By Dasarath Chetty
Trusha Lakhani (B. Comm, CIMA) was a full time Accountant at various corporates. Inspired by the teachings of her Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar she has now become a full time Yoga teacher practicing in Durban where the movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Dasarath Chetty spoke to Trusha about her approach to Yoga.
How did you first become interested in Yoga?
It started as an interest in a form of exercise which was more gentle and appeared less challenging than most high impact sports. After getting a taste of it and experiencing the increase of energy and peace of mind, it drew my interest. By taking it further I started to see the medical benefits. I then realised the power of this very gentle form of exercise. Little did I know then that I was embarking on a journey that was going to bring me so much spiritual freedom and joy.
What is the philosophical basis of Yoga?
As human beings we all have the potential to blossom fully. We would all love to live a more healthy, happy and meaningful life. Living such a life is Yoga.
Yoga includes the physical practice of asana’s (postures) for the wellbeing of the body and mind.
Does one have to be a Hindu or be religious to practice Yoga?
Not at all. Yoga is for the body and the mind. If you have these then you have the ability to practice yoga and benefit from it, irrespective of your beliefs and religion.
The knowledge of Yoga originates from the East. Many teachers use the original Sanskrit names of the asana’s (postures) to keep its authenticity. This is no different from using the original name of a Chinese or Italian recipe. The knowledge of Yoga transcends any religion or culture.
What are the benefits of Yoga?
Some of the benefits can be expressed in words. Others are beyond description and can only be experienced.
At the physical level, some of the reported benefits are improved flexibility of muscles, increase in motion of joints and improved strength and condition of muscles and bones. Other benefits are improved posture, body alignment, digestion, circulation and immunity. Function of neurological and endocrine organs is also enhanced. Many experience relief from chronic illnesses which include pain syndromes, anxiety and panic disorders, depression, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and high blood pressure.Overall, one feels healthier, more energetic, and less prone to diseases and the effects of everyday stress.
Some of the benefits experienced at the level of the mind are increased peace of mind, alertness and clarity of mind. One’s ability to deal effectively with stress improves. Generally there is greater enthusiasm for life.
Through regular practice of Yoga one develops the skill and understanding to ‘see’ the reality of Life and appreciate its beauty. As a result one forms a stronger and more loving connection with oneself. The fulfilment that comes from this connection allows one to experience unconditional joy which you want to share with others.
What benefits have you personally experienced or seen in those you teach?
I see a subtle change in the outer appearance of participants. Very soon after they start the practice of Yoga I see a radiance on their faces. This is a sign of increased energy and a new enthusiasm for life. The highest degree of change I have observed, is in people experiencing depression. I see the brightness replacing darkness. In many participants I have noticed a remarkable improvement in self esteem. I have seen a definite decrease in reliance on drugs.
Personally I have experienced a huge increase in my body strength. My physical and mental resilience has increased. I find I have become more grounded and centred. I have also noticed an increase in my level of creativity.
How big is the movement in South Africa and what are the differences between the different schools?
The practice of Yoga in SA is growing rapidly just as it is in the rest of the world. The ‘School’ of Yoga usually refers to its ‘brand’ name. This is usually the name of the Master or Head of the Organisation promoting it.
We are speaking a lot about the physical practice of Yoga and its benefits. ‘Yoga’ is however a lot more than a form of physical exercise. It is a path towards total harmony of body, mind and spirit. It is ancient wisdom for a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of living; that which ultimately leads to self realisation, union with the Self.
The Hindu scriptures have explained different schools of Yoga, referring to the different ‘Paths’ of Yoga.
Just as all rivers lead to the ocean, all the paths lead to self realisation.
(Professor Dasarath Chetty is the CEO of DC Communications, a Research and Communications Consultancy based in Durban. He is currently also an Adjunct Professor at the Durban University of Technology and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.)