Interview with Rajan Narayanaswamy
Rajan Narayanaswamy @ Yoga Instructor and Software Developer

Works at Educational Testing Services
Hello Rajan, would you introduce yourself and your yoga teaching practice?
Namaste. My name is Rajan Narayanaswamy, and I live in New Jersey in the United States. I am a teacher of yoga, and I have been teaching since the last 15 years. The system of teaching yoga is based on my training, which is the traditional Indian system of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, which is the Ashtanga yoga system, Ashta means "eight", Anga means "limb" so eight-limbed yoga. The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. My yoga classes are very popular with the students and I attribute this to only one reason because in each one of us, there is a deep desire to know the truth about ourselves. Why are we here? What is the purpose of our life, and the deeper meaning of our life. The real purpose of yoga is, not just to build outer strength, It is to also build inner strength, and also evolve us spiritually. So everybody who comes to my class gets pulled into the class because there is a deep desire within each one of us to discover the truth. And in my classes, I teach all the eight limbs, not just the exercises and postures and therefore the class are very popular and I am grateful for the ability to teach yoga.
Would you talk about your traditional yoga training and what made you want to start teaching Yoga at the Chinmaya Mission?
Yes. My traditional yoga training started when I came to the US in 1994, to the state of Massachusetts, where I was very lucky to meet my yoga teacher Dr. VS Rao, a very revered teacher of yoga since 50 years He had been trained under the traditional system, so he taught very traditional yoga and he used to combine it with the teachings of Upanishad also. I was very grateful to learn yoga from him, and that was my formal training, before that, I was introduced to yoga when I was in India but not in a formal way, but this was my first formal training. After that, due to my job changing, I moved to New Jersey and I got associated with the Chinmaya Mission, because we wanted our children to join the Chinmaya mission classes, which Chinmaya Mission conducts for children, called Balavihar and, as a result, I got associated with the Chinmaya mission and here I found another guru, Swami Shantanandaji, who is a very erudite teacher of Vedanta. Vedanta, as you know is the philosophical part of Hindu religion and also the basis of Ashtanga yoga, and I was very grateful for his teachings and then I started teaching yoga and Chinmaya mission because I could combine the Ashtanga yoga system with the Vedanta teachings that the Chinmaya mission excelled in, and that's how I got into teaching Chinmaya mission yoga, and that in Chinmaya mission and I really love that teaching.
What is the purpose of yoga? Does this purpose become lost in the use of this meditation as exercise as you see so commonly in the USA?
So what's the purpose of yoga. The word yoga means the Union or Uniting with something, but uniting with what, and that is what yoga tries to teach us, is that this aliveness that you feel in you, the source of this is very profound, it is not coming from your brain or your heart or from your cells, it's coming from a much deeper place and the name given to that is Chaitanya or, in English, consciousness, the source of everything, and uniting with that because we have forgotten that we came from there, and uniting with that is the purpose of yoga, and that is why the Ashtanga yoga system, eventually leads to that union, which is the purpose of yoga, and yes, unfortunately, yoga has become such a big business that is mostly taught as an exercise system, which is also OK, because that is a part of yoga and it benefits a lot of people, physically benefit to them, it helps them to control their stress levels and so on, but I wish that many more people would teach the spiritual part of yoga. I try my best to teach in my class the internalization processes of yoga, which are Pratyahara, Dharana, and Dhyana. Dhyana means meditation. Meditation is a very important part of yoga and it's important to develop this because the purpose of yoga is union and union will happen only through the later steps of Ashtanga yoga.
Rajan, how will you close out the year 2018? What does 2019 hold for you personally, in your career or your practice?
Well, 2018 has been a wonderful year and I'm sure it'll close and a very happy manner for me. 2019, I foresee for myself that I will be moving away from an ambition based life to a spiritual based life, as Dr. Wayne Dyer often said that it should be our purpose to move from ambition to a life of meaning and I feel myself moving in that direction already, because I feel that I should be helping other people more and more than I have been doing till now, and that is where I see the direction of my life in the year 2019 and I hope I succeed in that because the real purpose of life is to help others who are in need. God has given me enough and I think it's time for me to help others and I look forward to that. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I wish everybody a Happy New Year and see you next year.
How does being a yoga teacher help and influence your work as a software developer?
OK. To the question of how yoga has helped me in the workplace, all I would like to say is that, since yoga, not just teaches us about exercises, it teaches a lot of other qualities, noble qualities like the Yamas which are the moral disciplines and the personal disciplines like Ahimsa which is non-violence and Satya which is speaking the truth. So yoga also helps to develop noble qualities, which are helpful in the workplace. One of the workplace slogans I would like to mention is in my workplace, it is used everywhere, is "Helping Others Succeed", so you know this helping other people to succeed is a quality that comes through the practice of yoga, because yoga is basically a compassionate system, and you know when you practice a lot of yoga, especially all the limbs of yoga, you develop this tendency to help people and you develop compassion, and you develop a quality of nobility, in a way so it definitely helps and the workplace, if you really think about it the way it is taught today to managers, is helping others to succeed is the best way to make the company succeed and, when everybody succeeds the company succeeds, and that is the beauty of this practice. Thank you.
You also work as a Software Developer, what do you find most rewarding about your work for Educational Testing Services? How did you come into this line of work?
Okay. I have been working at the Educational Testing Service since the last 16 years, as a software developer. Software development is a very exciting field, as everybody probably knows. The uniqueness about this particular field is that it's a rapidly advancing field, things change at a very fast pace and you have to work really hard to keep up your skills in this area, but that's the same thing that makes it challenging and exciting. Every application that you use nowadays you see how much software is active in it, in fact, this very application is running on software and you need a lot of developers to develop this. It's a very exciting field. I came into this line of work in leading up to Y2K. If you remember the year 2000 problem, software's problem, which resulted in a huge boom in the software market and a lot of jobs, that's the time I entered this line of work. I entered the education field much later, before that I used to work in a manufacturing field but I was always in IT and software development and my whole life has been this in America and I really enjoyed doing this work.