Photo: Integral Yoga Hatha class, Hiroshima.

I’d like to share with you the story of how I decided to start Integral Yoga Japan in Hiroshima. There was a lady in Japan who was undergoing a lot of physical and mental challenges. She wrote to Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville to ask for help and guidance. Swami Asokananda suggested my name to the director of the Integral Yoga Teachers Association, and he wrote to me to see if I would be willing to serve this person. I accepted this request and immediately contacted her to set up a Zoom meeting, as she lives in northern Japan and Hiroshima, where I live is in the south.

The lady, whom I will call “Himari” to protect her privacy, shared with me the various difficulties that she was facing. She was in her 30s, on the autism spectrum, and taking many different medications, including ones for severe anxiety and for obesity. She was always tired and suffering from constant back pain. She would awaken to go to the toilet ten times each night. As if this wasn’t enough, she had a serious smartphone addiction. She tried various approaches for improving her health, but nothing had any long-term effect. She even took Yoga classes, however she couldn’t understand why it helped others feel good but not her.

Despite all this, Himari had a strong will to change her life for the better. She felt she deserved to be healthier and happier. She even told me “I want to be enlightened!” She was so inspired by Swami Satchidananda’s (Gurudev) book, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. She is so smart—like a walking dictionary—but she needed to get out of her head and into the real practice of Yoga. She knew “the recipes in the cookbook, but never tasted the meal.” She needed the Integral Yoga teachings and practice.

This is what I offered her:

  • My Yoga classes on Zoom as many times as she wanted. (She has been practicing 3 to 4 times a week).
  • Daily pranayama and meditation practice with mantra.
  • 2 hours of guidance a week. Plus, she can reach out to me whenever she needs mental support.
  • A Raja Yoga class once a month.
  • Encouraging she keep a sadhana chart and spiritual diary.
  • Support to move to a vegetarian, and even vegan, diet.

In general, I used all of Gurudev’s teachings that I learned from my teachers, as well as all my experiences as a student in Yoga teacher training, and later as a staff member for a number of years. I found that she really benefited from the encouragement and hope. She received a lot of healing through the pranayama, meditation, and mantra. Pratipaksha bhavana, and the teachings of Raja Yoga, were key to her transformation. She has benefited from the whole Integral Yoga approach, as well as her strong faith in Gurudev’s teachings.

Himari is now much more self-confident about the direction of her life. She is focusing on her goal of being economically independent. She is learning how to cook vegetarian food and she cooking for her family members. She is so happy to see her body losing weight. She is going to the bathroom only twice a night, allowing her to sleep more deeply. She has reduced her medications, and no more anxiety attacks!

She now understands why people feel so good from practicing Hatha Yoga. I can say that she is now overflowing with the joy of living. She said to me that she appreciates Gurudev and the Integral Yoga teachers from the bottom of her heart. She wants to learn English so that she can go to Yogaville someday.

This experience with Himari inspired me, and opened my eyes, to the potential that Integral Yoga could have in Japan. Gurudev’s teachings are more important than ever now in Japan and the world. They take us beyond fitness yoga to true mental, emotional healing, and ultimately spiritual realization.

I am so grateful for this opportunity. I will do my best to share Gurudev’s precious Love and Light with whomever is looking for a better life—like Himari.

Arigatou  gozaimasu Sumati-san!

About the Author:

Sumati Chiemi Tomori was born in Hiroshima, Japan and moved to New York to work in planning and navigating domestic and international trips for 30 years for several major Asian companies. While in New York, she experienced the benefits of Yoga through classes she took at the Integral Yoga Institute of New York. So inspired by her Yoga practice, she continued her studies of Integral Yoga, even serving for 10 years as a staff member for Yoga teacher trainings held in Yogaville. In 2020, Sumati returned to Hiroshima permanently and started teaching IY classes suitable for children to seniors in the Hiroshima area schools, hospitals, daycares, temples, and other locations. Soon she expanded her service into training Integral Yoga teachers in Japan, offering stress management courses for companies and in medical fields, aiming to spread the circle of mental and physical health, without side-effects, throughout Japan. More information on Integral Yoga Japan here.