Yoga is increasingly being used in India’s cultural nationalist discourse at home.
A nine-year-old Indian boy recently set a new record of becoming the youngest certified yoga instructor in the world. As per the Guinness World Records, Reyansh Surani, who hails from India and lives with his family in Dubai, achieved the feat by receiving his yoga certification at age of 9 years 220 days. Reyansh developed a love for yoga while watching his parents perform it as part of their daily routine and started joining them as a four-year-old. However, his first crossroads with professional training happened when he found out that his parents were attending a yoga teacher’s training course in Rishikesh. Reyansh insisted on joining the course and came to India with his parents. Speaking in a vlog shared by the Guinness World Record on YouTube, young Reyansh recalls the contrast in his life in Dubai and Rishikesh. He talks about initial hiccups of living without internet and facilities like air conditioning.
But Reyansh soon got used to the change and started enjoying training sessions. The new setup brought him close to nature and the periodical treks during the course added to the adventure quotient. Reyansh says that during the course he learned “many aspects of yoga”. “Earlier I used to think yoga is only about physical posture and breathing, but it’s much more than that,” he said.
Reyansh adds that the course taught him alignment, anatomic philosophy and the nutritional facts of Ayurveda. He received his certification from the Anand Shekhar Yoga School on 27 July 2021, after completing their 200 Hour Yoga Teacher’s Training Course.
In the video, Reyansh can be seen performing various yoga asanas with perfection Reyansh presently takes small private yoga classes and teaches in groups of 10-15 students per session due to the restriction of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though he doesn’t have a concrete plan for the future course of his yoga teaching, young Reyansh says that teaching yoga gives him a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
The adoption of yoga has been a remarkably successful soft power strategy, as evidenced by the adoption of International Yoga Day, it presents contradictions and difficulties for any cultural nationalist or soft power discourse.