Marine Drive is different things to different people. For the office goers of Nariman Point or adjacent areas, it’s the most hip office address in the world. For the occasional visitors or the mofussil revellers, it’s an awe inspiring openness facing the sea. For the young and the young at heart it’s a place for evening masti and night excursions on bikes, for the lovers, the most sans souci ‘lovers point’, for the pious people, a wider place to feed the birds(pigeons), for the poor, the last remaining place for earning some quick bucks. Marine Drive is also ideal for political rallies, newly started annual Republic Day parade or Mumbai Marathon, and for the health seekers, a long jogging trail.
If you are a Yoga enthusiast, come in the early morning, before the city wakes up. The mind and the environment, both are less polluted at that time!
The Morning Yoga
Love in the air
Marine Drive for political rallies
And of course, there are big names, who teach Yoga in and around Marine Drive. One of the Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga centres is here nearby, at Zuber Mahal, facing the Wankhede Stadium. Gita Shah, who teaches Yoga at corporate houses, also running her ‘Aradhana Yoga Studio’, at Swashray building in Marine Drive. And there is the one and only, ‘Kaivalyadham’, the Yoga and Nature Cure institute founded by Swami Kuvalayanandaji in the year 1917. From Lonavala, it was shifted to Marine Drive, in the thirties of the last century.
Named after the son of the donor, ’Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Health Centre’ in the later years, the institute claims that it has already organised its own World Yoga Day, at this Yoga Institute in 2014. They say that they just don’t want to limit Yoga to a single day alone, it’s a 365 days celebration. The instructors teach at ‘Cricket Club of India’, Central and Western Railway workers, as well as to the students and senior citizens alike. Recently they have started special courses for the prisoners at Byculla Prison Complex.
Bollywood swears by Yoga. It’s hip and healthy.
On the ‘International Yoga Day’, there were random tweets by Bollywood biggies, including Amitabh Bachchan, but they were absent at Marine Drive, may be due to bad weather, security reasons or their busy schedule.
Shilpa Shetty, who herself is a Yoga trainer, participated in a big Yoga Day activity in Bengaluru. Many other actors in the Tinsel town had yoga practices conducted within the film studios and also they went for photo opp sessions.
Shilpa Shetty: An experienced Bollywood hand in Yoga
A few went to a Mumbai University programme, others to various institutes or public functions. And, Poonam Pandey went viral, with a latest video session of: Hot Yoga!
Hot Yoga by Poonam Pandey
Actress and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta have been trained in BKS Iyengar’s school of Yoga and also the Ashtanga Yoga. She claims that she is trying a lot of new ideas and new combinations. Her public display of Yoga is known for last 10/12 years.
Bipasha Basu is known for her tough fitness trainings in Bollywood. She is also an avid Yoga practitioner and known to have trained many in Bollywood.
Kareena Kapoor is another Yoga enthusiast. Her Yoga workout includes an intense session yoga followed by sauna and she also had combined power yoga with Surya Namskar to get her so called size zero physique!
Shilpa Shetty is perhaps the only one, who is continuously promoting Yoga, over the years. Her Yoga DVDs are available for sale internationally and also on YouTube. She had already made public appearance with Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, and she already has a huge fan following.
Rani Mukherjee, in her bust film years was a busy Yoga practitioner. It is said that her lean appearance in ‘Dil Bole Hadippa’ was due to a three to four days a week extensive workout that included 100 Surya Namskar s and 2,000 Kapalbhatis at a single session! For the role of a tough cop in Mardaani, Rani again took to strenuous Yoga sessions.
Not to forget the Hollywood Divas like Demi Moore, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Watts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr and Emily Blunt among others are long time practitioners of Yoga. Footballer David Beckham, actor Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga and world’s topmost paid Brazilian Supermodel Gisele Bundchen, all has one love and that is Yoga! Among Bollywood’s new generation actors Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Tiger Shroff, Kangana Ranaut, Alia Bhatt, Konkona Sen Sharma are some of the known Yoga freaks.
Yoga Ashrams to Yoga Studios
Mumbai has many Yoga and Nature cure centres, which were established many years ago.
The Yoga Institute, then and now
The Yoga Institute of Mumbai is perhaps one of the oldest organised Yoga centres in India. Housed at Prabhat Colony in Santacruz, Mumbai, it was founded by Shri Yogendraji in the year 1918. Shri Yogendraji was trained under his Guru, Shri Paramahamsa Madhavdasaji, at his ashram in Malsar, Gujarat. This institute holds Residential YogaCamps for a week or 10 days, also there are popular two-day camps for training at the campus.
‘Kaivalyadham’ was founded to practice Yoga in a scientific way. People started coming to the institute at Lonavla, many of them were from Mumbai. In response to their requests the Mumbai branch of the Kaivalyadham was started in 1932, in the suburbs. Four years later, when Marine Drive area came up, it was shifted to Marine Drive. Since then it remained there. A sizable donation from Sir Chunilal Mehta, made it possible to have its own building. In the memory of Mehta’s son, it was renamed as Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Health Centre, Kaivalyadham and was inaugurated as a full-fledge centre on 30th April, 1936. Till date its one of the most popular Yoga and Nature Cure Centres in Mumbai.
‘Satyananda Yoga Centre’ at Kamani Marg in Ballard Estate is the latest edition of traditional Yoga Ashrams in Mumbai. Based on world renowned Munger School of Yoga, Bihar, it teaches Hatha, Raja, Karma, Jnana, Mantra and Bhakti Yoga practices, in a modern set up.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, during one of his visits to Mumbai in the sixties, met a Parsi lady, Mani Umrolia, and her mother. They became his disciples, and made their home at Churchgate, the first Satyananda Yoga Centre in Mumbai. In 1981, the Mumbai chapter of the BSY was established in Santacruz, at the premises loaned by Shri Himmatbhai Khira. Two Sannyasin yoga teachers were deputed from Munger to conduct classes. The ashram functioned there till 1984.Later it was shifted to Ballard Estate.
Then there is ‘Iyengar Yogashraya’, the Mumbai Centre, at Lower Parel. A scion of the world renowned institute of Yoga, started by B.K.S. Iyengar, a venerable institute which attracts thousands of Yoga enthusiasts every year, from filmstars to corporate honchos, fashion models to expatriates and students alike. Currently, the Iyengar classes have three-month waiting lists.
In modern times however, the young business tycoons, thee Bollywood sensations, the well paid multinational honchos or the top echelon sports persons are not happy to the strict and spartan Ashram environment. The Bikram Yoga and Bharat Thakur et al. made Indian Yoga glamorous and hip in the recent years. The concept spread and now Mumbai has so many fashionable Yoga Studios!
Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga
Popularised by glamorous people, this Yoga Studio is located in a posh residential building in South Mumbai. This hip place has wooden floors, mirrors on the walls and a pleasant garden view. Accommodating up to 20 people, at a time, it has high enlisting and upmarket charges. Thakur who has mixed Yoga with glamour and flies frequently to Gulf Countries, is a sought after modern day Guru.
Bikram ‘Hot Yoga Studio’
The swanky and sweltering health and fitness fad, at Mumbai’s first “Hot Yoga Studio’. Here, the urban Yogis practice sequences of posture, breathing exercises lasting 90 minutes in a studio that’s heated to a minimum temperature of 41 C. The workout supposedly meant to promote detoxification through sweating. The heat from the workout is meant to promote detoxification through sweating.
One can enjoy 370 square meters of space, varied choice of classes a week, apart from hot yoga studio, another personal training studio, a relaxation lounge, sauna and shower facilities for men and women.
There is a Spa that offers services like body massages, body polish. A hair-salon from by one of Mumbai’s celebrity barbers.
According to its owners, it’s a space that’s more than just a place to go and exercise. A pleasant colourful look, welcoming green tea, a well thought of ‘Kriya Room’ and more. The Yoga Studio at Khar, run by the Tiwari couple, is small but special. It’s basically a family oriented place. There are Kid’s Yoga, Yoga for pregnant ladies and unique Yin and Yang Yoga for the couples.
Their Mumbai yoga studio, which opened in January 2010, has a maximum in-studio capacity of 12 students.
Yin and Yang yoga for couples, pre- and post-natal yoga and kids’ yoga make this a great place for families.
Charging around Rs 6oo/- per class, this upmarket studio at Bandra West (Now it also has a Colaba branch) is open from 8 AM in the morning to 10 PM at night. You can buy monthly, quarterly and half yearly membership cards to keep you and your family fit .For the fashionable people, youngsters and couples, it has a studio, a health food café and a boutique. The studio has a team of 10 instructors, male and female both, to cater an ever growing clientele.
Yoga By The Bay
Amidst heavy rainfall that lashed many parts of Maharashtra, on ‘International Yoga Day’, hundreds of Yoga enthusiasts , the senior citizens, the children, the office bosses and the bearers, the ladies, the health freaks and even the foreigners laid down their Yoga mats along the entire stretch of the ‘Queen’s necklace’ from Chowpatty to Nariman Point in this widely publicised programme named ‘Yoga by the Bay’, a joint venture of the ‘Art of Living’ organisation, the NGO ‘I Love Mumbai’ and the ‘Equal Streets Initiative.’
Drenched by enthusiasm, no one cared a bit, while performing Yoga, and was showered with incessant rain and frequent salty splashes from the windy Arabian Sea.
Though the charted plan was to have the sessions, between Chowpatty and Nariman Point, from 6 to 9AM in the morning, the ever poring groups of Yoga aficionados bulged in and spread out on the promenade upto the ‘Queen’s Necklace’.
As the rains intensified in the area after 7.30 AM, a few senior people left aside but there was no dearth of enthusiast, who kept on their performing, balancing their bodies and mats on the slippery concrete ground.
There were around 150 Yoga instructors, led by Yoga and health expert Mickey Mehta, guiding the participants who came from all areas and all social categories. Many came with paraphernalia related with Mumbai rains, colourful raincoats and umbrellas.
“Look at our public. Despite the rains they have come out to exercise.” Exulted Shaina NC, the publicly visible BJP leader, party’s State treasurer and one of the organisers from ‘I Love Mumbai’ NGO. Shaina’s father, Nana Chudasama, the then Sheriff of Mumbai founded this city-centric NGO, to bring the city together around social causes.
BJP State President and Union Minister, Raosaheb Danve and Maharashtra Health Minister Deepak Sawant was seen performing Yoga, while Mantriji, the Union Coal Minister Piyush Goel and the Union Minister of Heavy Industries, Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete, came for some brief periods.
There were trainees and cadets from Police Training Camp (PTC), Marol who came in yellow raincoats and gleefully performed all complicated Yoga exercises in heavy rain.”We have yoga training at PTC”, said an officer.
While the lead instructor Mickey Mehta kept encouraging the participants, with combined slogans in rhythmic style…”Yo-Ga! Yo-Ga!’ There was a sizeable presence of volunteers from the Art of Living.
Not to miss, the presence of a small group from B.K.S. Iyenger Yogashraya, performing toughest Yoga exercises at ease, including Shirshasana on slippery ground, within heavy rains!
Yoga Mat sellers from Nagpada and other areas were present in the early morning rain. “The demand has tremendously gone up with the announcement of International Yoga Day. We are getting bulk orders from Clubs, Schools, Institutes and Housing Societies”. Some said that though Chinese Mats were cheaper and fashionable, people preferred traditional Indian Mats, instead.
Arjuna Award-winning National Kabaddi player and captain of Maharastra team was present with some of his co-players. Yoga is an integral part of Kabaddi training, they said.
Many foreigners were seen stretching their limbs, with rhythmic instructions. The pouring rain had added new dimension to their Yoga experience. “So what if it is raining? It is too thrilling to exercise!” said the health enthusiasts.
There were VIP and Police vehicles, Ambulances etc. Apart from OB Vans from various TV Channels, so private vehicles had to be parked at Nariman Point’s INOX or areas around Chowpatty. But people were not complaining, to walk long distances in rain.
Minister Piyush Goel Tweeted: “Delighted to participate in Yoga by the Bay at Marine Drive symbolising Mumbai’s spirit and determination, in the face of adverse climate…”
Not just Indians, you could also spot some Chinese enthusiasts among the Yoga Day participants , supporting the fact that China is heading to be the next Big power! So why not Yoga! They told that Yoga has become popular in China, in the recent years.
And not too many people know that, China is sending its team of Olympic Players since last some years at BKS Iyengar Yoga Academy in Pune, for training!
By Deep Basu
Image Source: Author