|Pose in repose: Pulamarasetty Padmavathi (Master Padma) leads a free yoga and meditation class in HCM City's District 7.
by Van Dat
Pulamarasetty Padmavathi says she agree dimmediately when her husband sug-gested that they should move to Viet Nam to live even though she had never heard of the country before.
Neither had her husband, Pulamarasetty Venkataramana. The plan was for them to teach Indian classical dance, yoga and meditation.
"Why did you choose Viet Nam?" someone asks.
"It's God's plan. We don't know."
In 2008, when they completed a yoga teaching course at the Pyramid Spiritual Societies Movement, their master, a man called Subhash Patri, asked them to choose a country to go to and teach yoga.
Padmavathi, 34, and her husband, 35, had no idea as they pondered for days about the million-rupee question.
Around that time a friend working in Viet Nam called Venkatramana and encouraged the couple to move there. After the conversation the yoga teacher quickly made a decision and told his wife about it: They would leave immediately.
Padmavathi's only concern was about their two children, who had to stay back in India with her mother in Andhra Pradesh state since she feared the education system would be completely different in Viet Nam.
She also wanted to keep their living costs down.
After they arrived in Viet Nam, they were unemployed for several months before getting yoga teachers' jobs at a popular fitness centre.
They also started teaching yoga privately for free. She says doing charity and helping the community is her responsibility. "I think every yoga master must do it."
But their employer was not happy and they chose to stop working at the gym.
Besides teaching at some fitness centres to earn enough money to survive, they run one free yoga class and three meditation classes in Districts 1 and 7 to "help people be healthy and enjoy their lives."
Asked if the money they earn is enough, Master Padma, as she is called here, tells Viet Nam News that they do not worry much about the future.
"If you think too much about the future, you will be worried and not happy," she says, adding that though they do not take money for teaching, their students have given her a free apartment and a penthouse at a low price in District 7 for them to live and teach yoga and meditation.
Spreading yoga and Indian meditation in Viet Nam is more important than any money she can earn, she says.
When they meet friends, they constantly offer to organise free meditation classes in their companies or organisations for a month, which they say is enough for people to learn before practising on their own at home.
No language barrier
Five yoga and meditation classes do not seem hectic enough for the couple, who move between Districts 1, 4, and 7 on their old scooter. She also teaches dancing at the Labour Palace in the evening.
In a small room at the palace, Padmavathy patiently teaches her students the basic steps of an Indian dance form despite having little Vietnamese.
|Outreach: Unconstrained by the language barrier, Pulamarasetty Padmavathi teaches her Vietnamese students someIndian dance moves. — VNS Photos Van Dat
But her minimal Vietnamese skills are not a barrier to teaching if there is a passion for dancing on both sides, she assures. She tells her students little in their language beyond mot, hai, ba, bon (one, two, three, four).
She says the words loudly and repeatedly to mark the rhythm. Every time someone makes a mistake, she says troi oi (my goodness) but then, with a smile, corrects them.
"Are these only Vietnamese words you know ?"
"No, I can count up to 100," she says with a smile.
She shows an app in her smart phone that teaches Vietnamese.
Padmavathy first began to dabble in yoga and meditation in 1998 when she suffered from a serious heart problem.
She was not very hopeful of recovering until some friends suggested that she should try meditation and yoga regularly.
She began practising yoga for 30 minutes a day. Miraculously, she says, she was cured. "In nearly 20 years I have not used medicines or needed doctors' help," she tells Viet Nam News.
Nguyen Thi Hong Ha, 47, one of her students at the free yoga classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at the Canh Vien Park in Phu My Hung, says before meeting the Indian she had been overweight and seriously stressed.
Now, after regular yoga practice, things are fine, she says. — VNS