Meet the SHEROES - Varuna Khullar
Varuna Khullar, Yogiprenuer at Yoga with V tells us about her journey and how she decided to turn into a professional Yoga trainer. She dispels some common myths about Yoga and tell us about its overall benefits too.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a dreamer, learner, life-enthusiast and a believer in self however; I grew up as a child would normally grow up in a middle class family. There were dreams and quarrels, gang up with friends, making castle in air, last minute examination preparations but still managing an above average score and lot of learning. A trait that I would like to highlight here which started germinating in me from childhood is my perseverance to strive for something, which is right and deserving, and that has only grown over the years.
With a Master’s in Advertising & Public Relations, I have successfully led teams and Marketing Communications Campaigns for over a decade for organizations such as Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), GEMS Education in India and Protiviti Inc. in the Middle East region.
How did the inspiration to enter this field of work come about?
Yoga began almost a decade back for me as an escapade from a stressed nine-to-five corporate life which indeed was rewarding but somewhere not satisfying. I had some common physical and psychological health issues such as Anaemia, Recurring Flu, Volatile Anger Bouts especially at work during pressure times, High Salary package and perks but still a hollow feeling and living for only ‘Self’ mantra. And, I am sure, any executive in the same shoes who is consistently scaling up the professional ladder somewhere will relate to these issues.
While, I realized that no matter how much counselling or external help I may seek, all answers lie within me. It was during this time, that I started attuning myself to the practice of Yoga. And that is when my journey of internal reformation actually began. About a yearlong of committed practice, I did not quit everything and went up the Himalayas and found my answers, all I did was just made minor changes to my lifestyle including a 20 – 60 minutes practise of physical exercises atleast 4 times a week, pursued skills outside the category of ‘upgrade your technical skills for higher titles and salaries’, joined the Toastmasters Public Speaking Group and a Theatre Group, started devoting two hours of my weekend time to a Children’s Home and just connected with people, without any overt or covert agenda. Not only did I feel and look happier, I became more confident as an individual and started treading my personal and professional paths with more clarity of vision. I discovered that my best friend is within me.
The profound changes that I experienced first within me and then in the beautiful and healthier transformations of others, during the course of teaching Yoga kept reposing my faith into this practice, again and again and eventually led to taking my 200 hours Hatha Yoga Teacher certification from Yoga Alliance India and a Certification as a Laughter Yoga Coach.
What are the top 3 myths about Yoga that need to be dispelled among the younger generations?
There are many myths around the practice of Yoga across all generations but some recurring myths from the young generation which I hear and respond to all the time are:
1) “I am practising Yoga for 2 months but it is not resulting in ‘Weight Loss”: Yoga is just not about weight loss. There are numerous other ways to lose weight which by the way comeback with a bang, earlier than one expects. Yoga is about the fitness of mind and body and weight management is a part of it.
2) Yoga, Oh it is a “physical exercise”!: I hear this all the time across all age groups when I meet people, conduct sessions with corporates and schools and this leaves me with a thought that a lot of awareness needs to be created among people about this practise. Although, the practice of Yoga started in India and is being followed around the world but our own people are still oblivious to the essence of it. Yoga is a ‘Way of Life’. There are eight aspects to Yoga than just physical asana. Our behaviour with others, Selflessness, Unconditional Sharing, adhering to rules, Time Management is also Yoga. One who is sweating for sixty minutes on the mat everyday but breaking traffic rules on the road all the time is not a true practitioner of Yoga. Physical Asanas is just a component of Yoga, which is most known and accepted to us. I feel there is a need to bring out the other aspects of yoga.
3) Yoga is not for me: Yoga is for everyone right from one year old to ninety year old. Depending upon the age and health conditions, yoga programs can be customised. While we are still grappling with making this practice a part of our young generation’s lifestyle, in the western countries, the concept and practice of ‘baby yoga’ is already on the ground. It is the safest form of activity which can be practiced by all age groups. Why to wait for a certain age or an ailment to hijack our health and happiness, why not take action now and save the future sufferings?
How do you hope to benefit the lives of working people via your venture?
After spending more than a decade of pay-check to pay-check life, converting my passion into a profession was not a very easy decision however it feels so right after I finally did that earlier this year. I am quite clear about my mission to take the profound benefits of this holistic practise to the workplace and into the lifestyle of the young generation. Today, the three factors which are increasingly becoming a threat to any corporate executive are:
Stress: Ranked as Number 1 lifestyle risk factor. Stress is a trigger for over 70% ailments reported by a corporate executive today. The Emotional and Mental Stresses are much more threating than just the Physical Stress.
Low Productivity: While, we hold the capacity to deliver much more, our inability to cope up with pressures of modern day working keeps our goals underachieved
Poor Physical Health: due to weak body immunity and too much dependence on medicines as a quick remedy
While, I realize that not everyone can follow a strict regime of a yoga practise and I do not intent to convert people into gymnasts, My ‘Corporate Happiness Programs’ are in sync with the requirements and schedules of today’s Corporate Executive. I blend in my learning from the Hatha Yoga practise with the powerful effects of unconditional laughter, interactive games incorporating four elements of joy i.e. Singing, Dancing, Playing and Laughing for greater team bonding and Mindfulness challenges which makes the whole experience of doing Yoga, fun yet focused on the holistic wellness of an individual.
What future plans do you have, professionally?
The journey to become a catalyst of health and happiness has just begun for me. The path I have chosen is pretty unconventional in today’s age of increasing e-commerce and consumer internet, funding ecosystem but someone has to stand out of the crowd and begin a new line of ‘change’.
Right now, apart from being a wellness partner of a few corporates and schools and making myself heard through more corporate doors in Gurgaon, I am working on bringing a social initiative titled ‘Best of U’ – Believe. Bloom. Blossom, with a young passionate team of trainers, to empower today’s young generation with foundation learning of how to take charge of their Emotional, Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health. The journey of change is commencing on 10th October, 2015 in Gurgaon with a half day Life Skills Workshop for Human Resource Professionals. Post the workshop, the team of trainers and the participants will stay connected through virtual groups for continued sharing and updated learning. Allocating budgets for wellness activities often becomes a challenge for the Human Resource Professionals - why not empower yourself and empower your staff?
We plan to take the Best of U initiative to more cities and more people in the future.
My Happiness Programs are just not restricted to improving the lives of corporate workforce but I also want to create ripples of health and happiness amongst children and senior citizens. I aspire to reach out and touch as many lives as possible through the medium of Yoga in the future.
Alongwith, I intend to open up Yoga Lounges for today’s generation in two- three years from now. I want the Gen Y to experience the exquisiteness and the unparalleled benefits of this way of living a life, customized to their needs. The concept selling and meeting the investment figures is challenging but certainly not unthinkable or unattainable.
Can you leave our readers with a few thoughts?
As Shri K. Pattabhi Jois once said, “Do your practise and all is coming”.
The time for action is ‘Now’. If you believe in something, action it with commitment! There is no need for making grand plans and designs to recharge life and nor is there is a need to panic at challenges. My purpose and your purpose ought to be – to make our lives Simpler, Healthier and Lighter and Yoga is one excellent way to do that!