Sensei Sandeep Desai from India has been a yoga practitioner and martial arts expert for 40 years, as well as a Master of T’ai Chi for 20 years.
Over the years Desai has taught thousands of people, including school children, college students, cancer patients and celebrities.
“I am currently teaching actor Rajat Kapoor and have taught Hrithik Roshan, Vivek Oberoi, Suneil Shetty, Ranveer Singh and more,” Desai told News India Times, in a phone interview from New York, on a visit.
What makes Desai unique in his art is that he has gone to Japan, China and Mysore and learned his art from the source.
While in Japan, Desai received training in Okinawan Shorin Matsubayashi Ryu from Hanshi Shoshin Nagamine, a 10th Dan Black Belt, after which he himself obtained a 5th Dan Black Belt in 1997 and performed Kata Wankan with a group in the opening ceremony of the World Karate tournament that same year.
Desai was also trained in Okinawan Weaponry by Sensei Katherine Baxter, a former world champion. He then studied Chen Style T’ai Chi in Freising, Germany under Dr. Bob Bacher.
After training in both T’ai Chi and Yoga, he taught the art forms in several yoga schools in Miami, Florida in 2001.
Desai has also written a book called ‘The Small Book of T’ai Chi’ and writes regularly for the popular ‘Speaking Tree’ column in The Times of India.
Times Music even launched two introductory DVDs on T’ai Chi featuring Desai.
Desai has conducted workshops for companies including Siemens, TATA Motors, Aditya Birla Group, Airport Authority of India (AAI), the Brahmakumaris, Reebok, Reliance Money, Johnson & Johnson, Bharat Petroleum, Times of India, Western Naval Command, Central Railways, Crossword, Magna, NCPA, Help Library, Melange, Indus, YPO and others.
“I believe that T’ai Chi and yoga is for everyone, the classes and the masses. In today’s modern society, it is important to bring yourself into the present moment. We are always living in the head and we need to come to the body,” Desai said.
After teaching, Desai underwent advanced training in Chen Style T’ai Chi from Grandmaster Zhu Tian Cai in Singapore in 2002.
He then visited Chenjiagou village in China, two years later as well as in 2007, and took advanced training under Grandmaster Zhu Tian Cai.
Desai won the bronze medal in the First World Traditional Wushu Tournament in 2004 and the silver medal in the First International Chen Style T’ai Chi Tournament in 2005.
Desai was even honored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Today, he teaches Chenjiagou T’ai Chi through regular courses and workshops as he continues to contribute numerous articles to leading newspapers and magazines, including the Indian Express and The Times of India.
He has also been featured on TV channels such as BBC World, Star Plus, CNBC TV18, Zee TV, Doordarshan, Channel V and Times Now.
“We have so many stresses and tensions that are not in our control, so T’ai Chi and Yoga help us relieve that stress especially in today’s fast-paced world,” he said.
But it is not just about the exercise and meditation.
“80 percent of living a healthy lifestyle is maintaining a good diet. One should often eat raw fruits and vegetables instead of cooked ones,” he added.
When he is not teaching or writing, Desai loves to listen to the old Bollywood classics of Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar and takes long walks in the parks along with performing satsangs.
Desai has also started a teacher training program where he passes on his art to others who can teach the upcoming generations.