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Yoga is not a simple sport that is taught only in class, it’s everywhere in our daily lives, said Manoj Rawat, an Indian yogi from Rishikesh, the yoga capital of India.
“When you control your eating and drinking, that’s yoga. Yoga teaches us how to live. Yoga is love, peace and a clean life,” Rawat further explained.
The 25-year-old told the Shenzhen Daily that the real meaning of yoga has been misinterpreted by the majority of yoga students from all over the world, including China. “When I first came to China, I saw yoga teachers and students heading towards the wrong way of yoga. They focused too much on poses … how to do the stretching as best as they could and put their legs up on their heads, which caused lots of injuries. They may be physically flexible, but their minds stay the same. Real yoga should be mentally strong and flexible, which is more important,” said Rawat. “That’s why I decided to come to China to teach Chinese students real yoga.”
Rawat was invited by a local yoga enthusiast who had learned yoga from him once and came to Shenzhen about a year ago, with the aim of passing on the knowledge of what he believed as “real yoga.”
According to Rawat, yoga has eight steps and each step has a different focus. For example, the third step “asana” is about body postures, while the eighth step “samadhi” refers to the union with the divine. Rawat said that the majority of yogis in the world are stuck in the third step and he encourages them to practice more to reach the higher levels of yoga. “If your mind is flexible, you can be flexible everywhere, in your home, markets or any country,” Rawat said.
As a professional yoga instructor, Rawat believes that “discipline” is the first thing that a yoga beginner should learn. “Many of my Western students are frank and they usually don’t have a correct attitude towards yoga. So the first thing I teach them is to respect the teacher and be disciplined,” Rawat told the Shenzhen Daily.
Rawat said many of his students have become better versions of themselves after practicing yoga. “They changed a lot. Many of them have become yoga instructors and one of them stopped drinking alcohol, which I am very proud of. I think I did my job,” Rawat recalled.
Rawat learned yoga from his grandfather when he was 7 years old. “My grandfather was my first yoga teacher. He woke me up at 4 a.m. every morning, asked me to take a shower in cold water and then took me to a temple … I then realized what he was asking me to do was the philosophy behind yoga,” he recalled.
When he was 19, he became a yogi at Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, where he earned his yoga instructor certificate after a four-month course. Rawat says yoga teaches him the beauty of balance — the balance of his body, mind and life.