The Accidental Yogini
You know how some people are able to brighten up your day, with seemingly no effort at all? Ashwini Kaikini is one such person. This ray of sunshine has the uncanny ability to fill people with positivity with just a hug, a text, or (if you’re among the privileged) a voice note.
I’ve known Ashwini for about 4 years now, though she & my husband have been friends for a decade (maybe a little more). We bonded over being dancers, and over a shared love of sushi. And over the last few years, Ash has been a constant source of happy vibes and positivity in my life. She shares this joy and energy everyday with her students at Vritti Wellbeing, and at the Kathak classes she teaches at Nrityanidhi with her sister, Shoma.
While she still considers herself a dancer first, Ashwini Kaikini is a yogini in a pure sense. Her approach to life has always been one full of spirituality and self-awareness, something I noticed early on in our friendship. It’s hard to ever find her in a bad mood or a negative slump, something that has always amazed me about her. I once asked her about it, and her response was, “There’s more to life than one bad day. Nothing is permanent, so why stress myself out over yesterday? Tomorrow’s going to be a lot better!”
See what I mean? Ray of sunshine.
When asked about what inspired her evolution from dance to yoga, she replies, “It was a calling. I have been practicing Yoga since 2008, approximately. It has been on and off, ever since. But it has always been my go-to, feel-good factor. I had a long break of about two years, and then I felt a strong calling back to it around mid-2015. This time it came with a much bigger purpose — to reach out to many souls, for healing, and to spread the word of kindness, peace, and love. So I attended a professional course, and decided to go for it in Jan 2016.”
And so, Vritti came to be.
Ashwini has always danced to her own rhythm (pun unintended, but so fitting!). I have known her to sit for hours on her terrace with her golden retriever, Zen, simply staring at the sky and contemplating her place in the universe. I have also seen her pack her bags and travel alone to Bali to hike, meditate atop volcanoes, and learn to cook — simply because it called out to her.
Ashwini practises and teaches Hatha Yoga. Talking about her journey to becoming a yogini, she says “When I read about the yamas and niyamas, I realised they are beautiful concepts, and that I have somehow always included them in my life. So now I try to include them in a much more conscious manner. It is wonderful to see that as my practice has strengthened, some of the disciplines — especially with food — have come automatically. I haven’t made any special effort to follow them, but the more I have become aware and taken the journey within, the easier it has become to listen to my body and follow.”
As she explains how she adopts the principles of yoga and meditation into her everyday, Ashwini tells me about how meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting with your legs crossed and your eyes closed, while chanting ‘Om’. She often takes to social media to talk about how simply spending quiet time with her dog Zen is also meditative. “There are times when I turn off the music during early morning classes. I realised that we could hear birds chirping in their morning bliss, and that was far more therapeutic than any music could be. I love those moments of witnessing the sun at dawn, and feeling the light breeze. There are many moments of stillness, we simply need to learn to appreciate them.”
Ashwini’s family is one that believes strongly in the power of individualism, and following your own heart. Undoubtedly, this has played a huge role in how the Kaikini sisters have grown and evolved, and always followed their calling.
Signing off, I posed Ashwini the mandatory TDF rapid-fire. Here’s how it went!
The Dance Floor: Bangalore or Bali?
Ashwini Kaikini: Short term, Bali. Long term, Bangalore. My heart will always be here.
TDF: One thing most people don’t know about you.
Ashwini: I can be naughty and goofy at times, but that is reserved for a select few.
TDF: Sushi or sev puri?
Ashwini: Never make me choose between food! *laughs* Both. All. Everything *wink*
TDF: Kathak or Yoga?
Ashwini: I dance through my postures, and I find the yog in my dance.
TDF: Luxury resort or backpacking hostels?
Ashwini: Luxury resorts!
TDF: If you weren’t a dancer, you would be…?
Want to train with this lovely lady? Ashwini Kaikini conducts regular Yoga and Kathak sessions in Bannerghatta, Bangalore. Follow Ashwini and Vritti on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too! Ashwini can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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