Heal yourself with yoga

Posted by Channel 6
August 1, 2012

Saraswathi Vasudevan opens the Yoga Vahini Centre in Srinagar Colony to share the wisdom of yoga as a complementary healing system. Lakshmi Ramakrishna meets the therapist and trainer to learn more.

Saraswathi Vasudevan, Saras to friends, is a familiar face in Chennai and Hyderabad as a yoga trainer and therapist. Shuttling between the two metros for the last five years, she has decided to open a Yoga Vahini centre in Hyderabad to cater to people wishing to learn yoga and seeking yoga therapy.
A humble Saraswathi says that she accidentally stumbled upon yoga while fresh out of college. “I was 22 and looking for a job as a lecturer. As a stop gap arrangement, took up work as an editorial assistant with a journal at a yoga institute in Chennai. I stuck on with the institute for 17 years.” This, despite pressure from family to switch to a more lucrative job.
She trained under TKV Desikachar, son of T Krishnamacharya and served as yoga teacher, consultant and head of department of research at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) in Chennai well-known as a healing centre. “We had a constant stream of students (patients) seeking relief from ailments affecting their daily lives.” She firmly believes that results through yoga are truly astounding. Recalling a personal experience, Saraswathi says, “Once, I developed severe lower back pain due to disc herniation, and was asked to undergo surgery. However, my teacher guided me through very simple yoga practices healing me almost effortlessly.”
She shares another example, one among many miraculous stories of recovery, about a scientist from the US who was relieved of her neuralgic pain with very simple yoga practices. “Considering that we are now encountering a whole range of stress and lifestyle related issues like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, back pain etc., with medical costs sky rocketing, yoga can be a great boon,” reveals Saraswathi. In her opinion, by practicing yoga, many surgeries can be avoided, medication minimised and one can experience a dramatic change in health and the quality of life.
Saraswathi affirms that Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is the ultimate source of yoga practiced more than 2000 years ago and is still relevant today. “The context and lifestyle may have changed, but it is the same human mind, struggling through its evolutionary process, constantly creating trouble for itself and others and seeking relief,”
she says.
Explaining further, Saraswathi says, “The first word in the Yoga Sutra is Atha meaning here and now, I am ready, willing to take responsibility for my life. When this happens for an individual, the real purpose of yoga is met. When I take responsibility, yoga can become my way of life and is not just confined to the mat — 60 minutes four times a week!”
According to her, yoga is a very personal experience and practices should guide a person. “This journey can begin anywhere, a drop-in group class or yoga in the park. We have to find that which serves our purpose the best and most efficiently.
“Yoga is a spiritual science with a very strong practical implication; these two aspects cannot be separated at any point. All the practices and disciplines in yoga are geared towards understanding and refining our mind. When the mind is refined, our perception becomes clear and actions become better.”
Branching out on her own five years ago, after a decade of being a yoga consultant and trainer, Saraswathi began training students in Hyderabad on the advice of her friends — the actress and activist Amala and Salil Ganeriwal. Shuttling between Chennai and Hyderabad, her dream is to launch yoga centres in Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru. “My dream is to take the science of personalised yoga therapy all over India. We now have a strong base in Hyderabad with a committed team of teachers, therapists and trainers.”
Yoga is for people wishing to be healthier, happier and more at peace with themselves. “Through yoga and yoga therapy each individual can be adequately empowered to deal with their own problems and be their own healers. One of the meanings of the word yoga is Svatantra — meaning freedom. The role of a teacher/therapist is to empower the individual at all levels — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — and minimise external dependency,” says Saraswathi.
The centre believes in one-on-one yoga.  This is because yoga deals with every aspect of an individual — physical, physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual. “Each individual is unique and special hence requires special attention. The illness/issue at hand may seem similar but how a person experiences it and how it impacts his/her life is entirely different. This is the basis for the personalised yoga therapy that we practice and teach — the gift of Sri T Krishnamacharya, the legendary yoga master to the world,” explains the teacher.
Plans are afoot to train more yoga teachers and therapists. “Yoga chikitsa (therapy) requires the skill of a surgeon and the creativity of an artist. Above all, it requires a deep desire to help others who are suffering,” says Saraswathi.   “In Hyderabad, we have completed two teacher-training programmes where close to 40 people have graduated as trainers and 14 as therapists in the course that ended in December 2010. The next batch commences in August this year,” she adds.
Explaining the yoga training session, Saraswathi says that it comprises of two levels: Basic teacher training programme (350+ hours) followed  by an advanced therapist training programme (500+ hours) spread over two-and-a-half years.
Throwing light on the upcoming training programme (August 2012 – December 2013), Saraswathi says that it is an integrated course that combines the basics of teacher training built into therapist training. There will be four intensive modules of 10 days each, internship and project work.
Those people who have not done the basic teacher training programme with Yoga Vahini can take a bridge course and individualised coaching between therapy modules. The current training is priced at Rs 20,000 per module; it may vary with the size of the group (minimum 15, maximum 20).  Training hours will be between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm, group and individual classes will be scheduled between 6 am – 8 pm.
If you want to heal yourself or learn the fundamentals of keeping healthy then step into the yoga centre. For those who are unable to step in, subscribe to the newsletter for better health.
Yoga Vahini Centre for Learning & Healing,
Flat No. 403, 4th floor, Padmaja Towers,
Plot No. 81, Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad.
Office hours: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm
Tel: 9948312492/9866182510  www.yogavahini.com

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