Valerie Handunge

Home City: Washington, D.C.

Department: Retreat Center

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I am a management consultant by profession, focused on healthcare and life sciences. I am also a yoga teacher and a dedicated yoga practitioner, and my practice focuses on the breath and subtle body awareness for wellbeing and practical stress management. I am originally from Sri Lanka and I am passionate about exploring the intersection of modern science, yoga philosophy and practice, and Ayurvedic principles for self-care. I am a resident and a student at the Himalayan Institute, and I am grateful to my teachers here.

Q: How did you find the Himalayan Institute?

A: Being a part of the yoga community in D.C., I had heard about the Himalayan Institute at the studio where I taught. I didn’t know much about it at the time but researched it online and little did I know then that one day I would be helping to redesign the website for the Himalayan Institute.

I was seeking and the Himalayan Institute and the community opened its arms to me.
Q: What inspired you to join the community?

A: I was finding that yoga had become more and more a form of exercise and acrobatics and I knew there was more to it! I was looking to deepen my personal yoga practice and get better acquainted with the roots of yoga. I craved more knowledge about yogic philosophy and the true purpose of yoga. I was seeking and the Himalayan Institute and the community opened its arms to me.

Q: What have you learned during your time here?

A: The Himalayan Institute is an environment of healing and growth. It has forced me to re-examine myself, my relationships, and my path in life. Sometimes this is painful, unexpected, and possibly even unwelcome! But from the transformation comes nothing but a welcomed change. I have learned self-compassion and I have broadened my definition of success beyond professional achievements to simply happiness. Also, my personal yoga practice has never been stronger and it stays with me wherever I go!

Q: If there was one thing you could share about the Himalayan Institute, what would it be?

A: The most amazing thing to me about the Himalayan Institute is that some of the yoga teachers I admire most in the world live here. I get to eat lunch with them, take their classes, and talk to them about my personal practice. They are all generous with their time and advice. It is also wonderful to be around other yoga practitioners, many of whom have become close friends.