Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Ms. Apsara Vydyula. See her interview below.
Talkback Tuesday is a weekly interview with everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.
1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?
I’m a full-time yoga teacher. I’ve been teaching for the past year and been a student [as well]. I’m also an animal activist and vegan, and promote a compassionate lifestyle to all beings.
I am passionate about teaching yoga and believe that yoga must be approached holistically and should be a way of life rather than an hour on the mat.
Yoga is a personal practice and is something that everyone can do. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. For me, I’d like to see more young people interested in the practice. Westerners are familiar with the benefits of the practice but it amazes me to note that in our own country, people in yoga classes are a lot older and only start practicing once they already have some issues with their body.
Through the disciplined everyday practice of asana (balance of body), pranayama (balance of breath), and dhyana (balance of mind), we can attain freedom which we never knew existed.
2. Why do you think it is that not many young people turn to yoga in our country? Are there misconceptions about the art that you think are prevalent?
I do think that on some level, there are misconceptions. More than that, I feel that if something is available to us in abundance, we take it for granted.
To stay in any asana, you need both strength and flexibility. Yoga is a sustainable practice as opposed to a gym workout.
I studied Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, the birthplace for this style of practice. I was the only Indian in the room in a class of 15 people. Youngsters here do feel that yoga is only about flexibility and they lose interest in it because they don’t think it gives you strength. Especially guys!
But the [reality] of that is in order to stay in any asana, be it a strength pose or flexibility one, a combination of the two is a must. Yoga is a sustainable practice as opposed to a gym workout. Our aim here is not to build mass muscle but to build the strength in between those muscles.
There are many different handstands, arm balances, splits, and twists involved in yoga that provide one with a strong, toned body. And let’s not forget about the innumerable health benefits of the internal body that yoga is most known for.
But apart from that, the breath and healthy technique we use to get into the asanas is something unique and scientific. Asana literally means we have to be in a state of steadiness and ease in every pose.
Yoga is a lifelong practice. I think youngsters here are interested in quick results.
3. You said you’re a vegan. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and fighting online about veganism (particularly because people think vegans are holier-than-thou). What are your reasons for following that lifestyle, and how beneficial do you find it?
I consciously made the decision to turn vegetarian when I was 7 years old. At the time it just occurred to me that I love animals, and I wouldn’t want to eat one. It was simple logic then. About 3 years ago I was introduced to some gruesome truths about what goes on in slaughterhouses, factory farms, leather industries, and breeding facilities, and so I decided to give up animal products all together.
My way of going about this is spreading awareness on the health benefits and positive environmental impacts a cruelty-free lifestyle provides.
I have been in a lot of controversial arguments regarding this online, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. I know there are a lot of good-hearted individuals out there who are meat eaters. Rather than veganism at this stage, I think moving towards a cruelty free lifestyle is a more appropriate choice. This means only eating what is organically grown and ensuring that animals don’t have to suffer endlessly as a result of our desires.
If people are fighting about discrimination on the basis of gender, class, race, caste, etc, what about discrimination against species? It definitely must start here first. My way of going about this is spreading awareness on the health benefits and positive environmental impacts a cruelty free lifestyle provides individuals. So even if they’re not ready to take it out completely from their diets, at least reduce the amount of meat consumption because that is a [good] first step in itself.
Rather than veganism at this stage, I think moving towards a cruelty free lifestyle is a more appropriate choice.
Another thing is that one of the stages in yoga is Yama (social discipline) and niyama (self discipline). These are moral guidelines that we must follow in order to maintain a compassionate life to ourselves and to those around us. Ahimsa is one of these moral codes – Non-violence to ourselves and to those around us.
Apart from this, I have a very intense physical practice, and me being vegan doesn’t get in the way of that. Through plant protein, I still have a great diet that is ideal for me to continue my strenuous practice.
4. Through your answers, you come across as a person of great self-control and discipline. What 3 tips would you give to young people today to lead a healthy, disciplined, and productive life?
- Be inspired every single day. Set goals. Respect those goals to put in the work everyday to make your dreams a reality.
Practice. Everyday. Be it physical practice to maintain good health or maybe another form of practice required for skills you are acquiring. Make sure you continue to be a student your entire life. Learn from everything around you because nature is your best teacher. Be humble and don’t let ego get in the way. Accept that you need to learn from a teacher.
Above all be grateful. We’re blessed with the body we’ve been given and the ability to be the best version of ourselves. Now we can only say thanks and do our best with what we have.
Make sure you continue to be a student your entire life.
5. Great. Finally, do you have anything you’d like the audience to explore? It can be a business or movement, or it could be anything from a video to an idea.
I’m the owner and teacher at Aham Yogashala in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai. I teach Vinyasa yoga that combines movement along with breath, steadiness and ease, and strength with flexibility.
Address of Aham Yogashala: ‘Nest Oceana’, Jayaram street, Thiruvanmiyur, chennai 41. Phone: 9840137496
Classes are suitable for absolute beginners and advanced practitioners looking to deepen their practice.
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Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Chandrabhan Nathawat by clicking on the image below.