Yoga with AoL

Sri Sri Yoga camp at Botanical Gardens, Hyderabad.
Sri Sri Yoga camp at Botanical Gardens, Hyderabad.

“A moment of silence before doing anything gives clarity, a moment of silence after gives contentment.” ~ Girin Govindji

A knock on the door. “Would you like to come for a 4-day Sri Sri Yoga camp organized by the Art of Living foundation?” an uncle in the flat next to mine asks. 4 days? I can manage 2.

I drag myself out of bed on Friday morning at 5 am. The camp is scheduled 6-8 am in the beautiful Botanical Gardens nearby.

200+ people turn up. Many of them my age. Wow. I wasn’t aware people were so much into yoga these days. The instructor Girin Govindji climbs on the stage and begins the session.

I am a little sceptical that this would turn out into a religious discourse. But I am pleasantly surprised.

Our instructor first takes us through a series of body loosening and stretching exercises. Also referred to as Sukshma yoga (literal translation – “subtle” yoga). Followed by some basic Asanas.

Girin Govindji gently pushes us into doing previously unimaginable and improbable postures. All of us break into a laugh as we groan doing what he does with complete ease. He makes a good point – Yoga is not punishment, it is something joyful. If you are not enjoying it, you are not doing it correctly.

The gentleman on the mat beside me gives a benevolent smile after I narrowly escape being slapped across my face while he does a waist rotation exercise. He seems to have taken the message to heart. 🙂

Then Nadi Shodhan Pranayam or channel cleansing Pranayam. Breathe out and in from 1 nostril. Repeat with the other. 7 cycles of each.

Finally, meditation. Sit and observe the breath. Classical music plays softly in the background. The mild winter sun rising on the lake beyond, through the fog.

I am pleased to see that my body responds well to most of the exercises. Near the end, he gives homework, but that is 1 thing I don’t think I will be able to do. He asks us to keep a smile on the face throughout the day. Not sure how my team in office will react if they find me grinning all day. 🙂

Googling later, I learn that Girin Govind is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar‘s secretary, the spiritual Guru who established the Art of Living Foundation. 3 decades old, this organization is the largest of its type, with branches in 150+ countries.

Unfortunately for me, this yoga camp wouldn’t be teaching Sudarshan Kriya, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s famed breathing technique. That will have to wait for another day and another session.

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