History of RussaYog®
RussaYog® stems from Yoga philosophy created in India over 5,000 years ago. At that time in India it was realized that through the control of the mind, one can control one’s sense of well being in any situation. The basis of yoga is that mindfulness is at the heart of wellness. To develop mindfulness, tools of pranayam (mindful breathing), kriyas (breath-based movements) and asans (still postures) were developed. Using these tools one can reach physical and mental balance. Traditional yoga was developed primarily for enlightenment. RussaYog® has enhanced tools of yoga by using the accessories of a rope (russa) and a dora (a one-meter length of soft cotton fabric). RussaYog® is especially useful for persons engaged in the challenges of modern life (mothers, fathers, businesspersons, executives, professionals, students, etc.) The sequences are easy-to-learn, yet demand dedication.
In 2004, Dr. Jasprit Singh and his wife Teresa began the first RussaYog® Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they have been living since 1985. Jasprit created the sequence of yoga poses using the rope as a “partner” to stress the body and mind. Jasprit’s goal is to create a “democratic” yoga, rather than a hierarchical yoga system, so that beginners and advanced students can practice the same asans together, each striving for his or her own personal best.
The name RussaYog® is derived from Punjabi language, russa meaning rope and yog meaning yoga or union. Teresa and Jasprit envisioned the studio as a community gathering space, allowing students, professionals, and families together to explore the mind-body-spirit connection that yoga offers. Serving chai and snacks after each session mirrors the concept of lungar (community gathering while sharing nourishment) that is a core principle of the Sikh philosophy.
Teresa has made several pilgrimages to India with Jasprit where she has gained valuable insights into using yogic principles to view life challenges as asans. RussaYog® teaches individuals to face each challenge by taking a mudra (preparing the mind and body), by using pranayam (breath), keeping the mind focused and free from anxiety while in the asan (stressful state), and to relax into vishram (rest), designed to release any negative residue of the stress and enjoy the pleasure of the release.
In 2008, Jasprit and Teresa opened another RussaYog® Studio location in Santa Barbara, California. Nowadays, Teresa teaches mainly in Santa Barbara while Jasprit divides his time between Ann Arbor and Santa Barbara. RussaYog® continues to find its way into the homes of many yogis looking to embody the wellness lifestyle created by Jasprit.
About Jasprit Singh
Jasprit Singh grew up in India. Both of his parents practiced yoga as a part of their daily lifestyle. As a child, he used to join his father in his daily exercise routine, including running, calisthenics, and yoga postures. As a teen, he built his own makeshift gym in his parent’s courtyard. Soon after, his peers were eager to join him in his exercise routines.
As a young adult, he moved to the United States to attend the Physics program at the University of Chicago. He dealt with the pressure of rigorous graduate work by maintaining a regular and challenging exercise regimen, and practicing yoga. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago then did Post Doctoral work at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and later joined Wright-Patterson Air Force Laboratories in Ohio. He joined the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1985. During his entire professional career in science, he has pursued his interests in the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
About Teresa Singh
Teresa Singh was introduced to yoga and meditation as a teenager. Through the practice of yoga, Teresa learned an appreciation of the power of the mind to guide itself to inner peace and well-being. She incorporated yogic ideas into her daily life. She continued her studies in the field of human behavior, earning a Master’s degree in Social Work and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, where she and Jasprit had moved after their marriage.
Teresa’s many years of experience working in mental health settings has given her an appreciation of the importance of meeting each challenge in life with a positive attitude. The yogic approach of remaining calm under stress has served her well throughout her career and her life. She enjoys teaching RussaYog®, an empowering style of yoga suited to all levels.