Here’s a thought – would you say it is true that somehow when we all reach our 20s, we look around for something that sticks with us for life? In this fast-paced, 20th Century world that we live in, it seems everyone, especially the educated, has slowly come to realisation that the individual seeks to be balanced in life in all aspects, including taking up sport. I was never one to think that I would pick up Yoga. At 16, my Dad took me to my first Yoga class, and for that 45 minutes of continuous Ardha Mukha Swanasanas (Downward dog), and Santolasanas (Plank), my shirt was drenched in sweat. I was ridiculously impatient through any of the poses I learnt that day and simply could not understand how one would slow down the breath doing these poses. These poses, seemingly easy, had me panting at the end of it. I lacked patience. I was annoyed.
I thought to myself – “There’s no way yoga is the sport for me, for the rest of my life. It’s slow, it’s boring.”
Then came a reintroduction to yoga when I turned 22. Between the years of being 21 and 22, I was a extreme go-getter. Nothing slowed me down. Not even the pains I felt in my body. I was an aspiring chef/baker, motivated, driven, and every single day was me telling myself “you have to be productive.” I never let my body or my mind rest. I never knew what that meant. At 21, I found out that my lower back had severe dessications at the L4 and L5 level. And for the few months after finding out, life started to seem a little bleak. Not only would I focus my energy on scanning for every pain in my back, I just made excuses to NOT move, and stopped believing in myself a little. I developed a fear for pain of any level, letting it manifest in my head to something bigger that tells me, I simply cannot do it.
Cliché in many of the yoga stories, you seek for something to comfort you when you are met with upsetting news. I came to realize more about how I was as a person, and how I treated my own body. The self-realization was that for all these years, I did not care about my body. I cared about success, I cared about “making it big”, every other single thing except the wealth of my health. It was heartbreaking to realize all of it. I wanted to make a change and turned to yoga for comfort, to make me healthier in the physical sense.
Evidently, that was not it. I was doing yoga in hopes of getting rid of my back pain, achieving only all the physical benefits possible. And although I started going to yoga classes since then, I did not realize what would happen when I took my understanding to the next level. It was one-dimensional. Yoga = flexibility and strength = better health = less back pain. Again, I fell into a hole of self-scrutiny. I was doing yoga for the sake of doing it, for the hopes of physically feeling better, achieving more skillful postures one day. And I blamed my body when things did not happen. Yoga came in and out of my life. Up to the point where I decided I want to learn more about Yoga in detail. I needed to understand more about this practice in deeper detail, and why I was allowing these thoughts in my life.
Fast-forward to today in this YTT course. Something clicked inside me as with each day of philosophy with either Master Sree or Master Paalu. “Be kind to your body, but don’t be lazy.” – Master Paalu said. At that very moment, I felt like bursting out into tears. It just hit me so hard that I struggle with what my body can or cannot do, focusing on its limitations and it in turn manifests negatively in my head. I finally became fully aware of how i viewed myself.
Every single day since then, thoughts in my head became quiet. Insecurities disappeared slowly. I no longer had these thoughts with what my body can or cannot do. I just did what I could, in my capacity. I understood more about the human mind, its natural instinct for greed. Suddenly, I am less harsh with myself in every way. Even with my own goals in the culinary aspect. Suddenly, yoga was not just a physical practice anymore.
Back to my beginning statement, Yoga has now become the one sport that can keep me healthy in my body, healthy in my mind. I love every breath I take during practice and I can no longer imagine my life without it. This journey of life is going to be filled with ups and downs, and I am fully aware that Yoga would not be an escape – it is a way of living my life. Though I cannot say for sure if everything will work out, I will constantly remember the concept of Sadhana from Master Sree, because without it, there is no regularity. Sadhana is continuous practice, improving concentration, being disciplined. Yoga will not always feed me happiness, or decrease my days of anxiety, self-doubt. On some days, my mind will creep up on me and nothing can be helpful. On other days, yoga will empower me greatly, it will strengthen me mentally and physically. My biggest takeaway today is realizing that my practice is not my reliance, and there is mindful awareness that nothing can be an escape. Just do and be calm. Whatever you practice, to whichever extent, keep it regular. And so Yoga, that is how I know you will stay.