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Anjali Sunita – Founder of Baltimore Yoga Village

Anjali Sunita – Founder of Baltimore Yoga Village

Anjali Sunita has been studying yoga philosophy, North Indian classical chanting, deep breathing techniques, postures, and meditation ceaselessly for the past 13 years and has taught in India, Canada, and the United States in ashrams, private and public schools, embassies, yoga studios, and private homes since 2005. She is the founder of Baltimore Yoga Village and Director of Jivan Yoga Teacher Training. Her recent training includes a trip to Mexico, where she became certified to teach AcroYoga.

“I have always been a student of life. Although I fought going to school, I have always had a deep desire for learning when the knowledge could be applied in service to myself and others,” says Anjali.

A native of Southwest Baltimore, Anjali was blessed with a rich family life and traveled to Europe and India from an early age. “At the age of 9, I witnessed the Berlin Wall coming down while traveling with my, mother, uncle, and brother in Europe and got to sit on the wall with a pick and hammer chipping away. I saw the difference between East and West Berlin and felt that chasm deep in my soul. I fell in love with the street performers throughout Europe and have fond memories of putting on my cutest face while passing around their hats coaxing passer- by to donate to the artists. I developed a desire to be an artist and have always felt a sense of altruism towards artists and those systematically oppressed. When I returned home, I began dance and theater classes at Columbia School for Theatrical Arts and quickly advanced to the advanced high school level classes by age of 11,” as she recalls the beginning of it all.

Anjali’s trips to India as a young teen allowed her to find a new meaning to life. “Traveling in India at that age was very transformative for me. I saw how people live and adapt to a wide variety of circumstances. I saw how people live with less material wealth but with joy and peace.”

Anjali met her first “yoga teacher” while finding herself going through rough periods in high school. “The vastly different perspectives of my multinational home life versus the private school life led to some feelings of isolation in school and a deep desire to learn outside the box and to find a greater sense of purpose and service in the world.” Michael Mcnulty was her theater teacher and he would encourage her to “dig deeper in the garden”, on a journey inward. “We studied breath, voice, movement, and maskwork. We studied what it meant to be human.”

While at college, Anjali found her biggest inspiration from Guruji Hasu Patel, “who taught me about breathing, chakras, the healing power of Hindustani music, and most of all to follow my dreams and never to give up under any circumstances.”

A few years after college, she was drawn to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in South India where she studied under two brilliant teachers. “I had originally intended to stay for only a month, enough time to get a certificate, but the real transformation came through living in the ashram. The Sivananda organization became a deeply engrained and rooted aspect of my life.”

After returning to Baltimore, Anjali only planned on continuing to study music and yoga and share these peaceful ways of life everywhere that she got the opportunity. Then opportunities of teaching yoga in undeserved public schools, and teaching in studios, wellness centers, and private homes, would eventually lead her to take over the Ahimsa Yoga Center.

She reflects on her journey of finding happiness: “Over the past 15 years, life has transformed from a glum search for meaning into the most joyful and rich experience of self-study and service. I am forever grateful for the many big obstacles, mistakes, and the many lessons that pushed me through to this point. It brings me great joy to create a program that integrates the teachings of yoga with every aspect of mindful living.”

Anjali encourages all to find the same happiness as she did. Her teacher’s teacher, Swami Vishnu Devananda came up with these five main points of yoga as a lifestyle practice:

Proper Exercises: Yoga Asanas are steady comfortable postures, where at first we are concerned with creating more strength and flexibility. These postures refined and practiced traditionally with good alignment also increase circulation to organs in the body and calm the nervous system.

Proper Breathing: Yogic breathing techniques gradually expand the lung capacity. Specific techniques are used either to calm, energize, or balance the body and mind. They are frequently taught in traditional hatha yoga and therapeutic yoga classes.

Proper Relaxation: Relaxation refers not only to the physical body but also to the mind. Different from sleep where the mind can be in an active state, guided relaxation techniques offered during everyone’s favorite rest posture “savasana” are offered to bring both body and mind to a stiller, calmer state.

Proper Diet: Yogis experiment with food to find the ultimate diet that supports their efficiency in work and service. The great Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India was often quoted as saying “eat to live, don’t live to eat”.

Positive Thinking/Meditation: We all know that our thoughts hold power and that we can directly affect our energy level by harboring draining thoughts or by focusing on something pleasant. Yogis learn to observe thought patterns through meditation and to unlearn patterns of thinking that zap one’s emotional energy. Simple mediation classes are easily accessible to anyone no matter what age, physical shape, religion, or culture.

At Baltimore Yoga Village, we work to provide opportunities to explore all of these five points and to make them easily accessible to all levels of experience.