27-year-old Diksha Lalwani is one of Mumbai’s most sought after yoga teachers. Her classes are always full, and her students swear by her. She spoke to SheThePeople.TV about how she retrieved herself from the messy and stressful world of making films in order to follow her passion for yoga. Hers is a story of someone who was unafraid to leave the rat race and who was fearless enough carve a life that she felt happy with.

Lalwani moved to Mumbai from Bhopal to do her B.A. in Mass Media, after which she worked for four years in production houses. She worked in ad films and was also an assistant director for many feature films. While on the outside, it seemed like she was living the quintessential Mumbai dream, she was miserable in reality.

She says that her lifestyle was very unhealthy, with shoots going on till late at night, and then starting again, early in the morning. She was always exhausted, ate unhealthy food, and smoke and drank to relieve her stress.

“When you live that life, it doesn’t make you happy. I was depressed. If I look at any of my pictures at that time, I was looking sad.”

She says that she was also in an abusive relationship at around that time. “I was attracting everything that was wrong. I didn’t like working for feature films and it was the darkest time of my life.”

Yoga was the only activity that Diksha could find solace in. “That was one thing I enjoyed. I would wait for my job to get over. I would look forward to not shoot, just so that I could do yoga.” But at the time she didn’t realise that she could make a career out of the activity.

“Teaching is about empathy and compassion. You have to take your students through steps, while keeping in mind what it was like when you didn’t know them yourself.  I help build my students’ practices.  Taking them though their journey helps me become a good teacher.”

After Diksha got the courage to leave her relationship and her job, she decided to go back home for a while. While on her break, she did yoga to heal and recover. Her love for the practice took her to a small ashram in Kerala. She said that her experience there was so wonderful that she decided to do a teacher’s training course there.

Diksha Lalwani Yoga on the beach
Source: Diksha Lalwani

After the course, she moved to Goa to volunteer at the Yoga Magic Eco Retreat, after which she moved on to Yoga Gypsies in Goa. “How the tables have turned. I am doing my yoga retreats at Yoga Magic,” she happily told me.

“I picked up a lot there, meeting international yoga teachers, travellers, yogis from all over the world. I became confident of my teaching, all my students were tourists and they would love my classes.”

It was then that she succumbed to the idea of becoming a full-time teacher. But Goa’s economy is based on tourism which dwindles in its off-season, and yields little work. So Diksha packed up her bags and moved back to Mumbai, where she has been teaching yoga for three years.

“The mental health aspect should be given importance. Being healthy is not about going to gym to look good for one’s vanity. It is also about the quality of your thoughts, the food you eat, and your lifestyle.”

I asked her what’s the secret behind being a good teacher, and she said that it is all about having empathy.

She says that a lot of yoga teachers show off without being attuned to what their students need. “This looks like they’re modelling,” she says.

“Teaching is about empathy and compassion. You have to take your students through steps, while keeping in mind what it was like when you didn’t know them yourself.  I help build my students’ practices.  Taking them though their journey helps me become a good teacher.”

Diksha Lalwani  Yoga teacher
Source: Diksha Lalwani

I asked one of her regular students why she loved Diksha’s classes so much. Here is what she said:

“Diksha is the best yoga teacher I have had. She has a genuine positive energy, is really enthusiastic and always attentive and encouraging of every student. I love that she’s always smiling through our classes and her teaching style is incredibly intuitive and friendly.”

After working 18 hours at a stretch, Diksha is adamant to create ample free time for herself in this new phase of her life. She makes sure that she doesn’t over-exert herself — she does 3-4 classes a day, as many as she needs to survive comfortably in Mumbai. And of course she maintains a strict and healthy routine for herself!

“Awareness of yoga and meditation is an important part of well-being. It doesn’t matter what place you practice in.”

Diksha was unafraid to leave the rat race, and she was lucky that she had the option to do so. I asked her what other city dwellers, who are still in the muck of the corporate race, can do to feel less stressed out.

“It’s not possible for every city person to go away. But you can be in the city and still live a great life,” she says. And according to her, discipline is the key.

“People get lazy to exercise. People take the elevator even to the second floor. They go to AC gyms if they want exercise. Awareness of yoga and meditation is an important part of well-being. It doesn’t matter what place you practice.” She says that meditation can really be of help to everybody.

“The mental health aspect should be given importance. Being healthy is not about going to gym to look good for one’s vanity. It is also about the quality of your thoughts, the food you eat, and your lifestyle.”

She says that a city person can enjoy the best of life as long as they take out time to find some balance.

Hers is a unique and refreshing way to look at the world. She is completely sure of herself and her decisions, and her energy is infectious.

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