YOGA ON AND OFF THE MAT

ashthanga-yoga

Apsara Vydyula

I’ve always had a special affinity for the spiritual, and my path to being a yogi was as organic as it was incidental. My first official yoga class at age 22 lit a dormant inexplicable passion in me, and my journey acquired shape and depth from there.

I believe in the universality of yoga, across genders, age and backgrounds, and in classes, I am mindful of individual limitations and capabilities. I specialize in teaching Vinyasa Yoga and modify the practice by using props when required. I will always be a student of yoga and continue learning.

I’m a certified teacher with Yoga Alliance and World Yoga Organization. I’m blessed to have learned the Ashtanga practice directly from Mysore with Ramesh ji, a lifetime member of the Mysore Yoga Association as well as from Ravi and Sreemathy, direct disciples of guru Sri K Pattabhi Jois.

I currently live in Chennai, India where I teach at Subasheelam Dance Academy, Thiruvanmiyur, ECR.

ashthanga-yoga

The most exciting part about growing up in South India was my immersive experience and early exposure to the practices and principles of yoga in everyday life. My family had always observed ahimsa practice through their diet and lifestyle. I still remember my grandfather’s kit full of natural remedies to common health problems like allergies, cuts and bruises and solutions to household issues. 

 

My elder sister had always emphasized on being true to oneself, to learn from the seemingly ordinary world of trees and animals and to practice kindness. My Mother played a significant role in introducing us to the practice of Yoga asana. Being a professional dancer, she had to take special care of her knees and joints. She practiced Yoga to sustain her love for dancing and continues to be highly disciplined in her eating habits and lifestyle. It shows on her. She is 50 years old but doesn’t look a day over 30!

I am grateful that my formative experience taught me that there is no greater teacher than the one within. The importance of Yama and Niyama were an integral part of my upbringing. Though my Mother had always advised me to practice Yoga asana along with her, it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I started my personal asana practice.

I walked into my first ever yoga class unsure what to expect.

I’d never been athletic before, nor did I participate in any activity like dance or sport. In fact, I had a very low opinion of my physical capabilities and general fitness. The instructor had led us through a series of classical asanas, and repeatedly told us to watch our breath. I was instantly captivated by the way that made me feel. Focussing on breath while I assumed shapes I had never attempted before was initially challenging. 

 It was all very overwhelming at first. However, the idea of being able to do all this (and much more) with ease someday – had caught my imagination. I left the class feeling stronger and happier. And I don’t just mean physically. It felt like I had found my calling. I remember telling myself that I had to explore this further to see where it would take me. There and then I had made a simple promise to myself that I would commit to this practice everyday. 

Discipline was the first thing the practice taught me because it extends to my entire lifestyle and not just that 1 hour I spend on the mat. I made conscious decisions to make changes in my life and adapt a lifestyle that would support my physical practice. By doing this I felt myself becoming more at peace with who I am and what my priorities were.

I go to bed early just so I could be up fresh for my practice the next day.

I have started to pay close attention to what I eat and opt for healthy options.

ashthanga-yoga

I am quieter and prefer to listen rather than talk. 

I approach my asana practice with less determination to achieve a posture, instead, I do it to feel good in my body and mind. 

I no longer want to associate myself with people who bring me down.

I am more aware of my actions and reactions, and how it affects those around me as well as myself.

I enjoy the ordinary moments of life a lot more than usual.

It’s not always so positive and peaceful. The practice of yoga is all about balance.

Sometimes, I feel extremely imbalanced. As you practice a particularly challenging series of asanas, you have the opportunity to face and move past numerous obstacles along the inner journey including doubt, fear, pain, hatred, boredom, frustration and egotism. Yoga is a path of humility where you only gain the results if you put in the work yourself. 

In my teacher’s words, we must apply effort and be patient. Commitment, dedication, and sincerity to the practice are a must. Yoga is a path of enlightenment. When all the lights are turned on, we finally see what hides in the shadows. When you are faced with challenging situations and it’s time to put effort that’s when the real yoga begins. The true strength from the practice doesn’t stop on the mat. All yogis must apply the lessons on the mat to their daily life. If you’re lucky you get a moment when you can just be. 

Take time each day to practice, to be still, and to let your actions flow from a place of kindness and harmony. Remember that the best moments in yoga cannot be bought and sold by anyone. It must only be experienced. Yoga begs you to question who you are without the ceaseless thoughts used to define yourself. By being totally honest and present with yourself, you can learn how to live your best possible life and be grateful for every breath you have been blessed with. 

As Richard Freeman says, “ Yoga ruins your life. By that I mean, yoga ruins your samsaric life. Because once you get a taste of yoga, you lose interest in all the dimmer reflections of that taste”.

ashthanga-yoga

Yoga is a physical practice with a spiritual intention.

Act with the right intention and practice wholeheartedly. You can never control the outcome, but you know what your intentions are. Only when the sleeper awakens will the yogi in your be born. Meanwhile, we all keep practicing. You never know unless you try. But you have to try.

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