We celebrate International Yoga Day (21st June, 2015) tomorrow and it’s about time we truly gave this ancient fitness form its due. After all, with the fast-paced life that we lead today, yoga is the one thing that calms our minds, disciplines us and also makes our bodies strong enough to combat daily stress. And now with our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi having wowed to celebrate this day on a grand scale, the country is on a drive to embrace India’s 3000-year-old tradition that is yoga in a big way. As the day draws close, we spoke to the PRO and Medical Consultant, Dr Nutan Pakhare, at Kaivalyadhama Yoga (Mumbai) – one of the city’s most popular yoga institutes. Read on to know all about it.
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BB: The Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute is dates back to 1917 and has been pioneering yoga research, training. How has the journey been thus far?

Kaivalyadhama: This institute was founded by Swami Kuvalayanandaji in 1917 at Amalner under Bombay Presidency. In 1924, it was established in Lonavala. It came to Mumbai in 1932 in Santacruz after which it moved to Marine Drive. I’d say that the journey for us has been extremely fulfilling because we’ve been able to reach out to many through our institute. We have around 300 people who learn yoga in our Mumbai centre every day.

BB: The institute has always promoted traditional yoga. In an age where modern forms of yoga are gaining popularity, how does the institute deal with this (competition)?

Kaivalyadhama: We believe in living by the traditional form of yoga because that is our USP. At Kaivalyadhama, the main emphasis is on the scientific approach towards yoga. Here, we conduct many studies on how to get knowledge on the way our yoga affects the human body physically and mentally. What we do is basically Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. If you follow these eight limbs, you are doing yoga right. This is the most fundamental part of Ashtanga yoga and we completely believe in this. Having said that, I’d like to say that every kind of yoga has its own benefit and we don’t want to doubt them. We are just maintaining our own touch.

BB: Can you tell us something about courses for students who wish to learn this traditional form of yoga?

Kaivalyadhama: We hold classes here as well as have an online yoga course for people who don’t have much time in hand yet want to learn. We have recorded lectures, which work wonderfully for them. Besides this, there is a basic course for students as well as a diploma course in Mumbai and Lonavala.

The special thing here is that we do a medical checkup of each student first as he takes membership into Kaivalyadhama. We have 6 doctors in the Mumbai branch who have done their Bachelors in Ayurveda Medicine and many are even trained in yoga. Our yoga teachers teach yoga based on the prescription of these doctors because we believe that every student needs special attention at our centres.

BB: In this day and age where people lead stressful and fast-paced lives, how important is yoga?

Kaivalyadhama: With yoga, you can overcome any kind of stress because while you do it, you understand the crux of the problem in your body. You can delete the cause of the problem itself with yoga, if you have proper guidance. I’ve actually seen people’s lives changing in front of me. People who are under stress also need counseling along with yoga. And we give them just that.

BB: World Yoga Day was first celebrated in India by Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in 2014. However, this year the day has a government backing and is being celebrated in a big way throughout the country. How different is your celebration going to be from the one you did last year?

Kaivalyadhama: We don’t just want to stick to one day where we celebrate yoga. Our yoga teachers have already begun visiting 20 different places out of the institute to teach people yoga. We’ve gone to the Central and Western Railways, the Cricket Club of India etc. where our teachers are training people. We believe in reaching out to the unreached too. So we also have teachers visiting the prison in Byculla, Mumbai to teach the prisoners yoga. But on 21st June, there is a special celebration with yoga sessions and various renowned nutritionists and yoga gurus talking about yoga at the Mumbai centre.

International Yoga Day will be celebrated in Mumbai on 21st June, Marine Drive from 6-9am.