It does sound delusional to hope for light at the end of the tunnel when you have zero self-love, are in an abusive relationship you can’t end, adopting a lifestyle that needs you to be wired 24/7. Add to this already unhealthy mix a daily consumption of alcohol, smoking and junk food. This is a prelude to the story of a young yogi.
Meet Diksha Lalwani, a yoga teacher who, at 22, felt frustrated, anxious, trapped, unfulfilled, smothered by society’s expectations and didn’t have a clue as to what she wanted in life. She questioned her existence, her choices and finally decided to choose a meandering path even if others thought she was lost.
A Bollywood assistant director then, her career promised glamour, fame, money and celebrity-status in the near future. This seemed in sync with the general rule: ‘Twenties are your wealth-building years’, but she hated it, and the stagnancy of her life was destroying her spirit.
Diksha’s routine at 22 was replete with wrong choices: 18-hour shifts at work, constant smoking to beat the pressure, eating oily, unhealthy food on the set, hanging on to an abusive relationship, and feeling too drained at the end of the day to cook food and ordering in, instead. Her parents, understandably, were making themselves miserable worrying about her.
Diksha’s routine now has been whipped completely around. she is an early riser, waking up between 6:30 and 8 am based on her classes; enjoys pranayam and nauli (breathing) routine; eats a healthy breakfast; takes her morning classes; repeats breathing or does an asana or two, or chants a mantra; relaxes in the afternoon or completes her household chores or just listens to music; meditates before her evening classes; buys some fresh vegetables on her way home; finishes dinner by nine pm and is in bed by 11 pm.
After working for about three years in the film industry, Diksha realised the need for some sort of spiritual practice. She took a sabbatical and the road led her to Shivananda Yoga Ashram. She did a month-long training course and what was a detox plan turned into a tiny opening that read ‘start’. This is how the yogi journey began.
Diksha trained herself in ‘Hatha’ and ‘Iyenger’ style as this came in her natural flow. With complete dedication and commitment to her practice, she got better and stronger everyday. However, she needed a daily survival plan and Mumbai was clearly out of her reach with her financial situation. So Diksha made her way to Goa, a place with a great yoga scene and affordable living options. Yoga Magic Eco Retreat in Anjuna needed a teacher-cum-assistant manager to run the place and they found Diksha. Here she learned few more styles such as Vinyasa flow and yin yoga, which she incorporated into her practice.
She started her own classes on Ashwem beach where people flocked to learn from her.
Goa is beautiful but life there is transient and off seasons can get lonely when one doesn’t have enough cash to travel or a partner to hang out with. In a couple of months, Diksha headed back to her permanent home, Mumbai.
Diksha Lalwani, now 27, has been practicing yoga for nine years, four of which have been as a full-time practicing teacher. Although she reads Osho, Ramana Maharishi, J.Krishnamurti, and Eckhart Tolle, she finds her own practice to be her biggest teacher. One commitment she sticks by is an annual trip to the ashram, to ground her and better her asana practice.
In a fast-paced city, success is measured by where you reach in the rat race but Diksha created her own definition. Strictly working for six hours by choice and keeping the rest of the time for activities she loved, she created her own recipe for work-life balance that didn’t need society’s endorsement.
Shunning the need for business goals, Diksha’s only vision is to be open to all higher knowledge and share it with others. She has no intention to make a huge business out of her teaching as her passion lies in healing people on a bigger scale.
This is evident in how she approaches yoga herself: Diksha believes a yoga teacher needs to concentrate not on a split or a fancy handstand but on kindness and love. People sense energies and they come back because they feel the love.
So, what does one do if they have a busy schedule but want to start with some yoga?Diksha suggests, “If your busy in the day I am sure in the night you have five minutes on the bed before you sleep. Mediate before you sleep. That has worked wonders for my mind, my quality of sleep and quality of my next day.”
And what should a person do if they want to become a yoga teacher? “If you enjoy yoga and enjoy teaching it too, do a teacher’s training and start teaching your friends and family. This is how you would start and slowly it will take you on the path,” Diksha says.
Diksha advocates letting go of the ego to prove oneself through the work we do and the lifestyle choices we make. “That is not what the heart really wants. Exploring into simple joys of life has been my biggest gift. A soul that shines out of sheer simplicity is the one everyone’s drawn to,” she adds. Her one golden tip is to adhere to a consistent practice of pranayam.