Following the corporate dream
Like ‘good Indian boys’ are supposed to, I got an engineering degree from a good college. I funded my education, by tutoring physics which I actually enjoyed a lot. I liked thinking of exciting ways of explaining the same old boring topics. I became a physics teacher for a while after graduating, but because of social pressure, I started working as a software professional in IT companies. I worked hard, lived in the big cities, and did everything I could to get ‘social status’. Though I was good at programming, I felt dissatisfied and frustrated with the corporate life, and I knew that it wasn’t for me.
While I was working I spent all of my free time exercisings, doing anything physical I could find. I craved movement and I tried everything from a general workout, to running, cycling, martial arts, rock climbing, and trekking. I encouraged my friends to join me and found that I was naturally good at motivating people to try things they were interested in.
After just a few years in the IT software industry, I really wanted to escape. I couldn’t just quit, as my Dad was very sick at the time, and both my parents were financially dependent on me. I decided to get two flats constructed that they could rent out, so my Mum could have a fixed source of income and I could leave, knowing that they were taken care of.
The week that the construction was finished, I quit my job and joined a basic mountaineering course as the mountains had always attracted me, after that, I completed an advanced mountaineering course and a paragliding course.
It was in the advanced mountaineering course that I did my first yoga asana class which was a completely new type of challenge. Although I was very strong, I found that I was completely unable to move my body in even the simplest of postures, but the feeling was totally different.
Getting into Yoga
After the courses, I went south with some friends to Hampi (a rock climbing destination). I found that lots of the climbers were doing yoga asana to improve their climbing and help protect their bodies from injury. Because I had enjoyed it so much before, I joined a regular yoga class and kept trying new postures whenever I had any free time.
It was in Hampi that I met my beautiful wife Lydia, and then there was no looking back. While I was into the physical asana practice she was more interested in holistic healing at that time, and we decided to go to study and practice together in the Himalayas.
That is where I joined my first yoga teacher training course. It was so interesting for me that it became a full-time occupation. Even after the teacher’s training, if I wasn’t found practicing a posture, or some pranayama technique, then I would be reading yoga-related books or articles. I saw that as my body changed my mind also started changing, I became much more peaceful and my breathing became deep. I started really understanding the body.
I started giving free classes to my friends and family until I gained some confidence. I then went to Ladakh in the upper Himalayas where one of my friends had a climbing gym in which I gave daily yoga classes. I also joined another friend to organize some combined trekking and yoga expeditions.
When the season was over, Lydia and I went back to the foothills so that she could do some more study and I had time to really work on my own practice.
We then made the plan to go to Bangalore, and start running yoga classes there. We taught corporate and private classes and set up this website which we could use as an archive. The research required was vast, and we both learned a huge amount in a short time. I saw my teaching positively influencing people’s lives, not only making their day-to-day living easier and more enjoyable but starting to bring their awareness to what was important for them.
Training and Research
I wanted to learn more and went to Rishikesh where I did another yoga teacher’s training with shivayogapeeth. The main teacher there liked me and the way I taught, so he hired me to teach drop-in style classes, and to teach in the next teacher’s training.
I carried on teaching and learning for two months and then went to Mysore to learn Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from the ‘source’. I practiced daily for six months with Ajay Kumar, and learned about the Mysore style of classes.
While I was there I also studied Thai Yoga Body Work (a type of massage using Thai techniques mixed with yoga stretches) which added greatly to my knowledge of the body and clarified the work of the energy channels within the body.
As I mentioned before my Dad was very ill. He could only take a few steps, even with support. This was due to tuberculosis infection in the brain which caused him (among other things) to forget how to walk. The doctors said that he would have to learn again, like a child. This, combined with him having quite severe diabetes (which was making him weak,) meant that his condition was deteriorating fast. He had lost control over the basic bodily functions, which was not only embarrassing for him but made my Mum’s life quite hard.
After learning so much about the body, I wanted to stay with my parents and try to help them. I made a sequence of modified postures for my Dad, and his condition started improving, his excess blood sugar level also came down. After some time he was able to learn Surya Namaskar-A doing about 30 to 40 every day along with other postures. His health improved in all areas (no more incontinence, better digestion, etc.), he became more confident and motivated and re-learned to walk with the help of a stick.
After this I stayed with each of my sisters in turn, to teach them yoga. This change in the family gave them confidence in me, and what I had chosen to do with my life (I had to convince them a lot when I was leaving my ‘comfortable’ job).
Then I started working in Goa in a Yoga Teacher Training School. I was the lead instructor and spent my time researching my own practice and working out the best ways to share my knowledge with people. The more I taught the more ideas came. I have continued teaching ever since and have given teachers training to over 400 students now.
I use elements from my physics teaching to explain various topics, as well as research the ancient texts which help me to bridge the gaps between our modern understanding of the world and our more spiritual past.
This is the path I have chosen, or maybe this is the path that has chosen me. Either way, I bring excitement, growth, and a new perspective to each of my classes.
“True knowledge flows while sharing”