Garima Vardhan, a 26-year-old girl from Haridwar, is helping many people adopt Yoga as a way of life in order to be happy, contented and peaceful.
Garima completed her schooling from DPS Haridwar and post-graduation from Banasthali University, Rajasthan. After completing her masters in marketing, she worked for a while and then quit her job to explore the field of yoga.
Recently, she started providing free yoga classes across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in government schools for the underprivileged.
Garima also takes online and offline workshops on Yoga and has taken two retreats this year, one in Rishikesh and the other in Manali.
Garima runs a yoga studio named Shakti Yoga Mandir in Haridwar. She, along with her brother also runs Shakti Ayurveda Chikitsa Sansthan which was established by her forefathers.
She emphasises on yoga being the means of spiritual growth and inward journey. Weight-loss and flexibility are just the by-products of practicing yoga.
In an exclusive interview with DehradunTales, Garima highlights the importance of yoga:
“Yoga was never about Asanas. Yoga means the union of self with the higher energy”
Read the full interview of Garima to know her journey, her views on various health and wellness related issues and her message to the readers of DehradunTales.
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Full Interview of Garima Vardhan, Yoga Teacher from Haridwar
Before discussing about your journey, please tell us something about yourself.
I am a yoga teacher, running my own studio in Haridwar.
I practice and teach Iyengar style of yoga.
A year ago, I started following the vision of providing free yoga classes across UP and UK in government schools for the underprivileged.
I am trekker by hobby, love spending time in nature on high altitudes. It provides me with new perspectives about life and sense of gratitude.
When and how did you conceive the idea of making your career in yoga?
Back in 2012 when I completed my school, one of my friends informed me that she is attending a Yoga class in Arya Samaj Mandir. The curiosity led me there and for a long period of time, I would hardly miss any class no matter what.
I was always athletic, back in school from my childhood and yoga seemed to connect to me instantly. Although, I never started yoga to take it as a career option.
I have a masters degree in Marketing and did 2 jobs before coming to the realisation that this is how I want to spend my time, energy, knowledge & work.
What challenges did you face in the beginning?
Four years back I left my job and started exploring places and introspecting about what I need to do with this life. I recalled my yoga classes; the peace, the contentment, the health. So, I followed it without knowing where or how to start.
Nobody in my family is from the yoga background & our legacy is in Ayurveda. So, I struggled a lot to search where and what course I should join to be a teacher.
There is no straight path for becoming a teacher. It’s not about certification, or the knowledge of asanas, or your own practice. It is about getting the right teachers and getting inspired by them. By their grace one starts their inward journey which in return leads to inspiring others for the same.
Which school of yoga do you follow and how is it different from other schools of yoga?
Well, the school is one, styles are different. I follow BKS Iyengar. I got introduced to this style in the beginning of my journey and I fell in love with it.
The way it helps you to explore your own self is simply fascinating. The minute details, connecting to your consciousness and building awareness is what makes it different from other styles of yoga.
What are the career opportunities in the field of yoga?
Career opportunities are not much; one can be an instructor, or open their own studio. With the coming of more and more certifications, running one’s own studio has become somewhat easier.
There are bachelor and master degrees but the colleges are very limited and private sector is extremely expensive. Jobs are very less and the fight to reach at the top is very high. Specially in India, nobody respect a yoga instructor or value them fully in terms of money. So, many instructors find themselves in China, Laos, Vietnam to make money.
Lots of people see yoga as a means to reduce weight and improve flexibility only. How do you see it and how do you think it is beyond just weight loss and flexibility?
Yoga was never about Asanas. Yoga means the union of self with the higher energy. To make this adaptable, few yogis introduced Asanas and Pranayama to the general public, since practising these two give you so many benefits. Nobody actually learned about the spiritual growth through yoga.
Weight-loss and flexibility are the co-products of the practice.
In today’s fast paced life, how much time should a normal person devote to yoga on a daily basis?
If people can adopt yoga as a lifestyle, they will become more healthy, contented, peaceful and self aware. There will be harmony, the way we notice it in the nature. We will resonate with each other and not fight over the differences.
How can yoga contribute in dealing with life style related disorders and diseases?
Majority diseases are increasing due to bad lifestyle; pollution, lack of nutritious food (adulteration), low quality of water, lack of health and hygiene awareness.
When people fully understand and make time to follow a better lifestyle, it is where Yoga and Ayurveda comes in.
Can anyone practice yoga on their own? What are the precautions to be taken while doing yoga?
Yoga is for all, but the style and connection varies from person to person. One may need yoga to improve their health, other may need to find themselves, whereas some others just need to build their physical body.
Like any other forms of workout, be it gym, athletics, zumba, one must start under guidance to avoid injuries or disorientation.
What changes have you noticed in the attitude of people after 21st June being declared as International yoga day?
Like our birthday is a reminder of our lives, a day dedicated to specific thing marks an indication to remember what it means in our life. We celebrate that one day as a reminder to follow it in the coming days.
How can the ancient Indian medicine system help in making India healthier?
One problem in going fully herbal is that we don’t have the herbs for everyone. As the population has increased the land for cultivation has reduced and since then we have lost so many ancient techniques with changing times.
One must adapt to what is needed in the present time, keeping in sync with the history. If you can find herbs and follow a sattvik lifestyle, there can be nothing better than that.
What is the vision behind establishing Shakti Ayurvedic Chikitsa Samsthan and what are your future plans?
Shakti Sansthan was established in 1938 by my forefathers to treat ailments like epilepsy and heart diseases through Ayurveda. Since then, we have been following the footsteps of our grandfather & father.
Now, my brother and I are planning to add Panchkarma, holistic therapy through yoga and Ayurveda and build it as a sustainable organisation where people can come and learn a better way to live their lives.
How can practicing yoga improve the immunity and help fight COVID-19?
There are various sequences and practices in Yoga to boost the immunity as it directly works on your physical body. But one must understand that, if we just follow asanas and pranayama and neglect ahaar (diet) and dincharya (daily routine), we will stay weak in our mind and body.
Yoga is a complete bundle of health, spirituality, and culture.
Please tell us about yoga retreats and workshops organized by you?
Till now, I have taken so many online and offline workshops on specific topics. I have also taken 2 retreats this year in Rishikesh and in Manali. Hope to do another one in Goa by the end of this year.
What are your hobbies and areas of interest?
I spend my time with plants as I love gardening. You will find so many foliage and succulents at my home and in my room. Sometimes I hula hoop and listen to bhajan and kirtan. I have pets as well; a cat, some fish and a cow at my aunt’s place.
Who is your role model or source of inspiration? Kindly also share their contribution to your journey.
My Gurus, my parents and nature has been my direct inspirations. They have moulded me into the person I am right now. I like to observe people, listen to them to understand how life is and that is my constant source of motivation, apart from my self practice.
Your message to the readers of DehradunTales.
Just one line by my Guru BKS Iyengar Ji-
“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter your flame.”
My message to the readers is:
“Find time to be together with You”.