BriefCase: On International Yoga Day, Meet Yoga Therapist Rajalaxmi Rao

Posted: June 21, 2015

On International Yoga Day, we interview Yoga Therapist Rajalaxmi Rao, who talks about why Yoga is just not an exercise and is meant for all.

In The BriefCase series, we meet women at work in different fields, different roles, and get a peek into their lives. With more women joining (or aspiring to) join the paid workforce, we live in exciting times, and this is an attempt to chronicle those times, one life at a time.

RajlaxmiThe first International Day of Yoga is generating a lot of attention (and attendant controversy!) Whatever your thoughts about the promotion of Yoga by the government, there is no denying that it is today a multi-billion dollar global industry – and at the very heart of it, are the men and women who continue to take Yoga to generations ahead.

Rajalakshmi Rao is a 49 year old yoga therapist who lives in Bangalore. She is a school teacher by profession, and has taught students from the Montessori level to the Bachelor’s level. She likes to stay active, disciplined and enjoys the company of people of all age groups. She shares her experiences as a yoga therapist, and the challenges she faces while she is on the job.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a down-to-earth, people friendly woman. I am also emotional, empathetic, and humble. I cannot see anyone in mental or physical distress. I am an analytical, emotive, poignant, and inquisitive human being. I believe that I can discern the cognitive thought processes and the trepidation of people of any chronological age. Hence, I am a pragmatic and understanding person. I am and always will be straightforward and veracious.

Why did you choose to work in this field?

A few years ago, I became a diabetic. After practising yoga, I cured myself. At that time, I decided to do my Masters in yoga and help everyone get rid of their physical ailments and lead healthy lives. I want to help everyone in the world, and inform them that all their ailments can be cured through yoga.Thus, I began this endeavour in 2011.

Describe your role so that it is understandable to those who have no knowledge of your field.

My practice is restricted to only cancer patients. Basically, I ask these patients a lot of questions, about their lifestyle, food habits, working hours, fitness regime and family milieu. I have to find out how their physical ailment emerged and counsel them accordingly. I teach ‘Panchakoshaviveka’, which is a style of yoga that helps control the five layers of the human mind. Basically, I teach them how to breathe properly. Once you master the art of breathing, you have the power to cure and control yourself.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

I find it very exciting to watch my patients cure themselves. Before the treatment, my patients would remain mum, depressed and lose the will to live. They wouldn’t express their sorrow, share their problems with me or their family. Now, they’ve become more vocal about everything that bothers them.

The whole process of watching a dejected human being able to cure their own ailments, and face tough situations which they faced earlier with new vigour and perspective and find solutions themselves is truly a blessing.

Before the counselling or treatment, my patients would experience tumultuous emotions, and post treatment, I see them keep their emotions in check and think realistically.

But most importantly, they modify their lifestyle themselves, after receiving knowledge from me. What could be more exciting than observing someone who had suppressed their feelings, stand up for themselves, and deal with the world with their inner strength?

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Some patients refuse to take my advice, and give up their unhealthy lifestyle. I try to correct their mistakes by explaining the importance of food habits, maintaining correct postures while sitting or sleeping, but they don’t heed my words. It is very challenging to change their stubborn, inflexible attitude.

Some of my patients refuse to accept their mistakes. In most cases, it is certain behaviours which leads them to become susceptible to various health problems. They don’t listen to my advise. It is hard to help someone when they don’t listen to you. My goodwill and instructions is misconstrued as a way of giving orders.

What is the most common misconception people have about your field?

People all over the world think that yoga is just an exercise.‘The teachers will teach you how to bend in weird ways’. That’s it. Nobody is aware of how relaxing and fruitful yoga is. They think they can relax by sleeping and yoga is unnecessary, but they don’t know that true relaxation can be attained by doing yoga. Even during our sleep, our mind is alert. That’s not called relaxing. Relaxing means to make sure your whole body, including your brain rests for a short while. I would like to clarify by saying that yoga can help you truly relax, it’s not an exercise.

If you had to change one thing about your field, what would it be?

If there is one thing that I would like to change, then it’s this: There are certain people in the field who think that yoga is just for Hindus. I would like to make one thing clear, that yoga is for everyone. There is no rule that only Hindus should practice yoga. Yoga is not categorised by any religion. True, yoga was developed by Hindus, but that’s it. Anyone and everyone can teach or learn it. I want people around the world as well, to change their mind set with regard to this notion.

Woman meditating image via Shutterstock

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