In 2016, I was 32 years old and had a fairly successful career in sales and marketing. My working hours extended to late nights, often filled with meetings and deadlines and of course stress and binge eating. Hard work and talent got me professional success and the fact that I might be overindulging never bothered me. I was also great at vegging out in front of the TV and watched sitcoms and movies back to back.
It was also the year that I was hospitalized for my first anxiety attack. Enroute to the hospital, I had what I felt was the most massive muscle cramp in my abdomen. At this point, my mind was on paranoid overdrive. High blood pressure had begun to affect my entire body and the severe pain and stomach cramp certainly left no stone unturned to elevate my misery and BP further.
I was given several diagnoses. I was poorly prepared to deal with any of them. Apart from weighing 101 kgs, I also had Hypothyroidism, Anxiety, High Blood Pressure, Fatty Liver & Skeletal muscle issues. Of course, I was overweight too. In just 2 days I went from being really happy about indulging in my next meal and enjoying watching TV to being a severely miserable and clueless 30-year old who was really pissed off at vaguely everything.
Challenge of being consistent
For the next 2 months, I was on a bunch of pills which had slowly begun to take a toll on my overall well being and mood and my humor began to suck more and more each day. The doctor who diagnosed me gave me some parting advice – He said that the Fatty Liver could be reversed in about 6 months with lifestyle changes.
That advice left a deep impact on me. I had not realized until then that my lifestyle and choices could affect my health so severely! I felt a need to step back, to reflect and understand and accept the changes the doctor was referring to. I started researching diets and exercise options.
“Simply be present with your own shifting energies and with the unpredictability of life as it unfolds.” Sri.K.Pattabhi Jois
There is no dearth of fat-loss solutions online and again and again, I found myself thinking that I’d actually attempted most of them. Why then was it not working for me? It turned out that consistency was the problem – I’d invariably fall off the wagon in a matter of weeks to months
This was when I found my way to Yoga. It was perfect! It was low impact on my joints. The emphasis on breath and cultivating calmness was doing wonders for my runaway anxiety. Needless to say – I ended up sticking to my yoga practice and became consistent.
When Yoga became my lifestyle
Gradually most of the health issues began to disappear and in about a years time my Fatty Liver and BP were gone, my weight had stabilized and my Hypothyroid condition was greatly improved too. I had somehow managed to reclaim my health.
“Surrender to Yoga, for where is the conflict when the truth is known.” Sri T.Krishnamacharya
The biggest gift of Yoga, however, was that it allowed me to deal with the conflicts in my internal world with a lot more grace! A result that I hadn’t even imagined possible. I understood that everything is interrelated and instead of chasing that one big change and putting all my eggs in one basket I rather break it down into small steps and smaller changes in all areas of life. This attitude quickly amounted to significant gains. I was really excited about this approach.
Big changes were no longer daunting because the small and easier changes paved the way and helped me lay a strong foundation upon which my big goals could stand. I was keen to deepen my practice and understand the guiding principles of the practice that I felt had saved my life. I immersed myself in further study- earning a 200 hour TTC.
Small changes matter
Eating right – It is really hard to out-exercise a bad diet but the key is to make small changes and take one step at a time. I played with changing the composition of what I ate until my body gave me approval signals.
Drinking enough water – The number of times I ate when I was actually thirsty was frightening.
Enjoying the sunshine – This was crucial. I needed to correct years of messing with my circadian rhythm because I worked through the night.
Exercise – I started with walking and within a couple of months, Yoga found me! I tend to primarily practice (and teach) a dynamic style of yoga – Vinyasa Flow, which marries breath and asanas into a flow.
Learning constantly – I am currently studying some of the subtler practices like restorative and therapeutic yoga and delving deeper into the study of meditative practices.
“When we follow the breath, the mind will be drawn into the activities of the breath.” T.K.V.Desikachar
Here are guidelines I have found to be very useful over the years:
Make time for sadhana – even a little bit each day helps.
Try not to treat the asana practice merely as a workout. It is so much more. It is a tool to help one peer into the mind.
Never forget the Body – Breath – Mind nexus during practice – understand that these influence each other.
Lately, it’s become fashionable to try and attempt “difficult” poses – whilst I’m not against experimenting, I would like to caution against bullying the body and pushing it to do things it is unprepared for. Patience is a virtue – It rings supremely true in this practice.
Most of the magic is in the simplest forms – spend time with the foundational poses – you regret the decision.
Always make time for Savasana.
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