Passion-turned-Profession: Experiences of Vijay Raja

A Pragmatic Yoga Teacher

Vijay Raja is basically a gemologist and diamond grader. He is a graduate of Business Management from P. S. G. College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore. He had continued to pursue gemology in Mumbai. Being the eldest son in his family, and as he was supposed to inherit the family-business, he stepped to study gemology to understand the nuances of the trade in a better way.

The traditional jeweler said, “My dad is a sports enthusiast. He is interested in athletics and used to visit several countries once in four years to witness the Olympic events. Sports is an indispensable part of our family. I used to play badminton and basketball. In fact, there is a mini basketball court at my home. Despite being a sports enthusiast, I am a follower and teacher of yoga. There is an interesting story behind how I got into yoga.”

During the period between 2007 and 2008, Vijay Raja had faced a nemesis in his business and had undergone depression. The relief came through one of his friends. He had suggested Raja that they join a yoga class. As he lives at R. S. Puram, Integral Yoga Center was pretty close to his residence and had joined in it as a student. Vijay was consistent and had undergone rigorous training for two years. It so happened that the Yoga Center had also initiated a Teachers’ Training Program during the same time. His friends and co-students had opined that he take up the course and that was how he got into the profession of yoga-teaching.

“If I remember right, there were 14 students in my batch of Teacher’s Training Program in yoga. It was a three-month full-time course, and the practice sessions were all through the day. Just casual practice of yoga doesn’t make any difference, but this intensive program had its effects. This also opened me the horizon to wellness. I began practicing the Aasanas (Postures) continuously and this rejuvenated my body and I started to feel good,” expressed Vijay Raja cheerfully.

He continued, “One of the teachers in the Integral Yoga Center was also a teacher in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School. He had told my son, who was learning at the center, that he was moving to Taiwan, and had suggested I take it up. My son was glad to convey this information to me and I readily joined B. V. B. as a yoga-teacher. I started teaching school children from classes 6 to 12. Teaching school children gave me a different perspective to approach yoga. I started teaching yoga in a leisurely way which the students liked very much and started to look forward for my yoga sessions.”

The diamond grader had soon started to feel that he belonged more to yoga. Vijay Raja had brought in innovative teaching methodology in yoga by introducing partner yoga, group yoga etc., which the children had found wonderful and engaging. Soon, he also had the opportunity to teach in his parent institution, i.e., Integral Yoga Center. To teach in the school and also in his parent institution became a part of his schedule.

After six years of teaching experience at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the yoga instructor had continued to teach the kids at C. S. Academy, Kovaipudur. The owners of the C. S. Academy, Vikram & Sittara Vikram, had also emphasized on the importance of practicing yoga. They had encouraged students to perform five-minute demonstrations accompanied with music for school annual day functions. This had further motivated the children to take up yoga sincerely.

Raja, then, had joined Adiyar Yoga Studio, Trichy Road, as a teacher and he still keeps up there. This can be rightly traced as his path of yoga. Eventually, he started attending more workshops to keep himself updated about the practices in yoga. People from different schools of yoga, Kaivalyadhama, Pune School of Yoga, Mysore School of Yoga, and many others from abroad teach at Adiyar Yoga Studio. This had given him the opportunity to access himself and find out where he stood. A teacher is a person on Earth who must keep himself/herself updated; only then can the person guide his/her students. Vijay Raja stands as a model yoga teacher in this aspect.

There are many transitions that had crept into yoga suiting the day’s need and comfort. To accommodate a person who cannot sit down on the floor but wants to try yoga and get himself fit, Chair Yoga was introduced. Similarly, all other variations, Fly Yoga, Wheel Yoga, Rope Yoga, Power Yoga, etc., were brought in for a purpose, without differing in fundamentals. It must be noted that Vijay Raja is a certified teacher of all the above-mentioned variations.

The yoga instructor pragmatically said, “In the modern world, if the practice of yoga is just going to be monotonous, then one can be sure that no one is going to least support it. Only if a person sweats, breathes easily, and feels to have worked out his physique, one will continue to approach the same trainer.” Keeping all these factors in mind, the trainer edifies a person accordingly. It seems that Vijay Raja is a specialist of Power Yoga, a contemporary variation. The testimonials of Power Yoga state that the results are beyond expectations.

Further, out of his interest, Raja had mastered other styles of yoga including Ashtaanga, Shivananda’s and B. K. S. Iyengaar’s through appropriate means. He states that Praanaayaama, the practice of vital management of praana, is only practiced towards the end of his class which gives participants sufficient time to relax without compromising on vigor. In the current context, people tend to be highly ‘Calorie-Conscious,’ also not compromising on the feel-good factor. The grader cum yoga master is sure to guide several to walk their own path comfortably with the aid of yoga.

The tendency to value something when it is recognized by foreign elements is deep-rooted in the Indian minds. Yoga, in this day and age, is being recognized universally and it is only now we begin to realize its value. The pandemic has also taught the world the importance of staying healthy and fit which will not be forgotten easily.

“What more is needed to practice yoga, other than a tracksuit and a mat? It is as simple as that! Most of the physicians only recommend physical exercises and yoga is the best compliment that we, Indians, are bestowed with. We (His family) are planning to set up an open-air yoga studio and the proposal is under process. It will have a lot of free space, only frilled with various trees. People will be able to intake fresh air untinged by modern filth. We are expecting it to be ready anytime soon,” exclaimed Vijay Raja.

He further added, “After years of practicing yoga, I would say, I definitely have improved on my decision-making skills, and I’ve also imbibed to say no at appropriate places. Yoga keeps me fresh all day which makes a huge difference. It has helped me, attract good friends and an agreeable society around me, increase my flexibility quotient, and reduce snoring. I personally suggest that yoga must be done in a wholesome way, rather than relying on specificity.”

The yoga master jovially concluded by sharing one of his experiences when he realized the importance of performing yoga daily, “During this pandemic time, I discontinued to do yoga, roughly for four months. One fine day I had to travel to a place by train. On procuring the ticket, I ran towards the platform as I got delayed reaching the station. The train was about to depart, and I felt that I can get hold of the train if I quickly climb the thirty staircases in front of me. But I found it difficult. I could not hold on to my breath. I started gasping. Somehow, I managed to catch the train. I, then, realized that stopping yoga for a stretch of time had done me this. From that moment, I stuck to my yoga routine.”

The world is changing, and one could clearly observe the developing sense of yoga consciousness in the people around the world. Though this is a positive sign, we need to progress and prosper practicing this ancient art through appropriate ways. Yoga can be compared to a washing-machine. It twists, turns, squeezes, and stretches your body to make it clean.

Message to all readers from Vijay Raja: “Do yoga because it adds years to your life and life to your years.” 

T. R. Surya is the special correspondent of the company. He is an eloquent speaker and compendious writer of English. An avid learner of Sanskrit and Indian scriptures under the guidance of Swami Ganeshaswarupananda and Gita Chaitanya of Arshavidyalaya. His inclination and interests are towards studying Metaphysics and philosophies. 

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