One of the great joys of the student spotlight is having the chance to highlight all the talent within our wonderful community. Kuhu Joshi is an extraordinarily talented young poet and yogi that I am honored to shine our student spotlight on. She is currently working on her MFA and attends our online Back Care classes. You can catch Kuhu on most Mondays and Sundays. Perhaps we will get a sneak peak at some of her new poems this Fall!
Tell us a bit about yourself – I am a poet and creative writing teacher from India. I moved here for an MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and have set down temporary roots in Astoria, Queens NY (Come visit!).
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? I often write spiritual and subversive verse inspired by the lives of Hindu goddesses. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and poetry is my favourite, and I depict her as a contemporary woman. I hope to publish these poems soon and share them with the world.
Here are the links to some of my older poems:
What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis when I was 12 years old and living in New Delhi. I have been doing Iyengar yoga ever since. When I moved to America last year, I was experiencing a lot of back pain and found IYCWM while looking for classes that would help me to address scoliosis and back pain. Susan Elena’s back care classes have been such a gift!! Her attention to detail and careful planning and sequencing have helped my back immensely! It doesn’t even feel like an online class as the effects are very deep.
How long have you been practicing yoga? Ah, way too long! I should be a lot better at it by now haha!!
What keeps you on the mat? Looking forward to class with Susan Elena. Changing into yoga shorts.
What keeps you off the mat? Oddly enough, my social life. Some weeks I want to be out partying with my friends, and end up neglecting yoga.
What poses do you love? Supported, chest-opening poses feel so nice for my back and I can release in them for a long time, like setubandha sarvangasana or supta badhakonasana.
What poses do you find challenging? Standing poses! Specially parsvakonasana! Holding that ninety-degree knee — phew!!
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I like to talk long, meandering walks in parks and by the river. I also read a lot of novels and poetry, and explore the wide variety of cuisines around Queens (New York).
How has practicing yoga impacted your life? It has made me less fearful of change.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life? Yoga has changed my perspective on everyday life into a more positive one. I try to approach every day like it’s a fresh practice session where I can find peace and balance.
How has the pandemic changed your daily life? Does your yoga practice help you in any way? Things are more normal now, but back when the pandemic was bad, yoga practice kept me mentally strong and hopeful.
What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community where you do not know some of the other students? I am so grateful to be part of this virtual community. I feel very connected to everyone as we share a similar experience doing class together. It is a very friendly and safe virtual space and I always enjoy my class with Susan Elena.
How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? This community helps me feel like I am not alone with my back issues. The classes really help me strengthen my back and reduce my stress and anxiety.
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 am so grateful for online classes as I wouldn’t have found IYCWM if it weren’t for the pandemic! There’s really no other class like Susan Elena’s. I have learnt so many new things about my body. I feel such deep release in my back and strength in my legs after each class. The pace of asanas is also perfect for someone like me who needs time to align and adjust due to scoliosis. It keeps me connected to regular yoga practice and to others who share similar challenges.
What do you think about the future of hybrid yoga classes – some people in person some online? I really hope we keep having hybrid classes! It’s so great to have the option, specially for those who live in other parts of the world.
Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? Do it!! Spend some time connecting with others before and after class online. Share your experience of the class. Ask questions. Virtual connections can be so powerful and Susan Elena’s class has quickly become a special part of my life.