Iris Vatrana (aka Sugandha) is a certified Yoga teacher with 13 + years of experience. She teaches Yoga, Pranayam and Meditation via online. She also speaks about mental health and holistic well-being passionately.
She is a Human Resources lead at world’s leading lighting company Philips Lighting. Iris is also an avid dancer and a diploma holder in Indian classical dance Kathak. She’s a mom of two lovely boys and lives in Gurugram.
How did Yoga come into your life? How long have you been practising Yoga?
I learned a little bit of Yoga in school as a child but never pursued it. I was more into Indian classical dances Kathak and Bharatnatyam as a child and up till graduation and post-graduation when I started focusing on western dances more. However, this made me someone who loved being physically active, and movement culture was ingrained.
My miscarriage led to an ectopic pregnancy and surgery to save my life. And then two c-section deliveries post that gave me two beautiful boys, in just 4-5 years, I had suddenly started feeling at least 30 years older than my actual age. I decided that movement therapy had to be back in my life. And this time, I resorted to Yoga for respite since I had the mental pressures of a full-time corporate job plus kids plus an Indian household. Although I had been practising Yoga for the last 10 years, I started regular practice 5 years back.
Who were you before you started practising, and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
Before, I was a fun girl, an all-rounder and a social butterfly, all of which I still am. However, I was also an introvert who was easily hurt, more confused about life decisions than others, couldn’t always stand up for her happiness and cried alone, and was always tired and low. Although my yoga practice led me to practice advanced Yoga asanas and lots of stamina after so many years, the one thing I am thankful to Yoga for is how it made me stronger in my mind. I’ve become more confident in my decisions, I don’t get easily hurt, and most importantly, I stay the happiest, which brings out the best version of me.
Why did you decide to start teaching Yoga, and what qualities do you feel are essential to build and work on as a yoga teacher?
Honestly, with a full-time high paying corporate job, Yoga teaching wasn’t something I had thought would happen. But I knew I wanted to be a Yoga student for life and keep learning more and more. The Yoga Teacher Training opened the doors for me, and after 3 years of practice post the training, I know that it’s imperative to share (or teach) Yoga lessons and my journey with as many people as possible. It will make a difference to the world, and I have settled on this to be my life’s purpose 😀
What has been your biggest struggle and milestone in the practice, teaching, and the yoga community?
My biggest struggle was coming back to the practice after my knee surgery. I had a grade 3 (complete tear) of my Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the knee in 2021 while playing with my kids. The ACL had to be reconstructed via a 90 min surgery, and I used a wheelchair and crutches for 2 months post that. It’s been 7 months since the surgery, and although I can perform 80% of the asanas again, I still need to recover more to get back the remaining 20%. However, I am grateful for this experience because although I didn’t progress in Yoga Asanas during this time, I made massive progress in my spirituality, meditation and pranayam space, and I have learned so much more than what I knew before! And Yoga teaches me to be grateful always ❤️
As a teacher or in the Yoga community, so far I have only been learning and growing, and I am forever grateful for the same 🙏
What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga practitioner? / Can you share one experience of people around you wherein the Yoga changed their life completely?
The most inspirational moment in my practice was when I got 3 seconds of hang time for the first time in my handstand practice, after two years of falling and getting up and trying for hours at a time, I finally found my balance one day 😃
I know people who have conquered their mental health and relationship issues with the support of Yoga. I know people who have much more clarity of mind after months of Yoga practice and keep returning to the mat for it. Yoga helps everyone in beautifully different ways.
Through your journey, what do you feel is your path and offering to the community- local and global?
I have a full-time job in the Human Resources function at the corporate for a career right now. However, I feel that my true calling is in Yoga and in spreading the Light. My life’s purpose is to apply the knowledge of India’s ancient wisdom of Yogic Sciences to the community in India and the world because every human deserves to know it once and allow it to change their lives for the better.
What advice would you give to someone just starting on their yoga journey?
My advice would be not to give up soon. Sustain Yoga practice for at least 2-3 years of your life to start seeing the change, and then you will never give up, I promise. Do not expect to get that balance right without falling a hundred times, expect the flexibility without practising, again and again, do not expect to be able to invert without long-term resilience, and do not expect meditation to start showing miracles in a few days. With time, all of that will come, but you must keep returning to your mat regularly.
Do you have any recommended yoga reading?
One should read Bhagavad Gita in simple languages or in books that elaborate on the essence of Gita in other ways. “Gita and Vedic Wisdom by Pranay” is one such book.
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