University News

Sophomore’s class teaches yoga ‘basics’

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Riyad Seervai ’13, a sophomore from India, is teaching a weekly yoga class this semester called “Back to the Basics: Yoga. Made in India.”

About 20 students attended his first class Sept. 25 in the chapel room at Brown/RISD Hillel.

Seervai’s class, held Saturdays at 5 p.m., is being run through the Yoga and Mindfulness club, a campus group that leads several yoga classes independent of the physical education department. Seervai said he was inspired to begin teaching his class because he and his friends attended a class held in T.F. Green Hall at the beginning of September, but it was so crowded that students were being turned away. He said he realized that there is a very large interest in yoga on campus and wanted to help create more opportunities for yoga lovers and practitioners.

Seervai said his class is based around the concept of taking yoga back to its roots, as it is practiced in India. Seervai grew up and went to high school in Mumbai, India, and practiced yoga from a young age, beginning when his mother would take him with her to her yoga class when his sister first began school. He later began studying yoga independently. He also studied yoga as part of his physical education curriculum in school in Mumbai.

Seervai said the concept of being certified to teach doesn’t exist in India in quite the same way as in the United States. Though he is not certified, neither were his many very talented and highly respected instructors in India, he said.

“Yoga encompasses more than just the postures — it encompasses concepts like meditation, breathing and awareness,” Seervai said.

To Seervai, taking yoga back to its roots means a focus on awareness of the breath, called the life force, and inner awareness instead of external thoughts. He said he believes it is important to know the “origin and stories” behind the poses and why they are done, not simply how.

He said he hopes over the course of the semester to build up a sequence of poses in his class that students will be able to practice eventually by themselves.