Dr. Arun N. Khodaskar (Pics by Ravi agahawatte)

One pictures a bearded man with long hair if told to envision a yoga master. Indian yoga consultant Dr. Arun N. Khodaskar, who is at present on a visit to Sri Lanka, might surprise you. Khodaskar sports a trimmed mustache and makes no attempt to show the world that he is on a ‘spiritual’ plane. “My yoga is for people who wish to rid themselves of stress and lead a healthy life,” Khodaskar told Nation, in an interview.

The Indian yoga teacher is in Sri Lanka on a visit extended to him by the founder of Dhamya Yoga Institute in Negegoda by Dharmapala Wijesiri to oversee the yoga course conducted in the form of a teacher training workshop. “I am amazed by the enthusiasm and commitment shown for yoga by Sri Lankans,” he said. This course affords yoga practitioners in Sri Lanka the opportunity to do a comprehensive study of this health form in their own country which otherwise would have cost them dearly if done abroad.

This yoga practitioner is 67 years old and does his yoga routine for one hour each morning, regardless of how busy he is. He travels overseas quite frequently to promote yoga. He said that he doesn’t expect his students in overseas destinations to change lifestyles to suit yoga because cultures change drastically from country to country. The only little request from him to students is to practice this ancient exercise form daily after taking to it.

The yoga he teaches is based on Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga principles. According to him yoga is an eight fold path, but he said that the practice can commence from the third step which is asanas (Yoga). “One can start the practice with Asanas and then come back to Yama (attitude towards the world around us) and Niyama (individual discipline). Whichever way one begins, the aim or goal in yoga is to develop as an individual into one’s full potential.

He teaches yoga as a discipline for sportsmen and women too. The seasoned yoga teacher said that yoga can be done by a very active professional athlete or even a hard working labourer. “What must be kept in mind is that after exerting yourself, one must rest for a while till breathing returns to normal. It is only then one should start your yoga training,” he explained.

Dr. Khodaskar serves the Gandhian Studies Centre and the H.V. P Mandal’s Degree College of Physical Education in the capacity of a Director. He is also the Gen. Secretary of the Maharashtra State Yoga Association and has been the recipient of many awards from the Government of Maharastra. This yoga guru is however at the happiest when he sees his students obtain benefits like satisfaction, happiness and health which are guaranteed for yoga practitioners. He said that yoga is not about Asanas (postures) but a sastra (a subject).

During the interview he quoted a verse from the Bagahvad Gita which he took great pains to translate to English. “One should have a routine for his activities, balance one’s diet and not sleep too much.” He said that the right combination of all this if coupled with yoga can take you to a deep state of concentration which is called Samadhi.

Dr. Khodaskar propagates yoga for anybody who is over 10 years old. He stressed the importance of yoga being used for therapeutic purposes. “Yoga is getting popular and my objective is to take this health form to more and more countries. Yoga is a science for life,” he said.

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