In an era of fad diets, six pack abs and size zero stands the form of exercise – Yoga, which has stood the test of time. Most people associate yoga closely with physical exercise and postures, known as asanas. There is more to yoga that transcends the physical.
Yoga to me is a way of life. It is so much more than my two hours of practice on the mat. Simply put, yoga just makes you a better person. Yoga has taught me patience, perseverance and dedication.
A chartered accountant, a performing Carnatic vocalist, Meet Shruthi Shankar Kumar who has been teaching yoga for the past six months at her own yogashala, Abhyasa in Chennai. In a conversation with Chennai Insider, Shruthi talks about her Yogashala, her Yoga inspiration and what changed after she incorporated Yoga as a way of life.
How long have you been practicing Yoga?
I joined yoga classes when I was around 10 years old, at my parents’ insistence. I’ve been watching them practice yoga regularly for the past 15 years but I was never interested in yoga at that time. I attended some classes sporadically and took a 4 year long break when I was pursuing my CA studies. Post qualification I suddenly felt like I should start practicing again and started learning from my dad. A year later, in 2018, I attended a teacher training programme with one of the most leading yoga gurus Dr Srivatsa Ramaswami, not to qualify as a teacher but to learn more about yoga. To say that learning from him changed my life would be an understatement. Ever since I have been practicing yoga every single day.
What is Yoga to you?
Traditionally yoga is said to be the union of the body and the mind. Although I’m not yet able to relate to this on a philosophical level, I can relate to it in terms of my yoga practice where I need both my body and mind to be in harmony to be able to do a posture correctly.
When did you start Abhyasa?
I started teaching at Abhyasa in January 2019 because I could really feel a positive change in myself both physically and mentally from just two years of daily practice and I felt that the people I know should benefit from yoga too. My teacher Dr Srivatsa ramaswami’s insistence that yoga should be started at a young age also made me more driven to teach for kids and build their interest in yoga to sustain a lifelong practice.
How did you feel after your first Yoga session? How do you want your students to feel after your teaching session?
Honestly I don’t remember my first yoga class because it was ages ago and I was too young to understand its importance. In my classes I always want my students to feel refreshed (physically or mentally or both) and also over a period of time start feeling a positive change in themselves. I’ve had students who have come to class with different physiological problems and after months of regular practice have a significant improvement in their conditions.
How have you evolved or transformed with Yogic way of living?
Yoga to me is a way of life. It is so much more than my two hours of practice on the mat. Simply put, yoga just makes you a better person. Yoga has taught me patience, perseverance and dedication. These virtues have also extended to other aspects of my life. I have also learned to understand my body to an extent. I know when I can or should do a posture and whether I am ready or not to do a posture. The different breathing techniques have helped me a lot with my singing. There are also several well known benefits of yoga like improving your health, reducing stress etc. which have accrued to me as well.
What has been your biggest challenge and your biggest milestone?
Initially the struggle was to show up on the mat everyday and practice. It took me a while to fall in love with yoga but after that practicing daily, it has become an inseparable part of my life. I have not thought of any milestones to be honest. For example, if I say I want to stand on my hands, once I achieve that there are more postures or variations that can be done after that. It is unending. It is good to set goals and work towards them, but the best thing about yoga is once you achieve that goal you still remain grounded as there is so much more to learn and to practice.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out or wants to start on their yoga journey?
To anyone who wants to begin yoga, I would say that they are extremely lucky to even have that thought in their heads. Yoga is a blessing; when it comes your way you should grab it and not let go. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to touch your toes or bend your back. All that matters is this amazing journey that you take inwards toward realizing your true self.
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