards yourself and your body. Be grateful for life you have been given. Once you start from such a mind-set, you will start to always treat yourself and your body with respect. In such a way, you will always make better choices in term what is good for your body and what is not. Once you have this respectful approach and seeing your body as the biggest present you got, it will be easier to make healthy choices. So the work you want to do Marta with promoting the wellness and well-being, the holistic, conceptual approach, I believe it can help so many people to understand more. How to live better life and how to be better human being. Not to compete,but just how to accept yourself and love yourself.
M: Yes I think this needs to be a starting point: Self-love and self-respect. If you understand this concept of self-acceptance but also understanding your body with total respect, you will start to choose what is best for yourself. I am just stopping myself as much as possible to use any chemicals. I believe that in a daily life, until I am not facing serious illnesses or infections, I can treat many things naturally ( with herbs, Ayurveda, acupuncture, natural remedies). But what’s the most important for me now, I focus on avoiding sickness with the lifestyle I choose, not focusing on treating the symptoms. And it works well.
P: Of course it works well. Those practices are much older than any modern way we know. Look for how many centuries yoga, Ayurveda, herbal treatment or acupuncture exists? It has been helping people using the power of nature for so long. But the point is we need to understand that the health starts with the lifestyle. The food you eat, whether you exercise or not, the lifestyle you choose. Many modern, civilization illnesses, including some type of diabetes, hormonal imbalances, heart diseases-all of it is connected to the lifestyle we choose. It all could be avoided if we would choose to live differently. People put themselves into the vicious circle. They live unhealthy every day for many years. Then the body collapse, giving us different sicknesses as an answer to this lifestyle. And then, they go to the doctor who gives them chemical pills to cure the sickness. How long you can sustain it?
M: Yes, so the body will start to pays off. One way or another. Either by collapsing. Or with the supporting lifestyle, your energy level will go up and your body will be in great condition.
P: Of course, and it start to be visible. The way you feel, the way you look. You start to treat yourself nice, you develop good habits, not only towards the body but also mentally. You develop kindness towards yourself and others. You stop pretending. It is a whole process of changes that start to happen in your body and in your mind and soul. If you are kind to yourself, there will come a moment you will start to be kind towards others. The holistic approach is the key. You can not forget about any part of this circle, neither about the body, neither about the mind or soul. People needs to understand, that often physical sickness comes from emotional imbalances.
M: And I wanted to switch a bit from wellness into fears and anxiety although I think it is still part of whole concept and healthy balance. You mentioned it during your workshop, that fears can stop us completely from living our life truly. Fears stops us from realizing dreams and achieving and take so much peace from us.
P: What I see growing up in India and eastern philosophies, we have lots of fears because we have less faith. When you have faith, you don’t have fear. I’m talking about general faith, despite in what you believe in. I’m not talking about religion. Faith in life and sense of life. Faith that there is a purpose and something bigger than us. You have to try to do good every day, have the faith and you will create sense of your life. With faith that all will be right, you will have less fear. Worrying does not help you. It actually stops you from being creative. You don’t need to sit and worry that something going to happen. You need to go and live your life, experience, take the lessons. Question the life and ask yourself questions as well. Listen to your inner voice.
M: Right, I also learned in life to listen to my intuition. Each time I didn’t do it, I was getting hard lessons ( laughing). And we are coming back to the wellness concept. You need to listen to all type of signs your body is giving you but also listen to yourself and learn how to do it.
P: Yes, and the best way to do it in a wellness approach is meditation. Once you start to practice meditation you create the space for connection within yourself. You will learn how to calm your mind, listen to your emotions and generally speaking it will help you to live your life mindfully and consciously.
M: I think what is important, you have to be open for self-development. Give the purpose to your life not only focusing on material things but putting yourself in the process of constant learning. Seeing life as a journey.
P: Yes! Because life is a journey which we have to take, you have no choice. But you have a choice what you will do with it. You can create something good every day. You can learn from mistakes and start new day as new beginning. And have the right attitude. Wake up every morning being grateful. Say thank you for the life you got. It changes the entire approach. You are grateful because you are alive. Because you have work to do.
M: And this is the moment you create your goals, dreams and you go for them. And every day you try to do something meaningful.
P: Yes, you cannot just sit and wait for your dreams to happen. When you want to go somewhere, you need to start from somewhere. Every day little steps towards your goals and dreams. This is like whole process. That’s why we speak about the wellness concept: body-mind-spirit. You start to take care of yourself, so you get more good energy. You create healthy body and healthy mind. You start to change also your approach and mind-set. You start to be grateful. And you start to look for purpose in life. You start to do thing with the right purpose. It is the whole circle.
M: That’s why I cannot imagine my wellness without yoga any more. Yoga became healing for my body and way to develop further myself. As I take lessons from the mat into the daily life. Yoga changed a lot in me. But I like how we smoothly went through body, mind and the spirit. This is wellness. Not forgetting about any part of it.
P: I have to add something to it. You need to have positive approach and try to learn from everything. Even from the bad. Sometimes life gives us difficulties to grow. You may not see things directly, but try to learn from every experience. When my father passed away, the biggest lesson I got was understanding that people go away one way or another. And you need to find the time for family, friends and people you love. Because tomorrow may never come.
M: I agree with you. When I lost my mum after her battle with cancer for 8 years, it took me long time to recover. But what helped me to grieve was the moment I was able to learn something from the hardest experience of my life. Actually it brought me exactly to the discovery of wellness concept. Before I was always taking care of physical health. I was fit, I was dancing for many years, eating healthy. But actually my mind and soul balance was often forgotten. It is a long story, but the clue is, once you can give the meaning to difficult things you experience, once you learn something from it, this is the greatest thing you can do. It will not only help you to go through it but will make you stronger.
P: Yes, that’s why conscious life, within the wellness concept you want to promote is so important. Not forgetting about any part of the circle: healthy body, healthy mind, healthy soul. Making people aware of it, living respectful life towards themselves and others, will make them feel as part of the whole. Will make them feel the sense of life. We are all living being. We are part of the universe. But we need to start changing the way we approach our body and health, our mind and soul. Once you start to create changes within you, you will start to create changes around you. And this is where the magic happen.
M: Thank you Pradepp. As always, it was a big pleasure to discuss with you!