Kamlesh Barwal is an International Sri Sri Yoga teacher with The Art of Living. Over the past eleven years, she has travelled worldwide teaching people of all backgrounds, cultures and religions how to effectively manage their mind and emotions, eliminate stress, live in harmony amid diversity and bring greater peace and joy into their lives through simple yet profound Yoga techniques. She also specializes in training teachers in Sri Sri Yoga. Known for her graceful yoga posture practice, her classes are a blend of simplicity, fun, humor and lot of well explained yoga philosophy and knowledge.
Q: How can I be happy? Can yoga practice bring happiness?
Kamlesh: Look, happiness is not somewhere outside in the world. It is our true nature. That is how we are. We hide our true nature under these layers of ignorance and complications as we grow up. If we can drop all these layers and go back to being our simple self, then that is the key to an everlasting happiness and everlasting joy. And this process of union with your truth is yoga, is The Art of Living.
Q: What brought you to The Art of Living and what made you stay here?
Kamlesh: I joined The Art of Living because my neurosurgeon told me to. Back then when I was in college, I had some health issues and my doctor had read about the Sudarshan Kriya and the healing effects that it had, so he advised my mother to make me sit on one of the courses and I did.
After having practiced Sudarshan Kriya for a couple of months, I felt myself change. Not just my physical health was improving but I could see so much more mental strength coming to me, so much more emotional strength coming and what began as a mere practice to get a healthy body and stable mind has become my lifestyle now. There was no looking back!
In the past 12 or 13 years, every moment, I feel something inside me growing stronger and better. Not that the situations are always favourable. Not that I do not meet opposing situations or opposing people anymore, but my reaction, rather response, to situations and people have changed completely. I can just smile it away now.
It is very good to have a flexible body, it is very good to have a healthy body and regular practice of asanas definitely help you achieve that, but that is not all there is to it.
Yoga does not just mean postures , asanas – you know, taking your leg and putting it over your head – is not yoga. Postures or practice of asanas helps you purify your body, helps you cleanse your mind and all those thoughts that go on in the head all the time, helps you settle it down, so that you are prepared for that deeper experience of yoga. You know that going beyond the mind is the experience of yoga.
See, if there are too many ripples on the surface of a pond you cannot see the depth of the pond, right? So to be able to see the depth of the pond you have to first settle down the ripples on the surface and a quiet, peaceful, rested mind is key to the experience of yoga. So through the asanas we are doing, we are just quieting the surface of the pond. Settling the ripples and admiring the depth of the pond is yoga.
Q: Why come to a Sri Sri Yoga class when I can learn yoga on TV or from books?
Kamlesh: All the information is on the internet. All you need to do is Google search and Yahoo search and you get all your answers. That does not mean you do not go to schools anymore, right? Similarly you can read in books how to do a yoga posture correctly, how to breathe in or how to breathe out, but books cannot give you that experience of union that yoga truly means. A Master is very important in our lives. A Master is one who will convert all that information into live experiences. Experiential knowledge can only come from the Master, a Guru, someone who has already trod the path, a genuine guide. So for information to get converted into experience you need a Guru, you need a Master.