It is more than just fancy postures and controlling your breath. It is a journey of self through the self to the self. Based on ancient Indian philosophy, this journey called yoga, which disciplines the mind and body, has become a global phenomenon today.

With the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases in Bhutan, many have taken up yoga for its therapeutic reasons. A handful of yoga centres can also be seen sprouting, especially in Thimphu.

Tilu Maya Powrel runs one such yoga centre called the Dara Yumzom Yoga Service in Kawajangsa near the traditional hospital in Thimphu. The 31-year-old yoga master trains some 30 participants today.

After the completion of her certificate course in 2009, Tilu Maya started providing yoga classes for interested participants. The growing interest from the public, made her upgrade her knowledge on the art and in 2015 she went for a masters programme in Applied Yoga and Human Excellence.

“I felt the need to study further so that I could help people in a better way by understanding their physical, mental, emotional and social problems,” she said.

On April 15, Tilu Maya Powrel received a gold medal from Dev Sanskriti University in Haridwar, Uttrakhand, India for excelling in her masters programme. The medal was also awarded for her outstanding endeavour for intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual enrichment.

Success, however, didn’t come easy for Tilu Maya. As a young girl, she said she was constantly plagued with multiple problems like urinary tract infection, ulcer and weak eyesight. “Moreover, the left side of my body was becoming weak and I was at the verge of getting paralysed.”

It was her husband, Yogacharya Bhawani Shankar Suberi Sharma, who believed in yoga and encouraged her to take up the art. Today, Tilu Maya Powrel does not suffer from these health problems.

She describes yoga as an art and science of right living. “Yoga improves your intellectual level, concentration power, and reduces muscle fatigue and stress,” she said, adding that yoga helps in maintaining fitness, prevents ailments and relive those suffering from most physical and psychological common diseases.

During a session with some youth from a rehabilitation centre, Tilu Maya said there were few individuals who experienced the presence of divine spark within them. “Some of them defined yoga as the connection of the body and mind to reach the divine,” she said. “Young people have the ability to learn to balance the trending outer world with the internal mind fluctuations.”

She said that interest in the art is fast picking up in the country and, last year, the World Yoga Day was conducted by her centre at the Clock Tower Square in Thimphu to mark the growing yoga trend in Bhutan.

“Many studies have found that yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation decreases anxiety and increases cognitive performance,” said Tilu Maya said. “Yoga helps reduce stress and increases brain waves because of which youth can think clearly and calmly. Yoga is a path to holistic health for all.”

Tilu Maya also won a gold medal at the International Yoga Competition at Pondichery, Chennai in January 2015. She bagged a silver medal during a state level championship in Dheradoon in 2014 and stood fifth at the All India Yoga Championship in Hariyana the same year.

Meanwhile, her husband also runs a yoga centre in Paro. She said that a new site is under construction and the centre will become a full-fledged yoga centre soon.

Younten Tshedup