Dinesh Ghodke, a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), has traveled in 32 countries across 5 continents over the last 18 years! He has empowered thousands of youth through various innovative initiatives in yoga, meditation and social projects. A gymnast, soccer enthusiast, Dinesh is a unique blend of serenity and dynamism and an inspiration to youth all over the world.
Q. How can we introduce yoga to more youth today?
Dinesh Ghodke: Actually, that is already happening. People worldwide are going gaga over yoga. It is considered fashionable making Yoga a part of our daily life. The Art of Living YES!+ (Youth Empowerment & Skills) Workshops and the Art Of Living Yoga courses have popularised spirituality in corporate and college campuses around the world. Nowadays, yoga and meditation is not seen as something to be done after the age of 60 years or when you have nothing else to do in life. It is seen as a way to empower you, to fill you up with energy, to make you more enthusiastic about everything in life, and to give you strength so that you can do all the good things you always wanted to do; in style and without getting stressed. It is seen as something which is cool, glamorous and the need of the hour.
Q : That’s so true! But how do we get the youth to yoga courses? Sometimes it’s difficult to convince people.
Dinesh Ghodke: You should ask them - when do you want to be healthy? When do you want to eat the things which you want to eat? Putting Hershey’s syrup and cashews in your ice-cream? As Dinesh Kashikar, Art Of Living Yoga teacher says, “What is the point of doing yoga if you can’t eat chocolates (laughs)?” So, when do you want to be successful or famous? That is when you need to do yoga.
The trend is already changing. You can see a lot of actors, models and people in positions of power say that regular yoga practice makes it easier to handle the stress of being famous or busy. Be it an IAS officer, a CEO or executive of a company, the challenges are easily handled because they indulge in daily yoga. Likewise, similar courses in the slums and villages, ensure that the farmers or slum-dwellers stay away from addictions which eat away their wealth and make them strong and resourceful enough to take charge of their own lives.
Q: Do we still do 108 Surya Namaskars in our YES!+ workshops?
Dinesh Ghodke: In Yes!+ courses, we do Sun Salutation but not directly 108. We gradually build up to that number.
Youth love challenges and competition. We do 108 Sun Salutations when we have events such as Yogathon, where one million people from all over the world participated. Like in marathons, people are excited to check their own fitness, in Yogathon, all the three – physical, mental and emotional aspects are nurtured.
Q: We believe that youth and yoga are the two important lifelines of the nation. Can you explain how both are synonymous?
Dinesh Ghodke: Yeah, India is the oldest civilization on the planet and today, the youngest country. About 73 percent of the Indian population is below the age of 35 years. Now, yoga and youth are synonymous where you blend our ancient (yoga which is 5,000 years old) with our modern lifestyle (that the youth follows).
Lot of goodness and idealism is still alive in the youth, along with a few negatives starting to flourish. Yoga magnifies the good and vanquishes the bad making them better human beings in every role they play.
Youth want to enjoy life and have fun. Yoga helps them do that, but, with a sense of responsibility, and while keeping the morals and ethics intact.
Also, it is said, yoga karmasukaushalam (yoga makes you skilled in action) and if you see, the youth are action-oriented people; they are the ones who want to change the world and that is where yoga and youth synergize.
Youth have hope in their hearts, dreams in the minds, strength in their arms, spring in their feet, but butterflies in their stomachs and turbulence in their pants :-) Yoga kindles the spark in their spirit, the good in youth and catalysis magic to happen in the society.
Q: More and more internationals are getting attracted to yoga these days. How do you think their interest in the practice is different from that of Indians?
Dinesh Ghodke: I think they are more sincere, definitely! (smiles). The reason for this could be that since yoga originated in India, we tend to take it for granted that it is ours and so we don’t cherish its value. People abroad, on the other hand, are more curious about the science of yoga and keen to learn and follow it.
Rapid Fire Round
Q. How would you describe yoga to the youth in one sentence?
Dinesh Ghodke: Yoga makes you live the life you want to live, rather than the life you have to live.
Q. An everyday situation where yoga came as a savior?
Dinesh Ghodke: Whenever I am stressed, tired and confused, or want to achieve or enjoy something, yoga always helps.
Q. Yoga or gymming?
Dinesh Ghodke: Not or but ‘And’ (laughs)! They both complement each other.
Q. One yoga philosophy you adore?
Dinesh Ghodke: Lokavattu Lila Kaivalyam. When we practice yoga, the whole world becomes a game or a play, and you a player (not a pawn)!