In Conversation With Grand Master Akshar On International Yoga Day 2022
People seem to be realizing such potential of yoga and that is why even those who never practiced the Asanas earlier are now taking it up religiously
What is the significance of yoga for humanity, the theme for International Yoga day this year, for new India?
Yoga is a tool to reconstruct our lives holistically, which essentially means that it has the ability to transform oneself, resultantly ushering an evolution for humanity as a whole. The theme for this year’s International Yoga Day seems well thought of and captures the essence of Yoga as an age-old Indian tradition. The different Asanas of Yoga enable us to get rid of panic, chaos and aggression while cultivating peace, calmness and awareness, all of which are intrinsic to the foundation of new India. Furthermore, it is a matter of pride as a torchbearer of Yoga that each edition of the event witnesses multifold rise in participation from all parts of the world. If the world is looking up to us, there could be no better acknowledgment of the emergence of new India.
How crucial is something like yoga for mankind in the wake of the new normal?
As mentioned, Yoga helps us discard all the negative traits that might be ingrained inside and replace the same with positive virtues. If we talk about the new normal, it follows a prolonged period that ended up altering the way we had been living. The outbreak of Covid-19 and pandemic-induced lockdowns made many amongst us battle conditions like depression and negativity. Now that we appear to have overcome the toughest, it is extremely critical to maintain positivity along with good health, and Yoga can be the most effective tool to ensure the same.
For instance, there are different Pranayama such as Bhastrika Pranayama, Bhramari Pranayama and Vratakar Pranayama that help in keeping heart diseases at bay. Those facing issues pertaining to eye health can perform different Asanas - like Makara Mudra, Bhramari Pranayama and Surya Namaskar – along with a few lifestyle changes such as nutritious diet, increased water consumption and washing eyes with cold water to overcome the same. People seem to be realizing such potential of Yoga and that is why even those who never practiced the Asanas earlier are now taking it up religiously.
Who is Akshar Yoga? A yoga guru, a spiritual guide or an entrepreneur?
People often refer to me as different facets of my personality, namely philanthropist, spiritual master, lifestyle coach, author and also Yoga-preneur. For my own self, I am someone who has embarked on a mission to aid people with tools and learning to live their life to its fullest potential. Be it the thousands of students, corporate professionals and people from different walks of life who attend daily classes to lakhs of others students, practitioners, and teachers who are connected with us online from different parts of the world, the idea is to not just mentor them but create different platforms that help mankind as a whole. The aforementioned feat has been achieved through our flagship Akshar Yoga, which I founded and currently serve as the Chairman & Course Director. Our Yoga Research and Development Centre at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence near Bengaluru is, on the other hand, instated to help Indian athletes inculcate Yoga as a tool in their training module to enhance their mind and body.
Please tell us about the journey from being Akshar Nath to Grand Master Akshar
I was born in Himachal Pradesh with a military background and hence got the opportunity to travel across India since young age. After completing my education, I began to pursue spiritual practices, including Yoga. Owing to my origin and inherent proximity to the Himalayan region, I got the opportunity to meet a few spiritual masters who acquainted me with my inner self, following which I decided to carve my own path. Instructed to head south by my masters, I reached Bengaluru specifically to spread the real essence and meaning of Yoga. While I founded institutions like Akshar Yoga and R&D centre, it is an honour serve as the President of World Yoga Organization and International Siddha Foundation.
Furthermore in collaboration with multiple international organizations and prestigious universities, we provide educational as well as professional programs in Yoga while I also happened to come up with innovations such as Wheel Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Yoga with AI and Super Power Brain Yoga. Eventually, it was a privilege to be invited as a true torchbearer of Yoga by the United Nations for global events like United Nations World Water Day and United Nations World Environment Day. All these culminate to evolve Akshar Nath into someone fondly referred to as Grand Master Akshar.
How was the experience of training legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Matthew Hayden as well as young stars like Phogat Sisters?
There is a very special virtue of Yoga that different people can derive different meanings and experiences out of it. While Asanas, Pranayama, and meditation were all part of the routine, everyone had their unique experience with the benefits of yoga. Babita Phogat, for example, believed that yoga offered her a sense of inner serenity, tranquilly, and clarity, which improved her performance. Mr Sunil Gavaskar stated that yoga assisted him in developing a better mind-body connection, which resulted in a tremendous output in terms of his performance and work. As a result, no matter who does yoga, everyone benefits from its greatness and perfection. These are athletes who give everything they have to whatever they set out to do, whether it's yoga practice or their sport.
Please tell us about your Yoga R&D centre at Dravid Padukone centre for sports excellence and the experience of training national athletes.
The state-of-the-art yoga research centre at Yehalanka near Bengaluru has been built to deepen the connection between yogic and athletic practices. Being situated in a campus dedicated to sports excellence, it marks the beginning of a new era for the Indian sports and athletics community. The centre offers customized Yoga programmes for athletes across sports like tennis, football, swimming etc. Customized modules with specific Yoga practices are a part of the training of athletes preparing for state or national level tournaments, Asian Games, Commonwealth games and the Olympics at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence.
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