Manju had a dramatic start to her yoga practice December 2004.
“I saw my parents off at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina and started driving back home, crying my eyes out. They were visiting me in the US for the first time. I had completed graduate school and started my first job in a small engineering start up. All my friends and roommates had moved out of the city and I felt extremely lonely and depressed. I somehow decided to drive to the Hindu temple instead and was surprised to find a community yoga class about to begin. I stayed, made some friends and started to feel better. I went through the 60 minute class with absolutely no clue of postures or what type of yoga was being presented, just blindly followed instructions and felt some magic happen. I was hooked. I later learnt it was a Hatha yoga class and started practicing twice a week.
And then a series of difficult events eventually led her to study to become a yoga teacher.
“My practice was consistent for the next few years. One evening class, my teacher called to cancel due to an emergency and asked if I could teach. I was clueless about the ABC’s of teaching. At the end of class, I found myself calm and so did the rest of the class of about 12 people of all ages and abilities. That was the seed.
“Then very long painful road to a happy wedding, relocating, stressful job, husband travelling frequently for work, and having a baby took its toll. A medically unexplained miscarriage, severe insomnia, and incorrect practice of yoga, really pushed me to pause and reevaluate life. Luckily, yoga had always stayed with me.
“I decided to delve deeper to understand more. Life and family circumstances necessitated a relocation back to India, and I signed up for a two year teacher training program at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, in Chennai. Upon completion of the program, I felt like a more disciplined student and realized, teaching is indeed the best way to learn.”
Manju began teaching in 2017. Her teacher training program required her to teach up to 400 elementary school kids at an underprivileged school, 3 times a week for 3 months. When she relocated back to Austin, she began teaching at The Yoga Room in Fall 2017.
In her teaching philosophy, Manju relies on an important quote from TKV Desikachar, the founder of KYM: Anyone who can breathe can do yoga.
She stays true to the KYM lineage by understanding student needs, structuring an appropriate class plan, offering appropriate modifications, and linking breath to postures. She incorporates concepts from yoga philosophy, like yamas, niyamas, and pranayama, into her classes as well. Manju encourages students to understand their strengths and limitations on the mat, introspect, accept and embrace where they are, and find ways to make positive changes and enjoy the journey. She hopes that by doing so, students discover new things about themselves off the mat as well.
When we asked Manju who her ideal student is, she replied. “Anyone who just drove back from the airport crying.” And on a more literal note, she continued, “Anyone who is interested in tasting a drop of the ocean, that yoga is.”