The world needs yoga now more than ever before. Look at the lifestyle of people worldwide. India too is no exception. It has become fast-paced, people are in a hurry to achieve multiple things because of the competitive world. Stress is being built up inside the body. Everyone is prone to stressful life. This is where yoga is useful in maintaining the balance of body and mind, improve focus in life, sharpen concentration and enjoy a peaceful life.
I have been teaching Ashtanga Yoga, which is one of the classical forms of yoga. The bases for practicing Ashtanga Yoga are vinyasa (breathing and movement system); tristhana (three places of action) and the elimination of "six poisons" - lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride and envy. Combined together, they can contribute to longevity of an individual.
Yoga can be practiced by anyone, whether young, old, very old, healthy or sick. Even so, the way in which a young person is taught will differ in manner from the way in which an old or sick person will be taught. Therefore, each student must be considered as an individual and taught at a pace that is suitable for their situation in life.
Unfortunately, world over yoga is being diluted under the garb of modern yoga. There is no such thing as modern yoga. Today, I see yoga being practiced in gyms, combined with aerobics, and in the Western world, it has taken a completely different form. The spiritual aspect of yoga is missing everywhere. In fact, spirituality and yoga are interlinked. You cannot take away spirituality from yoga and practise it. That will not be considered yoga at all… There is a dire need to revive classical yoga in its spiritual form, which I think is the authentic form of yoga. That's what I am trying to do, keeping the Ashtanga Yoga tradition alive before someone can lay claim over its modern version.
I am also appalled with the emergence of scores of yoga teachers and their schools with some basic and formal training. One cannot become a yoga teacher by taking up a one-month course or some certificate programme. Yoga is a way of life… A practice, which needs to be mastered by practising it six days a week rigorously in its purest form for at least three years. Now, that's when one can claim to be a yoga teacher.
According to me, knowledge can be transferred only after the student has spent many years with an experienced guru, a teacher to whom he has completely surrendered in body, mind, speech and inner being. Only then is he fit to receive knowledge. This transfer from teacher to student is parampara (tradition) and that is what is followed at our KPJAYI.
We make sure that whoever is practising Ashtanga Yoga and intends to promote it, has to mandatorily get trained under us for three years. Only then, we authorise them to teach Ashtanga Yoga in its original form, involving the spiritual aspects. (KPJAYI authorised yoga gurus are present in over 70 countries across five continents and they owe allegiance to the Ashtanga Yoga first introduced by K Pattabhi Jois).
Yoga is integral to our lives and I cannot imagine myself not practising yoga because it is one simplest natural ways of life that helps build the overall personality of an individual. Yoga offers better health, peace of mind and tranquillity, and above all emerge as a successful individual. My biggest inspiration is my grandfather and continuing in his footsteps has been a blessing to me.
(As told to Aravind Gowda.)