It’s 5.25am and the sun is yet to wake up. But that doesn’t deter the 50-odd yogis of Panchkula’s Sector 12 from heading to the neighbourhood park for their daily yoga routine. Every morning, armed with colourful mats and canvas sheets, the yogis, from grandparents to grandchildren and from housewives to businessmen, settle down for their one-and-a-half-hour class.
By 5.30am, the park resonates with chants of ‘Om’. Three teachers from Patanjali Yogpeeth take the group through a mix of pranayama (breathing exercises) and yoga asanas (postures), including the Surya Namaskar, sharing health tips and benefits through the routine. A doctor or a dietician is invited once in a while to interact with the yogis.
HOW IT STARTED
“We used to drive down to the Yavanika Town Park in Sector 5 for the yoga class at 4.30am. There, we learnt that residents of Sectors 6, 14 and 16 had started yoga classes in their parks. We consulted neighbours and informed the yoga teachers at Yavanika, who were willing to train us in our neighbourhood park,” says Ashok Singla, 50, a businessman, who took the initiative.
The class, which began on August 29, gradually grew to 50 in a month. “We aim to reach 100 and invite all residents of our sector and neighbouring ones to join the class and stay fit,” says Singla.
Yoga teacher Vinod Bajaj of Sector 11, Panchkula, who has been practising at the Yavanika park since 1998, says: “Yoga regulars have always been particular about their routine. We have helped residents of Sectors 6, 14, 16 and now 12 to start classes in their parks over the past three months.” Bajaj, 56, an assistant general manager, marketing, in Pinjore-based HMT, says he aims to train his students the right techniques so that they can turn teachers others. Nearly 120 students are enrolled in the four new centres set up in Panchkula neighbourhoods after June 21. A team of yoga gurus, comprising Col Surinder Anand (retd), Suman Guglani, Mona Verma, Renu Katyal, Sunita Garg, Umesh Narang, Nanu Singla and Amit Chopra and Bajaj guide the students.
SPREADING THE WORD
“We became neighbours by chance but friends thanks to yoga,” says Aarti Bansal, 41, a chartered accountant. “I’ve been here for eight years but it’s only now that I have developed a bond with my neighbours,” she adds.
“I used to practice yoga within the four walls but performing in the lush lawn is refreshing,” says Anil Kohli, 63, who has retired from a pharmaceutical company.
“After coming here, I’ve realised that age is just a number,” says Meena Opal, a fit grandma at 58 and wife of a retired air force officer.
“We are diligent with the attendance and maintain a register. The class is free but when there is an event to host, we contribute,” says Monica Chhibber, one of the admins of the group on WhatsApp.
Residents of neighbouring Sectors 4, 11 and 20 join the sessions too.
“We smile more, laugh louder and enjoy together. It’s the perfect start to the day,” says Ginny Kaushal, 36, a housewife whose joint family of seven is regular at the class.
Charting their own course
CHANDIGARH: Training camps are not being held in Sectors any more, but there is a discernible trend of people taking to yoga independently in the City Beautiful. Crediting Modi’s repetitive emphasis on benefits, the general mood is of enthusiasm towards Yoga.
At 6am at Sukhna Lake, one can see people of all age groups bond over yoga sessions, one near the police post and two others near the Buddha point.
Rajesh Kumar, 40, a yoga instructor, here said, “There is an increase in awareness and we get more people for training sessions.” He added that while many people attended sessions in the open, the luxury of affordability and big houses made residents opt for personal training sessions.
Suresh Kumar, of Sector 18, said, “The administration has stopped holding camps so we gather here every day. Nothing can beat the pleasure one gets out of doing yoga in fresh air every morning.” His friends Ajay Gupta and Vijay, both of Sector 30, said although they had been practicing yoga for the past six months, the momentum had increased post the Yoga Day.
INDIVIDUALS LEARN THROUGH OBSERVATION
At Shanti Kunj in Sector 16, senior citizens take it upon themselves to do asanas and pranayama . A number of individuals do this on their own at public places between 5:30am to 7:30am in city. Urvashi, 23, who is studying at Yamnunagar, told HT, “I have learnt yoga by watching videos and TV. It is no rocket science. I think everyone should try it.”
Madhu Prashar, another yoga trainer, said although yoga was always important to those who practised it, the government’s focus had led people to take it more seriously.
YOUNGSTERS WANT MORE CAMPS AT SCHOOLS, COLLEGES
The yoga craze has rubbed off on the younger generation. They need more camps. Raghav, 13, a student of a local government school said: “We were told camps will be held regularly. However, this has not happened,” Arvind Rana, president, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Teachers Welfare Association, said, “We have shortage of instructors.”
The UT administration had promised brief yoga sessions during morning assembly but nothing came of it. UT education secretary Sarvjit Singh said: “We’ll ensure regular sessions.”
Parminder Singh, director, sports, Panjab University, said, “Yoga camps are held twice a day on the campus. From 6-7am at the shooting range and at the community centre in the evening.” St Kabir Public School is opening a yoga academy for all tricity students on Tuesday. Karina Singh is the instructor.
Mohali has yoga fans, no change in number of camps
SAS NAGAR: There has been no significant change in number of camps and the people practising yoga in the city after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the international yoga day in Chandigarh in June this year.
Yoga camps are being held in Bougainvillea Garden, Silvi Garden and in the parks of Phases 4,5, 7, 3B2, 11 and Sector 70 in SAS Nagar between 5am and 6am.
“Most working people find it difficult to join yoga camps as they are held early morning. We hold camps on a regular basis,” said Dr Sanjeev Dhingra, district president of Patanjali.
Dera Bassi SHO Deepinder Singh is one of the yoga practitioners. “I have been practising yoga to beat the job stress. There are many people who practise yoga in the privacy of their homes,” he said. “Declaration of Yoga Day by the United Nations has definitely created awareness about the ageold practice, but there is lack of trainers,” he said.
A yoga teacher for 20 years, Kulwinder Singh said, “Yoga is a way of life. We have been taking yoga classes at the Phase-4 mandir complex. Saying that yoga has become a new craze will not be appropriate.” He, along with three others, trains a group of 50. “On request of the residents of Phase 5, we hold a camp every morning there also. People coming to our camp in Phase 4 wanted a place closer home. The trainer there is 80-year-old.”
Kishan Lal Narang, who has been practising yoga for 15 years, said, “I hold camp in a neighborhood park but the number of people coming there is the same. There was an excitement among the people to do yoga when PM Modi had come to Chandigarh, but now it is back to square one.”