Prakash Chand Kapoor – Director Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Nataraja center, Delhi.
77 year old PC Kapoor or Kapoorji as he is affectionately known is the Director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Nataraja center located in the quiet Kailash colony in South Delhi. The first thing that strikes you about Kapoorji is his calm, affable and genial nature, the hallmark of a true yogi. He must obviously be doing some right yoga.
I sat with him on a quiet Sunday afternoon as he was preparing for the evening Satsang at the center. We chatted over a nice cup of tea about life, yoga and more.
Q> Kapoorji, how and when did you get started with Yoga?
I started practicing yoga when I was in college studying BSc at Deshbindu college, Delhi in the 1960s. There weren’t any yoga schools in Delhi. In those days there used to be a weekly newsmagazine called Blitz. The last page had an article by the legendary BKS Iyengar. I used to collect those cuttings and practice on my own. Each article had details on one specific pose. One week it would be about headstand and so on. That’s what got my curiosity going about yoga.
Later when I started working in 1963 as a medical representative and traveling in UP, I kept up my practice. I got posted in Delhi in the 1980s and during that time Kaivalyadam (lonavla) used to do 2 week camps in Delhi which I attended. In 1993, Sivananda opened a center here and that was the beginning of my Sivananda journey.
Q> When did your teacher journey start
In 1995 I did a teacher training course at Sivananda’s Neyyar dam center after which I started teaching. Soon I got transferred out of Delhi to Varanasi for 5 years where I kept up with my practice. When I eventually retired from my work life in 2000, I went to the Neyyar dam center to help out. I returned to Delhi after 6 months and started teaching at the center. From 2004 I started teaching the Teacher training course.
Q Why Sivananda yoga, what is the best thing about this form?
Swami Sivananda’s philosophy is based on 4 fundamental principles
1> 5 points of yoga
a.Proper exercise (asanas)
b.Proper Breathing (pranayama)
c.Proper relaxation (savasana)
d.Proper Diet (vegetarian)
e.Positive thinking and meditation (Vedanta & Dhyana)
2> 4 paths of yoga
a. Karma Yoga – selfless service
b. Bhakti yoga – Devotion, channeling emotion into love
c. Raja Yoga – The yoga of meditation, purification of the mind
d. Jnana Yoga – The yoga of knowledge, the science of the self
3> The Sun salutation
The sun salutation is a 12 step sequence performed 12 times
4> 12 basic asanas
a. Sirsasana (Headstand)
b. Sarvangasana ( Shoulderstand)
c. Halasana (Plough)
d. Matyasana (Fish)
e. Paschimottanasana (Sitting forward bend)
f. Bhujangasana (Cobra)
h. Salabhasana (Locust)
i. Dhanurasana (Bow)
j. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist)
k. Kakasana (crow)
l. Pada Hastasana (Standing forward bend)
m. Trikonasana (Triangle)
It is a wholistic system which encompasses every aspect of your life. If followed properly, it has a transformational effect on your life. It can only be experienced and not described.
Q> Why only 12 asanas, there are thousands of asanas yet Sivananda yoga asanas revolve around only 12
These 12 poses are the basic foundational asanas. If you see all other asanas are variations of these asanas. If you want to deepen your asana practice you can start getting into the advanced variations of these basic poses. As an example once you master sirsasana, all the other advanced poses like pinchamayurasan are variations of headstand.
The basic classes of Sivananda is designed for those who to do yoga to keep themselves physically and mentally fit and not get into mastery. As you get disciplined in your practice and see that you want to move it to the next level you start variations of these basic poses.
Q> How has it transformed your life? Do you still practice? What’s your schedule?
Your mind becomes stable and calm. Helps you take a better decision. During my work life it helped me immensely. Now I practice pranayama without fail every day and I maintain a disciplined schedule. I do asana practice as and when I feel like but don’t do it every day.
Q> Do you see yoga getting popular in India?
Yes definitely, when I started in the 1960s there weren’t any yoga centers around. Now around the Sivananda Delhi center itself you have so many classes mushrooming all around. At our own center we have around 700-800 students attending classes weekly. So definitely it is gaining in popularity.
Q> Where all do you teach? I remember meeting you in New York in 2018 and you were teaching at the center over there
*Laughing* When I travel abroad I teach at various centres. Teaching at the centers is voluntary and taught by our certified teachers. I also sometimes teach at the Yoga vacation courses in Canada which is our Headquarters. I teach mainly at the center in Delhi but also teach the TTC courses in Uttarkashi and Madurai.
Q> Do you run any medical / therapy classes.
As such we do not run any therapy classes. But we have recently designed a module for therapy classes for medical issues. However, we recommend people to start the regular classes and we see over a period of time that people who come with ailments see significant improvement.
Q> How many centers do you have in India?
We have 2 in delhi, 1 in Trivandrum, 1 in Madurai and 1 in Chennai. In India there are 5 affiliated centers Sikkim, Trivandrum, Palakkad and Kozhikode.
Q> Your single message to everyone?
“Because you need to eat daily you should also practice yoga every day”
PC Kapoor is the Director of the Delhi center. The details can be found at http://sivananda.org.in/delhi/