The bicycle yogis

A group of Hatha yoga teachers will embark on a 4,000 km trip from Kanyakumari to the north of the Himalayas this month, teaching village school children yoga for free

Updated - September 11, 2019 12:45 pm IST

Published - September 10, 2019 03:40 pm IST - Bengaluru

Meet Hatha yoga practitioners — Ajay Mani Raj from Vellore, Tamil Nadu, Shivanga Solberg from Norway, and Annie Liebman of Oakland, California, USA. They will be joined by Jessica Zartler of Denver, Colorado, USA. Ajay, Shivanga and Annie are part of Bicycle Yogis, certified under the Isha Hatha Yoga School under the 1,750-hour programme, and are travelling from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas on bicycles. Along the way, they will teach yoga to village schoolchildren for free.

Speaking about the genesis of the idea, Ajay says: “I wanted to bicycle across India, from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas. Some people ask “Why not a motorbike? It would be much easier!” When you are on a motorbike, you tend to miss a lot of things. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to come in touch with as many people as possible. We are going into villages where yoga is a rarity.” Shivanga and Ajay attended Hatha yoga teacher training together at Isha Yoga Center in 2015. “We started talking about the idea for the tour with other teachers who eventually came on board.”

Considering India is a land of varied languages, cultures and lifestyles, how does the team plan to execute the tour? “Bicycle Yogis consists of four core members, who will ride bicycles the entire way, and one who will be riding a motorbike. Around 20 to 30 other supporting teachers will join us during different legs of the journey. Depending upon the final route, the journey should be somewhere between 4,200 and 4,500 kilometres,” says Ajay.

The core team varies from 25 to 30 people, says Ajay, “In Tamil Nadu, Yugadev from Cuddalore, and I will be conducting classes in Tamil. Likewise, when the team goes to Karnataka, there will be Isha Hatha Yoga teachers from there who will teach in Kannada. The same will happen in every state along the way.”

The team has already completed two shorter trials in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, and covered more than 350 kilometres, teaching 4,000 children.

Ajay says even though the tour will be an adventure, the primary intent is to share the joys of practising yoga. “We are all here as a team because of yoga and meditative practices. Isha Hatha Yoga has impacted our lives, making us conscious, energetic human beings. We want to let the world know that life doesn’t have to be stressful.” Shivanga adds, “If we take responsibility for how we are within ourselves, then we can create the life we want for ourselves. This can make life miraculous and we want to share this with people.”

Shivanga stresses they are focusing on schools because, “we want to impact and empower the younger generation. The yoga classes will last around an hour and include practices that are scientifically proven for the healthy growth and development of children. One of the practices called Thoppukarnam activates the brain and spine and helps balance the nervous system. We are teaching classes in schools which agree to provide at least 5 to 15 minutes every day for students to continue the practice on their own.” Ajay says in addition to teaching, they will plant at least one sapling in each school.

The team will be cycling on hybrid bicycles. “The team attended a workshop, where they learnt a lot about the intricacies of repairing bicycles if we have any issues. We also chose bicycles that are stable enough to carry our luggage and handle different terrain. The cycles have 21 to 28 gears. There are small, medium and large bikes with saddlebags to handle more luggage,” Ajay concludes.

If schools are interested in holding a session, email Or visit their Facebook page - Instagram page -

Bicycle Yogis will be documenting their journey through blogs, photos and videos on social media.

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