I was not at my lowest when I started my yoga practice, but I felt like I was stuck in limbo, unable to break the mental barriers or change the circumstances. We all have our demons and we all develop some kind of coping mechanism to deal with them. My coping mechanism was ‘hiding’ – I used to hide from everything that had the potential to give me pain. I would suppress unwanted thoughts and push them away but they always found their way back. I tried hard to detach myself from these emotions completely and face the world with a big carefree smile. But soon the smile faded away. Disguising emotional pain wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Hiding my feelings had begun to drain me mentally, physically and spiritually. I desperately needed a change, a breath of fresh air and some inspiration to push myself everyday.
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands temporary surrender of security.” – Gail Sheehy
It is believed that yoga comes to you when you need it the most. But I did not take up Yoga to deal with the situation or to find the right answer. Believe it or not, I went for my Yoga Teachers Training in 2015 because I am a philosophy nerd. I thought feeding my mind new ideas and knowledge would be enough; should be enough.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension.’ – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
I Thought Yoga Makes You Happy…
But it made me feel awful! I always hear people say how they fell in love with yoga with their first class. But my experience was different. After the first few classes, I felt like my skin was slowly getting flayed publicly. Yoga brought out all those hidden emotions and I had no idea how to deal with them. All these years I was living in complete denial and suddenly I was left with no choice but to face my fears and pain.
I started bunking classes, especially asana and meditation. I felt worse when a teacher said I look like I am in depression. Now others could see it too and this worried me immensely. But the worry lasted only a few days. Yes, I was becoming more transparent, but I was also becoming whole. It took me many deep conversations (a lot of them with myself), and it took many hours of practice for me, to open up my heart and cry and accept the pain, clear up the space and let the healing begin. I gave myself the freedom to be. The walls came down and the emotional barriers had begun to disappear. I had found the change I needed.
“Yoga is a way to freedom. By its constant practice, we can free ourselves from fear, anguish and loneliness.” – Indra Devi.
Let The Self-Love Journey Begin
It took me almost a year to develop a daily practice routine. Gradually I started experimenting with different styles of yoga, playing around with asanas and sequence, enjoying the new challenges and feeling the depth of every posture. And then one day I finally gathered the courage to join the Instagram Yoga community and share my practice with the world. This was a big step for me, especially with all my insecurities and issues. But now… I wanted to share this journey with the world at large. Earlier, I used to turn my nose up at the IG word and thought to myself that this is not yoga, in fact this is sheer narcissism. But I finally took the plunge and joined the beautiful yoga community. It has been the best decision so far as it is a great place to build your tribe. There are many people who find me inspiring and there are many who inspire me, radiating positivity like unicorns. When I share about my practice, about how we can overcome challenges in asana practice and find balance, I find myself talking about the many obstacles that we create in our mind and how the practice can help us accept the issue and deal with it with patience. I realise that there are many who are probably struggling with the same issues that I have to deal with and social media gives us a platform to help one another. My physical practice has improved tremendously and with it, I feel I have also grown emotionally and spiritually. I am happier now for sure and more motivated. I have come a long way in my self-love journey in the past couple of years.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita
What Does Yoga Mean To Me?
I do not practice or teach yoga as a physical exercise that targets weight loss or toning. I have experienced how yoga can heal the mind and soul, it is certainly much more than a workout. For me, Yoga is my personal space where I express myself without any inhibitions. It is my connection with myself through which I learn to accept and love myself. Yoga for me is joy and abundance IN THE NOW! I often encourage my students to grunt, glare, expel fire, curse, moan, yell if they must in class. Let it out. It’s not for me or someone else, it’s for you. It’s a way to charge yourself, feel, move, release, breathe, it is life on your mat. All of it!
BE IN THE NOW.
In a world where we are being constantly told what to do, who to be, how to choose, what to eat, how to look, what to speak, and all the changes we should make to be accepted by the society, we don’t really leave any room to just be and to just breathe. And this is the reason why we all need yoga. Yoga teaches us to just breathe, feel, hear – Just Be.
Tips For Daily Practice:
Step on your mat with love in your heart and leave the space with the same love wrapped around you like a soul shield.
Asanas are not everything but they are very important. They help in changing those patterns that are holding you back. Yes, they also keep you healthy 🙂
Do those Kriyas. Cleanse the system. Fortify it.
Pranayama will make you stronger mentally and physically.
Do Savasana as often as you need to.
Eating food that is good for you is part of yoga.
Give your practice your everything – even if it is for 5 minutes.
Keep practicing. I know it really hurts sometimes. I know sometimes it feels like it’s not for you, that you can’t do it, that you are not enough. When that happens, take a little break, breathe, breathe, breathe, give yourself some time, chant AUM as many times as you need to. When you are ready, start practicing again.
Remember the mantra – Practice and all is coming. Always!
Certified International Yoga Teacher
You can follow her @sakshiguptayoga