Desi Canberra caught up with Rajni Ghai Malhotra from Yoga- Zing who teaches yoga-on-the-go, yoga that you carry with you and that doesn’t need the perfect yoga pants and an intense routine at the gym.
Rajni, please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am an accountant by profession having worked in the private sector, NSW and ACT governments for over 8 years. My husband and I, along with our two gorgeous girls Anya (9) and Amyra (2), have been calling Canberra home for the last 12 years. My growing up years were spent in Delhi, India. For my undergraduate and post graduate studies I moved to Pune, then worked in Delhi for a couple of years before heading to Australia to study my Masters degree at the University of Wollongong.
How did you come up with the idea of teaching yoga?
While I have always been an active and exercise-oriented person, I turned to Yoga for health reasons around 8 years ago. I learnt and practiced yoga to address a medical need. At the time I didn’t imagine I would form such a deep connection to it. I practiced yoga daily to fight the physical pain and it healed me in ways that went beyond my expectations. Yoga really truly heals you in body, mind and soul. It takes immense tolerance and perseverance to fight the physical pain but it takes sheer courage to fight the havoc that your emotions play and the crushing your spirit endures.
My absolute faith in yoga and the wish to help people took me on the path to becoming a yoga and mindfulness consultant. Informally, I had been helping friends, colleagues and associates with yoga tips over the years. Then, around 4 years ago I began devoting my time to teaching yoga in a structured and more formal manner. At the start it was with a small group of young mums and kids and over the years it has grown to a larger community with multiple yoga and mindfulness programmes.
What does YouGo Yoga aim to teach, and how is it different than what the lay person would understand under yoga?
Under my banner of YouGo Yoga, I aim to redefine the perception of yoga. A practical everyday approach through which I promote the philosophy that yoga need not be an overwhelming exercise regime best done only by the fittest. In the same vein, meditation need not be a difficult few minutes of shutting out thoughts that nevertheless find a way to tiptoe in. YouGo teaches you yoga-on-the-go, yoga that you carry with you and that doesn’t need the perfect yoga pants and an intense routine at the gym.
My focus is on teaching how one can de-stress via various relaxation techniques. In my experience, our day-to-day stresses chip away at our mental and physical health. Almost everyone is juggling multiple priorities and rushing to meet deadlines. It is this everyday stress that I’m aiming to help people manage with the practice of simple and practical techniques.
The stresses of the modern-day lifestyle are faced not only by adults by school going children also. Be it Australia, India or any other part of the world, children today are living in times of significant stress and pressure. Some time ago, I worked with the Times of India as an NIE consultant coaching school going children in stress management skills. During that time I experienced first hand the positive role yoga and mindfulness play in helping children navigate negative emotions and situations in a calm and mature manner.
I’ve devised various programmes and workshops to this end – Yoga-Zing with Rajni (for adults and kids), YouGo Kids yoga, YouGo relaxation yoga for adults, mindfulness meditations, Yoga-in-the-Park and more, details of which I am happy to discuss with anyone interested.
Tell us a bit more about Yoga-Zing with Rajni
After actively engaging with children for a couple of years I realised while yoga is universally acknowledged for its benefits, it lacks that element that makes it attractive to kids (and many adults too). Making yoga ‘fun’ became a challenge which I was able to overcome through my initiative called Yoga-Zing. What I’ve tried to accomplish is create a yoga form that is fun to practice (and equally fun to watch). But it is not limited to that. Yoga-Zing is a structured yet flexible mindfulness and yoga program, designed in consultation with experts in the field of yoga, health, child and parent counselling, that aims at empowering children and mums to de-stress and channel their emotions into positive creations in a fun and exciting manner.
Have you participated in events recently where we might have seen you?
Yes, I have. Thanks to the support of the untiring organisers of various cultural events I have been able to showcase this new image of yoga and put it on the same platform as other art forms. My students have presented Yoga-zing performances at two Diwali Melas in Canberra in 2017 and more recently, at ACT Government’s National Multicultural Festival 2018 in Canberra. There has been a heartening response to the performances which has been a deeply enriching experience for my students. For me personally, it was extremely gratifying to see my hard-work getting such recognition. We are now gearing up for an interactive performance at the AusIndia Fair in Canberra on 24th March.
You mentioned that part of your motivation in creating your brand of YouGo Yoga is to give back to the community. How are you doing that?
I love Canberra. It’s been my home for over 12 years. For a while now I have been delivering free weekly Yoga-in-the-Park events that run for five weeks every season. These are complimentary sessions and my way of giving back to the Canberra community. Everyone’s welcome – grandparents, carers, mums, dads, kids (and even pets)! In fact, my fourth Yoga-in-the-Park event kicks off on the 7th of March, every Wednesday for the month of March, 7pm-7.30pm.
Are there any last thoughts you would like to leave with our readers?
All I’d like to say is, yoga and mindfulness are like breaths of fresh air for your body, mind and soul. Make them a lifestyle choice. Give that gift to yourself. Here’s a little poem by Anya (my 9 year old), which says it all.
Yoga can be a whole lot of fun
Just tie your hair in a pretty bun
Take off your hat
Roll out your mat
Stand on tippy toes
And simply strike a pose
Remember not to giggle
Or you will start to wiggle
Breathe in, out and in again
Let’s take it from the top again
If you really want to enjoy yoga
Come and join us at YouGo Yoga!
For enquiries or to join any of the workshops please contact:
Rajni Malhotra, Founder, YouGo Yoga