As birds melodiously herald the arrival of dawn, yoga teacher Nazia leads her students in practising different asanas (poses) in the Beginner Yoga Course at the Rotary Hall in Nitte, 45 km from Mangaluru. As she backbends to perform Chakrasana on her toes, it would seem to anyone that she has been practising yoga for decades.
“I yoga journey began three years back,” Nazia says. In 2016, the Mahila Samaj in her area had organised a special ten-day Yoga class to coincide with the 70th Independence Day. As an active member of the Mahila Samaj, Nazia enrolled and regularly attended the Yoga classes conducted by yoga teacher K Narendra Kamath.
“Many made fun as to why a woman who is in her late fifties took interest in yoga,” recollects the mother of four children. Beedi rolling, which she took up to subsist the family and chikungunya fever had taken a toll on her health. She suffered joint pains and found it difficult to move. She also suffered from regular migraine attacks.
A new beginning
“Yoga not only gave me relief from these sufferings but also heralded a new beginning,” says Nazia. She used to practise yoga at her house, in Ambadekallu in Nitte Gram Panchayat limits and was keen on learning more. She began travelling to Karkala and attending classes on advanced yoga asanas at Narendra Kamath’s yoga centre.
Nazia mastered different asanas quickly, says Kamath. Soon he introduced Nazia along with his other students to competitive yoga. Nazia has won top honours in three state-level and two national-level yoga competitions she has participated so far.
She also won a prize at the International Yoga Utsav in Thailand in May. Participating in an international event was not an easy affair for Nazia due to financial constraints. After the death of her husband three years ago, Nazia has single-handedly managed the responsibilities of the family. While tailoring is her means of livelihood, yoga is her passion.
She approached Manjunath Kamath who hails from the same village and serves as a lecturer in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, Udupi for support. Manjunath shared the circumstances of this talented yoga practitioner on his Facebook page and appealed for financial support.
There was an overwhelming response but at the end of the day, only Rs 750 was deposited in Nazia’s bank account. “Religion came in the way of people support Nazia,” says Manjunath.
On the eve of the deadline for registration, everything seemed lost until Kallianpur Rotary Club contacted Manjunath and Nazia. A seventh standard dropout, Nazia overcame her inhibitions and made a presentation before the members of the club, in December 2018. The members arranged Rs 40,000, the amount needed for registration.
A doctor in Manipal, her students, Nitte college etc raised the remaining amount needed to participate in the competition. Nazia did not disappoint her supporters and won the bronze in the athletic championship, silver in solo and gold medal in choice championship events organised at International Yoga Utsav.
“The entire event was an exhilarating experience,” gushes Nazia who was a member of the 64-member contingent to Thailand. She was impressed by the demonstration of backbends and hand balance-based asanas of participants from foreign countries. Nazia now has set sights on mastering these advanced asanas.
Manjunath Kamath says he is in awe of Nazia’s passion for learning something new. Nazia had registered her name only for two events at the competition. But on the day of the competition, motivated by the words of a jury member who had seen her perform in previous competitions, Nazia registered at the spot for a solo event which had only below 21 years and above 21 years categories.
“Nazia watched the performance of participants ahead of her and made some improvisations in her presentation. She won the second prize,” Manjunath says.
She has crossed the barriers of religion to gain expertise in yoga which she strongly feels is secular in nature.
Manjunath says, “The likes of Nazia should be recognised as Yoga teachers.” Regardless of several hurdles and the lack of support, Nazia is nevertheless a role model for her students. Vinod, a driver and Vishwanath, a barber, attribute their good health to her yoga classes.
Another student, Santosh, serving as a contractor, says the three-month-long yoga course offered by her made his body flexible. He does not hesitate to do manual work when some labourers do not turn up for work. “Our poses are still not perfect. But under the guidance of our yoga teacher, we are confident of mastering the asanas,” he says.
As the rain pounds on the metal roof, Nazia and her students sign-off with a prayer for the well-being of all. One can contact Nazia on 9035587346.