As someone who has practiced yoga for about a year and a half now, I still am unbalanced to say the least and I was interested to hear that our lovely photographer friend Mala’s (@mkvphotography) mother is a yoga instructor.
Let me introduce to you my next woman of substance: Saroj Vadgama
I have a wonderful Yoga teacher who at present in teaching in an ashram in Kerala for a month at present who has really helped me. I have heard that the health benefits of yoga are immense. It has certainly helped me gain balance and core strength. Although in my yoga class there are older ladies who are brilliant at yoga where as I just fall over like a drunkard at times.
I found that perseverance is key in yoga and the more you practice the better you get at it. I wanted to speak to Mala’s mother to see how she helps people in our community to better themselves using yoga and the benefits of it. I think many women who come from a South Asian culture like to practice yoga but its not just us, yoga has taken over the world.
I started off by asking: What is yoga?
Yoga Teaches – The Divine Body and A Peachful Mind
The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit ‘root yuj’ – which means ‘bind, join and yoke’. This means that the true union between our will with the will of God. Yoga teaches us the discipline of the intellect, the mind, the emotion, and the will. It means the poise of the soul.
Mala tells me you used to work in banking, why the move?
In my long career of banking for 17 years, I did enjoy the buzz of the financial world but once the kids had flown from the nest, the quest for the inner journey started. I wanted to serve the community and give something back.
Where did you need to conduct your training?
At the age of fifty-four I took early retirement and went to do my teachers training for yoga at Dorset at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre . It was a one month’s intensive residential course which incorporated the Bhakti Yoga, Raj Yoga, Karma Yoga etc. It was a great experience of waking up at 5 am – doing continuous Asanas (yogic postures), Pranayama (yogic breathing) and spiritual practice – with wonderful teachers from all walks of life.
I was issued with a certificate to teach; which is now a requirement in the UK in health clubs etc.
I teach about 5 classes per week and couple of one to ones which is so rewarding.
How long have you practiced for?
I have practiced for 8years.
Do you have a form that your specialise in?
Yes, Hatha and Classical Yoga. Each class and each student has different requirements so it is tweaked here and there to bring out the best in the individual.
How is yoga different from other forms of exercise?
The difference between yoga and other forms of exercises is vast. When one does exercise they concentrate on the body but with yoga the practice of asanas gets us closer to the inner reality of our existence. We work from the periphery to the core – we do not forget that the innermost core of our being is also there to help us -tune in.
Where does someone begin if they have not ever practiced?
The beginners have to slowly tune into the body mind and not compete with the advanced students. One can integrate the yoga practice at any age and reap the rewards of the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental. Some people don’t realise that yoga also works on the internal organs and helps to detox.
I personally feel that meditation is the heart of yoga as it takes us to the true stillness; rediscovering a sense of wholeness/ non-duality in your life.
Do you feel spirituality and yoga have a direct connection?
The spiritual side of yoga is so beautiful that it teaches us there is unity in diversity. Also learning to respond to the stresses of life without so many tremors and troubles in a harmonious way. There are many ways to embrace spirituality and yoga is definitely one of those that take you to the core of your being as well as spirituality if you embrace it with open arms.
What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?
The most rewarding practice as a yoga instructor for me is when I teach a young girl who is suffering with MS. I visit her once a week and do pranayamas, relaxation and some asanas on the wheel chair. When I see her smile and a relaxed face with an uplifting of the spirit, I feel inner satisfaction. Also when I see the stress and anxiety level of the students go down and they tell me the quality of their sleep improves – thus the quality of life enhances.
How would you suggest someone integrated Yoga into their lives?
Yoga is a way of life. If you integrate it into daily practice you’ll see the benefits. I would recommend a few stretching, breathing and relaxation practices every day. You don’t need to be in a gym to do this – you can deep breathe, stretch and take a few minutes out just for yourself wherever you are. Proper diet and positive thinking are also a part of yoga. Give yourself credit whenever you do incorporate these and you’ll be moving in the right direction.
Yoga has been popularised by celebrities such as Madonna, do you think this is a good or a bad thing?
Yoga is now mainstream and I am pleased that Madonna and other celebrities are practicing the great art which enhances life. That’s such a positive thing if it improves the quality of someone’s life.
Can you end with any special stories related to your yoga practice?
We’re always growing no matter how old we are and this is something to embrace. It becomes easier with the help of things like yoga. We sometimes forget how we strongly impact each other’s lives as well our own. I often hear from my students of various things that yoga has helped them to face, from serious physical illnesses to mental illnesses and depression. These stories I hear of triumph and courage are an inspiration to us all. May God show all of us the path of enlightenment.
Let us finish with this thought from Saroj “even though you cannot change time – realise it is time for you to change”.
Saroj Kishore Vadgama
I think that yoga can have a profoundly positive effect on our bodies so let us applaud this wonderful woman of substance who shares this practice with us and takes us closer to spirituality.