Has yoga become a craze, trend in vogue, obsession or simply altruism? From practicing the ancient art of physical exercises (asanas) to remain fit and healthy – a goal for oneself, yoga has shaped up into an alternative to the gym and a career with upward mobility.
With people becoming more health conscious to offset the adverse impacts of an erratic and stressful professional life, more and more of them are getting into yoga. Consequently there is a high demand for trained yoga instructors. This has paved the way for people from varied backgrounds learning yoga and some even graduating to become teachers/practitioners. In fact, the potential is such that there are many who have left their corporate jobs or opted for a career switch to take up yoga full time. It would appear the satisfaction they derive out of their new self-goal as yoga teachers is far more than what they gained from their high profile jobs after doing MBA in finance and economics from elite colleges, and other well paying careers.
For Nivedita Joshi of Yogakshema in Delhi, yoga has been a life changer. Joshi, who suffered from a severe slip disc -cervical spondylosis in her childhood and had been virtually bedridden, life changed after she met Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and joined his institute in Pune. For a person who went to her yoga institute in a wheelchair, Joshi has over last many years been treating hundreds of Indian and foreign students at her own institute through yoga practice. Yoga changed her life and career path as she switched from her microbiologist profession.
For teachers who have taken up yoga not as a career or to mint money but to take forward this ancient art, there is tremendous satisfaction when they to see someone overcome their difficulties from scoliosis, spondylitis, slip disc or a cold shoulder.
“I never thought that I would have to leave my career. But Guruji showed me the path. I was fed up with my pain and I knew my pain will not go away if I go back to my career,” says Joshi. “I am not a yoga instructor but a practitioner. If tomorrow I want to have Mercedes Benz then where is the yogic philosophy. Of course, when you share with others what you have learnt, you will get some money but that shouldn’t be the prime idea or goal.”
There are however a growing number of yoga instructors who are capitalizing on the emerging multi-billion market with yoga becoming part of corporate training and leisure holiday. Priyamvada Rathi, a MBA student, plans to take yoga the corporate way. Chennai based Shivapad Acharya, an MBA, has made yoga his career. He takes individual and group classes while depending on donations in the form of flight tickets, food and accommodation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s yoga push and the annual International Yoga Day celebrations have helped to create greater awareness of the traditional Indian way to tackle stress related diseases. As demand grows, yoga has become a big draw among new age occupations, coming with its share of glamour and social networking. A study by industry lobby ASSOCHAM a few years ago had anticipated 30-35 per cent year on year growth for yoga given the growing publicity and health awareness.
Institutes have sprung up for teachers’ training. Many teachers have opened their own outfits and conduct group classes, while some take classes for individuals at their homes. Group classes are also regularly organised in the institutes, corporate houses, government training centres, and so on. Delhi based Rakesh Acharya, who has a degree in health management and a diploma in yoga teaching from Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, has been teaching yoga for the past 11 years. He travels around the city taking individual and need based group classes. On an average he holds six-seven classes per day.
Similarly, 38-year-old Raya Uma Datta, an avid biker and photographer, is equally passionate about yoga. For the last 18 year, Datta has been teaching at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune.
As in case of many ancient practices, yoga too has been witness to change. Over time, yoga schools and masters have evolved their own practice or are exploring the unexplored areas like yoga for the visually impaired.