The vajrasana helps one to stay focused



A jathi is practised
in tune with your internal rhythm

The Vajra is a diamond or a thunderbolt. Just as the thunderbolt is focused and powerful, the vajrasana hones these qualities. In Indian mythology, the thunderbolt is Lord Indira’s weapon.The quality of sharpness is also cultivated by sitting in the vajrasana. The diamond is known for its shine and sharpness. It is one of the strongest materials known to man. Changes in pressure and other conditions over millions of years transform carbon into diamond. The vajrasana also applies pressure on the ankles. However, in the beginning, one must be careful not to push one’s body too far.

This pressure transforms the darkness into brilliance. The nerves are strengthened. The word `diamond’ comes from the Greek word `adamas’, which means indestructible. Diamond is composed only of carbon and, apart from graphite, is the only gem to be composed of a single element. This posture is also called the adamantine posture due to this single minded quality of the stone.

The far-sightedness of the rishis can be seen in the appropriate names they have picked for the postures. The vajrasana is the best asana for pranayama, as it elevates the lungs and facilitates their expansion. It helps in curing varicose veins. It improves circulation to the lower back, buttocks, thighs, knees, calf muscles, heels and the ankles. The vajrasana is extremely useful for digestive disturbances. This is one asana that can be performed even after a meal.

The vajra nadi is the sciatic nerve. This is the longest single nerve in the body. It starts from the lower back and goes all the way down to the feet. Practising the vajrasana alleviates sciatica, a painful condition caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve due to compression of the vertebrae or misaligned discs. I meet a lot of people with sciatica these days and it can be attributed to over work and lack of conscious body activity. It becomes extremely painful to even sit or stand in some cases.

Relaxing and strengthening the lower back muscles will help relieve sciatica. Constant practice of vajrasana helps in lordosis, an exaggerated inward curve of the vertebral column, as well as scoliosis, a lateral curvature of the spine. Potts disease or spondylitis is also corrected.

The technique

Sit on your heels. Check to see if the back, neck and the head are straight. Ideally, the heels are kept together. However if it is too painful, then the heels can be apart. Be aware of your breathing in this posture. If the ankles hurt, then slip to the right side, sitting on the ground beside. Then sit back in vajrasana. Then take rest sitting on the left side. Stretch out the feet and practice the jathi that you saw in the previous article. Shake the feet and thump your thighs to the ground. Then come back to the vajrasana.
Start with 30 seconds in the posture or less and then increase the length of time.



Jathis help release old, unhealthy patterns of behavior

A jathi is practiced in tune with your internal rhythm Popular yoga postures seen in books are usually complicated body contortions that would scare a layperson. In fact, practicing such postures could cause harm, if the body is not adequately prepared. Most of the postures shown should carry a warning below that says, “Please do not attempt without supervision.”

Step by step

Those who have achieved this advanced level of body control have years of experience behind them. It is like the stunt scenes performed in movies or commercials. There is a specific preparation as well as approach to it. The classical approach is a step-by-step one. The body has to be prepared for those complicated postures. This back to the basics approach has to be applied when learning the art of yoga. It is useful even for long-term practitioners. Simple need not mean ineffective. Hence a simple, systematic approach in the beginning will do wonders.

Conscious movement

When it comes to working with the body we start with jathis, then move onto kriyas and asanas. A jathi is a conscious movement done in tune with one’s own internal rhythm. A jathi is done using the right side of the body as well as the left. By consciously moving the right side of the body, one impacts the left side of the brain, and vice versa. The nervous system can get trapped into unhealthy patterns of behavior. Jathis are useful to release these old patterns.

They also open up new areas in the brain that have so far not been tapped. In the West, jathis are being used to address many special needs of children as well as the invalid. The benefits have been evident in children with attention deficit disorder too. When the jathis are combined with lifestyle changes, there is a tremendous improvement in the ability of the child to focus and concentrate. Movement therapy helps overcome past traumas and is useful while dealing with victims of abuse. The aware movements release toxic shame and guilt.

Jathis loosen and dislodge the toxins in the joints. They tone the muscles and soothe and strengthen the nervous system. Remember to drink lots of water as you practice jathis. They can be practiced in between asanas. If you find sitting in any cross-legged asana painful, then always remember to stretch out and loosen, using simple jathis.
Jathi for loosening the ankles

The technique: Sit up straight with your legs outstretched. Flex your ankles back and forth alternatively. Shake your legs and relax. This improves the circulation in the legs as well as the hips. It increases the mobility of the ankles and the pranic flow, when done consciously. Also note that the back is kept straight using the hands. The hands are pushed down beside the body. In the beginning, this downward push may be necessary till the back muscles are strengthened. To this simple jathi, add the mukha mudra of a smile to derive maximum benefit.



Sukha asana helps you to stay relaxed, yet stable

A demonstration of Sukha AsanaIn the yoga sutras of Patanjali, an asana is described as “sthiram sukham asana”. `Sukham’ means `comfortable’. Sukham in this context does not imply pleasure due to overindulgence. However, the sukha asana is the dukha (uncomfortable and therefore causing pain) asana for many who are inflexible. In India, we are used to sitting on the floor — though this practice is on the decline now. Hence, a simple cross-legged position is quite effortless. The sukha asana though simple has many key points to keep in mind. It has to have the quality of firmness or sthiram. Not be sloppy or rigid. We usually find most people in these two extreme positions. Sthiram also implies balance and homeostasis.

The minute I ask someone to be aware of their posture, they become rigid. This alertness is good and much better than jelly-like body language. However, this is not what we are looking at in Yoga. It is an awareness of being relaxed, yet stable. This body language has a direct impact on our approach towards life. Hence, we can cultivate positive mindsets by working on our body language consciously. It is an interesting and intricate science and art. We first cultivate sukham/comfort in simple positions or, in life, take on simple responsibilities and slowly work towards extending our comfort zone.

The technique

Sit in a cross-legged position. Hands can be relaxed on the thighs or in the yoga mudra as shown. There are many other mudras like the gnyana mudra that can also be used. Be aware of how the base of your body is touching the earth. Be aware of your vertebral column and how you are holding it.

Be aware of your back muscles and how they are feeling. Check to see if your base, back and head are in alignment. Now observe your breathing. Then bring your mind to parts of the body that feel stiff and gently focus on those areas, as you breathe. Feel the breath loosen those areas.

Focus on your body, observe it and continue breathing gently. This asana prepares one for the art of sitting still. This is important when one wants to sit in meditation. The body along with the mind needs to be prepared for meditation. Both need to be steady and focused. This preparation is ongoing and not a one time event.

We are constantly preparing by cultivating sukham. We learn to grow comfortable in our own skin. We learn to accept the good, the bad and the ugly.

If we are uncomfortable, sitting in this position, we know we have the choice to develop it through the various joint-loosening practices that we will see in the forthcoming weeks.



I was feeling bright that morning, despite a couple of weeks of overstretching myself. I started my walk with a lot of enthusiasm. A cat spotted me along the way and our eyes met. I blinked my eyes slowly and softly at her. The next thing I knew, she was on the ground showing me her underbelly. I caressed her, rubbed her soft neck and stroked her head gently. It seemed like she just could not have enough. After a while of being immersed in the joy of being so completely trusted, I decided to feed my new found friend. Much to her dismay, I carried her home. My over enthusiasm and restlessness was something she had to deal with. Seeing her discomfort, I took her and the food down. Ignoring the food she glared as she left, which negated all the joy I felt before.

What an ungrateful cat, I thought, I only meant well! Yet when I stayed with her look I knew that I was the one who traumatized her. I had lost the trust I had gained so easily by trying to push it. I prayed and asked her to forgive me as I did what I did in unawareness. I definitely do not want someone whom I trust to push me into spaces I don’t want to, how much ever they feel it will benefit me. I pray for awareness to not push or allow myself to be pushed. In life the pushing is definitely going to be there but the more we grow in awareness the less harsh the pushes will be.

In yoga, we never push to a point where we break or where it hurts. “No pain, no gain” is not a yogic dictum. Consistency is the key. If only I had consistently met my dear cat, she may have trusted me enough to come home. I wanted all of it, all at once. That is the problem with most of us. We don’t have the patience to wait for trust to develop. The body needs to start trusting the mind. It needs to feel that it is not yet another whim that it has to cater to. The body needs to feel that the mind will be planning long-term growth and not just short-term associations with people, foods or techniques. What truly nourishes the body is anything given with care and gentleness on a regular basis.

Importance is given to allowing the body and the mind to unfold. Not force it open. We need to refrain from forcing things down someone’s throat. It is a great ahimsa or violence. Like the little cat we need to learn to ease off and enjoy our body. Stretch, move, crawl, roll and feel pampered. This is what the ancient yogis learn from the big cats or the tigers. They picked up various qualities from various beings and incorporated that movement or posture so that we may develop the same quality. The vyaghrah pranayama is one such movement that facilitates a gentle yet effective stretch to the entire back muscles and vertebral column in the most enjoyable fashion.

The vyaghrah pranayama is safe and non-intrusive. It increases suppleness and improves breath capacity. When we observe the big cats, we can see the flexibility ,agility and grace that they posses.

CHATUS PADA KRIYA – Four – footed movement

Crawl around on your four feet. This is extremely good for back problems, pregnant women, corrects prolapsed organs as well as strengthens knees and wrists. One may use pads for the knees if there is some difficulty. Crawling rejuvenates muscles and bones. Excellent for those suffering from arthritis. Breaks up cellulite in the thighs.


In the chatus pada asana, check to see if your fingers are together, arms shoulder distance apart and feet relaxed. Breathe in slowly and work from your lower back, push mid back down and stretch the neck up. Breathe out and arch the back, shoulder and neck without moving or bending the arms. The back is lifted up as high as possible and head is in between the arms. Do 6 repetitions.

Then stretch back and then come onto all fours. Do three repetitions of the stretches and then relax in vajrasana.

The vyaghrah pranayama works on all the back muscles as well as the vertebrae. Hence it is an excellent practice to avoid back problems. It also facilitates full-chest breathing. This means that the three lobes of the lungs are stretched out and the air moves into them. It especially works on the lower and mid portion of the lungs. The great cats are able to move quickly but silently. They can pounce and leap great distances due to their elastic muscles. This same elasticity is brought into the human body and mind.


Yogic Awareness: When we are scared the lungs get compacted and breathing is affected. When we wait for a situation to unfold in a horror film we hold the breath in fear and negative anticipation. Similarly in abusive situations also our breath is affected. This is different when we hold the breath in awareness during certain pranayamas. This version of the manmatha kriya can be easily practiced at office. When love is lost and you feel abused or hurt practicing the Kriya helps release the pain. The more we hold onto hurt the more we hurt.

The technique: Sit in vajrasana or on the chair. Hug yourself in the mid- chest area firmly. Breathe in to the count of 6 (or less if not possible) as though you are forcing free from any lower attachments. Relax and let the breath out for 6 counts and allow the higher ideals of love to flow into your life. Love and accept yourself for who you are. Repeat 6 times. Take a break shaking out your arms and then repeat 3-9 rounds.

Yogic Concept: Manmadha is our own Indian counterpart to “cupid” the god of love. Love can be binding when we get locked into unconscious patterns of behavior. This hurts and can also be frightening. Giving yourself space physically and emotionally helps in the healing. We open up the breathing in the Manmadha Kriya and thereby the vision of love. In yoga we usually don’t force but sometimes forcing the breath is necessary to shake us out of those patterns. We aspire to shake ourselves out of downward spiraling, suffocating love and open up to a more encompassing love. This creates more pathways for positive energy to flow in and the mind also interprets situations with a lot more compassion.


Yogic Awareness: Our sub-conscious mind is like a computer program that can get into a loop of thinking and enacting the same things. This definitely has its uses as tasks do not have to be re-learned and can be performed automatically. However it can be the cause of energy loss if it loops into worry and negativity. We can substitute positive vibrations for the negative ones that are going on again and again. When you tell the mind to not think of a particular thing it plays truant and thinks of the very same thing. Thus by substitution we are better able to let go of the negative. This practice will help clarify the mind through using a sound vibration.

The Technique: Sit on a chair or on the ground in vajrasana. Keep your vertebral column straight and firm. Take a deep breath for 4-6 counts thinking the sound “mmm”. Now chant the sound “mmm” as you breathe out. Do 3-6 rounds. Then relax and be with the stillness.

Yogic Concept: The brahmari is the female bee. The queen bee controls all the worker bees. Hence the sound “mmm” that resembles the sound of the bee controls all negativity and worry that recurs in our mind. Constant worry will wear the system down. The queen bee gives direction to the worker bees that would waste their energy if not properly guided. The mind is a powerful tool that can be used to create harmony so all work together. All of us have dis-functions in our lower mind that can get exaggerated in disharmonious environments. Practice this pranayama so that the intellect that brings in the sense of higher purpose can be activated.


Yogic Awareness:
Little irritations when bottled up turn to anger and then rage. Release little irritations then and there. When anything that stains spills on your shirt the sensible thing to do would be to wash it off then and there rather than wait for a couple of days. By then the staining agent would have seeped in deeper. Hence remember to be aware of things that bother you and release them then and there as much as possible. Do a regular spring-cleaning of your emotional baggage.

Yogic technique:
The Cleansing Breath: Sit in vajrasana or on the chair. See to it that the back neck and shoulders are in line and straight. Breathe in for the count of 6 and breathe out through the mouth for the count of six with a whoosh noise. Whoosh out irritations and pain. This can be practiced any time you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Take two-minute breaks in office and practice. This can also be practiced as you are involved in any activity. Constantly bring your awareness to your breathing.

Yogic concept:
The breath is related to emotions. The natural way for the body to release pent up stress is through a long sigh. This natural body reaction was observed by the “rishis” or researchers of those days and systematized as a technique. Long exhalations are a good way to release pent up emotions. Most hold in worries, pain or disappointments. The cleansing breath helps to release them.


Life speaks to me all the time. The mosquitoes near my ear, the cars honking and the laughter of a friend are all bringing to me messages about my environment, life and most important of all about myself. What a person, incident or an object evokes in me are indicators of how I relate to the world. Things I draw into my life mirror what I love or hate, or fail to see about myself. My relation ship with the world is not as one-dimensional as I may want to think of it. What do I see? What do I glean? What do I want and what I am looking to achieve are questions to which the answers are not apparent. However they might be answered in a simplified way to avoid in-depth analysis. The answers are not as important as questioning my motives, fears, and motivations. “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” is a question I keep asking my self. Each time I give an answer I look at the possibility that I might be deluded to think so. Then the universe is then ever so willing to help and sends little messages that can be received by anyone with a little sensitivity and interpreted by those who have common sense. But don’t we need extra sensory perception or great divining capabilities? Whew, we just cannot come to terms with the fact that the mundane things in life can possess meaning. We yearn for magic and what greater magic these days than that of the celluloid. With very little of our own we adopt media dreams. We want mega stuff, God in his million-dollar suit, his entrance marked by a vision of psychedelic lights. We seek out the spectacular.

The small yet beautiful things in life lose light as our eyes are dimmed by the artificial brilliance that shines. The more we see the more we want without realizing that this brightness is one day going to blind us. Like everything else that is acquired these tastes only lean towards perversion. A perversion of our senses. Natural foods are no longer palatable, we want the colorings and the flavorings of the chemical industries. We want music that would be connected with insanity a century ago to fill our minds, we want hips gyrating at our faces and want glamor at the expense of substance. Sensationalism sells and we are the buyers. We undervalue and ignore that which is invaluable.

Life is the keeper of the subtle and the small things. It’s glory seen in the simplest of gestures. It’s abundance in the humblest of blessings. Yet we ignore it because we do no not want to acknowledge we have so much to be grateful for. If we are truly grateful then we can never call life a “bitch” only a “blessing”. We know it is not life doling out experiences but giving us what we need for our evolution. We will need less of the bothersome ones if we are quick on the uptake. If we change what needs to be changed. If we do what needs to be done and ease into not doing what is not right to do. If we don’t, we know there is a price we are paying for it.

And despite all the resistance life never tires of us. It cajoles us, nudges us, shoves us and then gives us a good kick. It is unfortunate that sometimes we learn only from the school of “hard knocks”. It says “Dearest I will never give up on you. Even if my heart breaks to see you at the edge of the cliff, I will never push you over”.

Life speaks to you and to me all the time. Are we listening?


I was asked to supervise youngsters who were writing a yoga exam. To my surprise I found a few who were slyly passing on or getting information from their neighbour even after a couple of warnings. My ears happened to be sharper than they imagined. In between a teacher also tried distracting me with some inane conversation, which I postponed for later, when I got the real point of it. Cheating in an examination or in less apparent ways is not a big deal nowadays. I didn’t want to sound preachy to the youngsters, who thought that they were outsmarting me. Yet I could not help but make a point that they were only cheating on themselves. They are cheating themselves of many things they could have gained.


1. When you cheat you cheat yourself of confidence and courage

True confidence increases each time we realize that we can do something in a right manner. When we know we can give our best. We get the confidence and courage to move towards our goals without compromising on our values. When you are confident of your capacity then you will not feel the need to cheat. We must cultivate the courage to face life’s challenges. When we cheat we are running away from the challenge and each time we run away we become less and less confident. Truly confident and courageous people don’t find the need to cheat. They are not afraid of falling as they know that with the help of God/goodness they can pick themselves up. Courage is doing the right thing despite fear of failure. Swami Gitananda said that a righteous person is one who can put to right use everything. So we must cultivate the habit of putting to right use our body, emotions and mind and all resources and that will build real confidence. Hence being righteous builds confidence and conversely to be truly confident we must cultivate being righteous.


2. When you cheat you cheat yourself of comfort.

“Sukham Sthiram Asana”- An asana is comfortable and firm. The practice of yoga brings about comfort and stability in different states of being. We are aware of and learn to accept unconscious states of mind that are addressed through conscious asana work. Hence there is an inner comfort with all life’s permutations and combinations. With all the good, bad and the ugly. This reflects externally as one who is comfortable in any situation or environment. The more comfortable we are with ourselves the less we will want to cheat to project what we are not. So cheating is a sign of lack of comfort.

The reverse is also true. When you cheat and gain praise that you have not rightfully earned then you cheat yourself of comfort. There is no greater comfort than looking at a prize and knowing deep inside that you truly deserved it, that you have earned it.


3. When you cheat you cheat yourself of consciousness

Every time we get locked into an old pattern of taking the easy way out we have to remember that we are adding to our stress. Yes contrary to popular belief the so-called easy way is not so easy in energy terms. There is a great deal of loss of energy due to the inner conflict we face. Unless a person is completely in a dinosaurian state of consciousness there will be a tinge of guilt that one may or may not feel. Even if one does not feel it consciously it is there, grating on us deep within. This drains us of energy more and we spiral downwards repeating or even exaggerating the mistake. We may also block the memory out, as it is uncomfortable to face it. So the chance of rectifying the mistake is also lost to us.

This backlog dims our consciousness, there is also no energy for conscious application of the mind due to the clogging. When we use our prefrontal lobes, which is in charge of conscious choices we can actively decide to stop this downward spiral. Hence when we apply consciousness we can cheat less and by cheating less we gain more consciousness.


4. When you cheat you cheat yourself of the capacity to move from chaos to cosmos.

The world seems as orderly or as disorderly as our inner world is. There is a beautiful cosmic order that one can appreciate only if the same order is recognized within. The recognition of this order automatically means that you know that there are consequences for breaking the order. There will be more inner chaos when you break the law. I have seen in my own life the acting of his great order. I see the karma (law of cause and effect) of my actions either recent past or past. Each time when I make a conscious decision to do that which is right, despite the attachment to the old behaviour or person the great order has taken me a step above. And I see there are a many more steps to climb. Each step we climb we are able to see more clearly the connection between cause and effect. The higher we get the easier it is for us to see the layers of labyrinths or connections that create cosmos or chaos. We see we can make or break our destiny. So this also works two ways. The more order there is within the less likely we are to cheat and if we want to create more order we have to cheat less.


5. When you cheat you cheat yourself of connectivity and continuity.

Each time you cheat you become more disconnected from yourself. A schizophrenic is a disconnected individual. Multiple behavioural disorder is there in all of us in milder levels even if not diagnosed as a clinical condition. We may verbally say cheating is bad and should not be encouraged but you will be doing the very same thing that we speak against. This is a very prevalent disconnection present in most humans. There is no connection between what they say and what they do. In yoga one leads by example, in life as well the best way to teach is by example. The learning patterns of a child indicate that they observe and imbibe what the parent or role model does. When we are connected to all aspects of ourselves, our doing, feeling and thinking processes we see the continuity of consciousness. The more positive our thinking is the better we start to behave. The better we start to behave we start feeling better and there is a positive progression as a whole. When we want our will to be connected to the will of goodness then the willing or wishing itself serves as a means of behavioural change. The stronger the will the more sustained the change. There may be back and forth movements in the continuum of life but definitely we can see progress if we look at where we started. Hence if we cheat we deprive ourselves from this connection to the divine and ourselves and can never see true progress or positive continuum. Conversely the more times we cheat the more disconnected we get and there is more regression.


Youngsters have to see that though they now obey the law and don’t cheat out of fear they can also obey out of love for evolution, out of the adventuring spirit. A true adventurer does not shy away from the climb. There has to be a passion and enthusiasm along with periods of rest for recuperation. The yoga life is most enjoyable and fun and does not match up to any other fun that people have tried selling to me. Today’s youth can have loads of fun understanding and imbibing yoga.

I was teaching at a premium management institute in Pune and we discussed issues not from a moralistic perspective but from the perspective of growth. There was one boy in particular who did not seem too upset by the cheating that was happening among his classmates. He said that his mind was a lot freer and he was quite sure that they could not sustain their behaviour and still have an alive mind, as whether they saw it now or not their behaviour would add to their stress. He was much more attentive than the others and seemed more relaxed. This is the confidence and comfort that consistent effort gives a person.

There are many forms of cheating. One can cheat another of their time or love or energy by expecting them to take care of them when they have abused their system. I see many who have not lived righteously who self righteously make demands on another’s time and energy without wanting to do anything in return. The universe is fair and we must learn to earn our bread and not cheat others out of it by constantly evoking their sympathy with our sob stories. Neither should we manipulate their love. As we evolve we must be more aware of the many ways we cheat others as well as ourselves. So let us have fun playing the game of life and let’s play by the rules!


Aishwarya lived two floors above where I lived. My brother gave me the news. Was it a drug overdose or a suicide, they did not know? To me both meant the same. Aishwarya was getting thinner by the day yet her smile never faded. Even if I was focused on getting home she would always run towards me and greet me. “Akka (elder sister in Tamil) how are you?” she would ask. Despite her short skirts and coloured hair she was so Indian and endearing when she called out to me.

She would then show me one of her new acquisitions, new cell phone, outfit, hairdo or sunglasses and I’d point out to her that she needed to take care of herself else she would disappear. One day she told me that just in case any of her friends checked with me she had told them I was her real/blood sister? I smiled.

Some days she would speak of the shows or the beauty contests she has participated in. She never bitched about the other contestants, at least to me. A part of her was sensitive and refined and yet another could not grapple with herself and the world. Anger, loss of self- esteem and self- hatred were a natural outcome.

Aishwarya means wealth, greatness and power. True Aishwarya is finding all this within. An inner richness and healthy self- esteem is what we need to aspire for. But ask any Indian about Aishwarya and most likely they will associate it with the screen goddess who was miss world called Aishwarya Rai. This association is strongly embedded. Unfortunately the very same principles that were stabilizing factors are now being deranged through media created wonders. How can any teenager’s reality match up to the perfect waistline or storyline that has been created for Aishwarya. That illusion they aspire for is enough to take away all Aishwarya or self worth away. True Aishwarya is feeling valuable without having a million people endorse you. Or being the one selected to endorse a million projected needs. When we feel our life is of value how will we want to end it. That is why family is important, if not oneself at least another person makes us feel valuable, life seems worth living at least for them. In more singular societies we hear of not just suicides but group suicides like in Japan. When life is such a singular pursuit these youngsters chose company and oneness in death.

Most of us may not go that far but slowly start to kill our selves so that we can become blind to the speed with which we are moving towards our own death. We get so desensitized that it does not matter anymore. We may have moments of consciousness where we may see our own degeneration and our own dependencies. Waking up to our own self- delusion is definitely painful. So we may as well be comfortably numb. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and tobacco abuse are all ways in which we escape into another reality. Alcohol provides us with a space where we can be in touch with our emotions. It is not uncommon to find people flying into rage, laughing uncontrollably, crying or getting mushy after a couple of drinks. Drugs provide an altered psychedelic or intense state of consciousness that is often confused with spiritual awakening or creativity. Tobacco provides one with false alertness and release. Apart from these we can also bury ourselves in other unnecessary pursuits, which are less apparent.

These are just ways we yearn to escape from our reality, the reality of helplessness and despair. The ultimate reality of course is bliss but to get there we have to face our own fears and insecurities and rise above it. So the climb may seem arduous, tiring and again like a singular pursuit in a desensitized world. And yet we can feel kinship in the few subtle people still around or the subtleties that are there in parts in some. Or we can draw inspiration from the great people who have lived before us, from nature, life and love for goodness.

In Yogic life emotions are important, not emotionalism. Hence we must work on recognising and releasing emotions rather than suppressing them or inappropriately expressing them. Refined emotions are the key to loving refined things. To love the highest or the cosmic potential in ourselves refined emotions are necessary. In a world of instant gratification long-term satisfaction is forgotten. A stable marriage where both grow together in love and wisdom is what refinement indicates. Nowadays when we want quick fixes it is easier to grow apart. If we want our marriage with the Lord to last we need to cultivate emotional awareness. Emotional sensitivity and stability is what needs to be worked on for Aishwarya to grow in us.

Despite achievements many face a lack of Aishwarya. Not intelligent enough, smart enough, talented enough, organized enough, assertive enough, brave enough, beautiful enough, patient enough. Even those on a spiritual path may feel they are not good enough. Since we sense this deep lack we may mask it with arrogance. Or we depend on others to give us this self worth. Self worth is different from narcissism or being boorish. Christ the master had hundred’s plotting against him and thousands abusing him yet it did not diminish his spirit. Neither did it prevent him from putting his foot down when he needed to. Sankaracharya says that the enlightened man walks through praise and abuse untouched. True Aishwarya is being in touch with one’s true nature, that is a reflection of the divine. You cannot take away or add to it. We may never be able to match up to the ideal of perfection we have set, yet let that not diminish our efforts or self worth. May we keep the Aishwarya in each one of us alive.


“Winning is everything” . This statement is enough to register an increase in the pulse rate of many. No one wants to be left behind. All of us want to scurry along in the race. When the mind feels the urgency the body prepares itself to compete in the concrete jungle of finding food or escaping from become prey to another animal. Winners are the ones who walk away with the best and the most. The winner gets the best jobs, the biggest market share, the best reviews, the best accolades and the Adrenalin rush. If you are not a winner your heart stops singing and your life is a series of torturous climbs to reach that coveted summit. To have the best one definitely has to aspire to be a winner. But there is a fine distinction between being our best, being the best and having the best. We loose the present to the dream of having the throne. Nerves are frayed or we escape into our webs of fantasy.

Winning is about being in competition with ourselves all the time. When one aspires to better himself he is not in an unhealthy competition with others, he rather uses their competence as a yardstick and an awareness device. We are all winners in our own ways. Every day when we wake up with a smile we have won over our laziness and defeatism. Every time we stop procrastinating we have won over our fear of failure. Every time we move we have won over inertia and every time we are still we have won over restlessness. We are changing each moment and every time we direct the course of that change we have won over fatalism. Each time we let go, trust and surrender we have won over worry. Each time we hold two seemingly opposing thoughts in balance we have won over extremism. Every time we smile at a stranger we have won over fear of being misunderstood. Each time we breathe more deeply we have won over holding in the unwanted. Every time we rejoice in life we have won over ingratitude. Every time we love ourselves with our imperfections we have won over discontent. Every time we choose to sit up straight we have won over conditioning. Every time we make lifestyle changes for the better we have won over resistance to change. Every time we are willing to be reborn we have won over decay.

Redefining winning as a process and not as an end result or destination alone, will help each one of us be winners. A winning attitude is a frame of mind that nurtures us moment to moment. It is an attitude of being grounded in reality. It is an attitude that tunes into infinity. It is an attitude that reflects our connection to others and ourselves. It is an attitude of discipline, joy and freedom. With such an attitude at each moment and day we win.


As women we are born with a great responsibility to nurture our femininity. In today’s world we are polarized towards an extremely aggressive masculine energy. When this energy is in balance it is manifested as assertiveness. A woman has to create this balance, honoring her femininity. The roles of both the sexes are not well defined nowadays as it is an age of freedom. With freedom comes choice. We have to equip ourselves with the awareness to make right choices. We must not be fooled and imitate the models that are passed on to us by default, or because they are more prevalent.

Organic growth

As a woman entrepreneur you can choose to either push your company up at all costs, or allow it to grow organically. Nowadays nobody has the patience to wait for growth. Genes are altered, growth rates speed up and the external appearance of vegetables and fruits made more attractive. Yet when I ate one of those ‘leaps in science’ they did not have half the life or taste of an externally imperfect looking vegetable from the ashram garden. The quest for perfection gets translated as a preoccupation with external trappings.

An organic garden is in tune with Mother Nature. It is nurtured by nature and the love and devotion, which the farmer puts into it. There is a season and a cycle for preparing the soil, planting, sprouting, a time of pestilence, more effort and endeavor, more growth and harvest.

Change Management in the Organic growth context

The farmer has to aid the plant in its growth by providing it with the optimum conditions. Similarly the women entrepreneur should nurture her plant and allow growth to happen. She should be willing to learn and be observant of the changes that are taking place. She should be willing to wait. She should realize that if she gets stressed and unnecessarily perturbed it will affect her baby. Like a plant or a child the company will reflect the qualities of the nurturer.

Managing Corporate Identity

The company will reflect and imbibe the ideology of the CEO. “What do I want my child to reflect?”, is an important question that all women entrepreneurs have to ask themselves. In terms of work culture, would you like your company to be laid back or aggressive? Would you like it to be a customer-oriented/market driven entity or one which follows the fancies of its managers? Would you want your corporate image to earned by constantly staying ahead of the competition, or would you have it sullied by complacence in the work force? Whatever your ideal is, that is clearly reflected in your company’s image. The company ideology is reflected in the work culture, the attitude of the co-creators (employees) of the company and the revenue the company generates. You will go through the pains of birthing and a lot of emotional energy will be invested in creating.

Detachment, Delegation and Decisions

It is but natural to get attached to this child. But you must learn the art of being involved yet detached so that you can take objective decisions. This will help you delegate rather than doing everything on your own. When attached, the nurturer will stop at every moment to check growth, stifling the other and stressing oneself out. The company must be treated as an individual and given its space to grow. Despite putting into the company all you have, there will be a disparity between thought and how it materializes. That is a risk you must be willing to take.

Sometimes you will have to take the tough decision of letting go what you have brought up. At those times see if you are closing off a healthy company out of fear of change. Yet there are times when it is better to let a plant die or give it away to one with better resources rather than dig twenty bore wells to find no water. It is important to acknowledge and accept the loss and have a closure. Then prepare for the next season and see that the same mistakes are not repeated. Life is a series of ups and downs and we need to make peace with it. In us we have to find the anchor of balance.

In harmony with your Corporate Vision

Like a stream that smooths out a stone into a pebble we must flow consistently to sculpt our dreams. The smoothness of the pebble is not of the hammer but of the flow of love, sincerity and joy. With a childlike playfulness the rambling stream transforms all in its path. Similarly flow with grace and gentleness in tune with the natural rhythms and growth is inevitable. Yet it might seem too away from the regular model of hammering and stress. There will be many to convince you that you need to barter your life for an entity. Your work is an extension of your life, so create a life of ease and not of constant struggle. It may start off as a struggle as we have our patterns that believe in hardship or those that thrive on last minute jump-starts. With time if the intention is clear you will see things moving ahead with a beautiful momentum. So envision where you want to be and start with a strong foundation. Put your thoughts out into the universe and it will definitely respond in its time.


What would I have been happy doing for a living? Am I meant to become a doctor, a researcher, an artist, educationalist, engineer, manager, or a writer? As a child I wanted to become almost everything from an Ayurveda doctor to singer, to a fairy. The mind wants to become all that it is attracted to. Then one learns to walk a road steadily. Choices are made and progress happens when one is willing to have vision of where one wants to be. Consistency is the key. When one is walking a road then the human mind has a tendency to wonder what might have been. Would life be better if my profession and personal choices were different? It is good to introspect. It is good to want to direct the course of one’s life and it is good to want to better oneself. But one can get too caught up with the flow, yet, not become a drifter.

Fickleness can mask itself as wanting to move ahead. Inconsistency can mask itself as boredom. One can flit from one thing to another without having the courage to go deeper. One can constantly feel unfulfilled when what has to be changed is not the situation but the attitude. Sometimes one might need to retrace ones steps. Take a fresh look and re-charter one’s own course. With time and more awareness, we might have to redefine our visions and goals. We might have to make choices about profession and lifestyle. We might have to see what our barter is. Are we giving away our lives for a few extra bucks or for the goal we crave.

We have to see if our goals are in alignment with our highest potential and the spiritual laws. (spiritual laws do not mean laws that pertain to spirits but, the simple karmic law of “as you sow so you reap”-that helps us live a full and harmonious life on planet earth). Then we may have to shift out paths and rework our lives within the framework of what ever we are doing. Every time we look at what we have done and what we are capable of, we have a chance to better ourselves.

That is what Yoga is about. It is a path that wise and questioning souls have walked. It is a path that has already been cleared, so those moving towards the same goal can see. It is a path of the individual towards universality. It is not just a professional path. It is a path moving towards one’s essential nature. Sometimes the ego might want to cut through the jungle, just to feel that it has created it’s own NEW WAY. And ultimately, after all the toil and drama, the destination is still the same and the straight paths are parallel.

All mystics speak of the same truths. One can find one’s own different path if one is willing to walk in circles for a while. Even in a structured path there are many steps that we take that are our own. The structure is there, so that we don’t go way out. Some take detours and are like children who like to get lost and scare themselves while playing. We can laugh at our games of hide and seek.

In India, there are Satdarshans, or the six revelations or, views of reality, of which, Yoga is a legitimate path of Self Discovery. The path is not just the techniques, but the awareness and consciousness with which one leads one’s life. The more consciously one walks the path; the more aware he is if detours take place. India has produced many enlightened souls, as the path was there for many to see. Each enlightened soul did not start his own cult. In the west, we have a couple of new institutionalized paths and they seem like trendsetters. New religions are created after them. The west fails to understand that no path can be patented. The world religion comes from the Latin root religere, which means to bind. Yoga also comes from the root word Yuj, which means to yoke or to bind. We are yoking or binding the individual consciousness to the supreme or universal consciousness. From limitation, we become unlimited.

Yoga is the journey and the goal. It is a path that one walks if one wants to realize ones full potential, be in touch with oneself, move from fear to trust, become more skilled and more aware, if one wants to live life fully and relish every moment. Yoga is not a hobby, religion, cult or profession. It is a path to move beyond our patterns, be it emotional or mental. As Swami Gitananda taught, it is a path of conscious evolution. I am extremely happy and grateful to be walking the Yoga path. It is a blessing to be a student of Yoga. Yoga has the capacity to satiate my desire to be what ever I want to be. But, are we not supposed to be desire less? That’s the last rung on the ladder up to moksha (freedom for identification). A state that I can imagine yet not experience. I do not want to suppress my desires but sublimate them. I do not want to fool myself into wanting less out of lethargy. I need to know I am capable of actualizing my desires. I want to let go of them as they no longer hold me and not because of defeatism. My desires have definitely become more and more refined and more and more real. I remember as a child, I wanted to save and clean up the world. Now, I am content saving myself. When one is happy, healthy and balanced, it infiltrates ones relationships and one’s surroundings, unhealthy dependencies are avoided and fewer are played.

Yoga fulfills my need to be the many things I want to be. It helps me be a scientist where there experiment is I, the personality. I keep observing how I react in different laboratory conditions. In effect, the observer and the observed are i. The lab is the world and different people and situations variants. That’s quite an experiment. Now, if I don’t watch myself dispassionately, I have the tendency to influence the outcome of the experiment. The Heisenberg principle states the result of the experiment is influenced by the intention and expectation of the experimenter. That’s a law of modern physics.

The Rishis had discovered this law more than 10,000 years ago-they were the researchers of that age. They researched the human body, the breath and the emotions, the mind and its different faculties, the gr4eat cosmic energy and the interconnectedness of all of them. They knew that their consciousness affected them and everything around them. They lived in harmony with nature and applied their minds to create a life and environment that seemed beyond the natural. Yoga develops the artist in me. I can sculpt myself the way I want to be. Yoga helps smooth-en out the edges. Once I decide I want to mold myself, the divine sends me his bandwagon to help me. He is the greatest artist of all and I aspire to be like the great creator of beauty.

We also see horror and grossness. with free will, one creates ones reality. I am responsible for the beauty and the ugliness I see within me. Again what I see ugly can be just a matter of perception. Now, let us apply the Heisenberg principle. When my intention is “I am ugly”, then according to the thought, and to the intensity of the thought, I make myself ugly. So change the thought and you can change the outcome. That’s brilliant isn’t it?

Now I get to be an artist and a scientist at the same time. Yoga develops the manager in me. It helps me manage myself with all my idiosyncrasies. As Swami Gitanana said, “Yoga is the Right Usenet of everything”. This includes our body, emotions, thoughts, time and external resources. We need to learn to make optimum and responsible use of all that there is. We start with our body optimizing the energy in the system and directing it with our intellect to work towards a vision. We learn to be the CEO of our own energy system and manage and direct our resources efficiently. We learn to become leaders by motivating our body and emotions to do what our intellect knows is healthy and not force them. We build a healthy team of body, emotions, mind and intellect and make them work in harmony. We deal with conflict resolution and disaster management just by managing ourselves effectively. Yoga helps us to look at ourselves as a project-a project of self-improvement rather than give excuses or condemn ourselves.

My film making skills are also honed by yoga. My life is like interactive TV. I am constantly writing and rewriting my life’s script. Some scripts don’t work and others do. The more in tune I am with my power and consciousness, the more I materialize what I think about. Sometimes, I just sit back and see the great soap operas that unfold in my life and around me and I know it is all His Leela or play. Our lives surpass the dramas on television and are infinitely more engrossing. We can see the roles we play and know we have the capacity to move beyond our roles.

Whatever roles we play, teacher, father, manager, Christian, musician, or saint, Yoga will make us better at it. With yoga we address our being. We move closer to who we are, rather that what we posses. We develop a deep respect for ourselves as an individual and as a manifestation of the divine-not because of our acquisitions, be ti material, intellectual or spiritual. Yes, there are a lot of spiritual acquisitions also that one can start identifying with – like titles, visions or powers to heal and manifest objects. They can also be a pitfall, as one stops identifying with professional and emotional roles and, starts identifying with the spiritual roles one plays. Yoga helps one work on one’s being and that is reflected onto everything one does and all the roles one plays. The roles are a vehicle to fulfill ones learning on planet earth. Roles are necessary and are an expression of ones being. The stage is set, and we can decide how well we want to play our roles. Each role is crucial to the scrip. When we play our roles with joy and awareness, we realize that no role is too small or too big. No profession better than the other.

Each of us is not just a part of the whole but a reflection of the whole.


Where does one go in the wilderness? In a concrete jungle, the latest spiritual workshop gets a herd following. I do appreciate guidance from those around, but a dependency on any is far from what I had in mind. Which one of these stores, oops! Workshops are going to help me find the way?

I was a spiritual window shopper. Not that I wanted anything in particular-didn’t even know what I was looking for. I attended a few workshops as they were recommended. I was already spiritual (in workshop sense). I knew I was connected to something bigger than my personality, but I was more concerned about my ground realities. How do I find balance in my relationships? How do I become emotionally expressive, or street smart? How do I deal with the manifest world? How do I relate to money and power? How do I bring higher concepts into my body and emotions, not suppress or fight them, but have them work in harmony. That was my spiritual quest.

My film making/advertising lifestyle was gnawing at me and I wanted OUT! I knew if I worked the way I did, I would not age gracefully, and end up with some money and a sour spirit. I had seen many in my family who were great achievers, extremely intelligent and well read, but who were emotional fools. I definitely did not want to head that way.

Oh God, where will I find a place that will train me and help me grow? Who is going to guide me without wanting to control my life/ who is going to help me deal with how to become a better and more skilled individual…. To help me work with my body, my emotions and mind? Who is going to help me unlearn a lot of the dysfunctional patterns I had picked up, make me get more assertive and help me have a deeper understanding of myself? Who is going to show me the way?

What I was looking for was a Guru without knowing it.

I had never thought of myself as spiritual. I rarely attended church or went to temples. No one but mom went to church anyway. So I did not feel too guilty about it. Whenever a wave of guilt was passed on from mom to me, I’d land up in church and later have some lighthearted fun about the boring sermons. Was not Jesus, whom I loved and trusted, supposed to save and deliver me? I asked his Mom to find me a place to learn. And she did! Mother Mary passed the message to me during a Reiki meet. George Kurian at the meet told me vaguely that there was some place in Pondy that teaches yoga and since I was looking for centers, I could also check this one out. I landed there, and that I had been guided was clear to me. Surrender saw me through. When the intention is strong then the way is automatically cleared.

My trainer at the ashram, Amma or Meenakshi Devi, called herself an acharya.. She explained the difference between a guru, acharya and a teacher. When we left the course we would be acharyas. A teacher teaches without the subject having any impact on one’s life. A teacher could teach physics or maths or aerobics and it was something they did for a living, maybe even loved, but nothing beyond. An acharya had to be much more than a teacher, Yoga had to be in one’s blood and bones. An acharya had to walk the path, not teach it like a subject, but live it. Hmm!! I decided then that I was going to go back to advertising. Teaching was not something I wanted to seriously take up. And yet, my desire for growth materialized in life, making me an acharya. Every time I teach, it is a re-enforcement for me, a reminder of my evolution.

Amma was there to guide us, without making us dependent on her. The teachings were provided to help us understand ourselves better and see the different stages in evolution and the quirks in human development. Aha!! So the emotions come from the animal brain, it was not just my problem but the problem of the whole human race. That felt a lot better already. The awareness inculcated the day-to-day observations, and the lifestyle got rid of a lot of what I did not need. Amma, at every step, warned us of the possible potholes to watch for, if in our enthusiasm we drove too fast. Yoga is balance. It is not competition or achievement oriented. The questions, doubts and the low moments that one went through, she warned us of, and I was able to observe my own fickle mind. Whatever we needed for our refinement and our growth, she provided us with. We of course had to utilize it. As one who was walking the path herself she told us of the detours, how sometimes it could be an up hill task-one step back and two steps forward. Yet we had to diligently row up the stream.

Amma was a spiritual mother who helped the child take his first few steps and stayed beside. Happy to have a few aware children, than a multitude of cattle, she guided us through the classes that were a framework for our lives. If we put in effort, we needed to learn to let go of it. Do our best and leave the rest. She provided many instances where we could understand ourselves and relate to others harmoniously. Amma in a lot of ways was a channel of the guru spirit. But she reserved the word for a very evolved soul. Nowadays, every new kid on the block is called a Guru. Right from management gurus to style gurus to the street-smart gurus, there seems to be an influx of them. The intensity of the word is not understood.

The word Guru means dispeller of darkness. By shining the light of self- knowledge, the guru helps us see those aspects that we are hiding from; recognize the universal potential within us.

Swami Geethananda is the guru in the paramparya (lineage) of Rishi Brigu. He was a channel for the supreme consciousness. If his students hung on to his personality, he trampled it. If the student was hung on the personality of the Buddha he ripped the Buddha apart in class; he definitely was not your popular candyfloss, all smiles Guru. He was not attached to his image. If the student still idolized him he’d burp and fart loudly in class. Gurus are supposed to be perfect; they should walk on air and look like they came straight out of a commercial. Or the guru should have “peace” painted on his face and make the student sing or chant all day in ecstasy. The student’s conception of the Guru was formed to fit into his world. The world he had created in his head had to be intact. If a guru threatened it then he was not a guru.

The guru spirit that manifested through Swami Geethananda helped break that which the student held on to; be it a belief or the ego. What came through him for that particular moment for that particular person was given. He was all that life needed him to be at that particular moment, especially, when his students need to grow. Each needed different treatment. Each according to their vasanas or conditioning needed to have some belief system shaken out of his/her head. If the student was tamasic (dull, inert) he had to break the Tamas, if they were Rajasic (restless) he trained them to become satvic (alert, still). He would shout at his students saying they had “spinal cord mentalities”. He did not even credit them with using their brains! If Einstein used only 6% of his brain how much are you using, he would ask. He wanted them to grow, and in a controlled environment, worked their karma out for them. By giving them knowledge of the true self he opened their minds. By allowing them to experience themselves he opened up the cosmos to them.

So does each one of us go looking for a guru? Even if there was an evolved Master, do we want to work on ourselves? Do we really want awareness, or are we attached to some silly fantasy of what awareness might be? When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Swamiji never gave anyone sanyas (except one). To cultivate a harmonious family in a yogic way was to be the sadhana of all his students. He was a tough taskmaster and made it even more difficult by not having an organization. He wanted us to go out and create our own oasis. We had to create our own yogic space in the midst of bhoga (solely seeking sensory gratification). He was like the ferryman helping us cross over, guiding us to get in touch with our inner Guru. We have to help ourselves find the way.

A Guru is the vehicle that takes us closer to the divine. But he does become personal, and like with a father, an attachment is natural. But it is important to see that attachment. Not condemn all other fathers because they are not our own. Or form clans instead of embracing the universality of yoga.

Swamiji was a symbol for the guru spirit. He had purified himself and was a pipe or channel for whatever had to flow through. It might have been tinted with his personality but it did not originate there. All of us have a rigid conception and experience of the world and ourselves. Anything that threatens that image could never flow through. If we are non-confrontational, then, even if a situation requires it, we never address it, but push it under the carpet. If we are short tempered or insecure then we feel defensive, even if the other person did not mean to put us down. Yet we want to improve the quality of our lives. That’s why we have internal conflicts that manifest as external conflicts.

The people in our lives serve as a vehicle for the Guru spirit. Each of them reflects parts of us. Which part, has to be figured out. Life is constantly giving us messages about ourselves. Are we attentive and alert? Do we find ourselves in the same situations again and again? Do we find the same people triggering the same reactions? Do we allow the will of the divine to manifest through us? Do we notice our blocks? Do we listen and are we present to what is happening? Are we aware of the Guru Spirit that flows through life? Or are we sleeping, too busy when our guru is knocking at our hearts.

I offer my gratitude to Swami Geethananda and Guru Patni Meenakshi Devi for raising the consciousness of many including myself. Pranams to Dr.Usui and all the ascended master for guiding me. My love to Christ and Mother Mary for giving me such a blessed life.

Time For Gnyana

Yogic Awareness:

When we procrastinate,tension builds up. As the deadline nears, the rush of adrenaline propels us to act. Energy is lost if decisions are delayed and the conflict and worrying saps one of prana or life force. Any good manager is also a good decision maker, who keeps in mind not only his own well-being, but also that of his team.

The Technique:

Sit comfortably with spine straight on the ground in padmasana or on the chair. Let the tips of the index and thumb touch each other forming a nice circle. The other three fingers are together,straight and stretched out. Place the hands on the thighs with the palms facing upwards. Focus on the area between your eyebrows.

If you find yourself unable to focus or agitated, then do the simple cleansing breath that we saw last fortnight. Then you can practice the gnyana mudra for 3-5 minutes. Intend that whatever decisions you take will be in accordance with natural laws.

Yogic Concept:

The index finger signifies the ego. It is the finger that points,separates, threatens and indexes. The ego is a necessary step in evolution where we experience our individuality as well as separation and one must consciously transcend it to find oneness.

The thumb stands for universal consciousness. In the gnyana mudra , we are uniting the ego finger with the fire of consciousness. This gesture with our hands sends a signal to our sub conscience to behave in accordance with the natural/universal laws. The other three fingers signify the senses, which are disciplined by the intellect.


How far from here is a place for growth and learning? Where are the metaphysical centres? How far do I need to go to find out why I’m doing what I’m doing? How far before I rework my life and recondition myself. How far to change what needs to be changed? How do I know change what needs to be changed? How do I get to where can improvge on myself? These questions were rolling in my head.

Soon the rolling became a rumbling. Life moved things are such an amazing speed that I cannot but be enthralled by the beauty of it all. Why would I want to set time aside for study after so many years in the visual midia? Why should a normal [maybe not] and happy person like me question things so much/ what was I looking for? I was looking for something that lay buried. I could find the location myself by trial and error but a road map would definitely help. My mind took me to a healing center and school in New York. Then it took me to north India. Then to my surprise I found myself in Pondycherry. After contemplating travelling across a continent, a hundred miles from where I lived was not a bad deal at all.

The Ananda ashram or the International Center for Yoga education and research in Pondycherry is a lovely place. But the architecture did not match up to the acrs of open space I had in mind. Speak of my –mega movie mentalitay. Yet I discovered a lovely garden athat not many ventured into. My animal brain had already marked my territory there; not that anyone ever competed for it. It was my little space. I frequented it often, either to practice my “Hakaras”[a yogic exercise], my singig or to just be. The space opended up an expanse within.

The acharya, Meenakshi Devi and the few students she took each year did not have halos around their heads. Were they not supposed to wear long pointed hats! My stay there happened before exposure to Haryy Potter and I drew my inspiration from fairy tales. I met her week before the program started and I committed to staying for three months in the gurukula.

No leaving the ashram for typing out the assignments and buying some essentials. I was not looking to be entertined and I was finenwith it. I could always leave, I told myself. I did not have to endure anything. Especially after decided to keep a check on my masochistic side. I stayed on, not just for three months but for six, and also went back there for another month, and will go back there for regular stays. The road maps proved there were too well drawn out, to not move ahead.

The rhythm of the programme was set. The wake up call at 4.30 a.m, pooja, chanting, quiet sitting, hatah yoga and raja yoga practices, anatomy and physioogy, yoga chikitsa, mantra, Sanskrit, bhajans. Two meals a day and soup being the last meal at 6.00pm, not forgetting Satsangha from 7.00-9.30 pm. In between, we had to write our assignments and could choose to learn carnatic music and bharatnatyam. Amma, as Meenakshi Devi is lovingly called, took only five students that year. I was one among them. Now surely, I must learn to fly at the end of such intensive work. If not atleast read auras. But as the course progressed none of that seemed to matter.

My original questions were being taken care of. How do I work on myself, how do I grow? The adult in me took over the child, which was fascinated by magic. The magic of life was too strong to ignore. The discipline instilled and the ability to put time to good use were worth than any magic portion. The real magic lies in our ability to deal with time and space.

The more I distanced myself from my patterns and observed, the less I was caught up in my own dramas. I learnt to acknoledge the animal as well as the divine in me. I learnt to see the escapist as well as the realist in me. I thanked god for the greatest blessing of making me happy to be me. I left the ashram with more of myself. That was a wish fulfilled.

The Swayamthaka is a magic gem that grants the owner any wish. Many fake ones were demons disguised as the gem. A man who was looking for it saw the gem a few miles after he started his surch, and thought to himself, that it surely cannot be so. The precious gem could not be so close. So, he traveled many miles for many months and finally saw another Swayamthaka. This was the fake one. He thought that since it was so far from where he started, it must be real. He picked it up and was burnt too ash by the demon. That which is distant or unapprochable, though dangerous, seems precious.

In the story of the Alchemist by Pauto Coelho also, the boy travels the world before he is led back to the treasure, which was buried where he had started off. The Ananda ashram is the Swayamthaka that led me back where I started off. It helped me deal with the world in a more balanced way. Not escape it. It is a second home where I have been reconditioned. The qualities I have imbibed have become second nature. The morden gurukula [clan or family of the guru] provided a second family. The name I received there is a resonance of the qualities I have to bring forth from within. [Using the original version now] The guru’s family provided a better set of patterns and conditioning than my own. I was able to appreciate my own family better as it provided the training ground. I could see the continuity of consiousness. Both my homes were only a hundred miles apart.

Amma was a reflection of my own mother who was interested and invested her emotions in my evolution. Swamiji, are flection of my grandfather who instilled love for perfection. My dad a strong reminder of conflicting emotions and the grey areas I had to accept. All of them were a reminder of the forces that I had to grow fom and not escape or negate.

Each of them ultimately was a reflection of me. I had to see the qualities they possessed or that which was complementary in myself. The Swayamthaka gave me tha location of the treasure. Each time the location shifted to apoint closer to me. Dedication, discernment and discipline [as my dad says] will help me get there. I had scoffed many times at those who spoke words that were not reflected in their own lives. Now I take it is a blessing. I know it is the good in them that is giving me the message to find it in myself. The closer I aom to myself, the closer I am to my original home, the abode of the divine. That is where the real treasure lies within me.

I am thankful I did not doubt the authenticity of the Swayamthaka, because it was there without much hype. The Ananda ashram is nota populist place. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the proof of the teaching is in my own growth and increasing clarity. The Swayamthaka or the wish-granting gem is sometimes so close, that we don’t see it. It lies there without any fanfare and we undermine it. We miss the diamond on the ground and go for the glass on display. Do we need to go around the world and run after the fantasy in our heads or can we learn to appreciate that which is close to us?


Driving, when I started, was a daunting task. The brake, accelerator and the clutch were more legwork than I could deal with. Then, I had to coordinate my hands as well. The gears had to be changed in the midst of clinging on to the steering wheel. It took a while before I could practice non-attachment with my steering wheel. It did not matter that I stepped on the accelerator instead of the break or that I changed gears before I stepped hard on the clutch. The steering wheel was my hold on life. The huge buses and the lorries did not make it easier for me. The cyclists and bikes constantly cut across. Couldn’t these guys be less irritating? The brakes and the steering wheel were my two life saving devices. My legs, at every instance, reached for the brakes and my hands held on tight. I slowly learnt that there were other parts to the car and to driving. I did not have as many knee-jerk reactions with the break. There were not as many crisis situations as I had imagined and I eased my grip on the steering wheel.

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He had a big van that could accommodate all the little birds in his nest. He called them“eaglets” , as he wanted them to soar on their own. Their stay with him was a preparation for their flight. Everyone was taken care of and he drove them to where he thought was best for them. The little ones might have sometimes thought that he was going too fast or might have wanted a shorter ride, but that was not left to them. By calling them “little” I am not indicating their age, but their growth in the Yoga Life. They were part of a Gurukula [experiential educational space] and had to look at themselves as children who had a lot to learn, rather than grown ups who thought they knew everything.

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She rides the roads of Pondicherry with a speed that belonged a century ago, happy to accompany the bullock carts and the cycles. She is careful not to allow life to zoom past her. She is in no hurry to get anywhere. No adrenalin rushes for her, a steady pace that allows her to be with herself. Not to confuse her with one who wastes her time. She has more full time jobs than anyone I know. She is the Director of the ” International Centre For Yoga Education and Research”, the resident acharya of the six month programme that trains teachers in Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga , she runs the Yoganjali Natyalaya that trains non resident students in Baratnatyam, Yoga and Carnatic music in Pondicherry city, the editor of the monthly magazine “Yoga Life”, author of four books and has been awarded the ” Puduvai Kalaimamani ” award for her contribution to Bharatnatyam.

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