Yoga and meditation instructor and breath coach, Bhavisha Pankhania, is our fabulous cover star this month. Here, the London-based yogini outlines her journey and tells OM how the practice has changed her life forever
How did you first get into yoga?
I was first drawn to yoga due to the influence it had on the lives of my family members. With several instructors in the family fold, the attraction was always there, but the discipline was lacking. I needed to discover the art and lifestyle for myself, and once I did, my life changed forever.
What does yoga give you personally?
Yoga gives me the present moment! It allows me to be and feel in the present, to not worry about the past or fear the future. It gives me solitude. I often picture myself as a battery that sometimes runs low and needs to recharge — and the recharging is most efficient when I’m alone. This time for me is key to self-realisation. Yoga teaches us that in forming a marriage or union with Self, we are creating connection, and remembering that we are not alone in experiencing our divinity.
What style do you practice today?
I practice Vinyasa and Yin mostly, but I’ve also been enjoying Restorative Yoga so much.
Favourite aspect to yoga?
For me, yoga has become all about a meditative restorative practice with a heavy influence in breathwork. I am a very busy mum, and between my little family and running my small business, I need the time to switch off. Yoga brings me to the present moment. It’s an entering into what already is — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learning to see these things with a kinder perspective and choosing to change the things you have control over for the better. Keep doing things to put the body and mind at ease. You deserve it! But the juicy part? The hard part? The part that makes it even more worth while is using that goodness and ease to love yourself and others back to life.
How did yoga help you during the past couple of years?
Yoga helped me stay grounded and connected. It allows me to really focus on my pranayama practice. I feel like breathwork has boomed since lockdown! This is something we already know: breath is so important, we just don’t pay enough attention to it. While juggling home life and work life it gave me a space to go and reconnect. Yoga is my lifesaver!
Any yoga highlights you’d like to mention?
I never ever in a millions years thought I’d ever teach on camera, let alone live online! It felt so foreign to me. I can teach a room full of students but when it came to being online I felt really shy! Now to be on three different apps!
I’m ever so grateful to have had the opportunities that I’ve had over the past couple of years and to work with some amazing people.
What are your yoga plans going forward?
I have no plans for yoga, I take life as it comes, it’s already so short and I’m grateful for each and every day.
Any favourite yoga teachers?
There are too many amazing teachers out there to point out just one. I am grateful for them all.
Favourite yoga pose?
I have to say downward dog. This pose can help me warm up, rest, sweat and to breathe. It opens up the backs of the legs, the shoulders, tones the belly and can look different depending on the day I am practicing. Some days my legs are straighter, others I need to peddle through my feet a bit more and just allow my heels to settle where feels right. I like to rest in my downward dog and take full and deep breaths, which is both relaxing and energising. I also love this pose because I can flow into it in so many ways.
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Go-to health drink?
A must-have homemade ginger shot and, of course, chai!
What would you say to people who feel they can’t do yoga, for whatever reason?
I say get on your mat! Yoga is so much more than just the physical. It’s never too late to start your practice. Patanjali’s first Yoga Sutra states: “Now begins the practice of yoga.” Remove the limitations that you identify with from the past, as well as your expectations for the future, and just get on your mat. I dare you to find out how amazing you’ll feel!
Favourite or most inspiring quote?
By quieting my system, by calming my mind and simply breathing, I sit here open to the possibilities, the opportunity to allow the one thing that I want most in my life to arrive.
If you could take a class as a student with any teacher from anywhere and from any period of time (now or in the distant past) who would it be with and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to learn from the most amazing teachers around the world, but if I were to choose a teacher and go back in time it would be the scholar himself Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. I was so inspired by his books. One thing that stood out the most is: “teach what is appropriate for an individual”. That is exactly how I lead my teaching style. Everyone is different, we are all on different paths of healing. He also taught many of yoga’s most renowned and influential teachers. Maybe I’ll meet him in my next life!