Yoga and Academics – Written by Divya Sachdev and graphics by Guru Anvekar
It was the year 2005. I was sitting comfortably on a yoga mat on a Sunday morning. I was very peaceful and calm. I had felt the same way often in the past few years since I had started practicing yoga. The time I stretched through yoga postures simply flew. Later I sat with a book of Physics and started reading. Something was different. I realized I could grasp more and more. I had seen a major improvement in my grades lately. I knew yoga was working well for me as gradually in high school, I became one of the the top students of my class. I wasn’t sure how, but I realized that the practice of yoga asanas was helping me cope with my studies.
As a child, I was always told that I had to study hard to enjoy life, but while studying I found I was hardly able to enjoy life. With my daily schedule for school and coaching classes, I would get very little time for leisure. Somehow books, assignments, exams, presentations would only add to my phobia of not getting good grades and then a good college and then a good job and most importantly not making my parents happy which meant a lot to me. These thoughts were endless.
Those cold scary nights just before the exams were even worse. They would be like the dark Knights ready to kill me with their swords called books. I would sit on my study table, with a mug of coffee trying to keep myself awake, under the little lamp my aunt got me. I would open my 600-page-social science book, still wondering where to start studying. I would feel the stress increase in my body and soon I would be in my own world, far…FAR away from books. Inspired by the magical movies,I would dream of non-existent things like magic pencils that would write my exams for me. Sometimes even the devil inside me would take over and I would pray if the President could die just on the day of my exam. Once in a blue moon I would become very spiritual with thoughts like who am I, with what purpose have I come to this planet and what’s the need for studying? While I would ponder on all these thoughts, it would be morning again and time for me to get ready for school.
My imaginative world always remained unreal because obviously no pencils came flying to me and no President died. Every exam I would promise myself that next exam I would study hard and get better grades. But no matter how hard I studied, it would only get worse. I knew I was getting deeper and deeper into the pit as my grades started falling class after class. I wanted to find a solution to my problem … and I did. A combination of yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation proved to be my best solution.
In 2010, I started teaching stress-free workshops for youth across India as a faculty of The Art of Living. It wasn’t so startling for me to come across such similar stories practically on every workshop I conducted. I wanted to reach out to all those, still in pursuit of a solution; a solution I already had, which worked wonders for me in front of those dark knights. All I needed to do, was to reveal it… It was YOGA.
Recently, I was enjoying a dinner at my friend’s place in Delhi. My friend’s 13-year-old brother sadly asked me if studies could also be as enjoyable as games or television. Giving it a deeper thought, I realized the only reason one enjoys games or television is because one is peaceful, relaxed and completely in the present. Suddenly, all my thoughts fell into place. That moment I knew, that the reason YOGA improved my grades was because yoga works on a similar principal. A few days later a bunch of my other co-faculties and I sat together and came up with the following yoga theories.
Most of us have only aimed for the last; no one has actually aimed for the first. Only and ONLY if we could get a way of being peaceful, we would simply get better grades! And even though I didn’t realize as a student, yoga helped me to become free of stress.
INPUT – Whatever we invest to get better grades OUTPUT – What we receive after what we have invested as an input
Normally we feel the more the input (Money [books coaching etc], time, energy) the more the output. What we do not realize is that our capacity pipe is narrow so the flow of input is limited. So no matter how much we study, we are never satisfied .To get better grades, widening the capacity pipe would be more effective. This is what yoga does.
With the regular practice of yoga, one can really increase concentration and focus and thus widen one’s capacity pipe.
Yoga releases the stress from every cell of our body leaving us peaceful. This increases our capacity as one can grasp more in less time and get better grades. Practice of yoga also helps us to be focused, in the moment and feel calmer. As the time we are investing in studying is less, we are left with a lot of time for leisure.
I was always told that I had to study hard to enjoy life but thanks to yoga, I learned how to enjoy life while studying and now i’m teaching hundreds of students what I discovered through yoga.
(Driven by her passion to contribute to society, Divya Sachdev is an Art of Living teacher. Laughter, commitment, willingness to learn and determination to excel…Divya is all this and more.)