Yoga has become synonymous with good mental and physical health all over the world. Denoting harmony, synchronisation and alignment, yoga when regularly practiced (yogabhyas/yoga practice) can bring a series of benefits to a person. Goa has been a site for spirituality and yoga along the coastline since the hippies discovered the sunshine state. There has been an increase of interest in online yoga since the pandemic lockdowns. An online and offline service that is available is Rhutam Swadhyaya, founded by Dr Pankaj Arvind Sainekar, a young yoga practitioner and multiple world record holder in yoga.
‘Rhutam Swadhyaya’ translated to English means ‘the study of self, one’s absolute reality and unconditional truth’. Gomantak Times Digital interviewed Dr Sainekar to learn more about his work.
Q. When were you first introduced to yoga?
Dr Pankaj Sainekar (PS): I was formally introduced to yoga in the 7th standard in school, thanks to our PE teacher who explained and showed us asanas. But I had already begun performing a few yogasanas even as a child by referring to books.
Q. When did you begin to study yoga philosophy in depth and yoga beyond its asanas?
Although I have been performing yogasanas since my childhood, the in-depth study of yoga and its philosophy, etc, started a bit late in the year 2014. If we look at the text of Yogadarshan, only 2 to 3 per cent of it discusses asanas and pranayama, and the rest of it is about yoga and its harmonious inclusion of lifestyle in totality. Maharishi Patanjali wrote only 3 sutras on the yogasanas from a total of 195 sutras of Yogadarshan.
Q. Could you tell us about any interesting experience that you have had with yoga?
In the 9th standard, during the Saraswati pujan, our physical education teacher organised a Surya Namaskar competition. The competition went on for a long time, straight into late evening. Our teacher decided to increase the difficulty level of the competition to eliminate students. Somehow I made it to the end, completing 702 Surya Namaskars in three and a half hours. This was the moment I gained the confidence to do something in the field of yoga. Once again in the year 2009-10, during the annual sports meet, I performed Surya Namaskar (720) for an entire day, till the conclusion of the meet.
Q. From where did you obtain a deeper knowledge of yoga?
I visited Patanjali Ashram in Haridwar, and then there is the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in Lonavala, The Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz-Mumbai and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Sudarshan Kriya. Since starting yoga in 2007, there is not a single day that I have not performed at least one Surya Namaskar.
Q. How has practicing yoga all these years helped you?
It has helped me a lot physically, mentally and spiritually. Since yoga helps in gaining good health, positive thoughts in a healthy body and eventual spiritual progress are inevitable. I accomplished a Surya Namaskar marathon last year by performing 5445 non-stop Surya Namaskars. And this year, I broke my own record by performing 5598 Surya Namaskars in 24 hours.
Q. Do you think Goa could become an exclusive yoga tourist destination?
Yes, of course! For this, a holistic promotion of yoga is needed on a large scale. Goa has a lot of potential in terms of space availability, ambiance, etc. Goa’s government took the initiative recently to promote yoga in government primary schools wherein I was a master resource person. This programme was started in 2017, and it went on for two and a half years. We need to understand that yoga is not related to a particular religion, and it is the best tool to achieve good health and fitness.
Q. How feasible it is to practice yoga in today’s hectic life?
It is very feasible for everyone to devote at least 15-20 minutes to a few basic yogasanas which will benefit them in the long run. I have a yoga capsule programme of 6 days which covers basic asanas in the Rhutam Swadhyaya programme. I am ready to work with the government to start this yoga capsule programme.
Q. Do you feel that the Tourism Department, Chief Minister and Ayush Ministry should work in sync to promote Goa as a yoga destination for high-end tourists?
I am happy to learn that the first Ayush hospital is being set up in Goa. It could be one of the best places to promote yoga. We should all think of ways of showing Goa in a good light. My main objective in making records in yoga is to promote yoga in Goa and abroad. One needs to understand that in today’s time yoga will help in a big way to eliminate lifestyle-related diseases.
Q. Tell us more about your yoga studio.
My yoga studio is located near Disha School, opposite Soul of Asia, Atmaram Borkar Road, Panaji, Goa. There are three batches. For the general group, there is a 6 to 9 am batch. Then for children, there is a 4 to 5 pm batch. Corporates have a 6.30 to 8.30 pm batch. People could contact us at 8668531237 or email email@example.com.