One of Delhi’s finest Yoga Gurus, Mini Shastri first trained in Hatha Yoga in Kerala 18 years ago. Successive learning from masters in Bangalore, Mysore, and Chennai as well as across the world have helped her create a unique set of curriculums for all levels of practitioners, as well as workshops on food and nutrition.
What lead you to practice Yoga? When did you realize your calling?
In my 20s, I was competing and training for national games in the category of a pistol and air rifle.
It required, apart from consistent practice, honing my focus levels and keeping an even temperament. The sport needed for us to manage our breaths and watch out for an oscillating, reactive mind which could ultimately affect our scorecard. This got me hooked on the idea using the breath and the mindfulness that came with it.
Around the same time, I got interested in studying the Bhagwad Gita, the ultimate philosophical text on various aspects of Yoga. In my journey onwards, during times of confusion or Distress, I would often refer to dictated notes as I do now when I prep to teach a class. I sensed that the mind had an untapped potential and there was more to be discovered than what met the eye. I was a seeker, just as I am now.
This quest and query for life s innate intelligence and a need for a meditative modality of exercise led me to Yoga which provided the right tool for my inquisitive curious mind.
I went on to do my teachers training in Kerala, Mysore, and Chennai in 1999 and started interning that year at a center in Delhi with my first teacher. I was home!
How do you feel when you practice Yoga?
I have developed a keen connection with my inner environment, more sensitive and aware if I’m off balance and out of tune with my inner rhythms. This helped my drop old samskaras- patterns I was not even aware of that I would keep regrooving. The discomfort in many postures eased as I learned to be in the moment, this habit made me less reactive in life situations.
I developed more compassion for people's battles as I saw limitless potential in myself and then others around me. I was more attuned to nature, its direct effect and so became naturally watchful through the effect of thoughts, the food I consumed, my daily regimen, even what I applied on my face or body. In short, Yoga makes me observe myself from the grosser (breath) to subtle (thoughts and Intuition) level while in practice as well as when not on the mat.
The first thing I noticed with my practice of Yoga was that I no longer could eat non-vegetarian and developed a habit of waking up earlier. Yoga makes me intimately connect with my breath and opens me inward to subtle information and self-exploration.
What inspires you?
The fact that we have an incredibly evolved and sophisticated, intelligent Body, Mind and spirit and that it all needs to be connected to feel the joy of life and to live a great health span ( not just lifespan)
Would you consider yourself a student or a teacher? Which role do you enjoy the more out of the two?
Definitely a student for life. It’s a vast subject and it’s a lifetime of Self Discovery through steps and techniques like Kriyas, Pranayama, Asana, Meditation, Service, Study of scriptures and actually making time for doing it. So it’s experiential growth and not just knowledge by reading. I enjoy teaching what I know and sharing the way it makes me feel. It’s simple yet consistent interventions that Yoga asks of us. The maladies and diseases of urban lifestyles now are just so ever increasing.
What aspect of being a woman would you celebrate or you think needs to be celebrated the most today?
Women are my only hope left to take this country forward. Women’s gift of intuition, strength and nurturing are nature’s gift to her.