Men In Yoga - Iyengar Yoga UK
Interview as published on Iyengar Yoga UK: https://iyengaryoga.org.uk/men-in-iyengar-yoga/
Uday Bhosale is a regular Iyengar Yoga teacher at World Yoga Festival and we are pleased that he is returning in 2022!
Uday Bhosale studied and taught for many years with the Iyengar family at RIMYI in Pune, India, and is keen to dispel the myth that only flexible people can do yoga
How did you get into Iyengar yoga? My martial arts teacher Ali Dashti introduced me to RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Institute, Pune) and I was mesmerised by the brilliant teachers there – I could see why it is revered the world over. How old were you? I started martial arts at age 14 and started practising yoga then, but I was first introduced to RIMYI when I was 18 years old. Have you tried any other styles of yoga? I haven’t tried any other styles. I’ve never felt the need for a couple of reasons – I was taught by some inspirational teachers at RIMYI. Their teachings continue to inspire my practice today. The light bulb moments that happen through exploration and self-practice are endless. As Guruji once said Yoga is one, and we like to label it differently. For me the teachings of these exceptional teachers are what still inspire me to innovate and enrich the practice and I try and share my understanding with students. The exploration and learning continue… What was it about Iyengar yoga that stood out for you? The versatility – the unique approach for different conditions, age groups and abilities. Being able to connect with everyone and introduce everyone to subject of yoga and its philosophy. I feel it’s something unique, something special. Over time I made such wonderful friends at the Institute and that was a big driving factor – that’s what kept me connected.
Who was your first teacher? Ali Dashti Do you have any favourite poses? The experience keeps changing from time to time – it would be hard to pick one as a favourite pose. There are times when I have to go on practising a certain pose and then it has helped evolve and progress other postures as well. But I would really struggle to pick one single pose. I am happy with the practice if I am able to learn something further. What do your friends and family think about yoga? Friends failed to understand me when I first began my learning and teaching. They found it absurd that I had chosen something which was not even considered a profession back then. Yoga was an extracurricular activity according to them. My Master’s Degree in Computer Science had landed me a job in one of the most sought-after software companies, in Pune. Upon learning that I quit the job within a month, they were totally perplexed. I had given up a secure job in a reputed company for something that is not even a career. Some friends were concerned while some lost hope in me. My family belongs to the middle-class and as per a normal middle-class family, I was expected to pick up a job and start earning after my parents got me educated. You can imagine how delighted my parents would be on me securing a job. I feared disappointing them, so I continued my job for a while. But then I was not happy with it. I missed being at the Institute, I missed my classes, my friends over there. I had to gather some courage, but I explained to my parents that I couldn’t see myself doing this job for long and it was my wish to continue learning at the Institute. I cannot thank my parents enough for agreeing to this. Sonali, my wife has always been very supportive and interested in the practice. So I have been very fortunate to have her support. What’s the most unusual place you’ve done yoga? When I feel stiffness in my arms, I often practice poses like, Gomukasana, Paschima Namaskarasana in the shower. The soap helps slide the arms better on the back! I have done Prasaritta Padottanasana and Sirsasana on top of a mountain. The feeling, the upside-down view from the top is something I cannot describe in words. Do you teach Pranayama? Yes, I have been teaching regular restorative and pranayama classes online on Thursday evenings where we build towards the practice of pranayama, and that has been an interesting journey with my students. They’ve enjoyed the practice of just learning the restorative aspect and seeing how that can gradually lead towards pranayama practice. How has yoga philosophy affected your life? It has always helped me with making decisions and has shaped my life so far. Because it’s a subject which isn’t just about stretching your arms and legs on the mat or bending backwards and forwards: the philosophy is much deeper. Teachings from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras can help us lead a better life. It has a positive influence and in everything that you do, every relationship that you have, every decision that you make you will find the positive impact of yogic philosophy there. Do you have many men in your classes? I wouldn’t say many, but I am happy to say that there are a decent number of men in my classes. Could we have more men? Yes of course…I am told some men feel yoga is for women, or that you need to be supple and flexible to do yoga. “I am too stiff for yoga” is a common excuse. But these are all myths. Personally, I belong to the stiffer side, I have this tendency to develop stiffness if I do not practice. So, I can relate to the struggle experienced by stiff people. I feel fortunate in a way for having been stiff because I feel it has helped me understand the practice and its gradual progression. It’s like climbing a mountain all the way from the base: it will be hard, difficult and there will be challenges. But you will have an experience, a sense of achievement on reaching the top. So, men who think of these as excuses and reasons for not doing yoga, should think of these as more reasons to start practising. What are your thoughts on encouraging more men to do yoga? It’s about getting the message out that people can really benefit from this practice, particularly that it’s not just for flexible people. It definitely helps men. It doesn’t matter if you are stiff or supple, you will surely benefit with this practice. And it is not just strength and flexibility that you will achieve. It is perhaps the only practice I know of with such a vast scope to be working on the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, the organs, the glandular system, etc. It is a wholesome package. Along with the physical health benefits we gain an understanding of how the mind works and address it in our practice. The Yoga Sutras guide us in our practice, and in our lives too. So it’s a phenomenal subject giving tremendous benefits – the sooner we start, the longer we get to witness its positive influence in our lives. Physical limitations have been addressed by Guruji’s compassion when he invented all the yoga props we have available today. It is a subject that you can pick up at any stage of your life. That’s not to say you should leave it until you’re old, but whatever stage of life you’re at, now is the time to pick it up! It is going to change the rest of your life for the better. Do you do other sports or activities? I used to play different sports in my school years – football, cricket, tennis, athletics. Nothing professionally or competitively as such, apart from in Tae-kwon-do where we participated in a state-level competition once. I now enjoy the occasional hike whenever I get a chance. Where do you teach? Until lockdown I was teaching in Reading, Henley on Thames, London. For workshops I was travelling around wherever I was invited across countries and continents and of course in the UK. But since the pandemic, thanks to Zoom, it has only been from our living room into your house. Is social media helpful for finding students? Often people recommend you to their friends and family. They share their positive experiences and thus the word spreads. I haven’t done much of marketing and social media advertising as yet. But I think we all need to do this much more. We must make Guruji’s teachings more visible and at least people should know that here is a system which has unique approach and benefits for its practitioners. We should present enough to appeal to their curiosity. This is how we can reach out to new students. This is the way we search and research these days. People find Life partners through this medium, we can definitely hope to find new students there! Do you offer yoga holidays? Yes, I have been doing yoga holidays for a few years now until the pandemic started last year. Since then, it’s stopped but we’ve done some intensives online instead of holidays.
Have you got any advice for someone trying yoga for the first time? First of all, I would congratulate them for taking this wonderful life-changing decision to embark on this path. The most important advice I feel for newcomers is to have patience in the initial days and then see the magic happen. You might find it challenging and difficult in the beginning, but soon you will see positive changes in your abilities, which will be encouraging. Just enjoy the process! Find Uday at yogawithuday.com