Sounds clichéd, but the practice of yoga has been a revelation of me, to me. You will find Yogis saying this often, but it is true and it is hard to explain. One has to experience the emotion. Yoga is an experiential practice; one can appreciate what is being said only by experiencing it. As one of the popular Yoga quote sums it up “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” – Sri K Pattabhi Jois.
Did my love-for-yoga happen from the first class? Well, yes and no.
I come across many people who think that they are too stiff for yoga or yoga may never help them achieve the fitness goals. I have been there. Though I took a liking to yoga because the thought of fitness was one of the key motivating factors that egged me on to try yoga, the interest petered off as I was not losing much weight.
In an increasingly competitive world, the fear of being new or going wrong discouraged me from joining a group class. I thus started with personalised Hatha Yoga classes. I found it to be a blessing as I was getting personal attention and in due course the practice also helped me overcome the fear of first start. I was practicing 3 days a week for about a year and though I felt good post yoga session, the fact that I wasn’t losing weight, discouraged me.
There was a brief hiatus from yoga and it was only when I joined a group class, led by Puja Borker, that I really developed a deeper interest and joy in the practice. A teacher or mentor one can relate to is very important in the yoga-journey, any journey for that matter. Also the group energy in a class was a major plus in upping my energy and interest in the sessions.
Having said this, I believe that both, personal as well as group classes are a great way to start. Being a rookie could be your best asset as yoga teaches us to let go of the outcome and trust the process.
What matters is the journey, not the destination.
I was absolutely enjoying the practice of power yoga, a more dynamic form of yoga, and practiced it at least 3 days a week. It belied the notion, that one did not sweat much during yoga-practice. In summers, I am sure the practice-room easily touched 40 degrees and I can understand why Hot Yoga has many fans. I loved the post yoga heavy-sweat-dripping aspect of the practice. Puja Borker encouraged us to practice even at home to reap greater benefits. I am glad I did.
The stagnant-difficult-to-lose weight started slipping away gradually. Family and friends started remarking how I was looking slimmer and fitter; I loved the observation, and this kept me motivated. But above all, I began to realise that I was now more in tune with my body and my emotions. Spending time on my mat was not only therapeutic but also informative. I understood that there is more to yoga asana and stretching and developed interest in learning about the numerous benefits of every asana and became more mindful of the science behind the ancient practice. I referred to books like Light on Yoga and Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and took great interest in my personal practice. I think that awareness and dedication were the key reasons, why I was easily able to let go off the stubborn weight.
Is Yoga TTC and teaching for me?
The shift had happened. From asking is yoga for me? I was now asking myself if I could possibly share my knowledge of yoga with others? Yoga does this to you. It inspires you to inquire and inspire. So I went on to pursue my TTC.
Why TTC? Are yoga classes not enough?
I wanted to delve deeper into yoga philosophy and history, expand my knowledge on yoga asana and anatomy. In regular yoga classes (group) you may not always find time to practice different breathing techniques. Pranayama is also an important aspect of Yoga and understanding the right technique lays a strong foundation. Apart from this, I wanted to get an in-depth understanding of the yogic-way-of-living and use it as a tool to find balance in today’s fast paced life.
Has the 200hr Yoga training been worthwhile?
Oh yes! It’s put me on the daily-practice-personal-path, it made me realize that one still has very little knowledge and there is so much to understand and learn as one goes along, and last but not the least, the asanas are a small but significant part of the yoga-journey.
What about teaching? It’s after all a teacher’s training course!
Yes, on completing the teacher training course, one becomes eligible to teach others or take up a professional yoga trainer job. During the course, as a group, we had the opportunity to teach at an NGO. This was an exercise to help us understand selfless service or seva, which is an important aspect of karma yoga, and I enjoyed this immensely. I continue to teach as a volunteer at this NGO. Being a full-time wife and mom and also someone who loves to travel, I am unable to take-up any additional teaching classes; however, I ensure that I always carry my mat along and continue to devote time and enrich my personal practice.
What form of Yoga is best for me?
Try out different studios, different teachers, even different styles (Hatha, Iyengar, Yin, Mysore Ashtanga, Power..etc) to zero in on the style which you are most comfortable with, and then stick to it for a minimum of 6 months to a year.
How yoga has helped me lead a more enriched life?
For starters, ever since I began the practice of yoga, I have had healthier and fuller days, lesser flu-attacks and complaints of usual aches and pains. My PMS is almost nil! Things-not-going-my-way hassle me less, I seem to have found my quiet-spot-within-myself. Of course there are days, when the mind just does not listen and I tackle this by spending more time on the mat..and this always helps! . The biggest gift yoga has given me, is the ability to spend time alone with myself, savoring one’s company without the pressing need for external stimulus all the time. Last but not the least, the practice of yoga has personally made me less judgmental and more accepting of the differences. A key learning in my yoga journey so far has been – patience. As most yoga practitioners would know, letting go is one of the key aspects of a good practice and is also the hardest to do.
RYT 200, lifelong Yoga student.
Blogger & ex-journalist