‘Powerful and positive transformation can take place when people come together and practice Yoga’

Yoga is a household name world over, for its holistic wellness benefits. We are well aware of the benefits of it for our mind as well as our body, and it is a matter of pride that people across regions, ages and walks of life are adopting the age-old practice in their day to day life globally. We spoke with a revered Yoga and spiritual guru, Grand Master Akshar, about his journey as a mascot of the practice and his experience of how yoga is helping in the training of Indian athletes. Excerpts from the interview:

How integral and essential are yoga and meditation for maintaining physical and mental health in the new normal?

Just like how the diamond goes under tremendous pressure before it can shine, similarly we all have within us a unique treasure waiting to be revealed when the time is right. Theworld post COVID is that time where we rise above the challenges presented to us and still find glory. The new normal is where we can see yoga as a worldwide phenomenon where people are reaping the benefits of yogic techniques like physical postures, pranayama, meditation, and spiritual practices for inner peace. And this is how we can experience the power of yoga.

Yoga helps you to find that inner alignment by strengthening the connection between the mind, body, and soul. Considering the circumstances of global lockdown, social distancing, and social isolation yoga will play a very important role especially for children and also adults when it comes to both physical and mental well being.

How helpful has Yoga been as a training module for athletes at Akshar Yoga Research & Development Center at the Padukone-Dravid Center for Sports Excellence?

The research and development center is a dynamic place where you can witness experts from various fields come here to train. The objective of the Akshar Yoga Research and Development Center is to expand yoga’s reach to the nation’s best athletes.

Along with the cutting edge training processes available here, yoga can be an extremely useful add-on to exponentially improve athletic performance. Along with physical training one of the most important aspects for achieving excellence in sports is mental well being and a sense of stillness. When the mind is able to be still the athlete regardless of what field he or she is from whether it is swimming, shooting, badminton etc. will be able to observe their own capabilities and build from that point onward.

Yoga and spiritual guru, Grand Master Akshar

Tell us about your journey?

After my birth and completing the formalities of the education process, living in the Himalayan region, I proceeded to take up practices of spirituality and yoga alike. At that time, I was fortunate enough to meet with spiritual masters who then guided me and mentored me into a yogic and spiritual path. There came a time when I had to choose a path for myself. Having practiced yoga from a young age and with the experience of its benefits, I decided to choose the path of peace. With the command of Gurumandala, presently I’m here in the South Indian city of Bengaluru, spreading the vision and mission of peace, health, and wellness from the mountains through the practice of yoga and spirituality.

Since our humble beginnings in 2010, time has allowed us to form the Akshar Yoga Research & Development Center at Padukone-Dravid Center for Sports Excellence, Bengaluru, with over20 centers in Bengaluru and affiliates in more than 8 countries, including France, Australia, United Kingdom & the USA. Today, in collaboration with many international organizations and prestigious Universities, Akshar Yoga provides educational and professional programs in Yoga through a wide variety of disciplines.Akshar Yoga, by now, has facilitated the worldwide trainings of more than 3000 skilled teachers, through online and offline platforms, together with Yoga as a means to attain a holistic energy exchange of health, peace and happiness.

Foundations, trusts and organizations like World Yoga Organization, International Siddha Foundation and Shree Mahaprabhu Jagannath Sangh came alive and provided opportunities to strengthen the base and spread the message of Spiritual Masters to the world. With blessings of Lord Jagannath and further commands of my Pradhan Guru in Puri Jagannath, we now embark on a huge mission to establish “The Mountain Temple of Lord Jagannath” in the foothills of Himalayas. With time, we offer our services to these divine energies, as a humble tribute to the lineage of my yogic and spiritual learnings.

What led you to choose the path of being a Mahayogi, and then an yogapreneur, lifestyle coach and spiritual master?

There is always a purpose or a goal to anything that you take up in life whether it is in the material sense or the spiritual path. We all have a regular life of earning money in order to feed ourselves and the need for security of a home and relationships. However along with this we do need a higher purpose in life; one that can help evolve our consciousness. And it is this message that I wish to share with everyone through the practice of yoga. Whether I am known by the name of Grandmaster Akshar, Mahayogi Akshar Nath or Akshar my purpose remains the same which is to help people enjoy health, peace, and happiness through yoga and spiritual practices.

How has been the experience of coaching legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Matthew Hayden, along with talents like Phogat sisters, among others?

The practice was regular one with asanas, pranayama, and meditation. Everyone experienced the benefits of yoga in their own perspective. For example; Babita Phogat felt that yoga gave her a sense of inner calm and peace and clarity which then made her performance better. According to Mr Sunil Gavaskar he expressed that yoga helped him with a better mind-body connection and resulted in phenomenal output in terms of his performance and work. In this way no matter who practices yoga everyone experiences the excellence and perfection that it brings. These are top notch athletes and anything they set out to do they put their hundred percent into it whether it is yoga practice or their sport.

What is your message for those who seek spiritual and mental wellness amid the hustle and bustle of life?

We must remember that the journey of yoga is one of positivity and happiness. Yoga has the power to transform anything into a powerful positive outcome. And with the help of this practice we must always strive to create an environment of joy and harmony as it is our environment that ultimately affects our well being and reflects in our output.

We are able to live on earth because there is an atmosphere here that supports life. This is the same reason why we can not inhabit any other planet such as Jupiter because it is a hostile environment that does not have the atmospheric conditions for our survival. This is the reason it is most important to create a positive and harmonious environment that can support us in our growth especially in terms of our spiritual journey.

Thirdly, another important point that we must try to remember is to always remain brave and strong. Everything that happens in this lifetime is for us and for our growth. When we are able to remember this we can face any fear and only when we are able to do this, we will be shown the potential that lies within us. This will propel us into even greater heights then we can possibly imagine. Try to visit the Himalayas once in your practice because the divine forces or energetic powers that are present in the Himalayas cannot be found anywhere else and it can help us in this journey of yoga and spirituality. Once you have started your practice do not quit in between but continue making progress slowly and steadily.

How do you look at the future prospects of yoga in India as well as internationally?

While yoga in itself is a powerful practice, its power can be expanded hundreds fold when governments, leaders, and authorities get involved. This was evident when our Prime Minister declared yoga day to the UN and now it is celebrated worldwide. Earlier, yoga was an activity that people took up after retirement or whenever they got too old to work. But now it can be seen how yoga can help us increase productivity and contribute better to society and to the world at large.

When people come together and practice yoga, powerful and positive transformation can take place for the betterment of the entire world. Increasingly we can see how corporate programs are in place to involve employees and professionals in the practice of yoga. And the practice of yoga also includes social responsibility where many people have come forward to contribute and help others whether physically, mentally, spiritually or financially. When the world is at war, or in times of a pandemic or any other crisis it is a practice like yoga that can bring peace to the world because yoga is believed in Vasudeva Kutumbhakam, Yoga Chitti Vritti Nirodha and Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam.

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