Meet Rohit Mistry, a yoga teacher and cancer survivor, whose practice helped him pull through his chemotherapy sessions 10 years ago.
What made you want to teach yoga?
Yoga is a system that helps you on your path to self-realisation. I had been practising Hot Yoga regularly for 3 years before I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma at the age of 29. Despite my illness, I continued my yoga practice while undergoing six chemotherapy sessions. Yoga helped detoxify my body and manage the adverse effects of chemotherapy. More importantly, it helped my mind to stay positive and divert its attention from the side effects of the treatment. Once in remission, I went back to my corporate job, but mentally I had a shift. My motivation changed to wanting to teach yoga to as many people as possible, in the hope that the practice could help others as much as it had benefitted me.
What is your favourite pose and why?
Savasana, or the corpse pose. It’s a pose that I still find very difficult to execute. I am continuously working on cultivating stillness in the mind and the savasana allows the space and time for me to do that. Once I have practised this pose well to the best of my ability, I feel a huge sense of achievement and gratitude from knowing that I have reaped many health benefits from the practice.
What is the one thing you repeat to your students all the time?
Breathe. We unconsciously hold our breath for a variety of reasons; we get distracted by thoughts and memories, we concentrate very hard on the physical aspect and we often end up forcing a pose upon ourselves. As a result, we become unaware that we’re holding our breath. Whenever I see my students in such a state, I usually give the simple instruction to breathe, and I bring them back to the present moment.
What advice do you have for students who do hot yoga?
It’s not about the heat, it’s about the asana. The heat is an integral part of the practice, but it’s secondary. It is incredibly important to stay hydrated if you are practising hot yoga, especially before and after class. It will be too late if you are trying to hydrate only during class.
What do you do when you are not teaching yoga?
I love to travel! Being in Singapore gives me the geographical advantage to travel extensively around South East Asia. To constantly upgrade myself, I’m currently learning Japanese and have recently passed the proficiency exam, and am studying for the next level. Being a huge movie nerd, I love going to the cinema and am really happy that Singapore has its own independent cinema, The Projector.
Rohit Mistry teaches at True Yoga Singapore.