The past two years, I have been part of an incredible journey – one of self-healing and discovery. It has a lot to do with the muscular strain and injuries sustained during this period, and from which I found little reprieve. That relief was brought about by a very dedicated physiotherapist and yet, I realized no matter who treats you, there is a part within yourself that needs to regain trust, hope and confidence that things will eventually be alright. An extremely active person, if given a prescription of bed rest is definitely bound to be the worst patient. And so, I was.
As I struggled to find a balance between my grueling routine and physiotherapy sessions, my frustrations grew, and with it, the weaning away of hope and insinuation of fear. Every forward bending action came with pain and spasm and so did every turn of the hips at night while one is supposed to be in deep sleep. It took one statement from a well-wisher and a dear friend to snap me out of my misery. “Why can’t you just go back to yoga? How can such practice be of any harm to you?”
So how did yoga transform me from an impatient, demanding individual to a result-oriented, almost patient, dedicated student? Well, first we need to understand this – yoga just demands you to become forbearing. Unlike all other forms of physical training, yoga draws you with its own rules – that you bow to humility and learn to respect your body. It also inflicts a slightly frustrating learning curve on you. We cannot be the bendy body that seasoned yogis showcase just like that, or even be able to coordinate a soothing vocal with movements that you see as a trait in all the teachers. It takes time, a lot of time, and patience. If we show our impatience this, practice turns its back on you.
Yoga is a philosophy and a spiritual experience practiced through meditation and movements. It is not a fad or a fashion statement. It is a form of therapy that you can get at the cost of almost nothing, and if followed diligently, the cure is close to permanent. I use the words ‘almost’ and ‘close’, because there is always the mind that needs to marry the vision. It gives you freedom of choice, meaning your lifestyle can have yoga incorporated into it or the other way around. There are no rigid instructions. However, in order to benefit maximally from it, one needs to veer oneself towards disciplined diet and personal habits.
If possible, lay foundations with a guru. If not, join a class and follow the teacher. Why? Because for the uninitiated, it is very important to connect movements with breath and imbibe the teachings. Aside from that, one needs to learn the philosophy of practice. There is much material available online as well as books one can read. However, as a beginner, it is always wise to be part of a class or under the tutelage of experience.
A good practice of Yoga consists of a triad of pranayama, meditation and asanas. I am no teacher but I can definitely tell you this – it binds your heart and mind together and anchors it to your core being. That’s where we will find our strength. If you encounter people who practice Yoga as a way of life, as teachers or as hardcore students, or just about anyone who has included it as part of their lifestyle, they will represent serenity and inner strength. I have experienced it.
If there are any other attributes that a good consistent practice can confer upon you, they are honesty and purity in thought, word and deed. There is an absence of greed. There is a minimalism in wants and needs. There is focus.
The core practice consists of eight limbs of yoga but to me, three are absolutely essential, from both a physical and mental health point of view – the asanas, the pranayama and Dharana. The first is movement, the second is breath and the third is concentration. Above all, it makes us realize that identifying yourself with anything that is impermanent (emotions, suffering and pain) is ignorance.
So, this month, celebrate the woman in you, the power, the innate Shakthi. Remember your body is your temple and your mind is the sanctum sanctorum. Let yoga lead you.