My Yoga Journey
with Lalitha Damodaran
Lalitha Damodaran is a yoga teacher in Bangalore, India. In this interview, she shares her 11-year yoga journey and motivation for practicing yoga.
Everyone must practice yoga. There really should be no exceptions. There is a practice that can suit every individual. Not for competition, not for proving anything, not for body building, but for oneself, for one's inner peace, for self awareness, for self reflection, to understand oneself deeper, to manifest one's emotions and thoughts, to access one's parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga is a habit; it is not a gym training routine.
Interview with Lalitha Damodaran
What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga to me is all encompassing, a way of life and not just a physical practice, a way to access my inner self and be at peace with myself.
When did you first start practicing yoga and why?
I started practicing 11 years back mainly as a means to complement my marathon running, as a cross-fit training regimen for recovery, injury prevention and strength-building for better runs. Slowly I got pulled into the practice as I was fascinated by the overall well-being that I started to observe not just in my body, but also, in all spheres of my life. It was making me better both physiologically and psychologically. I can say that in the past 11 years, I've never had any major injuries to my body despite all the heavy running routines I used to practice and that's only because of my regular yoga practice.
Were you ever resistant to learn yoga?
Ohh yes, absolutely, I always thought it was meant for senior citizens :-) It was boring, slow, just about breathing, etc. But my perception and my wrong assumptions completely changed after my very first class. I realized what a powerful practice this was, thanks to all the authentic teachers I've had during these years, and I slowly discovered what a versatile practice this can be depending on how your body adapts on a certain day. That's the beauty of this practice.
How has yoga impacted your life?
In many many ways. I'm much calmer, way more balanced. I've developed internal strength, so much that it's surprising even to me. Less injuries, no niggling health issues. I've realized different facets of my potential that I did not even know existed. The great feeling after every single session of my yoga practice keeps me feeling happy and content throughout the day :-) that's my biggest takeaway.
Why should someone practice yoga?
Everyone must practice yoga. There really should be no exceptions. There is a practice that can suit every individual. Not for competition, not for proving anything, not for bodybuilding, but for oneself, for one's inner peace, for self awareness, for self reflection, to understand oneself deeper, to manifest one's emotions and thoughts, to access one's parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga is a habit; it is not a gym training routine.
What are your favourite asanas and why?
I'm usually very fond of forward folds like paschimottanasana, badhakonasana, etc as I feel calm. But my go to asana has to be Headstand (shirsasana), shoulder stand (sarvangasana) and all the arm balances as they make me feel energetic and strong, I feel a sense of accomplishment coupled with an inner calm esp while doing headstands.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yoga should be celebrated, especially by Indians, as this is our legacy and our gift (India's gift) to the world. Our sages and rishis practiced yoga several thousands of years ago and it is one of the most ancient practices in the whole world. We should make yoga as an important subject in all schools, not as an extra curricular program but as a main subject.
Lalitha's yoga journey teaches us that the benefits of yoga extend well beyond the physical practice. There are psychological benefits, such as mental well-being and an abiding sense of happiness and contentment with oneself. Like many other yoga teachers, she debunks the myth that yoga is not just for the fit, healthy and athletic, it is for everyone.
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