Imphal: The secret of Manipur, north east India's 'Iron Lady' Irom Sharmila's fairly good health even after undertaking a hunger strike for 16 years, during which she was forcibly nose-fed, lay in her will power and the habit of practising yoga daily.
According to her associates and family members, she learnt yoga in 1998, two years before she sat on the hunger strike which ended on Tuesday.
"It is her strong will power and daily habit of practising yoga which kept her physically fit," Sharmila's brother Irom Singhajit told PTI.
As a young woman in the nineties Sharmila was fascinated by the subject of nature cure and took up a course which also included yoga as a means of natural well-being.
"Yoga is not like football. It is different. If a person does yoga, it can help one to live longer. By doing yoga, one can live up to one hundred years! It is not so with other sports like football," Sharmila had told her biographer Deepti Priya Mehrotra in the book 'Burning Bright'.
She recalled that she began doing the Yoga asanas in 1998-99 and since then she has been doing it everyday.
Describing Sharmila as someone exceptionally close to nature, the book says she used to experiment continually with her body through Yoga and walking.
Under police detention since indefinite hunger strike is viewed as an attempt to commit suicide, which is a punishable offence, Sharmila has spent almost all of the last 16 years at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital.
Through a Ryles tube which reaches the stomach through nose, she was forcibly nose-fed a liquid diet made from boiled rice, dal and vegetables.
As an undertrial prisoner she rarely had visitors and led a solitary life during her fasting period.
Sharmila is now under supervision at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences and has been put on a special liquid diet.
A senior JNIMS doctor told PTI that Sharmila was under supervision of their doctors since she had been on fast for so many years and was not in a position to shift to solid food immediately.
She is being administered liquid diet and perhaps would have to stay in the hospital room for some more days for medical back-up support until she is in a situation to take solid food and recover physically, the doctor said.
Meanwhile, armed police personnel were posted in the hospital compound in the wake of security threat to the activist with some groups opposing her decision to end the fast, a police officer said.
Outside a government hospital, a room of which was turned into a jail for her, the 44-year-old iconic rights activist turned emotional as she ate honey from her palm on Tuesday to end the fast that she undertook in protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Imphal West district's chief judicial magistrate Lamkhanpau Tonsing had in his order said as the offence under section 309 (attempt to suicide) was a bailable offence, he was inclined to allow Sharmila on bail on her furnishing a personal bond of Rs10,000. After the bond was furnished, it was accepted by the court and a release order issued.
Sharmila would appear before the court again on August 23.
Even after breaking her hunger strike, Sharmila is maintaining her resolve not to clip her nails, comb her hair,
go to her house and meet her mother till AFSPA is repealed.
On November 5, 2000, when she took a vow to start an indefinite hunger strike till the government repeals AFSPA, which gives armed forces immunity against prosecution for their actions, her protest had multiple dimensions which went beyond not taking food and water.
The toughest one was not to go home and meet her 84-year-old mother Shakhi Devi till achieving her goal.
Sharmila has not visited her house at Kongpal Kongkham Leikai, on the edge of Imphal city, even once all these years.