I was born in a small village in Rajasthan and moved to Hyderabad with my parents when I was just 3 years old. Though I have had a multicultural upbringing, the conservative Rajasthani social mores continued to dominate my day to day life until I mustered courage and accepted my heart’s calling.
It all started with a summer camp that I had attended after completing High school. I was around 15 years old. The practice of Yoga asana was an important part of the summer camp and I really enjoyed every bit of it. At a young age, what attracted me most was Yoga’s ability to move the body into different shapes.
I was quite amazed to see how flexible can a human body be and was really drawn towards inversions. I always had a fear of falling and learning to balance while I am upside down, helped me build confidence. However, I really had difficulty in following the Pranayama instructions.
Facing your fears
As a child, I often complained about breathing difficulty and despite regular check-ups, the doctors were not able to identify the exact cause or disorder. Thus, in spite of being regular with my Yoga asana practice after the summer camp, I could not keep up with the breath count given by the teacher and was not very comfortable with the breathing exercise.
I am 6 feet tall; however, as a teenager, I was really skinny and had started believing that I was being stared at by everyone, which made me very uncomfortable. Soon I decided to join the gym to put on some weight and build muscle. Two years later, when I was 17, I had a Pneumothorax attack, a condition where the lungs just collapse due to the presence of air in the cavity between the lungs and chest wall.
I had experienced severe, almost unbearable pain and was operated upon immediately. It took me a few months to get back to recover fully and get back to my normal routine. But as they say that in every problem lies an opportunity. The doctor had advised that I avoid the gym until I recover completely and that I start and remain consistent with my Yoga practice, so as to heal well and fast.
“Yoga is a way to freedom. By its constant practice, we can free ourselves from fear, anguish, and loneliness.” Indra Devi
Looking back at my days of transformation, I can say that it was the real beginning of my Yoga journey; Yoga had really helped me recover faster and helped my breathing get back to normal. I spent time practicing both, Asana as well as Pranayama. The more I practiced Pranayama, the more connected and comfortable I felt with myself.
Learning to live my life
Life was back on track and I started focusing on my studies again. But Yoga had also become my regular routine. Back then, I was a nerd and loved spending time studying, preparing for exams and planning my career options. It didn’t even cross my mind that I could make Yoga my career!
I graduated in Commerce from the best college in the city and then just followed the herd, the trend perhaps, and applied for the MBA course. I was good at academics and secured a place in one of the best Universities in town, The Hyderabad Central University. On joining the University, I was delighted to know that there was a Yoga center on the campus that offered Hatha Yoga certification courses.
I went ahead and enrolled in the course. The course had helped me deepen my knowledge about Yoga philosophy, anatomy and physiology and an in-depth study of Yoga poses. An opportunity to teach Yoga for one hour, daily, came my way as soon as I completed the course. I didn’t think twice before grabbing the offer of teaching Yoga at Infosys and United Bank of Switzerland.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” Thich Nhat Hanh
The campus was not far from the University and the timings didn’t clash with my routine. The only hurdle was my fear of public speaking and the fact that I had to instruct and interact with a class full of 30 working professionals! Somehow, I gathered the courage to face the crowd. I think most of the Yoga teachers will agree and relate to this nervousness that sets in just before the class.
Experience certainly helps overcome this fear of teaching and guiding students with different expectations and experiences, but what never changes is the sense of deep gratitude and contentment at the end of every class, when students leave your class with a smile on their face. I had experienced this in my very first session when 30 smiling faces at the end of the session left me with a heart full of gratitude and hope. I was literally in tears and this was the beginning of my Yoga teaching career.
Accepting myself unconditionally
Soon, the class of 30 turned into a class of 50 students and there came a point when the Yoga hall could not take in any new enrollment requests. I felt so happy and content, especially when students shared their experience and feedback about the effect of Yoga on their overall health and life. I continued to teach Yoga for the next 3 months.
I completed my MBA in 2009 and was hired on-campus by one of the best government banks as a deputy manager. I had to quit my part-time Yoga classes but continued to teach Yoga to my family and friends whenever I got a chance. Nevertheless, after a few months of working full time in the bank, I realized that something was missing in my life. I realized that continuing with the bank job is not going to make me happy and so I went ahead and did something that was considered crazy. Yes! I quit my job in 2010! A job that was probably (maybe is) the most coveted jobs for many but thankfully I soon realized, that it just wasn’t for me.
I decided to look for opportunities that will make me happy. I thought to myself, ‘what next?’ but even then, the thought of becoming a full-time Yoga teacher did not come to my mind because it wasn’t considered as a very rewarding career back then. Also coming from a conservative family, where success is measured in terms of money, a lot of money to be more precise, I was convinced that taking up Yoga full-time may give my parents the biggest shock of their life.
Thus I decided to stick with corporate jobs and find something that will make me happy and my parents happy. In my quest for a meaningful and purposeful career, I changed 100s of jobs between 2011 and 2015, switching from IT companies, to start-ups to even NGOs, and also tried working in my father’s family business, but nothing seemed to work or fit in.
And all these years were also extremely challenging for me emotionally as I was going through a relationship crisis and also had a lot of pressure from my parents to settle down, professionally and personally.
In 2015 Yoga re-entered my life. My friend, Krishna, was already teaching Yoga full-time and he suggested that I should consider getting back to doing what I really loved, that is teaching Yoga. He was spot on and I enrolled for another course in Yoga and started teaching part-time along with my regular corporate job at Amazon. Thankfully, my trials and tribulations of changing corporate jobs ended with Amazon. I finally quit my corporate job for good in 2016 and decided to teach Yoga full-time.
Spreading the Yoga love
My success as a Yoga teacher came quick and was effortless. All I had to do was do what came naturally to me. Teaching Yoga made me happy. I am very comfortable in my own skin when I am practicing and teaching Yoga. Today, I am a full-time Yoga teacher and a traveling Yogi, spreading the knowledge of Yoga around India and to other countries.
“Travel light. Live light. Spread the light. Be the light.” Yogi Bhajan
When I started teaching full-time, my friends were happy for me as I had earned a good reputation in Hyderabad as a Yogi and teacher, but my parents remained skeptical about my decision for a while. But I chose to pay more attention to my ‘true calling’ and never looked back after 2016. I started freelancing and taking private classes, workshops, corporate classes and teaching at star hotels and hospitals.
Slowly I started conducting workshops in other cities. One of my most cherished teaching experience was at the Devnar school for the blind, in Hyderabad. This experience taught me that Yoga is not just about helping people get in and out of crazy poses. It works at a deeper level and is much more profound.
I wanted to grow as a Yoga teacher and thus decided to move out of Hyderabad. The daily city traffic was also getting on me. I started applying for Yoga jobs and was offered to teach in Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and Goa. I chose Goa, where I had to train a batch of students pursuing their Yoga TTC.
It was another milestone in my career. I also got to teach in China and currently, I work as a lead teacher in Trimurti Yoga, one of the best Yoga Teacher Training centers in the world, with branches in Goa, Himachal, Bali, and other countries. I travel between different locations and teach students from all over the world.
So far I have trained more than 500 Yoga teachers from around the world and have taught various Yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Aerial, Acro and Yin Yoga. I am so grateful to all the teachers who have been a part of my Yoga journey without whom I would not be where I am.
My parents are finally happy and proud that I am a Yoga teacher. What else can I ask for from life? And yes, the journey is still on and Yoga is like an ocean, there is so much to learn, unlearn and practice. Yoga has added meaning to my life and has filled my life with love. I now strive to spread this love and knowledge to others in every way I can.
Yogi, Reiki healer, animal lover, and traveler.
Traveling Yoga teacher: Goa, Dharamshala, Hyderabad.
Youtube: SusheeJain Yoga