Before becoming a yoga teacher about 4 years ago, he spent around two fruitful decades in the financial industry. But that has not been an impediment. On the contrary, it strengthened his ability to transmit his teaching with clarity and precision. The way he can communicate the teachings of yoga is extraordinary. He does not push you into it, but very gently leads you through the practice which opens the doors of physical and mental fitness and much more for you. He is a certified teacher from the internationally acclaimed Yoga institute Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. He is the co-founder and principal teacher at HoJo Yoga, a high-end studio near Manyata Tech Park.
To make yoga accessible to homemakers he founded Mandukya Yoga in the residential area of Sanjay Nagar. He has a huge following among the expat community and trains some of the big names in the fashion industry. His core principle is 'Ahimsa' (non-injury) while teaching yoga and incorporates Sage Patanjali's Astanga Yoga principles in all his teachings.
Yoga Teacher, Sai Bhatt on his path to attaining the unattainable and on his inspiration that led him to discover, practice and take on Yoga as a way of life.
Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I read a lot of yoga literature during my spare time. I was particularly drawn to the teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya, known as the father of modern yoga and as a teacher to legends like BKS Iyengar and Pattabi Jois. I nurtured an ambition for years to get trained as a teacher from his institute and it was a dream come true when I finally enrolled for coveted 500-hour Teacher Training Certificate, last year.
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most?
I meditate on my Guru Sri Krishnamacharya every day to gain inspiration and transmit his teaching to my students to help them achieve the highest state of Yoga. I admire TKV Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, a teacher par excellence, a prolific writer and teacher to many brilliant minds like J Krishnamurti. He has been instrumental in reaching Krishnamacharya's teachings to the world.
Any childhood memory or experience that motivated you?
As a child, I was fascinated by the mystics and yogis who gained extraordinary powers by doing yogic practices. I dreamt of attaining supernatural powers and started practicing yoga. However, after becoming a yoga teacher it’s more about helping my students and the community through yoga and meditation and spreading the true spirit of yoga for the benefit of humanity.
What keeps you motivated and inspired? Basically what keeps you going?
I’m driven by the progress my students are making through yoga practice. Yoga heals, removes pain, fosters a positive attitude, makes one physically strong, corrects irregular breathing so that Prana (life force energy) flows smoothly. It gives me immense joy when I see yoga transforming lives.
As a teacher, it’s important to quickly assess the needs of each student and decide the postures for them. This is a continuous process and can be quite challenging, but one develops the skills to do this over time.
What are some of the Challenges you've experienced as a Yoga Teacher?
In group classes, there will be moderate and advanced practitioners. There will also be walk-ins who may be trying yoga for the first time. As a teacher, it’s important to quickly assess the needs of each student and decide the postures for them. This is a continuous process and can be quite challenging, but one develops the skills to do this over time. The teacher needs to ensure everyone practices within their capacity, avoid injuries and advance gradually in their yoga practice.
How do you build relationships with your students?
The teacher-student relationship is based on trust. I take a genuine interest in the well-being of each student and adapt my teaching based on the capabilities and needs of each student. There is no one-size-fits-all. Each student is given individual attention and adjustments even in a group setting. I prepare a detailed course plan for each student based on where they are in terms of flexibility, strength, balance and breathing capacity and chalk out goal postures that will best work for them. I take regular feedback from the students and adapt to their requirements as appropriate.
What is your greatest weakness, what are you doing to improve it?
I have great difficulty in saying no, I put myself in unwanted stress due to this. Meditation is helping me to deal with this weakness. Slowly I’m cultivating the ability to communicate the truth in a non-hurtful manner.
How do you manage work, family and practice?
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly on the move and often away from family. Apart from teaching yoga, one of the most important parts of my day is practicing music with my 9-year old daughter who is a trained classical singer. I’m her official tabla player.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
To continue doing good work relentlessly with sincerity, a sense of surrender and utmost devotion to the Supreme Being. Also never react to what people may say about you, just smile and walk away.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
All over the world, there are many yoga teachers who are known to be gurus with followers. One should not be carried away by such fame and followers. A guru is not one who has a following but someone who can show us the way. Following the guru’s destination is another way of losing oneself. The yoga concept of Svadharma means your own way. If you try to be somebody else’s dharma, trouble happens. Guru’s job is to help you find your own way, nothing more.
Any experience that sticks out for you? A simple practice of Pranayama can go a long way to calm the agitated mind. By just observing the breath we can find out in what state the mind is. By slowly following the breath, regulating it, the mind can be controlled. We have accumulated in our system some things we like, and some we don’t like, feelings for some people, and hatred for others. We have a certain idea about ourselves. We do not know how to get rid of these ideas. They are all in the mental structure, and they must be slowly erased. This can be done by our own observation of ourselves, or by approaching a teacher or through the study of relevant sacred texts. This practice has been helping me to continuously transform my self and build everlasting relationships. What's next for you? One of the meanings of the word yoga is to “attain what was previously unattainable”. Partnerships with global giants Decathlon and Howard Johnson has been a true blessing. I will be working relentlessly with the partners to reach the true spirit of yoga to the world. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali emphasizes all aspects of human life, including our health, our behavior, our breathing, our relationship with others and our meditation path. By incorporating his suggestions in my teachings, I hope to bring about transformation in the lives of my students!