Category Archives: Yoga
According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease (24%) and cancer (23%), on account of improper breathing and faulty oxygenation that unbalances the blood so that toxins are not eliminated and the endocrine glands cease to function adequately. Interpreters in the U.S.A. are within this population.
The chief endocrine glands are the adrenals, pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, coccygeal, thymus, carotid, gonads, pancreas, liver and spleen. Yoga exercises all of these glands, at a difference from standard western fitness regimens that affect muscle groups only. Many endocrine glands are also ductless glands, as they secrete the hormones they produce directly into the blood or lymph system so it will be circulated to the entire body. These hormones affect every physiological and psychological function of our bodies. They control our growth, the structure of our body, height, weight and personality, determining our physical and mental activities, hence our jobs as interpreters, not to mention our personal lives. They are the chief dynamos for brain power, vitality and youthfulness, and keep us fit to make a living and enjoy life fully. Furthermore, the manufacture and distribution of these hormones can be greatly affected by the mental state of the individuals concerned. Since our work often causes a lot of stress because we deal in technical subjects and have to anticipate the words of specialists, among others, in both simultaneous and consecutive modes, this stress is bound to affect our mental state especially as we are often not able to prepare for these interventions.
Many of the poses tone up the nerve force in the spine to preserve flexibility which is often impaired when we sit in a booth all day or stand in a courtroom, or other environments to work. According to yoga, a man is never old if his spine is flexible. Exercising for even 10 minutes a day helps to improve flexibility.
Much of the reference material on the effects of yoga cited herein was taken from the classic, Yoga and Long Life, by Yogi Gupta, available on Amazon Kindle.
For poses that act on specific parts of our anatomy, go here, and click on the part of your body that interests you.
Make learning these poses with a qualified teacher, one of your resolutions for the New Year. It will be a positive life-changer!
Watch the following very short video (1:31) I put together, about The Lion Pose, which is specifically tailored for interpreters:
I am sure we will all agree that some of the basic requirements for a professional to deliver a successful interpretation, be it in the booth or in a court or other environment, is to firstly have a disciplined mind to render the task at hand without distractions and in order to have a disciplined mind, your physical body must be healthy, relaxed and rested.
During my 30+ years in the business, I have tried a lot of methods to achieve this goal in the most expedient and effortless manner, ranging from diet, to personal trainers, to mind control methods, etc., all of which I found lacking in some aspect. Either they conferred better health without the necessary relaxation and mental concentration or they met some other incomplete set of criteria.
Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, and I have been able to verify through my personal practice, that the combination of the three basic legs of yoga: the postures, breathing exercises and meditation, achieve this end exceptionally well.
The postures differ from traditional Western exercises that focus on developing large muscles and disciplining the body. They positively affect both the mind and the body. They are unique in that they also tone up the chief endocrine glands of the body, such as the adrenal or suprarenal capsules, the pineal and pituitary glands, the thyroid, carotid, the gonads, etc., which produce hormones that regulate your body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual development as well as function.[i] We need a well-tuned body to carry out the oftentimes stress-inducing work of interpreting, which will in time adversely affect us if left unchecked. It should be noted, in our youth-oriented society, that the gonads are responsible not only for an individual’s sexuality but also for his remaining in an optimum state of health. They maintain youthful vigor, prevent the onset of senility and exercise a deep psychological and physiological influence on the organism.[ii]
By learning to control our breathing, we can control our life energy, which we draw in through the breath, therefore life itself and its activities. The aim is not to build a bigger chest as in the West, but to increase oxygenation of the blood. All metabolic processes in the body are regulated by oxygen. Our brains process billions of bits of information each second. Our metabolic processes work to rid our bodies of waste and toxins. Even our abilities to think, feel and act require oxygen-related energy production. Scientists now also agree that oxygen plays a powerful and primary role in our overall health and well-being. A growing number of researchers have shown that the best way to improve health may be related to the optimum oxygenation of every cell. [iii]
When energy is distributed evenly through this technique, we achieve psycho-physical coordination, get rid of our emotional complexes and the unbalances that give rise to fear, anger, envy or a sense of inferiority.[iv] The breathing is an indispensable resource for interpreters that may succumb to any of the above during an assignment because of external circumstances or because of his own sense of inferiority due to a very demanding job. It swiftly counteracts anxiety and allows us to perform optimally.
Lastly and most importantly, there is meditation. The fatigue of the senses demands rest. Hence we sleep at night. However, the mind is subtly working even during sleep so we do not achieve full rest. Real rest is only secured through meditation.[v]
The whole mind and nervous system are re-modeled thereby. New grooves, cells and channels are formed.[vi] These will allow you to experience serenity, a sense of focus, one-pointedness of mind, patience and contentment at all times. Even under stress. They will allow you to control the wanderings of the typical mind that often jumps unrestrained from one thought to the next without respite. This is an invaluable asset in our field where we have to continuously render the thoughts and words of others, playing down the normal interference created by our minds as a reaction to said input. It creates a space where our mind is stilled and we can be creative in how we manage the output of what we are hearing.
Not convinced? Check it out. The philosophy of yoga starts with the tenet that any idea not confirmed by experience must remain mere speculation.
[ii] Yogi Gupta (1958). Yoga and Long Life, pp.36, Yogi Gupta New York Center.
[iv] Yogi Gupta (1958). Yoga and Long Life, pp.121, Yogi Gupta New York Center.
[v] Swami Sivananda (Fourteenth Edition 2011), Concentration and Meditation, pp. 120.
[vi] Swami Sivananda (Fourteenth Edition 2011), Concentration and Meditation, pp. 124.
It was November 14, 2004. A blustery winter evening in New York. The sun had gone down and the wind was gusting hard. My stomach rumbled relentlessly and I shivered in spite of my down parka. I sprinted briskly along West 63 St., to reach my destination near Carnegie Hall, at 25-C, the apartment/ashram of Yogi Gupta, my spiritual preceptor, as quickly as possible.
I had traveled to Manhattan from Miami primarily to do my work as a simultaneous interpreter at a board of directors meeting for a large multinational client, but I wanted to get a spiritual boost by going to the center as I didn’t often have the opportunity to attend. I had finished a 30 Day Purification Diet that day and made the mistake of going to a Thai restaurant in the city with my colleagues to celebrate a job well done and break the fast. As I greedily wolfed down my curry dish, with chicken no less, I dimly remembered Guruji’s warning that spicy foods were not good for you. But I was dying to eat something tasty after watermelon, leaves and herbs for thirty days and when someone suggested this place, I jumped at it. Not a good idea. That is what happens when we block out our inner voice thinking , “this time” I know better.
Sure enough, my body was so de-toxed that although I had specified that I wanted the spice level to be mild, eating the dish was similar to receiving a kick in the gut.
Thinking Outside the Box
Upon arrival at 25-C, I asked Swami Prabathanand, who was manning the front desk, to recommend an herb to put an end to my misery and bought some E+ to assuage the intestinal flora. It was ultimately very good but that night I had to pay for my rashness. Guruji was in India at the time but one of his senior disciples was offering a Psychic Development technique class and a Sound Meditation scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m., for which I promptly signed up. It wasn’t the Guru personally but it was the next best thing. His teachings through an experienced disciple. I am usually very organized and from my shorthand training as an interpreter, whenever I attend lectures I take down the discourse in my own diary so that I can subsequently internalize the learning by reviewing it. However by then, the food poisoning from lunch had set in. It was all I could do to try to concentrate on what the teacher was saying and I had to make a brave showing as I was the only one in attendance.
I distantly heard the instructor talk about a mythical Temple of Colors in Lemuria, a lost continent located where Japan is now, inhabited by a colony of women priestesses who were able to simply look at the astral body of supplicants, determine what colors were missing and replace them to cure problems. He spoke about the Psychic Development technique, in which I was receiving instruction, as being more powerful than Ayurveda, in that it teaches us how to communicate with the Masters, who are here to help the world advance. They are the ones who end wars and shift resources around the earth as needed. If we communicate with them our life will become much easier. In order to do the technique correctly, we need to build up prana/primal energy and not let it leak out via our thoughts. We waste time trying to mentally figure out who we are through the senses which give us wrong information. By tuning in to the Masters and through meditation, we get to the truth. It is always better to meditate in the presence of a teacher he said, because his mind is more settled and will still the restless thoughts of our “monkey brain.”
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
In spite of my stomach woes, I had a great sound meditation with a gong, which I had not been exposed to before. But alas, it was time to get up and go home. I knew from the way I was feeling I would never be able to walk back the 15 minutes to the hotel. It was 9 o’clock and there were no taxi stands anywhere in the vicinity. I dreaded having to walk to Broadway to attempt to hail a cab for a short ride, but dragged myself to the revolving front door and stepped out. I had stood there in the biting cold only long enough to get my bearings when a taxi drove up right in front of me to drop off someone at the building. I was astounded at this “coincidence” and weakly fell into the back seat muttering “Thank you Guruji” under my breath.
The following day I was slightly better but still in significant discomfort, having been unable to sleep the night before. I took a cab instead of the shuttle to La Guardia, to board a full flight to Miami. I cringed contemplating the three hour trip in a middle seat. I had been unable to upgrade to an aisle seat to be closer to the restroom because the flight was oversold. I wouldn’t even be able to rest my head against the window to grab some shuteye. My only consolation was that I had to be burning a lot of karma with how badly I felt!
I took my seat, stowed my carry-on with the help of another passenger because I felt so fatigued, and waited for the boarding process to finish. Imagine my surprise when twenty minutes later, the stewardess started reading the safety precautions and no one had come to claim the other two seats in my row, in spite of the fact that there were no other empty seats on the plane. I knew then, as I spread out, that without a doubt, what Yogi Gupta always said: “Nothing happens as a bolt from the blue”, or “A mouse doesn’t suddenly jump out of a cupboard” (meaning there are no coincidences in life), is true. The Guru knew I was making an effort to go to 25-C and although he was not there in the flesh, his spirit was there, as he often promised. We can always maintain a psychic connection with him he told us, because “neither time nor distance are an obstacle”. By going, I was endeavoring to connect with him and his teachings, so he was taking care of me in an extraordinary way because I was actively seeking the company of the Wise Man.
This was further confirmed when after arriving on my night flight, tired and bedraggled, I tried to secure a luggage cart at MIA baggage claim. I needed to take a trunk with sound equipment that I had brought back with me, to the taxi stand. Since I was one of the last people to get off a full flight, by the time I picked up my box, there were no carts available, nor any skycaps to assist me. Nonetheless, in a matter of two minutes, before I could cry from exhaustion and chagrin, a lady three carrousels away from mine, spotted me, approached me spontaneously and offered me hers.
I was thusly reminded of what Guruji once said to me : “If you continue to make spiritual efforts, God’s and Guru’s help will never be lacking. God helps those who make efforts to help themselves to the best of their ability”.
I have always found this advice to be very practical because whenever you improve yourself spiritually it affects your physical and emotional bodies as well as your mind, which in turn influences your work and everyday life. In this particular case, the purification diet in question was enervating. Our bodies are like machines that after working non-stop for a period of time, need a break for rest, cleaning and overhauling. Even if we are eating the right foods, our digestive systems can use an opportunity to burn toxins or excess fat, clearing small problems before they become big ones. In addition to losing weight, this practice makes me feel so much lighter; it increases both my energy and concentration which are primary staples for interpreting of any type.
Meditation is also extremely beneficial as it allows us to detach from the constant barrage of sensory input that we receive, especially in our business, facilitating a direct connection with our consciousness that generates relaxation and lets us harness our resources more efficiently to both lead our lives and carry out our work in a better way.
To see a more comprehensive explanation of the benefits of meditation, watch this video:
Share your “coincidences” with me. We have all had those experiences where we are in the “zone”, doing something we love or care about. They are nature’s way of telling us to pay attention to what we are doing because it resonates with us and points us towards what we could be doing to improve our lives.
Intellectual and very reasonable explanation of the fallacies that accompany blind skepticism. Read on at:
and follow with a great sequel at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/god-will-be-back-tomorrow_b_1928928.html?fb_action_ids=10151203324544040&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582