Transition from Ballet and R.Gym to YOGA! (ahimsa)

In the vedic scriptures, Patanjali’s Sutra 2.35, “Ahimsa Pratishthayam Tat Vaira-Tyahah” means non-violence, be it mentally, emotionally or physically. For me, physical violence in particular was more relatable due to my past commitments in different physical activities.

Briefly, I was very involved in Classical Ballet and Rhythmic Gymnastics since a young age of 4 but due to all the untreated injuries that built up over the years, I was forced to stop at 16 to prevent permanent disability and mobility.

I was first introduced to the Asana practice of Yoga some 2 years back, and since then things have started to change for me as I began accepting that what was previously done is done, and there was nothing I could do to rewind it. I was interested in yoga only on a superficial level at the beginning because it was similar to ballet and gym (the flow, movements, flexibility and strength) but as I started to practice regularly, I noticed that all the discomforts from my past injuries disappeared slowly unlike in gym and ballet where almost every month there would be a new injury- Ahimsa.

An average gym training would include runs, sprints, a lot of concentric movements though there would be stretching too. But what was seriously wrong was the alignment issues that made us vulnerable to injuries even though they look so pretty. An example would be Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose) where in gym we had to external rotate at our hips, hence putting a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine. Even in Hanumasana (splits), we would externally rotate our hips. The violence comes when the front leg goes up a chair and the monster coach would come behind and sit and jump on our butts making the chances of a torn hamstring and unevenly opened hips so very high.

As for ballet, the long hours on pointe placed a lot of pressure on the foot and spine. Muscle tears or ankle sprains are very common too. Although two different activities, the commonalities were that they often pushed too hard and treats non-performance very aggressively. Personally, that was how I cultivated the discipline and self-aggressiveness that often led to injuries and inflict “physical violence” to myself. What others see on stage may be a graceful and “perfect” series of movements, but what they don’t see behind that smile is the internal injuries, long hours of training and injuries we are all grinding our teeth to push through. It was also very competitive between other ballet dancers in terms size or alignment or pain tolerance which led to more mental violence as I would “beat myself up” for mistake on stage or accidentally eating too much. (although dancers tell you that they don’t mind the fall on stage…they are all lies)

In contrast, Yoga helped heal me and throughout this course, I was often reminded that what you can’t do today, there is always a tomorrow that you can try again and again. It was in the basic philosophy of non-violence and non-competitiveness that I started to accept and forgive myself emotionally and physically when I have failed in an asana or lost my discipline momentarily. This way I started learning how to be more compassionate and accepting towards not only myself but to those around me as the focus was no longer on myself, but to also show that love to others as well. In my asana practice, I started becoming conscious of the little twitches, discomfort and pain too. In a long run I became more aware in how to prevent injuries. Emotionally, I was contented and I enjoyed where I was in my yoga journey, unlike those frustrations and inferior complex I went through back in those days.

YTTC 200hr May

Pat