YOGA BECAME A MISSIONNAMITA CHANDRA, WELLNESS GUIDE AND FOUNDER OF YOGANAMA.COMIn 2014, when Namita Chandra moved to Mumbai for her new job, it became extremely stressful for her in terms of adjusting to the fast-paced Mumbai life and establishing herself in her new role. It took her months of running around to find a suitable house and commutes to and from work became extremely exhausting. “I had moved to Mumbai because of the higher pay package, but the advantage was lost because the city turned out to be exorbitantly expensive. Also, I was used to a lot more time at hand after work, which allowed me to unwind and pursue my interests but suddenly, I had no time left for anything at all,” she says.Having grown up in a health-conscious family where principles of wellness, meditation, healthy eating, and strict discipline were an integral part of daily life, this new lifestyle left her no time for her health. “I’d also experimented with veganism for many years, done a course in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and even went to Cambridge Summer School to study medieval healing practices. I would avidly pursue the latest research in health and wellness in my spare time but unfortunately I could practice none of it after moving to Mumbai,” recalls Chandra.It was then that she decided to join yoga to help her cope with the pressure. It started with one class and she gradually started noticing how daily yoga practice was not only keeping her physically active but was also helping her cope with everyday stress. This egged her to take on yoga in a more systematic and serious manner. “It almost felt like yoga was helping me evolve into a better, stronger version of myself both physically and mentally,” she says.advertisementAfter a year in the job, Chandra was offered a huge promotion which would have escalated her career exponentially. It was the best thing that could have happened to her professionally and should’ve been exciting for her but it wasn’t because accepting it would have meant committing to growing a business that she had no particular passion for, and that was seriously affecting her mental and physical wellbeing. “It was then that I decided to let go of the security of a monthly paycheck and decided to invest my energy and resources in what I believe the world needs today more than anything else-peace of mind,” says Chandra.She went to Mysore for an elaborate yogic practice that helped her become strong emotionally, mentally and physically. “Stress is one of the biggest factors for a majority of health problems we face today. From depression and chronic fatigue to diabetes and spinal issues, yoga has the ability to heal it all,” says Chandra.BEAUTIFUL IN BODY & MINDVASUDHA RAI, AUTHOR, COLUMNIST AND CERTIFIED YOGA TEACHERWhen Delhi-based Vasudha Rai first started practicing yoga more than eight years ago, it began as a way to get fit, to lose weight. She would leave Yoga space sweaty and happy, like she on cloud nine. The lights seemed brighter and people seemed easier to love. Smiling came naturally to her because she would spend 75 minutes synchronising her movements with her breath. It made her the best version of herself.”Yoga helped me go from size 14 to a size 8. It made my skin glow and my body stronger. But these were just outer manifestations of the beautiful changes happening within. I was practicing yoga 5-6 days a week for years and this regularity made me more aware and disciplined,” says Rai. She slowly became cognizant about what she ate, not only in terms of food but even the thoughts in her mind and the friends who were her company. She realised that she didn’t want to invest in anything that wasn’t good for her. She started choosing high-vibrational foods-fresh Indian meals, fruits, plenty of water. Magically, all her friends who weren’t good for her left of their own accord. “I researched ayurveda and herbs, which eventually led me to my debut book Glow.”The next phase of her yoga journey took her on a spiritual path. Yoga nidra, the seven chakras, healing crystals, enlightening mantras, she learnt several different types of meditations and continues to do so. She observed how the body felt different with every technique and how different mantras created different vibrations. “It is a never ending journey, which will continue till my last days. It is also believed that meditative practices such as yoga (done like yoga and not like aerobics) helps nullify your karmas so you can truly follow your life path. So practice, sharpen your mind and your breath, at the very least you will get great skin and a beautiful body; and at the most, well there is no limit,” says Rai.advertisementREINCARNATED WITH YOGANIVEDITA JOSHI, FOUNDER AND TEACHER, IYENGAR YOGAKSHEMABorn and educated in Allahabad, Nivedita Joshi was still in her teens when she was stricken by slip disc-cervical spondylosis, rendering her virtually bedridden and an invalid for eight long and painful years. Joshi lost the ability to move her hands and legs.On International Yoga Day, practitioners recall how this ancient healing science sparked a personal transformation for them She lost all hope in life till met Yogacharya BKS Iyengar (Guruji) at his yoga institute in Pune in 1996. “Doctors had told me that I will never ever live a normal life again and that a spinal surgery was my last option. It was disheartening for someone as young as me to accept it. After trying all modern treatments available in the country without success, my parents took me to meet Guruji in Pune. He diagnosed my problem without even looking at my MRI reports. That’s when I surrendered myself to his knowledge and experience, and there was no looking back thereafter,” says the yoga expert.Yogacharya BKS Iyengar took Joshi under his wings and admitted her into the medical class, with two sessions per week and she slowly started feeling more alive and active. The scientist in her was amazed and enamored by Yogacharya BKS Iyengar’s repertoire of knowledge, experience and wisdom, especially considering his lack of so called “formal modern educa tion”. Slowly her body started responding to the practice and sessions. Seeing potential in her, Joshi’s mentor started simultaneously training her while healing her. One day, after five years of training with him, he asked Joshi to start teaching yoga. “I was planning to pursue a career in microbiology so I refused. But yoga had healed me and I wanted to spread the message of its miraculous powers to people suffering from illness and disease, so I began working on a television series on my mentor’s work. The first episode was based on my life’s story and my cure through him and his knowledge of yoga,” says Joshi. While working on it, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar supported Joshi and stoked her interest and desire to learn yoga. “I think he had probably decided that I was the chosen one to open the first Iyengar Yoga Centre in the Capital and he was grooming me for that role,” says Joshi. And that is how Yogakshema, the first Iyengar Centre in New Delhi, was born.REFOCUSSING ON LIFE WITH YOGANIMISH DAYALU, RETREAT LEADER/ LEADERSHIP & PERFORMANCE COACH/YOGA & MINDFULNESS COACHLife was beautiful for Nimish Dayalu. He had it all-a great job, lovely family and a big house. However, on any given day, his mind would wander constantly, thinking about the future or dwelling in the past. He felt restless, like something wasn’t right. “I was living the life of my dreams, so I didn’t understand what was troubling me. I needed some time to re-evaluate,” says Dayalu.advertisementAlthough he had been practicing yoga for over a decade, in 2016, he decided to take a few weeks off and check into a traditional yoga school in the Himalayas with hope of doing some serious soul searching. And he was not disappointed. After coming back, he continued to practice regularly and the fogginess in his head began to lift.Yoga now became an essential part of his routine. “I felt this surge of new found energy within me. I started living in the ‘here and now’. After about a year’s practice I felt that yoga could be my gateway to living in the moment. I realised that all the strength that you need is within you. This is when I decided to dive deep into yoga and share my learning with people. I left my high-paid corporate job and decided to teach and promote yoga instead,” says Dayalu, who is now a yoga coach based out of Gurgaon.The World Health Organization had recently published a report that attributes stress for a majority of modern-day ailments. This anxiety is caused by thinking about events that are likely to happen or have already happened. Occupational stress, student stress, societal stress, relationship stress, depression, anger, insomnia, the list just goes on. As a lifestyle choice, yoga is also more holistic in comparison to playing a sport or a musical instrument, going dancing or to the gym. “I had tried out most of these activities to deal with my stress and after practicing yoga, I realised the difference. Yoga changes you from the inside-out. With my public speaking experience across industries and geographies, I knew I had the skills and experience to take yoga to the people. So began my journey as a yoga guru, says Dayalu.WHERE THE MIND IS WITHOUT FEARRINUL PASHANKAR, CO-FOUNDER, OM STUDIO, PUNE, AND AN AERIAL YOGA EXPERTIn 2009, after Rinul Pashankar finished her bachelor’s in International Business Management, she took to two things she had longed to do, yoga and paragliding and this was when the seed for something bigger in life was sown. She was just 21 when she found her yoga guru, Anandi Jorwekar, an ardent student of BSK Iyengar Guruji for close to three decades.In June 2013, Pashankar’s mother, Nima Pashankar, had to go through a liver transplant and she decided to be the donor. In the following weeks, they successfully underwent the liver transplant. Pashnankar believes that it was her yoga practice that helped her stay strong through the tough time.She couldn’t exercise for close to a year but began practicing easy pranayama.Then, her guru encouraged her and guided her to gently get back to her yoga practice.Slowly and steadily, with regular yoga routine, she was able to build her strength and flexibility.Ten years of making yoga her lifestyle, and six years post a successful liver transplant, Pashankar is healthy, happy and raring to go. She is back to participating in paragliding competitions, and is also running an adventure camp in Kamshet, Pune, called Adventure Battalion, a simulated military base with a team of Ex-Indian Armed Forces officers.In 2016, she also opened Om Studio, which allows her to share her knowledge and experience of yoga with other people.