I am 13 years old and have been practicing Yoga since I was 5. So far, I have been awarded with 76 medals, 108 certificates and 58 trophies. I don’t come from a family of Yogis, but today I teach Yoga to everyone in my family. Yoga for me has never been about the physical asana practice alone. I believe that the mental and emotional benefits of Yoga cannot be separated from the physical aspect.
I consider Yoga as a skill to keep the body and mind calm and I have personally experienced this transformation. During my preschool days I was an extremely naughty child and had caused much trouble to other children and my teacher. My class teacher had informed my Mother that I was hyperactive and keeping me busy with some extra curricular activities such as music or dance, may help calm me down.
My Mom thought that Carnatic music might help and thus enrolled me in music lessons at the age of 5. The training continued for less than 5 months. I recall this phase as one of my worst nightmares. I simply wasn’t interested in Carnatic music and it didn’t take long for this feeling of disinterest to surface as fear and fever.
My mother noticed and agreed that forcing me to pursue something that I wasn’t interested in, is not the solution. She started looking up the internet and reading about options that would help improve my concentration and also help channel my energy productively.
The answer was Yoga
My mom thought that Yoga may help and so enrolled me in Saraswathi Yoga Kendra in Electronic City, Bangalore. I have been learning under the guidance of Sri Purushotham Derajee since then and the Yoga Kendra has become my second home. I spend close to two hours daily at the center, practicing Yoga asanas and discussing Yoga philosophy.
I was also inspired by veteran actor Dr.Rajkumar who is regarded as the first actor of world cinema who had mastered Yoga. He used to practice Yoga regularly and in his movie, Kaamana Billu (Kannada movie), you can see him practice various advanced asanas and also Shat Kriyas like Jalneti and Nauli Kriya. I was really impressed and also thought to myself that if a 60 year old man can do it, why can’t I?
At first, I found the practice of asanas little tough as it takes time for the body and mind to become flexible. But it was never boring. I felt happy after my Yoga classes. Lot of kids may think that Yoga is a very slowwwww practice and may be boring. But it is not so. It is a lot of fun! In fact, it really helps destress after school and even during exams.
“Yoga is a powerful vehicle for change. As you build your strength, you start to believe in you potential.” Yashwanth
I also get to learn a lot from the seniors in my class. They always have some amazing tips to share and also inspired me to start home practice. With home practice, I also started teaching at home and today my parents, grandparents and even my younger borther, they all dedicate some time to practice Yoga daily.
Yoga competition is not for asana alone
It is true that Yoga is not a competition, but Yoga championships are a great platform for people from all walks of life to participate in and to learn from. In fact, I was first introduced to the Eight Limbs of Yoga in a Yoga championship in Pondicherry, around 2 years ago. These competitions are not for asanas alone; equal marks are also allotted for Yoga theory and chanting (viva). I had referred to the book by BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga.
Below, I am sharing a brief write-up on Yoga competitions and its history, as mentioned in World Yoga Championship page.
Yoga competition is part of India’s rich history. But Yoga Competitions is not Asanas Competition. It is said that Yoga Competitions have been taking place for 2,000 years now, albeit in a more philosophical form. Today, it is estimated that the yoga competition in its current form began about 100 years ago. At least one yoga competition takes place daily in India.
And world or international yoga competitions in its current from began about 22 years ago with the father of World Yoga Championships and International Yoga Sports Movement: Swami Maitreyananda (Dr. Fernando Estévez-Griego). Maitreyananda is the founder and creator of Artistic Yoga and Rhythmic Yoga the poem and nice art of yoga.
I remember attending my very first national level championship in Pondicherry around 4 years ago. Though I did not win, I enjoyed being there. Next year, I participated again and this time I won the first place and got selected for the next championship, which was held in China. This was my first international championship and I had won the third place. After China, I was invited to participate in a championship in Malaysia, then Thailand, Hong Kong and Argentina.
I never felt stressed or under pressure and actually enjoyed participating in almost all these championships. I won first and second places in general Yoga, Artistic Yoga and Rhythmic Yoga and of course, I felt proud about winning laurels for my country, India. Having said this, there is this one championship which I thought was really tough and did stress me out!
It was my trip to Argentina. It wasn’t really the competition or the people. In fact I had won the first place and was also approached by a local channel to demonstrate few asanas for their TV show. We were there for almost 5 to 6 days. But somehow, the journey in itself stressed us all out.
Right from delays in our visa to flight delays, from reaching the competition just in time with no time to prepare or reboot, from the local strikes that lead to flight cancellations, weather conditions and the delays in bus services … all this was a bit stressful and I don’t think I want to experience it again. But one has to move on 🙂
“Exhale the past – inhale the future”
Living my Yoga
More than taking pride in winning the medals and championships, I feel good about the fact that my achievements have made my country proud and my family and teachers happy. I was honoured with the ‘Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Sevarathna Award’ in April 2017, ‘Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Award’ by Government of Karnataka in September 2018 and have also got a mention in the Guiness Book of Records in August 2018.
My school (Treamis World School, Electronic City) is also happy because the practice of Yoga did not just calm me down but has helped improve my concentration and has taught me the importance of discipline. My Principal, Manjula Mathew encouraged and helped me to participate in all the events. My overall academic performance is good, I have received the “Star Student Award” and I have also won a few prizes in other sports like cricket, football, volleyball and also in dance and painting. I am also passionate about singing and acting.
Yoga has given me much and I am grateful to my parents, especially my Mother, without whose guidance and support I wouldn’t have achieved any of this. She always encourages me to share my knowledge and experience with others. This is why, my family and I spend most of our weekends and our holidays in government schools, hospitals and old age homes.
“Yoga is art of living, but for me Yoga is part of living.’ Yashwanth.
I enjoy teaching Yoga to kids studying in government schools. I visit them regularly and we have a lot of fun together. My parents had also arranged for a visit to the government hospital. I got a chance to interact with cancer patients and also taught them slow breathing exercises that can be practiced regularly.
My family has always encouraged me to give back to the society and help others in whatever way possible. We are grateful to the practice and art of Yoga and thus we are constantly looking out for opportunities which will allow us to share the knowledge and encourage others to take up the practice of Yoga as a lifestyle.
On Independence Day, my Mother managed to get permission from the Central Jail and I got the opportunity to teach prisoners between 20 to 25 years of age. I think they enjoyed the session as they said that they found my practice and my journey inspiring 🙂 It made me happy and I hope I continue to make such positive differences in people’s lives.
Though Yoga is from India, not everyone here is aware of its benefits. My dream is to continue to spread awareness about Yoga and make my country disease free. I wish that every child is introduced to Yoga. When it comes to choosing a profession, I want to become an IAS officer and help as many people as I can.
I am also passionate about cricket and hope to become a cricket player when I grow up. I really admire AB de Villiers, former South African cricketer. Apart from being an amazing batsman, he also gives back to the society. And of course, I also dream of meeting our Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji some day and tell him all about my plans to take Yoga to as many people as possible and also perform Yoga in front of Modi Sir.
My daily practice
I start my day at around 6 am and practice Yoga for about half an hour. My school timings are 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. I reach home by 4.15 pm. My study time is from 5 to 6.30 pm, followed by one hour of playtime. I then go to my Yoga Shala to learn and practice Yoga from 7.30 to 9 pm.
At the shala, we practice Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga. I started the practice of Surya Namaskar only after I turned 7 years old. I practice Jalneti at least once a week. This is mainly because of the current levels of air pollution in Bangalore, which can cause blocked nose and congestion. I also practice Nauli Kriya almost daily as it helps build the digestive fire.
I feel that kids should practice Ashtanga Yoga as it is very effective and helps build strength, stamina and concentration. As you get older, practicing a few rounds of Surya Namaskar every morning as a warm-up routine is very helpful because it is like a complete body workout and keeps you active all day. As my mother says …
“If you practice yoga once a week – it will change your mind.
If you practice twice a week – it will change your body.
If you practice daily – it is going to change your life.”
At times, I also get opportunities to take Yoga classes for corporates on International Yoga Day. Stress is one of the main problems for people working in IT sector. So I make them do few rounds of Surya Namaskar and basic asanas followed by pranayama and short meditation. I too practice pranayama and meditation for at least 15 minutes daily after the practice of Savasana.
I take up performance requests that are approved by my parents. I have performed in reality shows in TV channels like Sun network, Star Vijaya , Zee Telugu and also participated in India’s got Talent show in 2018. I was invited to perform Yoga during the audio and pre launch of South Indian Movies
I feel that every kid has his or her own reserve of talent and parents should not force their child to pursue something they are not interested in. I am lucky that my mother understood I wasn’t interested in music and my brother is lucky that my parents understand he is passionate about dance. With the right guidance and parent’s support, every child can shine. Every kid and parent should know that …
“When talent and support combine, a miracle happens in life.”
Yashwanth Reddy, Yogi for life.
Yoga Champion, National & International level,
Star student at Treamis World School, Bangalore, India.