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Daksha Shah’s Deeper Connect with God, Yoga!

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Daksha Shah

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: After waving her younger child off to college, Daksha Shah, then 40, took a decision that would change her “perspective on life” and give it a purpose. With husband Dinesh Shah’s whole hearted encouragement, she went to India and enrolled in a 6 month rigorous yoga course at the SVYASA Institute in Bengaluru in 2002.

The course proved to be a life defining one for Daksha. Apart from the welcome benefit of losing weight, she says she found her passion, felt mentally and physically stronger, was calmer and most important felt a “deeper connect with God.”

When Daksha returned to Houston after completing the course, she converted her living room into a yoga class for an hour.  Her first students were her neighbors, Ashok and Praveena Danda and well known Houstonian Jugal Malani. Word quickly spread about her classes and today Daksha teaches 6-7 classes a day at various centers including children as young as 3 year olds at the DAV Montessori School.

Jugal Malani who continues to practice yoga with Daksha says “teaching Yoga itself is great Karma Yoga and Daksha ben is a prime example of this. Her daily morning Yoga class brings fitness of body, calmness in mind and awareness in Raj’s and my life.”

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Yoga teacher Daksha Shah at the DAV Montessori School. Photo: Paresh Shah

Born in Gabat, Gujarat, Daksha moved to Ahmedabad for her graduation where she majored in English. Shortly after, she married Dinesh Shah, an engineer, and located to Houston as a young 19 year old bride. Her two children, Seema and Samit are clearly proud of their mother’s accomplishment and consider her inspirational.

Daksha’s voice is loaded with conviction when she talks about the benefits of yoga. Apart from the mental and physical benefits, she says an intuitive awareness about eating healthy also evolves. Her own diet includes plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, lentils, and grains. She’s 57 and says she’s never been to a doctor other than her routine checkups and doesn’t take any medications either.

Her advice to people is to start yoga early. She emphasizes the importance of slow and deep breathing through the nose in yoga as it helps the body relax and an example that figures often in her classes is one of the turtle who breathes slowly and lives for 200-300 years while a dog lives for only 17-18 years.

Speaking of starting young, once a week, the children at the DAV Montessori School enter their yoga room in single file with a cheery chorus of “Namaste Ms. Daksha.” The class begins with the chanting of OM and a prayer followed by Pranayama (breathing exercises), walking on toes, stretches and surya namaskars. When attention strays, Daksha gently brings the awareness of the room back to the breath. Principal Arathi Khanna notes how Daksha “takes the time to patiently go over to each child to help fix the pose until they get it right.”

With the younger children, animal imagery is very popular and the children enjoy asanas such as the Cobra pose, Tiger breathing, Down Dog and Butterfly. Daksha makes a strong case of how Yoga helps children focus better and improves their attention span in school – a fact that clearly resonates with parents who have often lauded the school for instituting this class in their regimen.  Even Daksha’s two and half year old granddaughter, Maren loves doing yoga with her “Ba” on Facetime.

When she’s not teaching yoga, Daksha prefers to spend her time in prayer and the study of religious scriptures. She hosted a Yog Milan on her 50th birthday which was graced with her teacher’s presence Raghuramji who came from India, students and friends.

Reflecting on the best part of her job, Daksha believes it is the satisfaction she gets when she sees her students improve their health. She still cherishes a card sent by a grateful mother whose son chanted OM as taught by Daksha to calm himself when he was agitated. Daksha’s goal in the coming years is to make the community healthy and help as many people as she can appreciate the power of yoga.

For more information, visit her website Positive Life Yoga.

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