What made you choose Russia of all places to conduct yoga lessons?
I have stayed in Russia for long as a student. I am familiar enough with the Russian language to communicate easily and fluently. Also, public awareness and response towards yoga is quite positive in Russia.
What challenges do you face as a yoga teacher?
I can see yoga is getting distorted in the west. There are several branches of yoga being taught such as power yoga, ayyangar yoga (named after a popular yoga guru), hatha yoga with the result that those wanting to learn yoga are quite confused. The point to understand is that yoga is a holistic discipline with the goal to attain optimum health for the practitioners. Since people wanting to learn and practice do not have detailed knowledge about yoga, they are often misguided.
What is the expectation of people coming to you to learn yoga?
Health and fitness is currently a global fad. People are aware of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. Most of the people who come to learn yoga come with the expectation that they will lead a healthy life.
What kinds of challenges do you find in dealing with the people approaching you?
While people’s understanding and expectation from yoga is correct, they want quick and instant result. The need to realize that yoga is a way of life, a holistic discipline. You need to discipline your daily routine and food habits. The benefits of yoga will not be visible in a day but over a period of time with practice and observation of rules and discipline.
People are also confused because a large number of yoga training centers have mushroomed, each of them promising different benefits such as control of anger, empowered and energetic life etc. Therefore, people keep quitting one center for the other. They are impatient. They need to understand that there is one yoga.
How many yoga centers are there is Moscow?
There are just too many. If you include health clubs that teach yoga, apart from exclusive yoga centers, my guess is that there would be more than 200.
Which is the most popular age group and gender seeking yoga training?
People over 40, a majority of them women. People in the younger age group are also attracted to yoga, but they generally come looking for ‘power yoga’.
Does yoga promise cure of diseases?
Yoga is by and large a preventive discipline. It offers prevention from diseases. Although there are specific yoga postures that are remedial against certain diseases, we advise our clients to continue with their medication in consultation with their physicians. They should not expect yoga to cure their diseases completely if it is a chronic condition.
Do you face opposition from some groups against yoga training in Russia?
We haven’t faced any direct opposition or threat but some people do the mistake of equating yoga with Hindu religion. The point to understand is that yoga has got nothing to do with Hindu religion. The tradition of Yoga dates back to thousands of years when the word “Hinduism” was not even coined for a religion.
What is your vision of yoga five years from now?
I can see that yoga is increasingly getting distorted. Yoga is getting increasingly commercialized. Therefore, I fear yoga in its original form may not survive.