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Woodsider teaches pupils philosophical yoga

Shree Vinayak Kaurwar (l.) directs his yoga class, held Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second floor of the Diversity Center of Queens in Jackson Heights. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

One day, Woodside resident Shree Vinayak Kaurwar wants to live in the tiger-filled jungles of India, but for now, he’s teaching yoga in multiple places in New York City, including Jackson Heights.

“It offers the benefit of health and peace,” Kaurwar said.

Kaurwar, who was born in India and has been living in the United States since 1991, teaches yoga Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second floor of The Diversity Center of Queens, at 76-11 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights. For $7 a session, Kaurwar offers yoga that he says acts not only as a physical benefit, but incorporates both hatha yoga, which concentrates on the body, and raja yoga, which concentrates on the mind.

Kaurwar says the two types of yoga are not really separate.

“If they want to get all the benefits of yoga, they have to study the philosophy of yoga,” he said.

Kaurwar, a certified yoga teacher and graduate of Yoga University in Nasik, India, has taught yoga since 1996 and also teaches in Manhattan and has been working to make yoga a more prominent part of his life. His father educated him in yoga and Ayurveda medicine, an Indian alternative medicine, but he spent many years working in a variety of fields from the restaurant industry to as an electroneurodiagnostic technician.

“For some reason, I was not happy with anything because I was not working with humans, I was working with machines,” Kaurwar said.

At first, Kaurwar tried to get a job with a yoga studio, but found that the yoga classes in the West were too based on competition. He said his classes are based more on yoga as a philosophy, which he said, contrary to popular belief, is not religious. He compared the misconception of yoga as a religion to Indians originally believing Western medicine to be related to Christianity. He plans to teach classes related to yoga as a philosophy in June.

“The goal of yoga is to liberate you from all types of pain, whether physical, mental or spiritual,” Kaurwar said.

In 2009, Kaurwar’s yoga studies became more intense. He began studying with Indian gurus and living in the Ramdegi forest in India, which contains tigers, for long periods of time, learning from the gurus how to meditate and protect himself in the forest. Kaurwur says he plans to live there eventually and give up all material things, although his wife has asked that he live mostly in America while their young son is growing up.

Kaurwar is also a participant in Yoga 4 Peace & Reconciliation, an initiative to bring about world peace through yoga through the United Nations.

Kaurwur said participants should bring a mat and a bottle of water to yoga and not eat two hours in advance. His website is at vedicpractices.com.

Reach Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone 718-260-4564.

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