“Lots of time in life, we ‘want to do something’ but end up ‘having to do something else’. I was lucky that for me both turned out to be the same”. These are the words of Dinesh Kashikar, the true yogi of today’s times, the man soaked in yoga knowledge and the globetrotting Art of Living Yoga teacher. In an interview, he journeys through the days when it all started. Excerpts from his chat:
Q: When did you begin your yoga journey?
Dinesh Kashikar: I guess it was innate that yoga appealed to me though I never knew why. I remember doing some yoga even in the school park but I never learned the practice formally. I was only observing others or just doing some things on my own.
After being associated with the Art of Living, I formally started studying yoga and I became interested not only in the asanas (yoga postures) but also in the yoga philosophy. After listening to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar say that ‘yoga is not just asanas, there is something much more to it’, my concept of yoga started changing. That’s when I really started exploring the practice. It’s been 15 years now that I have been formally practicing yoga.
Q: About 15 years back, yoga was not seen as very trendy. So what instilled yoga interest in you back then?
Dinesh Kashikar: I would say it's the same thing that is instilling interest in people today. Yoga inherently has something of interest to all of us. Just because it’s a fad or an 'in thing', it does not mean that quality of yoga is not there. I would also say that even though all fads come up and go down, yoga has really taken root and has developed so much because there is an intrinsic quality of some goodness in it, some value-add to our life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Yoga is just closing the eyes, letting go and letting the body do what it wants to. There is an instinctive intelligence which allows the asanas to flow through you rather then we trying to do the asana.” This has been the guiding principle for me throughout. I guess I just got exposed to this facet of yoga early on in life and was lucky enough to be able to hold on to it.
Q: When did Art of Living Yoga come about?
Dinesh Kashikar: I think Sri Sri's Yoga was always there (smiles). At some point of time, it got crystallized into something called Art of Living Yoga. It is something to do with oneself, with what we are. It’s a practice that takes us much beyond the body, deeper within, and that I believe is the growth of Art of Living Yoga - that completeness and purity.
It is said that the source of knowledge is the Self. That is why all the rishis (sages) have meditated, gone deep within and then the knowledge came out for the world. That is why the knowledge is called ananta (eternal).
Before Newton, there was gravity but Newton just realized “Oh! This is gravity!” In the same way, the knowledge of yoga was always there but at some point, we realized “Oh! This is what it is” and the person who taught us this was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This is how we got this tag of Art of Living Yoga.
That knowledge, which was essentially being given in some sessions here and there, then got formalized into a course and now it’s available for so many people around the world.
Q: When did you start teaching Art of Living Yoga?
Dinesh Kashikar: During the courses, there was always an opportunity to teach yoga and since I loved getting up in the morning, I took it up. The more I started taking responsibility, the more I started teaching, the more I started learning too. I still remember rising early morning and throwing water on people to wake them up and get them to come and do yoga (laughs)! I started teaching formally in 2004. Since then I have been passionately trying to transmit the beautiful experience in yoga that I had.
Q: You have traveled all over the world taking Art of Living Yoga courses. Any interesting experience you can reminisce?
Dinesh Kashikar: I went to Japan once and there was a lady who had been doing yoga for about 30 years. She had done lot of asanas and meditations. She was on my course and she said that after practicing yoga for all these years, she realized that yoga and meditation are not about doing something but about not doing something. I felt this was an excellent description of what yoga really is. It’s an eye-opening statement.
Long-term practitioners of yoga find an amazing depth to their practice with Art of Living Yoga. And what continually amazes me is that there is something in it for a beginner as well as for an advanced practitioner. It's very interesting.
Q: We hear that you had a passion for football in your growing years. What else interests you?
Dinesh Kashikar (chuckles): Now, rather than the physical football, I look at the football of opinions! (referring to a knowledge point in the Art of Living courses)
Basically I’m interested in life so anything that there is to do in life, I do it with a lot of interest. Whether it is developing a program or talking to people, making a difference, or even just doing nothing! I find interest in doing nothing also.
Also, eating good food interests me. I love food and have tasted cuisine from all over the globe. It’s interesting to see that there is so much variety of vegetarian food everywhere.
(More coming up soon on Dinesh Kashikar views on yoga, his tips on how to find time for yoga in everyday life and his message to yoga beginners and practitioners).