By Tarini Nirula
It was a pleasant autumn morning in London and there was only a slight nip in the air. I was facing a very enterprising group of people who had heard about a yoga teacher from India and wanted to try it out.
Entrusted with the responsibility of taking India’s ancient philosophy to a new audience, I began my session by explaining the importance of Pranayama techniques and how a simple awareness to the breath can change the quality of life. They had several questions to ask.
Once we began to practice together, however, what started out as heightened curiosity transformed into personal experience. As the session concluded, their active minds had experienced a feeling of calm. “I feel so much more relaxed and light,” one of them said with wonder.
On another occasion, I taught a group of tourists from around the world a few sessions of ‘aqua yoga’ in Bangkok. We began with Pranayama and gentle stretches, after which we moved on to yoga postures in the sparkling blue pool, overlooking the magnificent ocean. The experience was heavenly.
For someone who was exposed to the world of fashion, glitter and glamour, spending time on photo shoots, and interacting with people from all walks of life — artisans, stylists and more designers — yoga has been a life-transformative practice. Though my career in fashion is still intact, I have in addition become a yoga teacher. There has been a deep shift in the state of my consciousness, which I now bring to my work, my daily life and my relationships.
Yoga came into my life more than seven years ago. The gradual but evident personal transformation that I experienced (and continue to experience) inspired me to learn and share the light of yoga with others.
After thorough research, I decided to learn the Sivananda School of Yoga and get certified by the International Yoga Alliance. I was lucky enough to learn from greatly inspiring teachers, whose words resonated with me on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
In 2017, I launched YogaTara, my studio space where I started teaching regular yoga classes, while furthering my own yoga practice.
After contemplation on whether I was ready enough, I was advised that ‘ready’ would never happen in yoga. If it feels right, ready or not, a path will be created. And since it did feel right, I dived into an advanced Teacher’s Training course of 500 hours! Study of the Yoga Sutras, The Eight Limbed Path, Bhagavad Gita, a deeper understanding of techniques such as Pranayama, Meditation, Asanas, Yin and Restorative Yoga and the anatomy of the body – I was captivated by this world.
As a teacher, I also learn so much from my wonderful students. Their dedication and focus, openness and seeking spirit to learn from a much younger person like me gave me a lot of motivation to wake up and feel excited to take a 7 am class, even on pitch-dark winter mornings.
Yoga makes you creative, joyful and flexible, not just on the mat but in your daily life. Even a simple breathing technique, if practiced correctly and consistently, can change the way you think, feel and react to situations.
It gives you the freedom to overcome fears and shortcomings. Whether this implies acceptance, a perspective shift, a lot of self-love, emotional release, healing with compassion for oneself, a Eureka moment – the end result will always be an experience you will grow and blossom from.
I like to provide a safe and open space for all my students to be who they truly are, no comparisons. I’ve taught people from varied backgrounds: from techies at a startup to incredibly committed Japanese expats who wanted to learn the best of what India has to offer. Sometimes, when students share their challenges with me after class, I am left in utter admiration – at how, in spite of life’s many curveballs, they are still on the mat sincerely and progressing beautifully.
Recently, I had a young-at-heart 71-year-old lady join in for the yoga classes. I was moved to see how well this spirited lady was keeping up with the younger students. She was practicing yoga for the first time, but with an open heart, mind and a smile! That is why she experienced the many healing benefits in just a few classes.
I have realized that a common thread unifies yoga practitioners – every person is seeking peace and happiness, within and without. When a yoga class is on, for those 75 minutes, we are all connected to this priceless treasure trove of energy within, which leads us to experience who we truly are – happy and peaceful beings at our core.
As the yoga guru BKS Iyengar said, “Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.”
Follow Tarini Nirula’s YogaTara on Instagram.