Yoga helped Rohit overcome the nasty side effects of cancer treatment.
True Yoga instructor Rohit Mistry is a picture of health and fitness: glowing skin with taut muscles.
No one can tell that more than a decade ago, he went through chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system.
At 29, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while working and living in London.
“I continued my hot yoga practice while undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy sessions,” he said. “Yoga helped to detoxify my body and manage the adverse effects of chemotherapy. Most importantly, it helped my mind to stay positive and gave me hope of getting myself and my body back once the chemotherapy was over.”
Surviving that bout of cancer was a wake-up call for Rohit, who decided to ditch his corporate job to teach yoga.
“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 and continues to benefit me.”
About Rohit Mistry
Rohit has been teaching yoga for 10 years. He currently leads the hot yoga, yin yoga, and myofascial release technique classes at True Yoga.
What’s your fitness routine like?
Hot yoga – twice a week, 90 minutes per class
Crossfit – three times a week, 60 minutes each time
Gym training – three times a week, 60 minutes each time
Any fitness goals?
I hope to continue to get stronger and keep my flexibility as I get older.
What’s your diet like?
I take everything in moderation, and have snacks and indulgences when I want them. The one thing that I totally avoid is sugary drinks including fruit juice.
What’s your yoga mantra?
I have to quote Bruce Lee: Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about yoga?
That they are too stiff to practise yoga. But that’s the exact reason why you should practise.
What’s your favourite yoga pose?
Savasana, or the corpse pose. It’s a pose that I still find very difficult to execute. Working on cultivating stillness in the body and not holding my attention on what my mind is producing is incredibly challenging. Savasana allows the space and time for me to do that.
Many yogis aim to do inversions and arm balances. How important do you think it is to master these poses?
It’s more important to master yourself through the practice of asanas. By that, I mean to channel your mind’s fluctuating thoughts in one direction. If you’re thinking about work emails whilst in a headstand, or what you’re going to eat for dinner whilst in a crow pose, you’re kind of missing the point of why you’re practising.
More people are doing yoga as it’s seen as a trendy way to get fit. What do you think of that?
Absolutely fine. Whatever reason brings you to the mat is valid. And that reason will change over time if your yoga practice is consistent.
Yoga is trending on social media now. What do you think of those #yogapose photos on Instagram?
As long as the person’s intention of putting up the #yogapose photos is to inspire others, then I think it’s great.
Some people learn yoga from watching YouTube videos. Is that advisable?
YouTube videos are certainly one way to learn yoga poses. The limitation is that the practitioner’s individual body structure and condition, plus injuries cannot be taken into consideration unless the practice is supervised.
Postures that require a high level of joint mobility, such as splits and deep backbends, or a posture like headstand can lead to injuries if the body is not prepared beforehand.
Who are your yoga role models?
Anyone who has a valid reason not to come to practice, but still choose to come. They are my heroes.
What’s your proudest moment as a yoga instructor?
Whenever a student feels confident to share with me the benefits they get from practising yoga, from curing physical issues, dealing with the loss of a loved one, to improved self-esteem and being able to reduce the dosage of a certain medication.
What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done for fitness?
Nothing. If it’s extreme, it’s probably not good for you.
What do you say to motivate your students during yoga?
It’s called yoga practice for a reason – not yoga perfect. Just practise.