A Yogic Turnaround

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Eliza Chowdhury’s story of loss, recovery, and inspiration

Anika Chowdhury

The Bhagavad Gita states, Samatvam yoga uchyate – equanimity or evenness of mind is called yoga, and: “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self,” – these profound statements encapsulate the transformative power of yoga to guide individuals on a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. Before becoming an instructor, a yoga teacher’s first role is to embody these principles of yoga in their own lives.  

Eliza Chowdhury, YIC, DYT, TTC, YTTC, India and TTM, Thailand embraced the core principles of yoga first to heal herself – recover from her tragic loss and physical injury – and then resolved to impart the teachings of yoga to others. 

Eliza’s academic and professional credentials in yoga and naturopathy are impressive, showcasing her dedication to mastering the discipline. As an ITEC Scholar in Yoga from the Government of India, she holds multiple qualifications from SVYASA Yoga University, including a Yoga Instructor Course (YIC), a Diploma in Yoga Therapy (DYT), and both basic and advanced Teacher Training Courses (TTC and YTTC). She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and has completed a Yoga Coach Foundation Course (YCFC) in India.

Her expertise extends internationally with training in Thai Traditional Massage in Yoga (TTMY) from Thailand and Facial Yoga Massage (FYM) from Klara International in Malaysia. These international certifications enhance her holistic approach to therapy, integrating physical, mental, and spiritual wellness into her practice.

With a backstory that beautifully merges her past as a dancer with her present as a dedicated yogini, Eliza Chowdhury has nurtured a profound connection with the ancient practice, turning personal tragedy into a resilient mission to heal and inspire others. 

A serendipitous discovery

Eliza’s foray into yoga was as unexpected as it was transformative. In 2008, a simple mistake of entering the wrong room introduced her to a practice that would redefine her life. 

“I was a dancer long before I became a student of yoga. Then one day, I accidentally entered a room where one of our gurujis was conducting a class. I found myself sitting on a yoga mat and attending the class,” Eliza recounts. Her flexibility and ease with postures made her blend in seamlessly, but her true journey began when she embraced yoga’s deeper teachings.

As a dancer, Eliza was no stranger to the disciplined control and expression of the body. Yet, yoga opened new dimensions of body-mind integration. “As both practices require body movements, it was easier for me to connect with yoga,” she explains. 

However, the true essence of yoga transcended mere physical movements, introducing her to the spiritual and mental benefits embedded in its practice.

Yoga’s ultimate aim, as per the philosophical texts, is spiritual growth and self-realization. The Upanishads, which are part of the ancient Vedic texts, describe yoga as a means to realize the interconnectedness of all life and to awaken the spiritual essence within each individual.

“For me, it was a journey toward not only self-realization or even self-improvement but about discovering a deeper sense of purpose and connection to the universe – the Upanishads,” Eliza acknowledges. 

‘2018 changed everything for me’

Yoga’s role in Eliza’s life became even more profound following a personal tragedy. In 2018, after a severe accident that resulted in the loss of her husband and her own physical injuries, yoga became her anchor. 

“My spinal disc was ruptured and I couldn’t move my right hand because my nerve wasn’t functioning properly. 2018 changed everything for me,” she shares. Despite the immense physical and emotional pain, yoga provided a pathway to recovery. It helped her rebuild her strength and became a therapeutic outlet for her grief.

“My husband was my biggest supporter. He wanted me to pursue yoga as a career. And now, I am attempting to fulfil his dream,” she reflects. The supportive community within the yoga world also played a crucial role, offering both emotional support and the motivation to persevere.

2018 changed everything for me, yet yoga became the anchor that steadied my life

Eliza recalls, “After he passed away, everything felt bleak to me – I felt like I had no reason to live. However, thanks to the unconditional support from my friends from the yoga community, I gradually learned to overcome this tragedy and took it as a motivation to move forward in my life.”

Yoga thus transitioned from a mere activity to a vital component of her healing journey and a lifelong commitment.

Yoga in the modern world

In today’s fast-paced world, characterized by long hours of sitting and digital immersion, the sedentary lifestyle has become a global health concern. This lack of physical activity is linked to numerous health issues, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Fortunately, yoga offers a powerful antidote to the challenges posed by modern sedentary habits.

Eliza sees yoga as a necessary discipline that can combat the ill effects of modern habits. She maintains a strict routine that helps her manage the physical and psychological demands of her day. “I have taught myself how to live a disciplined life – having my dinner at 8 PM and going to bed as early as possible,” she explains. This disciplined approach helps her tackle common issues like insomnia, stress, and muscle aches, which are prevalent in today’s society.

Yoga teaches us to respect our body’s natural rhythms, aligning our lifestyle with the laws of nature for true health

Eliza stresses the importance of aligning our lifestyle with natural laws, citing how yoga teaches us to respect our body’s natural rhythms. Disrupting these, such as altering sleep patterns, can lead to adverse health effects like sleep deprivation, fatigue, and weight gain. “You have to understand that you are a part of nature. You can’t live a healthy life defying the laws of nature,” she advises, emphasizing the holistic approach yoga promotes.

Yoga, with its multifaceted approach, addresses both the physical and psychological effects of a sedentary lifestyle. “Unlike more intense forms of exercise that might appeal only to those already in good health, yoga is accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels, making it an inclusive practice for combating sedentary-related issues,” Eliza highlights.

Therefore, with its ability to improve physical health and enhance mental well-being, yoga not only counters the negative impacts of modern living but also enriches our overall quality of life.

Expanding yoga’s reach

Looking to the future, Eliza is dedicated to changing the narrative that sees yoga as an elite-only practice in our country. Beyond the mat, she is an advocate for yoga’s accessibility and its potential to heal and unify communities. She aims to democratize yoga, making it accessible across different social strata. 

“I want to impart the teachings of yoga to people from every walk of life,” she states firmly. Her ambition extends to establishing yoga schools nationwide to ensure that the benefits of yoga can be shared widely and deeply.

My husband was my biggest supporter, and now, in his memory, I am fulfilling his dream through the discipline of yoga

Eliza Chowdhury’s journey from a devastating personal tragedy to becoming a resilient advocate for yoga exemplifies how this ancient practice is not merely a physical exercise but a holistic approach to healing and personal growth. 

And through her story, we are reminded of the potential within each of us to overcome adversity, find inner strength, and reconnect with our deepest purposes.

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