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10 Zen Questions With Zubin Atre

Written by Vineeta S

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Zubin Atre, the founder and director of the AtreYoga Studio, is a lot of things. But, most of all, an inspiration. An entrepreneur turned yoga specialist, who started his career in New Delhi by setting up a yoga business, has had a rather remarkable transition from the corporate life to the creative life. After moving to Tokyo recently, coping with the fast pace of the city, he talks about how his life now needs to be planned since spontaneity comes at a cost. With a travel bug that doesn’t let him stay at one place for too long, he finds himself hopping between cities like Venice, Tokyo and Delhi. As spirited in person as in mind, Zubin is redefining Zen living for the modern day man.

10 Zen Questions with Zubin Atre

My morning routine

Wake up early. I happen to live very close to a Japanese temple, and I go there and do Zen meditation in the morning.  It’s a surreal experience because I speak very little Japanese and it’s hard to communicate because I am the only foreigner over there. It’s a one hour meditation. The beauty of it is, that after the first 25 minutes, towards the second half of the meditation, the master starts beating the students with a stick. And it doesn’t hurt as much to call it a beating, but yes, there is a lot of whacking sound. And on other days, when I don’t manage to go to the Zen meditation, then it is my son Liam who climbs on me, and whacks at my face in the morning. So either way, I am getting beaten in the morning. Either by the Zen Master or by my 19 month old son.

One workout or exercise I hate

Well there is nothing in terms of workout that I hate and would have to do it, you know? If I hate something then I just don’t do it. But one thing that I find extremely boring and mundane would be the warm up exercises that you as a yoga teacher do that do not make sense. I mean of course most of them are essential, but there are a few super slow warm up exercises that I find damn boring.

And one I love

I love burpees. They are very intense and challenging. If you really combine burpees and yoga together, it just makes it very doable and very beautiful at the same time.

Favourite health food

I think it has to be Miso Soup any given day. It has a rich beautiful taste, and it is very easy to find anywhere, even in Delhi. And it is healthy because it has a lot of protein. Apart from that there is Tofu, which you can also find in the Miso Soup.

Favourite cheat meal

Clearly, hash browns with ketchup and a little bit of mustard sauce. If I have nothing else to do on some days, I just put this thing in the oven, heat it up at 250 degrees, and then eat it after it’s become crispy and brown and delicious.

10 Zen Questions with Zubin Atre

What I do to de-stress

So my first action would be to prevent myself from stressing. The second would be to keep the front of my mind busy with something mundane, a task, so that the back of my mind can relax. You know when you’re thinking about a thousand things, you need to think about just one thing so that you’re not all over the place. And that is the beauty of meditation. As quirky as it may sound, that mundane task for me is that I love to iron shirts. It’s like when you iron the shirt, the way you straighten the creases out, with one strike, and all at once, it becomes all clean and crisp and very mindful.

One health fad that makes me giggle

Oh, there are tons! One is the time when Baba Ramdev was telling people that if you rub your nails together it increases your blood pressure, or your hair will grow back or something. And there was this entire phase where you could see people doing it like an obsessive compulsive disorder! A lot of people bought it, so again you know, Baba Ramdev is the khazana of all these weird fads, saying things like how homosexuality can be cured by doing yoga and something.  

One health trend I want to / have already tried

I don’t know if it’s a health trend, or more of a requirement for me, but I need to go partially vegan and avoid dairy because I am allergic to milk.

My vices

The lesser you know, the safer you are TBH. Because my secrets you won’t be able to handle. But let me come up with some vices that are, um, printable. Okay so I do a lot of shopping. Tokyo is definitely a place where you can really build your wardrobe. So, I end up buying shoes like every week! Shoes and suits are my vices.

One thing I always do before I go to bed

My going to bed ritual is actually not one thing, it is nothing. It is very important to de-clutter your brain in order to really help you. So my phone, I always leave it outside my bedroom, and I set my alarm on a real bedside clock. My phone never stays by the side of my bed, and it never comes to my bedroom. I also make sure that before sleeping I take nine breaths. It is a very tried and tested technique. So I take really long nine breaths, and by the time I am around my eighth breath, I am already fast asleep.