Dubai man attempts World Record Breaking Headstand Yoga

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“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” – B.K.S. Iyengar

“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.” ― Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style.

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Ivan Stanley, 40, used to play with words in his earlier life! He was an advertising creative director. He came to the UAE and embraced it as his homeland as well as work place in 2000.

He is fluent in English, Hindi, Marathi and Malayalam fluently, and attempts to understand Arabic. He is passionate about paragliding, fencing, motorcycles and movies.

However what sets his pulse racing is yoga. And if you are an audience to his feats, it will give you goosebumps.

Ivan is all set to repeat what is best at once again on June 21–take his audience by surprise. He is attempting the world’s longest headstand on the first International Yoga Day. Stay tuned, for the Guinness Book of World Records is keeping a watch on him too!

We at Arabian Gazette had a chance to interact with him and discuss on a range of topics related to his definition of YOGA -Your Own Greatness Achieved -and more.

Why are you attempting this world record breaking feat? What do you to expect to gain from this?

Swadhyaya is a Sanskrit term for self-study, and is an integral part of my journey through yoga. Attempting this feat – which involves going beyond my comfort zone – is my small tribute to the first World Yoga Day.

Who holds this record currently? 

A while ago, a lady had posted a video of herself attempting this for 34 minutes on YouTube. As far as I know there are no official records for individuals attempting the world’s longest headstand.

What is special about head standing? Why is it so difficult? What are the risks? 

Shersasana or headstand is considered the king of all asanas. An old yogic scripture says that should one be unable to practice any of the many asanas of yoga, standing on the head for 10 minutes is equivalent to an hour of doing everything else.

This inverted posture puts less pressure on the heart muscles, and allows the heart to function better. It increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn allows better circulation to all parts of the body. This balancing posture also helps in overcoming fear.

Just as this is very beneficial, head-standing is not without risks, if it is not learnt and practiced in a correct and systematic manner.

Any yoga exercise you recommend people can do even sitting in their office? 

  • Breathing exercises, especially full yogic breathing and alternative nostril breathing
  • Eye, neck and shoulder exercises
  • Back exercises

From copywriter to ‘yoga student’ for life – tell us your journey into the world of yoga?

Some journeys can never be planned – they are chalked out for you by nature, and the nature of your karma (the universal law of cause and effect). I am just glad to be chosen.

And by the way, I have not stopped being a copywriter.

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What are the benefits of yoga?

Someone has quite nicely described yoga as a diamond. People buy a diamond for various reasons: cut, carat, clarity, colour and certification.

Yoga has innumerable benefits – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, physiological, and probably metaphysical. What you put into your yoga practice is what you will get back. For example, if you approach yoga for physical benefits, the rewards will be physical and tangible.

Should religion be attached to something like yoga?

Like a great yogi has said, most people think yoga comes from Hinduism, but that is as wrong as thinking that gravity comes from Christianity – simply because it was discovered by Isaac Newton who lived in a Christian culture.

Yoga is tool, technique and technology. It is a science and an art. Anyone who is able and willing to learn more about themselves may make use of it and benefit from it – irrespective of religion, nationality, background, gender and age.

What are the best ways to get into yoga?

Attending a yoga class or yoga course is the best initiation into yoga, and serves as a first step of a rewarding journey.

What is the best time to practice it?

Yogic scriptures say 3 to 6 am is the best time for the body and mind. Since that is not always possible or feasible, the hours of dawn or dusk are equally conducive for yogic practices.

Do you think yoga has answers to the modern day stressful corporate life?

Yoga is a way of life. Adopting a yogic lifestyle can negate all modern day ailments – especially those created by peer pressure, deadlines, sales targets, career challenges and other perils of the workplace.

You are currently exploring innovative yoga practices like Paddle Board Yoga, Acro Yoga and Yoga in the Air. Tell us more about it.

SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) Yoga and Acro Yoga are fairly recent schools, but have their origins rooted more than a decade ago, as they derive from Hatha Yoga and combine the complementary principles of paddle boarding (SUP) and acrobatics (Acro).

I have been a certified paragliding pilot for about 14 years now, and it was a natural extension for me to try out several inverted yogic postures while airborne. Of late, I have also started trying out some of the back-bending postures.

My fellow pilots around the world say they have not seen anyone else do Yoga in the Air, and that it is inspiring. My aim is to convert some of them, in some measure: if they see me do yoga while in the air, they may at least start doing it on the ground.

You are also venturing into yoga for kids below 6 years. Tell us more about it.

One of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have done in life is conducting yoga camps for children and teenagers – in Thailand, Canada and India.

The earlier children get into yoga, the easier and more beneficial it becomes. Besides the physical benefits, it has a calming effect on children. There are various studies that clearly document the effects of yoga on children with ADD, ADHD, and the autism spectrum, and yoga can bring about transformational change in the lives of the children – and their families.

Any other information/tips, etc, on yoga you want to share with our readers?

My personal belief is that YOGA is an acronym for Your Own Greatness Achieved. Try and find yours.

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