Mind is the most dynamic part of our personality that plays a pivotal role in determining the direction of our life as well as our interactions with our environment both within and outside. But it is inflicted by Vrittis. Have you ever experienced the feeling of withering apart? Or a constant struggle between mind and heart leading to a dilemma over something very crucial, or a turning point in your life?

Well, this digital world around us is full of noise that gives rise to Vrittis, the fluctuations of the mind. The modern-day youth is most vulnerable to this situation making it arduous to identify their true selves.

Vrittis seldom allow us to take a pause until we withdraw our senses to contemplate and dive into our inner world to listen to that meek voice of our conscience. Seems easier said than done. Right? True. That’s when yoga comes into the picture to guide us on the path of self-realization. It clears the foggy mind and enables it to work like a compass that directs the ship of life to its destination. It gives a pleasant turn to life’s journey like it did for vibrant Ashtanga yoga mentor Sonakshi Dhamija.

Sonakshi shares her story of how just one rendezvous with Ashtanga yoga allowed her to turn her vrittis into positive insights to explore and evolve in life. 

hmy: Why Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore) only?
Sonakshi: I had never tried any kind of yoga before practicing Ashtanga yoga. Ever since I started, I felt a strong inclination towards it since it gave me a very wholesome experience.  It was a spellbinding experience for me and I decided to stay with it for a couple of months to understand how it works for me. It turned out to be a blessing for me and made me realize that one needs to be patient while starting anything new.

Nowadays, people mostly expect quick results failing to understand that things mostly take time to work and to have a certain effect on them. We need to provide that kind of non-judgmental space for it to flourish and have its own effect. It also requires a certain aspect of surrender, continuous practice giving complete trust in the personal practice, and zero expectations to come out with a bagful of results!

hmy: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher even after being an English Literature scholar?
Sonakshi: Even though I was quite passionate about the subject I was studying, I felt the need to take a break from the formal system of education and explore the real world, outside of the protected space of a university. Studying at the university contributed to my wisdom and added to my being immensely, which I deeply acknowledge.

But the need to break away from my familiar environment persuaded me to take a gap year and travel to get acquainted with our ancient systems of yoga and ayurveda in real world. The experience was so profound that I moved with the flow of life with discipline and focus. I found it to be so fulfilling and nourishing that I decided to pursue yoga as a profession with clear perception.

hmy: A good read is- Light on Yoga; Yogadipika by Sri BKS Iyengar or Yogamala: The original teachings of Ashtanga  Yoga Master Sri K Pattabhi Jois
Sonakshi: Both are immensely useful resources for anyone starting the practice of yoga. I've read both and keep going back to them so I would recommend reading both.

hmy: Which meal will you prefer & why - a home-cooked thali or a gluten-free porridge with fruity greek yogurt?
Sonakshi: I'm extremely connected to my roots like a desi, when it comes to food. Though I love trying new cuisines but my comfort food is always going to be a simple khichdi topped with a spoon of ghee!
 8 out of 10 times I'd go for a home-cooked thali and twice I'd choose fruity greek yogurt to introduce some change just to break the monotony of eating the same thing.

hmy: What’s more gratifying- practicing yoga or practicing other forms of movement?
Sonakshi: It’s pretty simple for me! I absolutely love my yoga practice as it has given immense benefits that are unexplainable and a way of self-expression to me. The enormity of what the practice has given me as a space to just feel grounded is something I‘m grateful for every day.

Though practicing other forms of movement have their own benefits! I do like to shuffle it up a bit sometimes and mix another form like aerial silks, or an HIIT workout- which are rewarding in their own ways but incomparable to the benefits of yoga! Therefore, my yoga practice is definitely more gratifying than anything else I’ve ever tried!

hmy: What message you have for people who think yoga is a retirement activity for old people.
Sonakshi: Of course not! It’s just a misperception!  Yoga is for everyone, I initiated my practice at the age of 22 and absolutely loved it! If one begins any activity with a preconceived notion (like it’s boring, or slow, or a retirement activity) then it becomes the same for them because your thoughts or vrittis overpower your vision presenting a false perception of reality.

One needs to come in with an open mind and give it time to have an effect. Yoga is one of those 'slowly but surely' kind of things that take a little bit of time to grow on you! Also, it is important to adopt the style of yoga that best suits you.