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Breathe: a young yogini's message for International Yoga Day

Yoga teacher Swathi SV, shares with us her personal journey that led her to follow the path of yoga and her discovery of mindful breathing

It is June 21st again… another wonderful morning for everyone and me. It is International Yoga Day.

I opened my Whatsapp and saw everyone posting aasanas picture as their status. I felt pressured to do the same as I teach Yoga and philosophy. Usually, I wake up with the sunrise, and today was no different. So I started my morning practice as usual. Today, however, I wanted to motivate the world and myself with 108 Suryanamaskaara, which I always do with a  team of yogis for International Yoga Day

Swathi with a cow
A cow approaches Swathi, Janki Setu, Rishikesh

But this year, the enthusiasm in me was much more than in previous years, yet I felt incomplete, lacking in showing my love for yoga. What was it? I just sat on my mat under the sky, focussing on my breath and relaxing with each exhale. 

It came to me that asana practice alone is not yoga, nor is doing a 108 Suryanamaskaars. Simply working on breathing is yoga too ❤. Breathing mindfully or 'pranayama', living in each moment with the self, builds the connection between the subtle and physical energy systems. 

And so I simply focussed on my breath and continued till I felt complete.

Yogini Swathi SV International Yoga Day
Swathi at Rishikesh, Beatles Ashram (previously Chaurassi Kutia)

Soon after, I started drafting my experience and understanding the meaning of yoga. Even now writing this article is yoga as I’m completely mindful of myself. How many of us are aware of our breath while we brush our teeth/take showers or are mindful when we eat? Isn't it time to tune our awareness of self with each and every breath we take and nurture ourselves with its numerous benefits?

A sankalpa

This moment, let us all take a sankalpa of living every moment of every day 200%. To observe every change and make this a habit... a ritual. Let's align our routine with the sun🌞. Throw in a nature walk or asana practice for a mere 15 minutes - followed by some breathwork. You will see the difference for yourself. Why not celebrate yoga day every day and build ourselves and our health system!

How the yoga journey began

Swathi practicing the chakrasana in front of a mandir
Bangalore: Swathi practicing the chakrasana in front of a mandir

My personal yoga journey started unexpectedly at school. It was the year 2000 and the Kendriya Vidhyalaya where I studied conducted some Yoga workshops. We learned discipline and many asanas. The workshops got over soon but that experience and how yoga made me feel, stayed with me for years. Practicing yoga regularly kept me focussed on my own studies and in a good mood. It left me feeling energetic and made me more creative and supportive of others. So motivated a child I became, that I would motivate other students and friends to study and be disciplined! 

Life moved on and I found myself embracing yoga next when I was studying engineering in college. I was in extreme discomfort due to asthma, the reconnection with yog cured my condition to about 95%. My connection with it was now more dynamic. By 2010 I was practicing dhyana and meditations and counting my Suryanamaskaars, all under the able guidance of the Art of Living. From then till now, yoga has been my breath.

Staying motivated

Discovering the self with Yog

There were some moments when I used to fall back in my practice, but each time I realised I really do need to hit the mat again and resume the routine with regular follow-up sessions with a group of yogis and a guru. With determination, I was able to devote time to this interest every day. My hard work and tapasya helped me tide through the numerous ups and downs that were written on my path. Due to yog sadhana, the roller coaster rides I experienced in life, I was able to handle and could manifest the best things possible from it - which included an understanding of the self.

Swathi Sv International Yoga Day
Swathi at sunrise at Kunjapuri Mandir, Rishikesh for 6 AM meditation

I then wanted to share the knowledge that I had gained and to make the benefits reach far and wide. I wanted to give this knowledge to the world, till my last breath, and it was then that I launched 'Swadhyaaya' where I teach one of the knowledge systems of  Patanjali Yoga Sutras - which builds to connect the system of self with breath through self-study. Over the years my practice has taken me on solo trips across various rivers, the holy Ganga, Bhagirathi, Alaknandha, Zanskar, Krishana, Kaveri, Sharvati, Tungabhadra, and to numerous mountains in Haridwar, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttharakhand, Auli, Himachal Pradesh, Leh-Ladakh, ShimlaCoastal Karnataka... The experiences were spiritual and empowering. My goal has always been to discover myself more and more. 

Swathi at the Ganga ghaat
Swathi on her mat- Neem Beach, Rishikesh

Breathe

I go back to where I started. The breath. The one big thing that I have realised is that everything is connected with breath. We truly can win the world with the right breathing pattern if we practice the correct yogic practices taught by great gurus.

We all spend hours shopping, partying, working at the office, or simply procrastinating. Why don't we all put aside a little time, perhaps just thirty minutes a day for yoga and pranayama? My vision is to see the world with a happy state of mind and healthy body which has a natural healing ability with its own breath; and for everyone to live every moment with joy 🤩!

Krishna and Arjun, geeta Saar on Yoga
Krishna and Arjun in Kurukshetra

I leave you with a Sanskrit shloka that I love:

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।

yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā dhanañjaya।
siddhyasiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṃ yoga ucyate॥

Be steadfast in the performance of your duty, O Arjun, abandoning attachment to success and failure. Such equanimity is called Yog.

हे धनञ्जय तू आसक्तिका त्याग करके सिद्धिअसिद्धिमें सम होकर योगमें स्थित हुआ कर्मोंको कर क्योंकि समत्व ही योग कहा जाता है।

Wishing everyone a wonderful Yoga Day! 

🧘‍♀️ 🕉 🧘‍♀️



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