PV Shanmuga Sundaram

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self - The Bagavath Gita.”

One of the world’s best-known yoga teachers, BKS Iyengar, passed away recently in India at the grand old age of 95. Tributes poured in from all over the world in praise of this YOGI who has been attributed with taking Yoga global. In this part of the world, his teachings will continue to be passed down to future generations, through his many students, one of whom is our profile - Mr Shanmuga Sundaram.

Mr Shanmuga Sundaram has been a practitioner of Yoga since the 1960s. He is a firm believer in the ancient Indian philosophy, which combines physical, mental and spiritual practices for the benefit of the body and mind of a person. Yoga is a global multi billion-dollar health and exercise craze now but when Shanmuga Sundaram picked it up, it was shrouded in mystery and a closely guarded secret.

Recent medical research studies have confirmed the numerous health benefits of yoga, something the yoga masters have been saying for the longest time. Shanmuga Sundaram has been promoting the mental and physical health benefits of regular yoga practice for many years.


“I tell them, if you cannot spare the time to do this, then be prepared to die - I tell them point blank.”

Mr Shanmuga Sundaram came to Singapore in 1950 at the age of 16. He worked various jobs, and also studied English in night classes. Never one to be satisfied with status quo, he learned other skills such as photography, tailoring and homeopathy, and used this trades to earn extra income to support his family. He worked in the government service and retired at the age of 55.


“I suffered a lot in my life but unfortunately when I was better off ...”

Mr Shanmuga Sundaram’s biggest passion is yoga. He bought books to learn yoga, and he also underwent instruction from several teachers. He started teaching yoga in about 1968, and has, besides Singapore, taught yoga to students in India, Malaysia.


“If there was someone who is not able to pay the fees, I will still teach him or her for free.”

Mr Shanmuga Sundaram has on record taught 16000 students. Some of his yoga students have gone on to become yoga instructors. He is proud that his knowledge is being passed on and happily proclaims that his family members have also embraced Yoga. He does show some disappointment with his late wife who did not follow in his footsteps although he credits her for being a good homemaker.

Fiercely independent since young, Shanmuga Sundaram still continues to teach yoga at the age of 82. He even does one on one home session for a select group of good friends although he had to cut down on this, as his knee ache got worst. Now classes are mostly conducted at his home. He is presently also writing some books on yoga, and hopes to have them published soon.

Mr Shanmuga Sundaram is a living testament to the benefit of lifelong yoga practice. If there were any lingering doubts in our mind about the benefits of yoga, it was all cleared when he demonstrated for us the peacock pose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayurasana) at the end of the interview.


“I always advocate that you need to suffer (exercise) to avoid suffering.”

50Faces appreciates the continuing work of Yoga Master Mr Shanmuga Sundaram and hopes that many more Singaporean Indians will be motivated by him to take up yoga, and benefit from it mentally and physically.


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

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