A Tribute to Guruji Andiappan: A Letter from a Yogi who has never met you!

Jun 14th, 2021
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Dearest Esteemed Guruji Andiappan,

Although I have not had the fortune to meet you, and we don’t share the same mother tongue, I would like to share my deep appreciation and regards for you. Your work, energy and being has profoundly changed my life.

This might beg the question: How can one be touched by someone you haven’t met?

My answer is: Through the sharing, teachings, love and spirit of those who come after you.

My yoga journey started when I was sixteen, I downloaded some videos on my digital tablet, and my practice consisted of only 10 minutes per week. But in those ten minutes, I felt that I could be me – I could be free from the pressure looming over me from school. I had practiced gymnastics and stretching when I was young, but when I entered school, academics became more important than moving and listening to my body. When I expressed that I wanted to attend yoga classes to my parents, they had no idea what yoga really was and only heard about injuries from extreme stretching. They didn’t allow me, yet I still felt this hunger to continue the practice, even if it was only 10 minutes from online videos. When I started my university schooling in the U.S., I had the chance to attend yoga classes on my own, yet they were often taught by yogis who did not come from a yoga lineage or family ties to yoga. The practice, while nice, felt like a drop in and drop out experience. I didn’t understand any history or theory about yoga, only feeling defeated at how my body couldn’t perform certain poses. But I never gave up.

During one holiday break when I came back to Hong Kong to visit family in between school, I ironically wanted a break from my family and needed to connect with myself more. The most convenient way I knew how was to practice yoga. I saw a class hosted by Anahata Yoga Studio, and I attended because the timing and the location fit this window of time I had away from my family: what I didn’t know was that walking into this studio would change my life.

Not until 7 years later, in 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit. The job I was contracted to start became redundant, and I found myself hitting a low that really swallowed me. Luckily, I saw that Anahata was hosting a Meditation and Pranayama Yoga Teacher Training and I knew I had to take this course. I had heard about the incredible power of Meditation, and wanted to learn more and give back to others what this practice has done for me. Back then, the loss I was experiencing was so painful, I kept wondering why this experience happened to me and what I did to deserve this. Yet writing this now, I am so grateful and appreciative of this divine timing, because it intuitively and gracefully led me closer to yoga, to dharma, to your teachings. While the course wasn’t taught by you personally, the teachings, the philosophies, the laughs and the insights shared by the masters were all shaped by you in one way or another.

Yoga has changed my life in ways I had never imagined. I never thought I would be able to wake up at 6am, or sometimes even 5:30 am naturally. With no alarm clock, my body rises and prepares to greet the sun with Surya Namaskar. I never thought that I would practice Ayurvedic mouth washing and kriyas – especially kunjal kriya, to release what I need to let go of and cleanse myself. I never thought I would meditate every day, regardless of what is going on, to make time to check in with my mind before progressing into the day. This morning practice, dinacharya and sadhana has given me a source of grounding, a chance every day to connect with myself, and to love myself. Especially as someone who has experienced with mental struggles, yoga and meditation have created a safe haven for me to heal and to just be. I have met the most wonderful yogis who share the same passion for the practice, and am incredibly appreciative of all the Yoga Masters that embody and share different pieces of you.

I can hear your voice when Master Vishnu shares how Yoga is a form of therapy, and when he shares passion for Ayurveda and the magic of the Siddhis. I can hear your encouragement when Master Mahesh communicates his teachings in a disciplined yet gentle way, and cheers me on to touch my toes on the ground when practicing plow pose – a pose I never thought I would be able to achieve. I can feel your kindness through the volunteers who sign up for Andiappan Yoga Charity share their enthusiasm and passion to teach and connect. Just like how Master Raja is honoured that you know his name, I feel the same way he calls my name to adjust my triangle and share praise. I can feel your energy when Master Yogananth says “My father always says…”

I’ll never forget the stories Master Yogananth shares of you practicing pranayama and meditation wherever you are, even if you are on a bus, train, or plane. I visualise you practicing kapalabhati in a crowd full of people. Yet you don’t care what they think. You continue to practice because you understand the power of prana. Every time the universal life force is spoken of, I can imagine prana running so strongly throughout you. Through Master Yogananth, I can hear you sharing that the practice of breath work is just as important as the physical, if not even more. That we can make our lives a living and breathing meditation. And most importantly, that yoga is not something we “do’, but rather a state of being.

Every time I practice pranayama, I remember your vitality and courage. I aspire to do so in public one day, not caring what other people think and embody prana like you do. Your efforts and success in making yoga accessible for all is incredibly influential and inspiring, especially after learning that the practice was reserved for higher castes only in India. Your success is proven through the smiles and namaskaram of the students who attend the charity classes. While this practice has been shared by others in creative ways, none have been so authentic than the love, family and lineage you pass on.

Even though your presence might not be rooted in this human experience anymore, your spirit has and always will continue to touch so many lives. Especially those like me, the ones you have not met. I felt your presence when kirtan was sung, chanted and vibrated at the Celebration of your life. This makes me know that this is not goodbye, but a chance to strengthen our spirits because you are always guiding us and our practice.

Once again, thank you Dearest Guruji. We will continue to honour you everyday through our practice, our discipline, and our devotion. The teachings, the joy, the discipline, the consciousness, the divinity you share are universal, and are truly from the heart.

Hari Om Tat Sat
Hari Om Tat Sat
Hari Om Tat Sat

yinkinicolewong@asanajournal.com'

Yinki Nicole

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