Wonders of Yoga: Interview with Dr. Chintamani Gautam

Dr Chintamani Gautam embodies a wealth of knowledge in yoga practices. He has completed double Masters and PhD in yoga science and anatomy. In 2012, he became the first yoga teacher of Nepal and was honored with Nepal Vidyabhushan ‘KA’ by the President on Education day. A year later, he introduced set up a new dimension of spiritual tourism in the country with his yoga center, ‘Nepal Yoga Retreat’ offering a wide range of classes for children, elderly, youths and for aspiring yoga teachers. Following its success, he set up the ‘Nepal Yoga Academy’. The center is also home to specialized yoga publications and documentaries promoting and teaching the essential foundations of Sanatan Yoga.

When did you start practicing yoga and why?

I was probably around 20 years old when I came to know about yoga and its importance. At that time, I was losing my eyesight. I happened to be staying at a hostel where I met some great yogis and gurus who told me about yoga exercises to improve my eyesight. I began practicing yoga on a daily basis and within two months my eyesight was fine! It's from then that I realized yoga can be a powerful tool. Yoga can cure your problems and I am a living proof of it. 

In your opinion, how important is yoga for youth?

Youth are full of energy but the issue with today’s generation is that they get easily distracted. Yoga teaches discipline, time management, concentration, focus, health care and an improved sense of self. Something the youth must learn.

People usually imagine a yogi as a person detached from society and completely immersed in his or her practice. Is it possible to combine regular everyday life and practice yoga?

This is actually a huge misconception. There is no need to be detached from the 'everyday' world in order to practice yoga. For a person to be successful, one has to integrate five types of discipline (physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual) into their lives. Yoga is a discipline and a lifestyle, therefore one can adopt it to his/her existing life without any issue. In fact, in today's age, with increasing levels of stress and demanding workload, it is essential to practice yoga in order to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

These days, youths are more inclined towards Zumba, aerobics, kickboxing et cetera to stay fit. Is yoga still required after these activities?

There are benefits of all kinds of exercise but can create stiffness, rigidity that lead to joint pains. In order to tackle with these problems, asana, pranayama and meditation are essential.

Nepali people have a rather different concept about yoga in comparison to foreigners. Why is that?

It all comes down to cultural differences. Westerners are in a position where they can evaluate their mental, physical and spiritual health as well as their working and living environment. Whereas, Nepal is a developing country and the priority is career development, earning and housing rather than personal health.

Any words of wisdom for our students?

I would suggest them to practice ‘Karma Yoga’ meaning working without expectation. Yoga helps to maintain this mindset, particularly amongst students who are constantly striving to do better within their studies and school life. The yoga practice is a reminder and constant inspiration that the only thing necessary for success is contained within the self and not get distracted from anything external.

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