An adventurous childhood
I was born to parents who never subscribed to the usual, standard norms of living. In his early years, my father was sent to the United States of America to finish his final year of school and study B.Sc. in Agriculture. It was only in the 1960s that he came back after having gained experience of many years in farming, got married, moved to a village called Kammanahalli where I was born. Together, my parents built their own cottage, purchased land, tilled and ploughed it with the help of local farmers and adopted modern machines and techniques which they had learnt in the U.S. – different from how Indians perceived and practiced farming.
After a few years, they moved back to our native place, Coorg. I was sent to the same boarding school in Ooty where my father had studied. Another very interesting thing which was a sacred belonging and center of attraction in our family was a second-hand BMW motorcycle. On his journey back to India in the 1960s, my father wanted to backpack through entire Europe before touching his homeland. Halfway through, he bought a BMWR25 in Germany and rode himself back to his town, designating himself as a ‘wandering Coorgie!’
At 15, I had started riding the motorcycle even though it was quite heavy for my age.
Tragedies and Tribulations
I admired how we as a family could be so adventurous and spontaneous to what life offered. However, I lost my entire family by the time I was 30 years old. I had seen 4 deaths; that of my two brothers and both parents. My elder brother and parents fought their battles with cancer and succumbed to it. After my younger brother also passed away, I felt a deep void within. He had stayed with me for the longest. In between, I had seen many twists and turns in my life, had moved to Bengaluru and was already a mother to a 6-year-old son. I wanted to protect my child from the trauma I had gone through. I didn’t want the grief to reflect in his upbringing. Thus, my world revolved around my son, his dreams and desires. I was a full-time mom and homemaker, ensuring that I was always available to him.
Having lost three members of my family to cancer, I seldom had anyone to share my insecurities and agony with. I realized that there would be many like me looking for support. Hence, I joined a Course in Counselling and worked as a Counsellor for three years in a hospital for terminally ill patients. Subsequently, I joined an NGO that raised money to help people who cannot afford cancer treatments.
The Turning Point
It was the year 2004 when one day, I received a call from a cousin in Coorg, insisting that I join a Yoga class which her cousin had started in Bengaluru. Her Yoga Studio was close to my house and I had to help her tide over the first few months so that she can afford the rent and other expenses. I had no introduction to Yoga until then, except that I thought it was extremely boring. I reluctantly enrolled for a three-month course but slowly, I was drawn to it and my perspective towards life witnessed a positive transformation. Such was its impact that I also joined a course on The Bhagvad Gita to have a better understanding of life and its secrets.
This chance encounter with Yoga changed my life. It became the singularly most important event of my life that unlocked all mysteries of the Universe to me.
Kick starting old passions and new adventures
Around the same time, a friend encouraged me to go on a motorcycle ride with her to Chikmagalur. Since motorcycle had continued to be a passion and with all the upheavals I had faced, a trip seemed like a welcome change. It turned out to be so memorable that we wanted to create more memories. Next year, I joined 4 friends on a bike expedition to Bhutan.
Even as a homemaker, I had ensured that my house functioned smoothly in my absence. I had made all necessary arrangement to have things in order if I stepped out to pursue a passion or dream. This helped me focus on one thing at a time and pour my heart into it. In 2009, my son got admission in a boarding school in Singapore and after he left, I suddenly had all the time for myself. Since my life revolved around him, I felt lost and the best way to cope with it was to go on more expeditions, explore unknown territories and also embark on a journey to discover myself.
In 2010, I joined a group of young motorcyclists, 8 men in their late 20s, for a tour in Cambodia. We were to drive ‘dirt bikes’ and when I told them that I am a 40-year-old woman, homemaker and a mother, they weren’t too excited about having me on board with them. But to their (and my) surprise, I drove past them throughout the tour! With this rediscovery of pushing my limits, altering perceptions and making young friends who kept my spirits high, I continued the exploration of unknown lands; formidable landscapes in India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kenya, Vietnam, Australia. On my 50th birthday, I wanted to go to Land’s End of the European continent so I toured Finland and Norway.
Meanwhile, my interest in Yoga ushered me deeper into its folds and I decided to study the subject formally and joined the Yoga Teacher’s Training Course in Mysuru in 2012. I kept adding to my knowledge on the subject of yoga through more courses and worked as a Yoga teacher in various gyms and private sessions in Bengaluru.
Back to my alma mater
In 2016, I got the best opportunity that I could have dreamed of - and that was to go back to my alma mater and teach yoga to the students. It has been wonderful to be able to give back to school. I accepted the offer and moved to Ooty. Along with teaching Yoga, I also do various other activities - I run the Trekking Club of the school and also teach
'Trashonomics' to students of Class 5. It enables them to understand what trash is and how to deal with it.
During one of my sessions, I told the children about how we can bury a seed in the soil after having eaten a fruit, but we cannot do the same thing with plastic wrappers of chips or toffees. I explained that even if we throw the plastic waste in a dustbin, it still goes back to Mother Earth and the damage is caused, whereas, a seed planted can grow into a tree!
This conversation had such an impact on children that they met the Head Master and requested him to ban chips and toffees in plastic packaging on school campus! On birthdays, we now distribute handmade toffees on trays without any use of plastic. It is a delight to see how quickly children learn, thereby teaching us many lessons. Such opportunities to interact with children is my source of infinite joy. Free from the bondage of adulthood, they can bring the change they want to see. Whilst teaching Yoga, I try to pass on its essence to them. They may be too young to comprehend it as a spiritual quest, but without preconceived notions, it is easier for them to grasp it as a tool for good life, and they love it. Sometimes for their paragraph writing exercise, they choose to write on Yoga!
Never Stop Dreaming
Looking back at my childhood and reflecting on where I am today, I owe my journey to my dreams. Sometimes, a dream evolves and reveals to us something totally different, more beautiful and beyond our imagination, and my age hasn’t discouraged me to unearth more possibilities. During Covid when I couldn’t go for biking expeditions, I thoroughly enjoyed cycling! With yoga, motorbiking, teaching and cycling, I love how the sense of freedom and belonging converge.
My study and practice of Yoga over the years has taught me that it is Yoga’s nature to transform. And what more could I say besides telling you, that my life is a living example of it.