Seattle Yoga News is on a mission to find and highlight all of the hidden, and maybe not so hidden, gems in our yoga community and beyond. We want you to learn about their experiences and perspectives, but also a bit more about their personalities, so we have a few fun questions for them. This week’s spotlight is turned towards Arundhati Baitmangalkar.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH YOGA?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

I actually started yoga pretty late in life. Even though I was born and raised in India, I only got into yoga in my mid-twenties. I was a professional Bollywood dancer and dance instructor for a very long time. While it was great, we had unhealthy lifestyles and crazy dance schedules that left me with many injuries. I knew I wanted to transition out of being a dancer but still remain in the health & wellness industry. That led me to start yoga and I was hooked after my first class. I haven’t looked back since.

WHAT KIND OF TRAININGS HAVE YOU PURSUED?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Most of my formal training was in India. I studied yoga in Bangalore & Mysore in South India. After that, I moved to the U.S. and started a lot of self-practice and in-depth study on my own. I also did quite a few yoga teacher trainings in my early years of training.

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU ALWAYS GIVE YOUR STUDENTS?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Don’t do yoga for yourself, for today. Do it for your future self. What you do today, will impact you 30 years into the future. Yoga is an investment in yourself. We all age, let’s do it gracefully!

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT STUDENTS CAN EXPECT WHEN TAKING CLASSES AT AHAM YOGA?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Simplicity. At Aham Yoga, we keep things authentic, simple, and yoga-centric. When you walk into Aham Yoga, it’s like a little ashram away from the city surrounded by open space and greenery. Classes are welcoming, inclusive, fun, challenging, and educational. You’ll find a thriving yoga community and it’s an experience that is fulfilling and memorable.

A FEW YEARS AGO YOU HAVE WRITTEN A POPULAR ARTICLE CALLED “YOGA IN INDIA VS. YOGA IN AMERICA”, HOW HAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE AND OBSERVATIONS SHIFTED SINCE THEN?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Great question. Interestingly, that was the first article I had ever written. When I wrote that article, I had just moved to the US from India and was not a part of the local yoga scene. I felt very much like an outsider. Fast forward six years, I feel at home here in the Pacific Northwest. I credit that largely to Aham Yoga and what it has become. Our thriving yoga community is very close to my heart. I do still believe all my observations from the previous article are still valid as for the differences between yoga in India and the US.

WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE OPERATING A YOGA STUDIO IN REDMOND OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

When I started teaching here, I didn’t begin with the intentions of running a full yoga studio. My goal was just to teach a few yoga classes. Over time, I noticed what other yoga studios were and were not offering, and I wanted to provide a wider range of services to my community. That’s when I started adding workshops, teacher trainings, retreats, started a blog, etc… I didn’t want my students to feel a ‘lack’ of yoga offerings or opportunities. That’s how Aham Yoga was born!
Running a yoga studio is a lot of work. My days are very long, often 12+ hour work days. People often assume yoga teachers only work while they are teaching classes, but there is much more to it. Operating Aham Yoga, in addition to BollyWorks, most of my days are very busy but I have learned to embrace it and having the ability to help our community makes all the hard work worth it!

BEYOND YOGA, YOU HAVE ALSO STARTED A BOLLYWOOD DANCE SCHOOL IN THE EASTSIDE: BOLLYWORKS. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING AND WHAT YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE ARE FOR BOLLYWORKS?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

I had the privilege of working with one of the best Bollywood dance companies in the world before moving to the US. When I was new here, I considered retiring from being a dancer and teacher. I wanted to dance just for myself. My professional dance days were grueling. I wanted to continue dancing just for fun, but couldn’t find an authentic, high quality Bollywood dance school anywhere. That’s how BollyWorks was born.
Currently, BollyWorks is the leading Bollywood dance school on the eastside. We run an annual production called, Project Bollywood. This is a massive Bollywood dance show with over 125 participants each year. It takes six months to put the production together but is the most fun part of each year. Think of it as a massive dance party with over a 100 people each week.
Another exciting thing we offer for those who don’t want to commit to a full six months of practice is BollyWorks Fitness. This is a HIIT Bollywood dance inspired workout. We’ve also launched instructor training programs so people interested in teaching BollyWorks fitness can take this on. You’ll find these classes offered in gyms and health clubs all over the eastside.

WHAT IS ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

                     I am extremely allergic to mangoes and edible bee pollen.

CAN YOU SHARE WITH US SOME OF YOUR WELLNESS & SELF-CARE PRACTICES?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Working out and yoga are the obvious ones for me. Apart from that, I love listening to motivational podcasts, indulging in DIY projects, and reading. I almost always play relaxing music at home all day and diffuse essential oils at work.

WHO IS THE YOGI WE SHOULD FEATURE NEXT & WHY?

Arundhati-Baitmangalkar

Arundhati Baitmangalkar:

Staci Alden! I often refer to her as a real-life wonder woman. She manages a team of over 100 instructors and is always motivating, inspiring, and learning. She works with a great team of yoga teachers and is a group fitness director, all before she turned 30. How’s that for inspiration!

Arundhati Baitmangalkar’s Bio: Having sought after yoga as a means to heal years of dance injuries obtained while a professional Bollywood dancer in India, Arundhati knows firsthand the healing properties a regular yoga practice can offer. This experience sparked a passion in her to help others live a healthier life which is the driving force behind her yoga studioteacher trainingsretreatsworkshops, and blogHaving received a majority of her formal training while living in India, she is known for her authenticity, precision, and ability to provide individual attention to each student. Arundhati does not just provide a yoga class, but a yoga experience that leaves her students feeling knowledgeable and encouraged in their practice.
When she is not teaching yoga or Bollywood dance, you will find her enjoying time with her husband and precious puppy, Munch.