Third-year Eminence Fellow Roshini Srinivasan notes that in Sanskrit, the word "yoga" translates to "union", referring to finding oneself through physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Srinivasan was able to experience the true meaning of yoga when she spent time at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in the Catskill Mountains of New York, studying not only the physical practice of yoga but also related topics such as philosophy, Sanskrit, and ancient Indian scripture.
Srinivasan, who grew up with her parents and younger sister in Talmadge, Ohio, enjoys theatre and reading in addition to yoga. Currently, she is reading The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope, a book she would recommend to all college students. On campus, she is involved in research in yoga and mindfulness through the Department of Family Medicine, Mortar Board Senior Honorary, and OSU Dhadkan, a South Asian A Cappella team. As a member of the Class of 2018 Eminence Fellows, she has found involvement opportunities both on campus and across the country, and has also gotten connected with mentors and fellow students who are equally driven. In fact, getting to be part of the Eminence program was one of the primary reasons Srinivasan was drawn to OSU when selecting a university to attend, and she considers it the foundation of her college experience.
Srinivasan is majoring in Nutrition Sciences with a minor in Integrative Approaches to Health and Wellness, two areas of study that undoubtedly complement each other well. "Nutrition has been a source of immense healing and empowerment in my life, and in combination with integrative approaches to health and wellness, I hope to share these approaches to health with others so that they may experience this same empowerment," she says.
When she first started accompanying her mother to yoga classes at their local recreation center back in middle school, she had no idea yoga would someday become a passion that is not only beneficial to her own wellness, but also has potential to be incorporated into her future career. Srinivasan hopes to become an integrative physician, combining evidence-based traditional medicine with relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, and art. She has seen firsthand how these practices can benefit one's health; she started out using yoga as a form of both stress relief and therapy for her scoliosis. She continues to use yoga to cope with an increasingly busy, stressful day-to-day life, noting its benefits for both her physical and mental health. She adds that practicing yoga often has the added value of bringing groups of people together, staying true to its meaning of "union." She says, "My studies in yoga have afforded me a great deal of knowledge in approaching health from the perspective of the body-mind-spirit, and I hope to bring this paradigm into modern medicine in the future."
Becoming a certified yoga teacher was one important step toward this goal. While searching for residential training programs, Srinivasan and her mother found information about the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch online, eventually discovering that they had distant family connections with the organization that runs it. This program turned out to be an excellent choice, giving Srinivasan a breathtaking view of the mountains every day when she stepped outside. "The purple mountains rested so gracefully in the distance, and at night, the stars in the sky seemed to extend forever," she describes. She also got the chance to hike near Lake Minnewaska with others from the program, which she cites as one of her most memorable experiences from her time in the mountains.
Though the scenery was beautiful and the yoga provided an opportunity for relaxation and reflection, the training was demanding, with days starting as early as 5 or 6 in the morning. The daily schedule was packed with meditation, chanting, philosophy discussions, asana practice, chores, lectures, and group meals. To prepare for the early morning ahead, lights had to be off by 10:30pm. By the end of the program, Srinivasan completed both the 200-hour Teachers Training Course as well as the 500-hour Advanced Teachers Training Course and is now certified to begin passing on what she has learned to others.
As she learned at the ranch, though, you don't have to be the instructor in order to earn the honorific Sanskrit suffix "Ji," traditionally used to address elders or teachers. When a student in her Sanskrit class asked what qualified someone to be addressed by the suffix, the instructor responded, "Anyone can be a Ji!" Srinivasan and her classmates, excited about this revelation, referred to each other as Ji's and G's from then on to signify their status as "spiritual gangsters".