DARJEELING, ENTREPRENEUR, FEATURED, PEOPLE, WEST BENGAL
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“Yoga Helped Me Deal With My Anxiety and Stress” | A Chat With The Blissfully Fit Yogini – Apurva Lama from Darjeeling

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. – John F. Kennedy

A new year is already here – and resolutions or not, nothing like a healthy bend of mind to get a good head start. And to motivate us all, we have with us Apurva Lama – our super fit and passionate yogi from Darjeeling. This 29-year-old has had quite a ride – from being a journalist, an editor for an online magazine and launching her own clothing line ‘Appycat’, to now embarking on a new path as a yoga teacher.

We chat with Apurva Lama from Darjeeling – passionate yogini and yoga teacher from Darjeeling. We talk about her journey so far – from being a journalist, an editor for an online magazine and launching her own clothing line ‘Appycat’, to now embarking on a new path as a yoga teacher. Read on to know more about Apurva – and her journey from stressed to blissfully fit!

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Yoga teacher, Apurva Lama from Darjeeling, West Bengal.

  • Hello Apurva! Introduce a little about yourself.

My name is Apurva Lama and I’m 29 years old. I was born and brought up in Darjeeling, a pretty small hill-station in the foothills of the Himalayas. I was living in Delhi for 8 years where I was working as a journalist and an editor for an online magazine. I also had my own clothing line, called Appycat Street. I majored in media studies and communications.

“I am now a yoga instructor and I still work as a freelance writer. I moved back home to the hills in Darjeeling 6 months ago and opened my yoga and wellness center, Sumitra Yogashala, which is named after my late grandmother.”

  • Tell us about your yogic journey so far. What got you started?

I started working from the time I was in my last year of college and worked for years on end with no breaks. I then noticed that I was becoming very unhealthy – both mentally and physically. It was then that I decided I needed to do something for my health. I joined the gym and started running – but it always felt like a chore. I knew I was becoming fitter but I felt like there needs to something more than just being fit physically.

“In 2012, my mom came to visit me in Delhi and she wanted to join a yoga course. My mom, Kusang, is a seasoned yoga and vipassana teacher with an experience of over 15 years. I grew up watching her practice yoga and meditation but I never really practiced with her when I was a kid. Whenever I saw her do yoga, I used to assume she possessed superhuman patience and strength; something which I felt I could never possess as I was too restless.

My mom would tell me that I will take to Yoga only when the time was right for me; I hardly paid attention or tried to understand what it meant. But when she made her trip to Delhi (where I was staying) in 2012, I was at a place in my life, where I was looking for a more holistic way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle – for both body and mind. During this visit, I accompanied her to her Yoga class. That was my first class – it was intense, beautiful and I haven’t missed a day since!”

Apurva practicing her “Hanumanasana” (Split/Monkey pose)

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Apurva practicing her “Hanumanasana” (Split/Monkey pose)

Apurva working out together with her mom, Kusang – a seasoned yoga and vipassana teacher

  • Tell us more about Yoga and how it has benefited you.

It’s been roughly 5 years now that I have been practicing Yoga but it was only  2 years ago that I learned what yoga can really do to you – not just in terms of your physical health but also for your overall well-being.

“When I started doing yoga, I was still working as a fashion editor, and I used to be under stress most of the time. That’s when I decided to follow a daily routine of doing an hour of yoga in the morning before I go to work. That was a game changer for me… it was the most beautiful way to start the day. 

Gradually I began to realize how that one hour of yoga in the morning was helping me get by through the day. It was then that I started digging deeper and found out about the whole science and philosophy of yoga.I learned how to control my breathing, and now I truly believe that a controlled breath is a controlled mind; yoga is not a ‘work out’ but it really actually is a ‘work-in.’ It’s a journey within, where you find your true self – and that’s a wonderful place to be in.”

I have dealt with anxiety for years and in many ways, yoga helped me overcome it. With daily yoga and meditation, I was able to handle the triggers better, and tackle anxiety as and when it happened. Yoga teaches you to be aware of what’s happening in your mind and your body.

Apurva Lama enjoying a day of bliss at home, in Darjeeling

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Apurva Lama enjoying a day of bliss at home, in Darjeeling

Apurva meditating in Pigeon/Mermaid Pose.

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Apurva medidating in Pigeon/Mermaid pose.

  • You decided to leave the city and come back home to the mountains. What led you to take up this venture? 

Almost two years ago, I quit my job. Even though my career was going in the right direction, I never felt complete or at ease. I always knew there is something more to life and I was missing out on a huge chunk of it.

“The joy and peace I experienced while engaging in yoga was (still is) what I wanted every day. When I saw my colleagues and friends stressed out about work, I wanted them to experience it too. I wished they knew how beautiful it is to live and feel in your own body – that there are so many things we are capable – and the depth of peace we can experience – if we know how to be aware of our own breath and body. I wanted to share the benefits and joys of yoga with everyone I met – especially help people battling anxiety and depression because I journeyed the same road and I won.”

“I always find joy and peace in the simplest of things. Give me a cup of hot tea, a view that breaks my heart in all the right ways, a book, campfires, an honest conversation and the sound of nature…and I’ll be happy for the rest of my life. .”~ Apurva Lama

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Apurva Lama Darjeeling

This desire took me to Mysore, the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga (a dynamic form of yoga) where I got the opportunity to train under the best gurus and I got certified as an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Teacher affiliated with the Yoga Alliance in the US. I then left Delhi to teach yoga at my hometown, what better place than being back home with your own people.

  • Where do you draw inspiration from?

I find inspiration everywhere – my family, friends, the people I meet, the people I can only see on social media and most importantly, my students. Even though I carry the label of a “teacher” now, I feel like the person who is learning the most from my classes in the studio is me! It’s funny but it’s true.

Every person I meet and practice yoga with has a different body, different history, different reactions, and emotions. I get to learn so much about the human body, relationships, emotions – every day. It is just so inspiring and overwhelming. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to learn, share and grow every single day.

Apurva showing us the ‘Crow Pose’ “…it strengthens the wrist, forearms, and abs – improving balance and core strength.”

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Apurva showing us the ‘Crow Pose’

  • Tell us about your yoga studio in Darjeeling.

My studio is called Sumitra Yogashala. My mom and I started it together. It is a space for the people of Darjeeling to come unwind, unlearn, detach and connect back to themselves because god knows what we need during the times where everything is so competitive and stressful. I wanted to give people space where they could just BE and just BREATHE – fully and freely like we are all meant to. Some of us don’t know what our bodies are capable of.

“Every day I tell my students that their one hour of practice is theirs and theirs alone; I am only there to hold space – to allow them to be in tune with themselves more freely. Even if I can improve and make them feel good about themselves for even a tiny minute, I feel like my work is done.”

Yoga session inside Apurva Lama’s studio ‘Sumitra Yogashala’ in Darjeeling

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Yoga session inside Apurva Lama’s studio ‘Sumitra Yogashala’ in Darjeeling

“My yoga studio is located on the rooftop of Penang Building in Ladenla Road, Darjeeling. When the weather is clear, you can see a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga while you practice, it’s beautiful. You and your team are welcome to visit anytime! The fee is very minimal at Rs 1,800 per month (5 days a week) and Rs.300 for daily drop-in classes.” ~ Apurva Lama

Apurva inside her yoga studio Sumitra Yogashala’ in Darjeeling

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Apurva inside her yoga studio Sumitra Yogashala’ in Darjeeling

We also host Yoga Retreats and Workshops and Yoga Holidays in and around Darjeeling at the moment but we plan to venture out in the near future. In fact, I have just conducted my first Yoga Retreat here and it was beautiful – a much-needed getaway for the people. We give free classes every weekend and everyone is free to join, we give free classes in open spaces we find around town.

“I hope I can encourage more people to start taking care of themselves. They don’t have to join my class, they can join a gym or any other fitness routine that suits them best but to start nonetheless. It will be a beautiful world if we start with ourselves first. As they say, you can only give love to others if you are full yourself; self-love is the first step to a healthy and happy you:)”

Yoga and Wellness Retreat at the Petrichor Farms kitchen studio in Darjeeling | Photo: Apurva Lama

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Yoga and Wellness Retreat at the Petrichor Farms kitchen studio in Darjeeling | Photo : Apurva Lama

Follow Apurva Lama on Instagram and get ready to be inspired as she takes you along her daily routines full of yoga and bliss.

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Apurva Lama, Darjeeling

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