I was introduced to the practice of Yoga asana during my school days. It was compulsory for every student to attend the Yoga class once a week. However, at that time, for me and most of us at school, Yoga was merely an escape from the mundane routine.
Fast forward 15 years, and I was working as a marketing manager in a multinational company for sometime and later I joined a startup. But being a diehard adventure junkie, I spent all my free time on weekends exploring and trying outdoor sports like trekking, traveling, biking and scuba diving. Even on weekdays, I managed to squeeze in some time for horse riding, which kept me going the entire week and not get bogged down by daily work routine.
“Tell your body that it is strong, tell your mind that it is strong, and have unbounded faith and hope in yourself.” Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga
To keep up with these sports activities and work, I had to stay fit, maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay focussed. So like what most of us end up doing, I looked up a few youtube videos to learn basic asanas to stay fit.
When realisation hits you
My time on the Yoga mat was my time to stretch, breathe and reflect. It was a gentle lifeline that gave me the courage to trust and listen to myself. Through the years I had this question bugging me deeply, about why I am spending my energy marketing a concept I really don’t believe in?
I had realised that I wasn’t happy about spending most of my day at a place I did not want to be a part of in the long run, that I was investing my time in people I could not relate to; but in all these years, I did not take any action to change my situation. And so I finally took the decision and took a break from work and the busy schedule to just travel intensively and solo, and also learn more about Yoga.
Through the years a question was bugging me deeply that why am I marketing a concept I don’t believe in, investing my time in people who wont stay and leading a meaningless life. I took a break to travel across and learn more about yoga.
Learning and practicing Yoga
I enrolled for yoga classes at Svyasa. I signed up for a one month residential course. The course was more like an introductory course to Yoga, what is Yoga and how and why it is much more than just asana practice.
I then enrolled for my first Teacher Training course (TTC) in Mysore and studied under Bharat Shetty Sir. At the Yoga shala, our day started with kriyas and asana practice, followed by pranayama and dhyana. We also covered Yoga theory, which covered in-depth Yoga philosophy and anatomy. As we progressed, we also learned advanced kriyas on weekends. During the course, I spent a lot of time with myself, and had the opportunity to understand myself better and deeply.
“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better you practice the brighter the fame.” B.K.S. Iyengar
The guided practice and daily routine at the the Yoga shala helped me build a strong foundation for my practice.
Connecting the dots
I realised that ups and downs are part of our daily life. Our mind experiences positive and negative emotions constantly; we have to face good and bad situations – every single day! But the practice of Yoga just seems to magically neutralise everything! My practice gives me a fresh start – a fresh perspective – e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e time.
“Yoga does not ask you to be more than you are. But it does ask you to be all that you are.” Bryan Kest.
So essentially, it is only my practice that inspires me to continue practicing, to continue making sense of everything that comes my way, on and off the mat. To me, the physical practice is the first and best step towards the inward journey – a journey that will allow you to explore your own mind space and unfold the subtle aspects by making you aware of the flowing breath.
Practice on your Yoga mat is synonymous to different facets of life – of facing the fears, of not giving up, of self love, of creating a balance and everything else that runs through our mind daily. It is this growing awareness and about learning something new about myself – my life – that makes my day.
Later I carried my passion for yoga further and started teaching at different studios. I believe in traditional way of following this path and only teach Hatha Yoga classes. But somehow I was not comfortable teaching in loud environments, so I started teaching at home where I could accomodate 4-5 people in a room. I am thankful to my students for their love and acceptance; I now have a studio of my own in HSR Layout, Bangalore named as Balance Yoga.
I have learned deeply that it is not only asanas that you have to force your body upon. As my teacher says it is not Yoga – it is ‘bhoga’. One has to gradually and eventually change the complete lifestyle – of what and when you eat, drink, sleep and even breathe. It’s surprising how these basic things have been avoided so much in today’s lifestyle and not given importance at all. I say this to family, friends and ex-colleagues that…
“ if bad habits can break you, then good habits can make you.”
In Yoga, the journey of learning is infinite and much more meaningful. Today, I have stopped doubting myself and my choices and actions are free from self doubt. While travel gives me wings to fly, Yoga grounds me. It holds me strong and steady and helps me believe in my journey and not fear wrong turns; it helps me be myself and remain inspired even in the darkest hour.
500 (RYT), YIC, QCI level 1
Owner – Balance Yoga Studio
Instagram @ pooja_thawrani