How did I fall into the yoga radar? Well it was always subliminally there when I as growing up, since my father was and is still into his daily practice of yoga.
Did I take to the practice when younger? No.
First brush with yoga…
Much later, I learnt the basics from a teacher who came home and taught. My focus then was to use it just as a form of exercise, a cardio-workout, to lose a few pounds.
1st year journey …
Finally I got into a more regular practice of yoga at an upscale yoga studio, which specialized more in the Mysore-style-of-Asthanga-Yoga (commonly known as Power Yoga). If you think yoga is for the namby-pamby and softies, give Mysore style-Asthanga yoga a try; trust me your idea of yoga being a slow and not cardio-enough-workout will disappear forever. Who knows, you may even forgo the gym post one session of this energetic style of yoga.
One year of 3-days-a-week of Asthanga-practice, and I lost the pounds, I shaped up! Felt better, and my endurance level went up. Initially the classes used to be super-draining; I used to be so very exhausted. My muscles ached from all the stretching and jumping (there is a lot of quick transitions into various asanas/poses in the Mysore style Asthanga yoga). But I felt good; super good. It was as if the cobwebs of the mind cleared the days I practiced. I hardly missed my classes. I was hooked. It is important to note here, that one had a very good-teacher in Puja, so inspite of me being in a group glass, one got enough guidance to hone one’s practice.
Group yoga class benefits…
The best part of a group class is the collective energy of the class and the different levels of the students. The collective energy motivates to push one a bit more and the more-advanced-level-students in the class, inspire one with the thought that yes, one day, I will also be able to do it with ease and perfection.
This one-year of almost –continuous-practice, opened up my body and made me understand the science behind yoga a little more deeply. I realized it was not just a form of physical- exercise. It was way more than that. Yoga is a technique of mind-awareness via breath. Sounds simple enough, but only when one does the asana with breath awareness, not only does one get to do the asana perfectly, but also reap the benefits of the asana to its fullest.
2nd year journey..
The next year I went into a much smaller group and practiced the more traditional-style and slower style of Hatha-yoga. I seemed to enjoy this way more, now. I was able to focus on my coordination of breath-flow along with the asanas. I enjoyed spending more time, trying to get into the final posture-slowly. I became more aware when doing an asana and in the process my mind experienced way more calm and was able to train-the-monkey-mind better. This one year I felt I had learnt and understood the art-of-asanas-better and felt more energized, even though I was a year older chronologically. :)
Different styles of yoga
It is important to try the different styles of yoga…. As in the slower-Hatha yoga-style, the more rigorous-Asthanga-yoga, or the precision-prop-help-Iyengar-style. Essentially yoga is the same, the asanas are all the same in the various styles; it is just the approach and the way it is taught. Personally over the years, I like the slower, take-your-time-approach-in-getting-into-the-asana style. It gives me the time to understand and appreciate the importance of patience and persistent practice.
A yogi, am I?
So, do I call myself a yogi? Ummm… I am on the path of becoming one, hopefully. It’s a way of life; yoga is not just about getting into a posture. I certainly have way more equanimity and sense-of-calm, ever since I began regular practice.
Post 2 years of continuous practice, I can say, I am both a student and practitioner of yoga. Since March this year, I get onto my yoga mat, practically every single day. The days I do not practice, I miss the deep sense of ‘ananda’. Yoga helps me stay the best version of myself throughout the day!
Best part about yoga?
The absolutely bestest part about learning yoga? You do not need any equipment, it can be done just about anywhere. Rain, sunshine, storm; all one needs is a bit of space. I have done headstands ..even in the hotel-rooms when I have travelled. I have done Padma-aasan on long train journeys just to ease and calm my mind.
Advice from a beginner-yogi …
Even if one is going to the class, it is important, that one does a personal practice alone in quietude for sometime; it helps to deepen the practice. It has certainly helped me. The practice of yoga has taught me the importance of practice. With faith, patience and time, even the most difficult poses can be achieved over time, sometimes it is the simpler ones which take more time…just the way life is :)
Still not ‘yoaged’? Give it a shot, an earnest one… under some caring guidance. You will not regret it. This is one practice, which can be done at any age. One is never too old or not-so-fit to start. As long as there is breath in the body, you can do yoga. Trust me.
Words cannot convey the value of yoga, it has to be experienced ~ BKS Iyengar