• Mrinalika bhanj Deo

In conversation with HELLO!India

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

What is it that you experience when you come to the yoga mat every morning?

“It is a space that is absolutely sacred to me where I am able to leave everything else behind and come alive. My mind is clear, my body is calm and all that connects the two is the breath. I am able to just be and check in with myself to see how I am feeling on that day. Spending adequate time to answer unresolved questions or understanding the feeling of connection, love, fear and anger. Each time it’s like the tranquility you experience when you come home. I have been able to move past so many mind blocks and have watched my body transform to embody each pose better with each passing day.” What was the beginning of your yoga journey? “My journey began with wanting to align my purpose in life with what I wanted to pursue as a career. This was the onset of my journey towards self-discovery. I was introduced to yoga at a young age. What began as a retreat in Bali led me to realise that I could use the platform of yoga not just for the betterment of myself but society and the world at large. I have always wanted to live a conscious life encouraging sustainable practices and becoming a yogini made me realise the multi-faceted benefits that come along with the practice of yoga.”

How did you inculcate discipline within you to pursue yoga with commitment?

“The practice of yoga inculcated in me the discipline of mastering my breath, which was the first step to learning how to control my mind. I have been practicing yoga for six years now and teaching for the past two years and I still come to the mat every day to discover something new in me. The biggest learning for me was the realization that every day we are bombarded with external stimulation which throws us off balance, especially as we live in the digital age where our biggest health concerns are related to poor lifestyle choices. By making the informed choice every day to go back to the mat and challenge myself yet again is an ongoing process of commitment. Yoga is about the journey and not the destination.”

What were some of the subtle changes you noticed within you in the earlier months of doing yoga?

“In my initial days of doing yoga I was always excited about the bigger successes and achieving the larger goals I set for myself. However mindfulness engaged me to open my eyes to celebrating the smaller triumphs in life. Learning that my success or failures did not define me has been a big plus. Being grateful for what I had was a small change I observed in my daily routine that has made the biggest difference to my life.”

Could you describe the discipline of yoga that you got your training in. What is the core principle of this teaching? “I have received my training in Hatha Yoga which one could say is the big umbrella under which all other styles come. I teach vinyasa which focuses on the flow and transition between postures connecting movement with breath. While Yin yoga (based on the Chinese medicine teachings) is all about holding specific poses for 3-5 minutes to penetrate deeper tissues in the body, the core principle is building a relationship between the body and mind.”

What is your daily routine like?

“I wake up early in the morning and do a short meditation and then start my day by preparing a cold press juice of seasonal fruits and vegetables which is followed by three personal classes during the morning and a group class in my studio in the evening. I am very particular about the food I consume, therefore I always make time to prepare a nutritious lunch and dinner, following mostly a plant-based diet.”

Do you prescribe a lifestyle change once someone takes up yoga? What were the changes you made to your daily routine with yoga?

“The practice of yoga itself will see people making changes to their lifestyle because the act of mindfulness becomes organically embedded in their everyday life. I did not enter the practice of yoga making changes in my life, however yoga made me aware of the lifestyle I wanted to live and this included small steps such as being conscious of my eating habits, helping me have a phone-life balance, learning how to disconnect while travelling and most importantly being aware of the brands that I wear and associate with.”

As a teacher, what is your first tip to aspiring yogis?

“Just breathe and let yourself be open to a new experience to enjoy something rather than thinking of it as working out or an exercise. There is no right or wrong in yoga and each day is a new step towards self-discovery.”

Do you have a life-changing experience to share that came about with yoga?

“In the early days of starting my yoga journey, I became more confident in my vision and decided to take up the project of restoring my ancestral home in Mayurbhanj, Odisha which was a gigantic proposition given my limited skills in restoration, architecture, archaeology and hotel management to name a few! However, the strength in myself and conviction in my beliefs that comes with yoga, attracted people and organizations that matched the frequency I was generating. The journey of the palace has matched the journey of my yogic practice, with some hurdles and challenges thrown in. But it has helped me rediscover parts of myself I didn’t know existed.”

As a yogi what is your purpose in life?

“To be true to my authentic self and through the knowledge acquired help other people on their path of self-discovery".

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