Deepali Patel, Yoga Teacher and Energy healer

This week, we present you, Deepali Patel, a yoga instructor, a dance teacher, and a Reiki Master. As it is women’s history month, we want to bring you encouraging and inspiring stories of the women who have gone the extra steps ahead and created a great contribution to society. Deepali has been a teacher for two decades. She is also a certified 500-hour yoga teacher, 95 hours children’s yoga teacher, and a reiki master. She pledged to spread awareness about holistic wellness by encouraging yoga and healthy lifestyle modifications. Deepali Patel is a Perfect Balance Of Flawless Body And Calm Soul

“My work/purpose/Dharma is to help, teach and guide students of all ages to find a center and balance between mind, body, and spirit.”

She is also a Reiki Master. She studied Reiki energy healing’s ancient art under master teachers in Bali, Indonesia, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Inspiration For Yoga

Talking about the inspiration Deepali says that yoga was in her blood and lineage, not only as a Desi but in her family, who she’s been inspired by. Her earliest memory of yoga was at 3-4 years of age. She used to see and hear her Dada (grandfather) sitting and doing Jaap meditation with his mala, chanting for hours. He also did an early morning daily yoga practice, which included doing a full unsupported headstand (shirshasana) until the day he died at 87 years of age. Throughout her adult years, she saw her father wake up at 4 AM for an hour of yoga before leaving for work. For years he has encouraged her to practice yoga, so she dabbled in it, but it was not until her 30’s that she became a regular practitioner. She says, “We come to things when it is the right time for us.

yoga instructor Deepali Patel

Deepali Patel

Commencing with Yoga

Though it was her family, which introduced her to yoga, it was in the year 2000 that she took her first yoga class. It was ten years later that she became a regular practitioner of yoga. It was at that time she needed it most. She was unhappy with where she was in life, stuck in a toxic workplace, highly stressed, experiencing periods of depression, and feeling unfulfilled in general. Yoga helped shift her mindset, navigate the stress and challenges of life, go inward to discover self-fulfillment, and find a balance of mind, body, and spirit.

Journey as a Yoga Instructor

Deepali taught for 17 years as an elementary school teacher. In 2017, she followed the calling to develop and pursue her passion for yoga and meditation – living and training for over 2 years in the highly esteemed Himalayan Institute Of Yoga Science And Philosophy, an ashram/yoga and meditation center in Pennsylvania.

During her time in PA, she taught both adult classes at the headquarters of the global yoga platform Yoga International and classes for children in the local school district. Her passion for teaching and working with kids inspired her to design and teach a yoga curriculum for school children.

Deepali Patel, A Perfect Balance Of Flawless Body And Calm Soul

Deepali Patel Teaching Yoga

Present

Currently, she teaches yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in schools online nationwide. She has taught yoga in middle and high school electives, after-school clubs, P.E. Classes, counseling classes, and elementary classroom chair-based yoga. Since March 2020, She has been teaching yoga tools and resources to schools in several states to decrease stress/anxiety and mood disorders, enhance mental focus and clarity and meet social-emotional learning (SEL) needs. Additionally, Patel has trained teachers and staff on yoga and mindfulness practices to include in their work with students and for their own mind and body wellness.

Challenges Of Being A Desi Yoga Teacher

As an Indian American Yoga teacher, a big challenge was navigating the cultural appropriation of yoga in western nations. The biggest appropriation she saw was the overemphasis placed on the physical practice of asana (postures). While the physical is an important branch of yoga, it alone is not yoga.

Deepali Patel, A Perfect Balance Of Flawless Body And Calm Soul.

Deepali Patel

“Too often, I see, hear yoga being reduced to just an exercise, glamorizing the external, showcasing how appealing one looks in their Lycra spandex outfit while holding an extreme pose. I wonder how many of those people have come to know the other phenomenal benefits of a complete yoga practice. Where is the breath? Do they meditate? Do they know of the richness and richness in studying the Yamas and niyamas which are the foundations of Yoga?”

Purpose of Yoga

When she experiences these frustrating head-shaking moments, she just remembered her own purposes as a yoga practitioner and teacher who honors the sacred, traditional roots of yoga. That’s why she teaches workshops on the other branches of the 8 fold path of yoga too. For people to go beyond the physical and discover all of the gifts of yoga.

Philosophy of Yoga

Deepali thinks yoga is a lifestyle to be lived and practiced both on and off the mat.  It is a journey inward and to embody the belief that ALL can enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation. Hence, she teaches hatha yoga classes inclusive of all ages, bodies, levels, and backgrounds. Beginners are her favorite group to teach in adult yoga! She thinks that everyone should have a welcoming entry point to discover that yoga truly is an inclusive practice accessible to them! Besides teaching hatha yoga classes for all levels, she teaches workshops for those interested in learning yoga philosophy and the other branches of yoga beyond the physical practice. She teaches workshops, both online and in-person, for yoga teacher training, on pranayama (breathing practices), dhyana (meditation), the Yamas and Niyamas, and yoga philosophy/Vedic texts such as “The Bhagavad Gita” and “Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.”

Favorite Part Of Yoga

On asking her favorite part of yoga, she responded that it could be categorized into two categories personally and professionally.

Personal

She has found the practice of Bhakti (devotional) yoga to be the most fulfilling.  It is the yoga of love and devotion to the Divine.  By practicing Bhakti yoga, she can connect to the Divine within, which we are all a part of.  This includes chanting and singing kirtan, which is a musical meditation.  The sounds and resonance of the Sanskrit syllables chanted produce beneficial vibrations within the body.  She felt this specifically in her heart and the 3 higher chakras (energy centers). She also practices karma yoga, which is Seva/selfless action, by offering free yoga classes from time to time.  By reading,  rereading, and studying “The Bhagavad Gita,” she practices Bhakti yoga as well. 

Professional

On the professional front, she enjoys modeling work. She has done yoga websites, videos, and books. On asking the question, Why? She replied that “because the Western yoga industry has homogenized the view of yoga to overrepresent one group of people: thin, white, middle-aged, able-bodied, hypermobile women.  Try doing a Google image search of the word “yoga” and scroll down.  In turn, this makes me even prouder to represent the UNDERrepresented who have been increasingly left out of yoga: Desis/South Asians, POC, non-athletic body types, and everyone that represents a broader slice of society. “

Featured

Currently, you can find her featured on the homepage of yogainternational.com command in some of their instructional yoga videos.  She is proud to work with The Himalayan Institute as well on their excellent teaching videos. So far, her favorite experience has been modeling for the book “Yoga Where You Are”. Because the book’s message aligns with her beliefs as a yoga teacher.  It includes a cross-section of models from varying levels, ages, genders, and ethnicities in various poses using props to make yoga fit them.

On Being A Desi Girl

According to Deepali, being a Desi Girl means striving to live a balanced life as an Indian American. She proudly appreciates and honors the roots of her Desi Born heritage. And simultaneously embracing the gifts of being an American. Feel free to check out Deepali’s online yoga classes and workshops, visit bit.ly/yogichealing and Instagram @yogichealing108

Read about all the Featured Desi Girls at www.desigirlmagazine.com

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