Omkar Gotkhindikarji has been exposed to yoga and the scriptures from a young age, and the childhood exposure to these profound practices inspired him to pursue a lifetime of yoga practice and teaching. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Yoga from the S-VYASA University and will soon be hosting the Sthiram & Sukham retreat along with the Director of Indica Yoga, Dr Vinayachandra Banavathy, and the Founder-Director Atman Yoga Consultancy, Ketki Gokhale. Indica Yoga caught up with him to talk about his inspirations and how he uses yoga to destress a very stressed out world.
Sophia: What does yoga mean to you?
Omkarji: Yoga is a way of life to me. Since I started adopting the yoga way of life, I can see drastic changes in my life. I am more calm and confident, and exploring new dimensions in life.
Sophia: You call yourself a yoga teacher and therapist. Can you elaborate on what you mean by therapy, and do you combine yoga with therapy?
Omkarji: Yoga therapy has its origins in various yogic scriptures like the Yoga Vasishtha, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika... It is an integrated approach to treat various health issues by using yogic tools like asanas, pranayama, meditation techniques, chanting and imbibing philosophical ideas from yoga. This helps to enhance various levels of personality and work on the root cause of the problem.
Sophia: You teach asanas and philosophy. What inspired your interest in studying and teaching philosophy?
Omkarji: Philosophy gives us the foundation to build a better life. Especially in Yoga philosophy, there are wonderful aspects which can make us live our life with a sense of fulfilment. I was blessed with exposure to scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and stories from the Ramayana and Mahabaharata since I was a child and they inspired me to study deeper. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Yoga from the S-VYASA University in Bangalore.
Sophia: What was your experience learning at the S-VYASA Yoga University?
Omkarji: I joined S-VYASA at a very young age. I was blessed to learn various subjects of yoga under various masters like Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Dr R. Nagarathna, and Prof. N.V.C Swamy, to name a few. They encouraged me to study the scriptures, take those ideas and implement them in life. S-VYASA has a one-of-a-kind yoga hospital, Arogyadhama, which gave me the opportunity to practically train myself in yoga therapy.
Sophia: How do you help people find relief from stress in a high-pressure lifestyle?
Omkarji: My work is majorly in the corporate IT sector and therapy field. When a person approaches me for any health issue, I make sure I receive the entire case history and diagnosis. I work to create an integrated yoga module which includes breathing techniques, asanas, pranayama, meditation and relaxation techniques. I use that module for that specific person and encourage him/her to practise regularly.
I also make my students understand the importance of correct eating habits, sleep and activity. While doing this I council them on dealing with stress. I use various concepts from the scriptures to change their perspective and improve the quality of their life.
Sophia: What are your favourite books on yoga and spirituality?
Omkarji: I always like reading the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras. I’m also inspired by books written by the great Swami Vivekananda. For practical use, I rely on publications from the Bihar School of Yoga and S-VYASA.
Sophia: You did a session on gut health for Indica Yoga’s Global Festival of Yoga. Tell us about the mind-gut connection.
Omkarji: Our stress levels have a direct impact on the digestive system. Wrong food habits, sleeping habits, erratic diet plans and excess stress can cause disorders like acidity, constipation, etc. One can have the most nutritious food on their plate but is so stressed out that he or she won't be able to digest that food. Proper movements and breathing through asanas and pranayama helps improve the digestive system. Kriyas help to detox the body internally which helps a person rejuvenate at the energy level.
Sophia: How do you meditate and how has meditation affected your practice and life?
Omkarji: I meditate every morning for half-an-hour. It has helped me to let go of unnecessary thoughts and declutter my mind effortlessly. I focus more on productivity and the quality of my life.
Sophia: Why did you decide to start teaching yoga?
Omkarji: I was exposed to the field of yoga from a very young age and meeting various masters of yoga and learning from them gave me the motivation to teach yoga. I’m very blessed that I can be an instrument of this practice.
Sophia: Any advice for young yoga students and teachers?
Omkarji: One should balance philosophy and practical aspects like asanas and pranayama equally and with consistency. That's the key for a yogic life.
For further information on Omkariji and to join the Sthiram & Sukham retreat, register here.