taoStyle had planned to post this piece today.But when Shree Yoga Taos decided to cancel classes and events this morning, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we hesitated. After a few hours a light bulb went off and we chose to post it nevertheless.
Reema Datta is an Indian-American teacher. Her website informs us she is also “a speaker, humanitarian, author and musician who has dedicated her life to offering yoga as a holistic practice leading to healing and lasting peace.”
Reema was schooled in yoga philosophy by her grandfather, in ayurvedic cooking by her grandmother, and sacred song and mantra by her mother. Reema says her own daughter is her greatest teacher.
Her other teachers include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sri Pattabhi Jois, Ma Daya Vyas, Sri Dharma Mittra, and direct disciples of Mahatma Gandhi.
By the age of 24, Reema had finished her undergraduate degree at Vassar College, completed her Masters degree at the London School of Economics and was working for the United Nations in New York City.
After 9/11, she turned to yoga for its “capacity to heal.“
In 2002, Reema received her teacher training certification in Ashtanga yoga. Soon after she founded the Usha Yoga Foundation to bring Eastern teachings and practices to marginalized communities in India, Africa, the UK and the U.S.
In 2008, Reema received her certificate as an Ayurvedic Therapist from the Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center in Mysore, India. In 2009 Yoga International dubbed her “the Yoga Ambassador.” That year too she was certified as a teacher of classical Tibetan studies.
Her students range from pop stars (including Sting and Paul Simon) to royalty. The Princess of Rajasthan is one. She has served as a guest lecturer and teacher at wellness centers throughout Asia, Europe, North America and Africa, and has collaborated with musicians including Manose Singh, Krishna Das and Ronu Majumdar. She worked with composer and producer, Ferenz Kallos, to create two albums of Sanskrit mantra.
Reema has become known for a program she has been teaching worldwide: “YATRI – Yoga For Emotional Healing”.
It begins with understanding how our thought patterns and emotions affect our mental and physical well-being. Antidotes for destructive emotions such as anger, anxiety, attachment, sadness, loneliness and fear are taught through practices based in classical Indian and Tibetan Yoga.
Datta is also the author of the companion manual for YATRI: Check Your Heart Awareness Practice and co-author with Leza Lowitz of Sacred Sanskrit Words For Yoga Chant And Meditation. Her albums Truth Love Creation and Here’s My Heart are available on iTunes and at Amazon.com.
taoStyle asked Reema a few questions via email.
1) Where are you from and how did you discover Taos?
I grew up in the U.S. and in India. I have lived in Maryland, New York City, San Francisco and Portland. In India, I lived in Indore, which is central India and in Varanasi, which is in the northeast. I was simply driving through Taos this summer and thought I would spend one month in a friend’s cabin in the Ski Valley for a personal yoga/meditation retreat. One month became three. By the end of the summer, I found myself looking for schools for my 8 year old daughter. She got into TISA and we moved! It was not the plan, but, it is what happened!
2) Please tell our readers a little about yourself and your personal Yoga Journey?
My mom has been singing mantra (Sanskrit songs from the yoga tradition) since I can remember. It is her favorite thing to do. She sings mantra all the time. My Grandfather taught yoga in India, East Africa and the U.S. I grew up with him teaching me classical yogic scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and Vedas. He always emphasized that yoga is universal and beyond dogma – a way for each of us to have a personal, direct connection with Spirit. My Grandmothers were both very devotional, doing daily rituals tied to the yoga tradition and also cooking delicious, nutritious food according to Ayurvedic principles.
I never intended to become a yoga instructor, nor did my family. They would have preferred if I kept yoga on the side and pursued a career at the United Nations, which is where I worked until the twin towers came down in 2001. In India, yoga instructors are usually elders, who teach from a lifetime of experience. When the twin towers fell, I felt a clear and strong urge to drop my life in New York City and pursue yoga full time. This has been my journey for the past 18 years – teaching yoga and Ayurveda, but, more than anything, being a student and recognizing that everyone around me, especially life itself, is a teacher.
3) Can you talk a little about your class at Shree Yoga Taos, how it came about and what you’ll be teaching?
The class at Shree is an introduction to a style of yoga I have been teaching for the past four years, called Yatri Yoga. Yatri is Yoga for Emotional Healing. A few years ago, I went through a traumatic time and I took a pause from teaching. During that pause, I went back to the yoga scriptures with fresh eyes – the eyes of a woman, a mother, a partner. I studied the practices of certain yoginis – female yogis – who focused on emotions in their yoga practice and how emotions affect our subtle and gross bodies, and, in turn, our mental and physical health.
I pieced many teachings together and came up with yoga sequences for each of the major kleshas, the Sanskrit word for “destructive emotions.” Yatri offers yoga sequences for anger, attachment, anxiety, depression, isolation, jealousy and shame. I needed these teachings myself when I was at my lowest. Now, I share them with others. Each Yatri sequence includes movement, meditation, breath-work, song and philosophy rooted in Indian and Tibetan yoga. The class at Shree will include all of these elements.
4) Any words of wisdom for these trying times?
These trying times are bringing a lot of emotion up to the surface. As humans, we have a tendency to resist discomfort. We must allow ourselves to feel what we feel. When uncomfortable emotions surface, we must let them be; breathe, slow down, feel what is in our hearts and minds, moment to moment. Through the act of being with what is, shifts inevitably take place, healing and insight are experienced. There are ways to experience challenging emotions in constructive rather than destructive ways. We can learn these techniques and use them for a lifetime.
For more about Reema, please visit her site below.
For more on Shree Yoga Taos, visit them at their site and keep checking to find out when they return to their regular schedule.
Posted by Lydia Martinez
All images thanks to Reema Datta