Yoga: The shape of life | Sunday Observer

Yoga: The shape of life

(Pix by Shan Rupassara)
(Pix by Shan Rupassara)

When you think of yoga, the first thing which would probably come into your mind is slim women doing different poses- probably amidst a calming and beautiful backdrop. But Yogi Nilmi Kotuwela says that yoga is not really about the poses but about finding spiritual bliss, a peaceful mind.

The leaflet Nilmi hands to anyone who enters her yoga center- Nirvana Yoga & Consciousness Centre in Jinadasa Nandasena Mawatha in Kiribathgoda- states the same in capital letters to stress on the message, “True Yoga is not about the shape of your body but the shape of your life. Yoga is not just about stretching your soul to new unseen dimension”.

Nilmi says that since she started practicing yoga she is calmer and not stressed by everyday stress factors. This reflects in her whole persona. Clad in simple white clothing, she walks and speaks with utmost peacefulness.

She hopes to help people understand the true essence of yoga, and not simply the stretching and poses that most yoga gurus in the island seem to focus on.

For Nilmi, the journey to learn and practice true yoga started nearly five years ago when she accompanied her husband to Vishaka Padman in Andra Pradesh, India.

“The whole family moved to India,” she said adding that the decision came at a price- to quit her good paying textile merchandiser job.

In order to keep herself occupied Nilmi enrolled in a fashion designing course, this was not her ‘cup of tea’. She had that deep sense of dissatisfaction, and the turning point in her life came when she looked out of their apartment situated near the sea.

“I saw people- men and women- walking with mats. What caught my attention were their faces. They radiated happiness. I was truly astounded,” she recalls.

Soon afterwards she enrolled for a six-month yoga course at the Andra University.

Despite having to learn in a foreign language she topped the class by constantly reading up on the subject at the university’s library.

“Where I learnt the true art of yoga was at Kaivalya Yogam where I got the opportunity to learn and train at the same time,” Nilmi says. She worked at the Yogam for about three years mastering it.

When the Kotuwela family returned to Sri Lanka, the highly trained yogi had one thing in mind-start her own yoga centre, which she did in May last year. Since its inception 35 members have joined it.

Nilmi says what brings her great happiness is seeing her trainees faces change because yoga if done in the correct manner helps one understand oneself better, leaving one satisfied.

“You see, yoga is a way of life. It is not hard to master. An hour of it twice a week is enough to change your life completely,” she says.

Most who attend her class feel relaxed too, because Nilmi during her stay in India was trained in counseling. Anytime any of the members wished to talk she always more than willing to listen. This, she says, has is helped her to build a special bond with those who come to learn yoga.

Nilmi concluded with a saying, by a famous late yoga guru from Andra Pradesh, which is drilled into her mind- ‘Analyse, understand the three status of consciousness and realise you are the embodiment of Sath (existence), Chith (knowledge), and Ananda (bliss).’ The saying has changed the way she thinks.

“With yoga you break away from the box, and start thinking of life with a different light. Through that your mind becomes blissful and this is reflected in your body,” Nilmi says.