From Insolvency to India

Sonya Stevenson | 26 November 2019

From Insolvency to India

In early December 2019, I will be leaving my family behind for 5 weeks, the corporate environment and my home comforts to head off to India for 5 weeks.  There I will rent a one bedroom apartment, with a chapatti stove and immerse myself in an intensive traditional India hatha yoga experience.  Switching off phones, no TV’s and getting back to the basics of living. Having practiced yoga for 8 years and being a RYS qualified yoga teacher, the call to this beautiful continent to deepen my practice was too strong and could not be ignored.  A chance of a lifetime, as life is too short so we have to grab as many experiences as we can.

I will travel to Mysuru (formerly Mysore), in the southern state of Karnataka, which is one of India’s most popular yoga destinations and in many ways considered to be the birthplace of 20th century yoga.  There I will train under the guidance of world renowned Yoga Teachers Acharya Venkatesha and Acharye Hema at the Atmavikasa Center of Yogic Sciences. There will be no nods to the Sweaty Betty or lululemon, the corporate attire favoured by the followers of fashion. Instead it will be a very respectful simple outfit, befitting to the practice and modesty required at the yoga shala.

Atmavikasa Center of Yogic Sciences is one among the first three International Yoga Schools established in Mysore. The school specialised in High quality Yoga Intensives as well as complement the Yogic techniques with insightful workshops on the Yoga Sutras, Chanting and Sanskrit. 

The Yoga Shala "Atmavikasa Yoga Kutira", is set in the middle of a beautiful garden and away from the crowds. It is a temple of Yoga. Here I will explore the ancient Yogic practices such as Yogasana, Pranayama, Shatkarma Kriyas, Bandhas and meditation safely and in depth. I am pleased to learn that the yoga shala holds a "Zero Yoga Injuries" record, which is important when the course runs from 5.30am till 4.30pm 6 days a week for the month that I am there.

Teachers Acharya Venkatesha and Acharye Hema follow and promote a strict Yogic lifestyle and expect their students to work with equal discipline and sincerity.



Yoga is associated with the culture and heritage of India. In Sanskrit, yoga means 'to unite' and describes a way to live a healthy life. In yoga, the mind is disciplined through meditation and the body is aligned and strengthened.

Sharing my passion is by far the best thing. I’m fascinated by all aspects of yoga; historically it has elements of science, philosophy, religion and spirituality and yet ultimately yoga practitioners are just trying to answer the ultimate questions – “What’s going on? What’s the point of this life? Why am I here?”  It’s not just about asanas (postures) and perfecting that head stand.  One of my favourite yoga teachers once said “there is no ego in yoga and it should be left at the door on the way in to the studio”.

I am hoping to build on my knowledge and bring back from India a nostalgic old world teaching style which is hard to find in the modern world and pass this on to my students.  I am very grateful to my long suffering husband who will have to take over the reins and cater for the large family gathering on Christmas day, my daughter for giving her blessing for me abandoning her in order to have this wonderful experience and to my employers French Duncan who are supporting me by agreeing to my extended leave away from the office.  Tales of my experience to follow…

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