1. How did you discover yoga and when?
I moved to Delhi with her two little toddlers in 2012 where a single mother is still a unicorn. As a young, vulnerable and a gullible mother I lived with nearly everything demeaning that I was told to believe about myself. Others’ opinion of me almost became my own opinion of myself & I reached a point where I almost lost all self- worth and self-esteem.
It was becoming progressively difficult to keep it together (professionally and personally) and the easiest was to wallow in self-pity.
Sparked by this internal tidal wave, I found solace in my Ashtanga Yoga practice. That is when I started getting in touch with my true self worth again and discovered that I was “Much More“!
I began to discover just how incredible I am within myself and how little I need the validation of others.
My life literally changed since the day I stepped on to that mat. Every aspect of my professional and personal life was touched and enhanced by it.
And now, this is what what I communicate to people through yoga practice on my YouTube channel (Garima Bhandari) – as important as it is to be physically strong, being mentally emancipated and emotionally liberated is the most empowering and enriching experience.
2. What was it like initially?
Well to begin with I had no social media account till 2016. So you can imagine how little I knew in terms of how to operate let alone promote myself. I had a very long learning curve to appear confident and understand how my feed can truly represent who I am fearlessly. In addition a lot of people take advantage and also sometimes money from you in the form of advice which is entirely worthless. Finding people to shoot with who will give you a certain quality and more importantly on time! Is nearly impossible. No wonder so many Instagram women turn their boyfriends or husbands into half photographers or videographers 😉 Insta boyfriend is a real thing!!
3. What kept you hooked on to yoga?
I was lucky that I learned very early in my practice how breath and yoga work in tandem to create a magical experience. A lot of people unfortunately don’t talk about that. Breath makes yoga intuitive. If you are breathing right, your body literally tells you what to do next. We are born with yoga and the right breathing technique helps us rediscover that knowledge on an instinctive level.
4. We know you don’t like to be called an influencer. So tell us how did you end up becoming an inspirer?
Becoming an influencer was never my end goal. It is something that just happened. I used to meet a lot of mothers who would get lost in motherhood and stop taking care of themselves both physically and emotionally because they have to manage the house and kids and, in some cases, also work. As daunting as this is it is of utmost importance that no matter what comes your way that you take care of yourself, especially if you are a mother. I figured if I am a mother of two and I start posting all that I do, my tips and tricks and hacks to keep fit despite taking care of two kids single handedly and managing the house and managing work, it might inspire other women to do the same as well. Which is exactly what I did. Fortunately my traction and my views went through the roof and brands took notice. The followers kept coming in, I was made the ambassador and face of India’s most prominent health channel. And that’s how I started my journey in becoming an influencer.
5. Was there a moment when you wanted to give up? What kept you going?
Almost everyday. The biggest challenge that I find is raising my kids by myself and managing a career as well. If there was one set of challenges I could live with that. But almost everyday comes with such baffling situations that it is incredibly difficult to keep up. Imagine if I get an out of town work assignment. I simply have to say no, no matter how lucrative it might be. Or missing annual days or plays for work. I can only start my work when they are asleep, yet I have to wake up every morning to get them ready for school. The only way for a woman to survive in such a situation is to become a hustler and master the art of segregating emotions from execution. Keep your head down. Do the best you can.
Yet my biggest achievement is also to be to be able to bring up my children with the values that I am despite all the noise that surrounds them. That I am able to bring them up as balanced, responsible global citizens who respect their traditions and values yet are empathetic to the differences they see in others and are able to open their heart to. And they have an equal part to play in it. They are open and receptive to all that I have to offer. I am very, very proud and lucky.
6. So what’s the secret sauce that keeps you going?
To be honest, it’s my kids. When I look at their innocence and the way they look at the world it is so pure and unfiltered. That is my biggest inspiration to attain that mindset and the way to that is yoga. Every moment on the mat I have that mindset and slowly it starts becoming a part of your daily life, until every moment is as blissful as that. That ambition, if you can call it that, is what keeps me going.
7. What is the biggest misconception you have noticed about yoga so far?
That yoga is just a physical exercise. Explains how physicality and breathing have to work in tandem always to experience bliss.
8. What does one need to know about yoga? Imagine someone who has never experienced it himself/herself.
Ok. So try this experiment: search for Ujjayi Breathing online and try it. How do you feel? Now multiply that feeling by a million and that’s what yoga can do.
9. What is your advice to everyone who has never experienced Yoga.
Start slow. Yoga doesn’t mean pushing yourself. It means listening to how far your body wants to go.
Yoga allows you to fall in love with yourself and that can only happen if you discover your own yoga journey and not just follow a process or an instructor. Do more than that. Everything at every level shouldn’t just feel right but should feel great. Your practice should make you heart buoyant after every session and if that’s not happening keep changing things till it does. Don’t force yourself too much either. It isn’t a contest and go only as far as you can, don’t injure yourself. And be consistent. Even if it means on the hardest days you do it only for fifteen minutes, do it.
10. What is your one go to yoga pose? Before you answer – imagine yourself at work, in your kitchen, at the airport & on a holiday.
Oh this is such a difficult question. But if I am hard pressed to answer I suppose the tree pose because you can practice it no matter what you are doing. Even if you cannot always raise your hands above your head you can just bend your leg with your heel in your perineum no matter what you are doing: cooking, waiting in a queue, attending a meeting you name it.