We, Sharanya Karthik and Karthik Bharadwaj, founders of Revive Yoga, Bangalore, feel confident that our journey follows a path that was meant to be. Fortunately we were not bogged down or brain-washed with expectations of an attractive annual salary package or stock options and start-up bonus schemes at the time of graduation. We got lucky because, our parents did not drag us to educational counsellors when we expressed our desire to pursue careers that are usually considered financially unattractive. One of us wanted to become an air-hostess and the other a gym instructor! While we both grew up in a fitness-conscious Bangalore and worked out rigorously and regularly, it was not until we got married that we found our calling in the practice of yoga.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela
Usually, what we perceive to be our life’s purpose is in conflict with our inner-self but we begin to identify with it because of a lot of external factors, such as pressure of performance and expectations from family and friends. Therefore most of us remain disheartened or feel incomplete even after achieving success in what we set out to accomplish. We start believing that life’s calling will eventually knock at our door, when we are much older, when we have gone through arduous soul searching to arrive at a place or time when our entire life suddenly makes sense. Perhaps a lot of people still perceive the practice of yoga as an end to their journey. But we believe that our decision to embrace the yogic path in our mid-twenties, at the start of our journey, guided us in finding our life’s calling in the midst of all this controlled chaos that surrounds us. Thus Yoga for us is not an alternative to other careers but a logical progression that led to the foundation of ‘Revive Yoga’. We strive to follow a form of yoga where the foundation is set in tradition and knowledge of our true Self, through balance, strength and flexibility.
Importance of Yoga in Today’s Chaotic World
In a technology obsessed world or a world full of so called techies, it is common to find young people getting burned out in their jobs, become victims of stress and depression, and complaint about body aches such as shoulder pain, back aches, etc. It is alarming to find youngsters take muscle relaxants and pills to fight depression. Many seek solace in other weekend and leisure activities such as organic farming, stand-up-comedy, theatre, addventure tours, dirt-bike racing or even fitness and yoga! This is great; however, embracing yoga comes with many other advantages. It becomes a lifestyle because benefits of yoga is not limited to the 1 or 2 hours of practice or just at the physical level. It reflects in your daily choices because it makes you more aware of your breath by increasing your oxygen intake, which in turns helps restore your mind and body.
“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” Bob Harper
Intro to Yoga
Karthik: In my college days, I thought that yoga was simply yoga. It wasn’t until I took the ACE (American Council on Exercise) training to become a certified fitness instructor that I learned about the confluence of mind body exercise.
Sharanya: My connection with yoga goes back to my childhood when I would trot along with my grandmother for her yoga practice, singing the surya namaskara mantras the same way other children sang ‘Jack and Jill’ or ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’. These mantras were the first nursery rhymes that I remember! I also did yoga during my early college days and the muscle memory that was built up then helped me in my yogic path.
Our Journey As Revive Yoga
After we got married, we went in search of tradition and authenticity and found it in the practice of Ashtanga Yoga. Traditionally Ashtanga Yoga is founded on the concept of parampara, meaning experience and knowledge passed in succession from teacher to student. Sri K Pattabhi Jois teachings are now continued by his family. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from Smt. Sharmila (Jois) Mahesh. She is a popular and familiar name in the Ashtanga Yoga world. She is the granddaughter of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois or Guruji (as he is popularly called). Training with Smt. Sharmila opened up the fountain of positive energy within us and motivated us to take decisive steps forward towards our goal.
“Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice Ashtanga Yoga.” Sri K Pattabhi Jois.
Karthik: We saw this as a revival of our true selves and started ‘Revive Yoga’. As practitioners of Ashtanga yoga, we decided to teach the pure form of yoga.
Sharanya: We started with one student who was in his seventies. All credit goes to him for coming regularly and being the recipient of all our enthusiastic commitment and motivation! After that, we got two students for the morning batch.
Karthik: Now we have close to 70 students and we run 5 batches through the day. Students come from all walks of life – teachers, school and college students, stay-at-home mothers, technology professionals, retired folks.
Sharanya: Our youngest student is about 6 years old. We also have students from all religions. We love the diversity in our classes. What is amazing is the way students advocate for themselves. They ask us to teach them yoga to relieve back pain, depression, migraines, help weight loss. This two-way communication is very invigorating. At the end of each session, there is disbelief from the students that they did everything that was required of them. Though there may be a dragging of feet towards the exit, everyone arrives the next day with a spring in their feet – ready to ‘Revive’ their zeal yet again.
We Love Teaching Yoga
Sharanya: I think that with his calm demeanor and beatific smile, Karthik looks like the yogis you encounter in the spiritual writings of yore when disciples wandered into forests looking for peace and salvation. And when you watch him practice, you look behind him for his followers. But his casual shorts and tee-shirt bring me down to earth and I remind myself that though we may get branded as yogis of the modern world, we are trying our best to shape our lives around the ancient philosophy of yoga . Karthik ardently believes in the philosophy of yoga and incorporates it into his daily life. He plays a perfect yin to my yang.
“There is no doubt that the fondation of being a great yoga teacher is being a great yoga student.” Rod Stryker.
Karthik: As for Sharanya, I am sure her students are glad that she did not become an airhostess. Who knows, she would have advocated what we call Airplane Yoga to ease pain and discomfort due to cramped seats:-) At the moment however, she is best suited to teach yoga stretches to ease back pain and teach the art of good posture to our students.
Sharanya: Our knowledge of the correct practices has helped us take verbal and non-verbal cues from our students and apply them to their advantage.
Karthik: Even though Revive Yoga has been running for more than 2 years, we still feel we are at the start of our journey. We would be interested in expanding our mission to train other yoga teachers in this pure form of yoga – to bring back the traditional gurukula style of imparting knowledge. And of course, we want to increase our student base because spreading the practice of yoga is the path that gives us immense satisfaction and happiness.
Sharanya Karthik and Karthik Bharadwaj, Co-founders, Revive Yoga, Bangalore
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