Tapashi Devchoudhury is no ordinary woman. She is India’s first female stand-up paddleboarder who has also helped people heal from trauma. From teaching yoga to being a mother of a toddler, Tapashi juggles multiple roles, and how! Read on to know more about her journey. By Kasturi Das

Yoga Instructor Tapashi Devchoudhury

Tapashi Devchoudhury, describe yourself to our readers.

Born and brought up in the suburbs of Guwahati, Assam, I had a regular childhood growing up close to nature. To this day, being around nature is of prime importance to me. Life evolved in a way that I found the strength to quit a conventional job and follow my heart. Today, I guide people into self-healing from emotional patterns and trauma.

You teach yoga and you are a stand-up paddleboarder too. Your two interests seem quite the opposite of each other; one is relaxing and the other is all about the adrenaline rush. How did each happen to you?

I was introduced to yoga as a child by my parents and I continued learning more later. And, I wouldn’t say that stand-up paddling (SUP) is all about the adrenaline rush. While SUP racing and SUP surfing do give a rush of adrenaline, I also enjoy how it can be meditative and relaxing. I like to practice yoga on the board as well. I was introduced to surfing and stand-up paddling in my quest for learning something new while working in Odisha in 2012. You could say that I will continue SUP-ing and surfing for the rest of my life.

Yoga Instructor Tapashi Devchoudhury

You divide your time between India and Switzerland. Can you tell us a bit about that?

For a few years, I used to spend my summers in Europe (Switzerland) and winters in India. Conducting yoga workshops, teacher’s training, hosting yoga retreats and teaching at yoga festivals fill up my calendar. As my daughter is growing, I spend most of the year in Switzerland and return to India for a couple of months every year.

Tell us about your life in Goa and Switzerland.

I used to run a SUP and surf school along with my husband in Goa. We have now closed since we do not spend much time there. I also teach at an eco-yoga resort where I host week-long yoga retreats. My days in Goa consist of large doses of vitamin sea, eating the food that I so miss during other parts of the year, and meeting friends — terrestrial and aquatic.

Yoga Instructor Tapashi Devchoudhury

In Switzerland, I work in a holiday rental and real estate agency in Verbier, a small ski resort. Other than that, I continue with the yoga workshops, teacher’s training sessions, and special classes during yoga festivals across Europe. Living in the middle of alpine forests keeps me grounded and my spirits lifted. There are beautiful lakes where I paddle quite often with my daughter.

How has the lockdown been for you? How has your work been affected by the pandemic?

I was in Switzerland during the lockdown, where the situation has been quite relaxed. I was more concerned for my family and friends in India where the situation seemed much worse. My classes shifted to online platforms, and I continue to offer online private consultation for yoga, trauma release and more.

How do you manage stress? What will you suggest to our readers?

My go-to practices in times of stress are meditation and staying in connection with my internal environment. I find it helpful to do a body-scan to check where the body feels tense or stressed and then try to relax the area. We carry emotional stress in the fabric of our bodies, and consciously relaxing the body helps relax the mental and emotional states as well. I would suggest trying Qi-Gong exercises or any kind of meditative movement to release stress.

Yoga Instructor Tapashi Devchoudhury

What are your upcoming plans?

I will be hosting a three-day retreat in Verbier, Switzerland in October. As of now, I am still hoping to organise my annual week-long retreat in India that I do every November. It seems that a lot will depend on how the situation unfolds. I am also thinking of hosting a couple of retreats in Ibiza and Morocco in 2021. My retreats are centred around the theme of self-healing, bringing in elements from different schools of practice, using different techniques targeting physical pain, emotional patterns, traumas and blockages.

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