Allahabad: She is barely six years old but calls the shots at a class full of sadhus, housewives and other grownups. Meet Shruti Pandey, a yoga trainer at an ashram in Uttar Pradesh`s Allahabad district.
Pandey, a Class 2 student in the Central Academy, makes a class of about 60 people of varied ages bend and stretch every morning at the Swami Brahmanand Saraswati Kaivalya Dham (SBSKD) in Jhunsi town.
"She is quite punctual about her yoga session, which she starts every morning at 5.30 and continues for one hour," Pandey`s trainer and SBSKD head Hari Chetan Maharaj said.
"She demonstrates `asanas` (yoga postures) just like any professional yoga trainer. At the same time, she keeps an eye on her students to ensure that all of them follow the right steps to derive maximum benefits out of the exercises they perform," Maharaj said.
When Pandey was just four years old, she started learning yoga at the SBSKD, which was set up by her maternal grandfather Dwij Raj Pathak around 35 years ago.
Pandey`s father is an official with the Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad while her mother is a housewife.
"Shruti is a fast learner. Shruti`s family asked us to teach her yoga when she was four," said Maharaj.
"Frankly speaking, even I was surprised by Shruti`s pace of learning."
"She grasps techniques very quickly unlike other children her age. Within six months of training, she started performing even tough asanas with ease and perfection," he added.
As Pandey attained perfection in asanas, the SBSKD authorities decided to introduce her as a yoga trainer around one year ago.
"It feels good when people follow your instructions...During the yoga session I feel like a teacher making students learn their lessons," Pandey said.
Asked what prompted Pandey to learn yoga, she replied: "I got inclined towards yoga when I saw my elder brother performing asanas at home. Initially, I tried but could not succeed; so I insisted my parents make me learn yoga."
At present, there are over 60 people who attend Pandey`s yoga session at the SBSKD.
"Not just working people or housewives, even sadhus attend the yoga classes regularly. Teachers, businessmen, bankers and people from different walks of life come to the ashram to learn yoga for a peaceful mind and physical fitness," said Maharaj.
SBSKD doesn`t charge anything from people interested in learning yoga.
"We are of the view that by charging fees for yoga, we would defeat our main objective of helping people in leading a disease-free life," said a SBSKD official.
Somendra Bharadwaj, a retired teacher and resident of the Alopibagh locality, who has been attending Pandey`s Yoga classes for the last four months, said: "The best thing I like about Shruti is she tries to provide an alternative step or methodology for a complicated asana that may be difficult for older people like me."
Lokendra Pal Singh, a native of Daraganj, who has been attending Pandey`s classes for the last three months, said: "I have noticed a positive change in my behaviour. I used to be short-tempered, but now I am able to control my anger to quite an extent."