This comes a little late considering we celebrated International Yoga Day on 21st June. I wanted to write about Yoga and the impact it has had on my life on the same day. When I opened any media – digital or otherwise, I was flooded with inspiring stories. Stories which I felt had so much more to convey than what I had to. Needless to say, I dropped the idea because I felt my story was not “good” enough.
My story did not come close to what I read – stories of recovering from physical and mental illnesses, stories about “you do not have to be thin to be flexible”, innumerable stories all telling me how Yoga supported individual journeys.
However, as they say, when you got to write, you got to write. I thought deeply about what was it in Yoga that I have stayed with it religiously for the last two years (even when I take breaks, I seem to be drawn back to it!). I have to add that I love to try new things, to explore and I never go by what people say – good or bad. My judgment is just mine. In this hope of finding what Yoga is, my quest began as early as when I was in my twenties. When I did begin Yoga in a structured way back in 2008, it was to support a friend who had started her career as a Yoga instructor. She was phenomenal. It was back then I understood a lot about Yoga.
The whole idea of twists and bends appealed to me immensely. I would marvel at how people would make their bodies so flexible! I was also extremely attracted to the idea of meditating for hours. I am a person who loves variety and I am always distracted easily. Here are my five things that Yoga does to you and believe me when such things happen, you do not want to let go of it!
- Yoga Questions You
Yes! It is true. In the midst of all the twists and turns, you begin questioning yourself – “Can I really do this? Is this really me? Is the upside down pose for me?” Whilst these questions at a superficial level seem to be apt for an asana you are trying to get into, the same slowly translates to real life. I question everything now. Not in a cynical way, but the way I would want to know answers to. If I have had a bad day, I question how I could have made it better or more so how can I still make my day better. I question the logic behind doing things. It occurred to me slowly yet aptly that questioning helps in clarity. I could see situations clearly. In fact, I had a colleague who was so fed up of my constant questioning that he send me the below poster!
- Yoga Pushes You
This is pretty clear. The poses and asanas that you struggle to get into and “hold” is a journey that you take. It pushes you to go that extra inch (rather cm!) to lock your hands behind in perfect Gaumukh asana. All Yoga enthusiasts will know what I am talking about. The day you get it right and ease into the pose, the exultation cannot be described but only experienced. This “push” that I have experienced is something I have started to do in my professional life. I have started not leave a situation open, push it for a closure even if it means it does not favour me. Having said that, it is a difficult journey – getting into the pose and doing it in real life! It just takes practice and that is another thing that Yoga teaches!
- Yoga Educates You
If you have an amazing Guru (like I do – you can check her on @Letsenjoyoga, you will educate yourself about your own body. You will learn and you will explore. Both of these traits resonate with me a lot. When I began my structured classes, I used to enjoy listening to why we do an asana and what is the benefit derived. I was amazed at how a simple routine of Suryanamaskar can be a work out for the whole body engaging every organ and every muscle (all this only if you are doing it right!!!). The knowledge seeking trait then becomes a part of you. You seem to try to learn everything that comes your way – even matters that go against your own values and beliefs. I learnt to be more open, less judgmental, and less prejudicial. What did it do to me? I think I became more calm and less agitated!
- Yoga Stabilizes You
The moment you sit down in a meditative position, it is not like you are overwhelmed with calmness. It is very hard. Meditation is hard and no one knows it better than those who have tried it. Thanks to classes and someone to guide, I feel my journey in meditation is not even 10% complete. However, the 10% that I achieved taught me a lot. It helped me centre, it helped me focus. At times, when I have many tasks to do, all of them at once, I believe that sitting down, taking a few sharp breaths has helped me to re-focus and get on with life. The translation of literal meditative pose to meditating in order to stabilize my mind is a magical journey and I cannot wait to go further.
- Yoga Introduces You to You
I thought I knew myself well. Having worked in the area of Emotional Intelligence for ten years, I thought I was self aware. I was so wrong! I thank my stars that I was able to embrace Yoga that showed me who I really was. It is not just about my body or my mental state that Yoga helped me understand. It was my emotions, my moods, my behavior, my approach, my understanding that was worked upon so well. I got to know myself better. I always pause, think and respond to situation now. I have to confess, it is not easy. There are times, when I am absolutely impulsive, absolutely idiotic but I know that this too is something I will manage over time.
I had no clue that Yoga was not just twisting and bending. When I did look at Yoga back in 2008, it was solely focused on being slim!! I realized Yoga is not a fitness quick fix. It is not a weight losing methodology (weight loss is a byproduct). It is not about overnight calmness. All my myths are now busted. It is a lifestyle which can be achieved only with discipline. I re-initiated the practice under #letsenjoyoga , which has been an insightful, gainful and a delightful journey. I learnt that Yoga is about balance, focus and improvement – all based on self awareness. I also take away some very basic learnings like :
1. Fitness is not just physical, it’s mental too and for a larger part more mental than one can imagine
2. Your body speaks to you, so you must learn how to listen to it
3. Extremes of everything is not good. Aim is always to balance- food, physical well being and emotions
4. Focus encourages clarity
What Yoga does to you can be achieved when:
1. You learn that for every asana or pranayama, there is a valid justification
2. There should be no comparisons and no hurrying up to achieve so called “goals”
3. Relaxation and taking time off is very essential in our day to day lives in a daily basis
My story about Yoga also has the essentials, the obvious – on achieving a better level of stamina, flexibility and focus but most of all, I just have to say one thing – this is a journey that everyone must take!
Image courtesy – funny art America, and from my friend’s and mum’s phones who thought it was sneaky enough to click my pix when I thought no one was looking!