IYCWM October 2020 Virtual Student Spotlight – Shanthi

By Published On: October 1st, 2020

Tell us a bit about yourself – My country of origin is India.  I was born and brought up in Bengaluru, (Southern India), got married and came to the United States in my early twenties, initially living in New York and Durham, North Carolina then moving to Connecticut where my husband and I raised our three children (and a dog) for 36 years!! My husband retired recently, hence moved to Hummelstown, PA to be close to our children and grandchildren.  I am a social worker by profession and worked with various vulnerable populations and clinical settings.  I also worked for a women’s shelter program for a while later transitioning to various teaching positions.  

What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? I took a course on yoga teachers training and also a course on trauma sensitive yoga.  Not only did these course provide me the tools to better understand and deliver trauma informed care for my clients (majority of them experiencing trauma and abuse), but it also enabled me to use it as a resource for my own personal yoga practice on and off the mat. 

What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? As I have grown older (and perhaps a bit wiser ), (plus a neck fusion 20+ years back) I felt that my physical body had gone through changes. I also had a vulnerable back.  I felt I needed to get my body stronger. My dear friends referred me to Susan Elena’s Iyengar program and classes. 

How long have you been practicing yoga? I was exposed to yoga when I was in my late teens growing up in India. It was only after my children were older that yoga came to me. I took a 200 Yoga training course, to get a deeper understanding of this amazing work and practice.   

What keeps you on the mat? The constant need and importance of keeping up with my physical,  emotional/mental and spiritual well being and to remain grounded and true to myself  (and others). 

What keeps you off the mat? I can get caught up with work and other commitments, forgetting my priorities. 

What poses do you love? Supta Padangusthasana 1, 2 & 3, (my Vitamin poses as Susan Elena refers to), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Shavasana

What poses do you find challenging? Virabhadrasana 2, Adho Mukho Vikrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana.

What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I did enjoy working at my job(s) before we moved to Pennsylvania. Not that we have moved I am enjoying cooking, reading and spending time with my family.

How has practicing yoga impacted your life? Practicing yoga has enabled me to get physically, emotionally and spiritually stronger.  I find Patanjali’s Eight Path fold makes so much sense and I try to use and follow it as a blueprint to guide me in the way I connect with myself and others.  

How does yoga show up in your everyday life? It’s the constant reminder and the awareness to stay focused on the breadth and stay grounded with life’s ongoing challenges and impermanence. 

How has the pandemic changed your daily life? How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Does your yoga practice help you in any way? As much as COVID – 19 has 

disrupted our lives, it has also provided an opportunity to take a ‘PAUSE’ to really set one’s priorities in order. Constant opportunity, reminder and practice of Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas.  All we can do is really learn to be present  in the moment. 

What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community when you have never been to the physical space and do not know any of the other students? I started taking these virtual classes at the start of the pandemic and many of them have continued to take these throughout summer. After 25 weeks of training with Susan Elena, I feel like we have come to know each other in spite of taking these classes in our own spaces. 

How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? These virtual yoga class and community has helped me stay connected with my friends (who are also taking these classes virtually) since the start of the COVID – 19 pandemic. I have been able to expand my yoga sangha and community.  As I have moved out of state these virtual classes has been an asset in keeping me grounding and transitioning to a new environment. 

How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help stay connected? How does it fall short? I feel grateful to have this option to stay connected with my yoga community.  Our big move after living in Connecticut for 30 years?   Hmmm….will have to wait and see.  So grateful to have this option of virtual classes to help me with that as well.

Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? It is a great option to be able to sustain one’s own personal practice and have the connection and continuity to a teacher and yoga community at large.  


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