This article is part of a series on creating awareness about Yoga and the International Day of Yoga which is being celebrated on June 21, 2016.
Yoga – inspires the artist within
After having worked for nearly two decades in the advertising industry with big players like Ogilvy, HTA/JWT, and Mudra, Aiyana Gunjan was keen on exploring new avenues beyond a salaried job. By then, Aiyana was also well-known for her pioneering work in the specialised field of Semiotics, impacting global-local strategies, tracking socio-cultural shifts and patterns in India. (Semiotics is all about decoding the visual cultural landscape – how culture subconsciously impacts the consumer behaviour and attitude.) It was at this phase that she decided to taken her interest in art more seriously.
A life-altering event had already played a catalytic role by bringing her closer to art, especially one that is borne out of spiritualism and a sense of self-awakening. Says Aiyana,
“Getting connected to yoga brought me closer to the depth and expanse of life beyond the limits of the logical mind. It awakened me to my creative soul. It’s this training, rather than an art degree that has empowered me as an artist. My art has been a very meditative and spontaneous process.”
Today, as an independent artist, Aiyana even has many achievements to her credit. A solo exhibit of paintings – titled The Moving Finger – at the Visual Arts Gallery in New Delhi, participating in some of the prominent group shows and making her presence felt as an artist with her distinctive artistic style.
Beyond fitness: how yoga adds more meaning to life
Yoga teacher Rinku Suri says she is leveraging yoga to guide “many a time-battered city dwellers and soul searchers towards a united body and soul.” Tucked in a leafy tranquil corner of Mumbai is her sanctum, called Yoga 101.
Her own tryst with yoga began eight years ago when she was advised to do it for health and fitness. Over the years, her experience and interaction with yoga underwent a transformation. “It was no longer about exercise and fitness but about a more meaningful life,” She adds, “As a practitioner and teacher of yoga I can list out its multiple benefits. These are not just physical but also mental. Given our sedentary lifestyle yoga is the best way to beat sluggishness. It is the only form of exercise in the world that takes care of the entire body, all its organs, and also the mind and the spirit.”
Rinku’s entrepreneurial venture, Yoga 101, is known for its handpicked group of teachers from around the world who bring their rich knowledge of numerous forms of yoga under one roof. The friendly atmosphere and the teachers’ deep dedication are major attractions as well. But Rinku believes that the true attraction is Yoga itself,
“People take up yoga for various reasons but gradually their relation with it undergoes a transformation. From exercise, it becomes a journey about mental fitness and leads them onto a path, which is spiritual and beautiful. Yoga becomes a way of life in deed, speech and awareness. This is not just my story but everybody’s.”
Bringing the benefits of yoga to the community
Sowmya Ayyar is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Prafull Oorja – a Bengaluru-based organisation which brings yoga and other holistic practices to underserved populations including the differently-abled.
It was an accidental meetup with a special child that inspired Sowmya to start Prafull Oorja. Sowmya, who has a master’s degree in yoga, domestic violence and the environment, approached the child’s family and asked them to let him try yoga classes. “They accepted immediately,” she says. “From one child, we expanded to 10, and then started classes at the Tamahar Centre in Malleswaram.” This then paved the way for seven other schools and centres across Bengaluru.
Prafull Oorja has two main programmes: uBloom Yoga for people with special needs and uRise Yoga which encourages local members to become yoga teachers and thereby provide livelihood and economic growth opportunities.
“Our activities generate long term impact in the lives of the communities and people we work with, because yoga is a teaching for life,” affirms Sowmya.
How yoga complements business
Mimi Partha Sarathy first learnt the basics of yoga as a child from her mother’s yoga instructor. But it was not until 2011, she took to yoga seriously. It was when Mimi was going through a difficult time, that her tryst with yoga grew stronger. “It gave me strength and peace of mind that I needed,” she says.
Talking about how yoga had a transformational effect, Mimi says, “It transformed the way I thought, I lived. My lifestyle changed into one which focuses more on how I can improve myself, and do more to contribute on a larger scale, across various platforms that I am involved in – be it financial advisory, yoga, dance, or conservation efforts.”
And as the founder of Sinhasi Consultants, an investment planning and advisory firm which she started in 2005, Mimi wanted to complement her financial services with her other passions – yoga and dance, to make it a 360 degree offering. This dream came to fruition in 2014 in the form of Krishna Wellness Centre. Today, the workshops conducted by Sinhasi Consultants cover a wide range of topics from fund management, investments opportunities, estate planning, health insurance, and even on benefits of pranayama, meditation, yoga, diet, and wellness. Sharing how the yoga offering adds value to her clients, she says,
“The key to financial success is in discipline and balance, which is the foundation of yoga.”
Want to pledge to make Yoga an integral part of your daily life? Head over to International Day of Yoga portal.