Sunday, 21 June 2015

Yoga and Me

My Yoga journey began sometime in the late nineties. My induction into Yoga practice happened more out of necessity than choice. I was a chronic, acute Asthmatic all my adult life and the asthma attacks were assuming life threatening proportions (I had been hostipalised in emergencies in intensive care twice.) It was then that my Doctor, Late Pramod Niphadkar virtually forced me to adopt Yoga and other breathing exercises to supplement my medical treatment.

It then began as a daily ten minute routine and along with my other regimen, it turned my life around. Even after Asthma was well under control, I maintained my routine since it had become a part of my system.

In May 2003 something more dramatic happened and life was never the same again. Bipolar Disorder struck and it made me dig deeper, explore all resources available to me in order to regain normalcy. I learnt a few more specific yoga asanas and breathing techniques to alleviate my new set of problems.

Serendipity brought a new twist in this journey. I was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita in circumstances strongly suggesting it was meant to be~ it had a profound impact on me and I realised that what I believed was Yoga all these years was not the real thing at all! The physical asanas which have become hugely popular in many parts of the world are erroneously termed as Yoga, instead of Ashtanga Yoga. No doubt, it does help balance the mind and body and has proven health benefits.

The other elements are Karma Yoga (doing one's duty  without any expectation), Dhyan Yoga (Meditation), Gyan Yoga (Knowledge) and finally Bhakti Yoga (Devotion and surrender to God).

Yoga is not just about asanas, it is a way of life. I would add, joyful living.

I had learnt to meditate almost two decades ago. My practice of it, however, was infrequent. Reading the Gita changed all that. Even meditation got a new purpose, a new meaning. I began introspecting a lot more, asking myself questions, seeking answers to them. I now began to understand why Yoga is described as a way of living rather than a physical practice.

As for Ashtanga Yoga, my health challenges motivated me to reach higher on the fitness scale. Last year my wife and I took our Yoga practice a step further. We engaged a trainer who taught us a whole range of new asanas. Being in our 50's, some were challenging, however with regular practice, we have mastered them all. The body's ability to adapt and regain flexibility is amazing!

My day begins with half an hour of meditation followed by fifty minutes of ashtanga yoga

mixed with a few exercises. A day without this feels incomplete. While this might sound repetitive and boring, it is not~ I can meditate for hours without feeling the need to come out of the blissful state it takes me to! As for asthanga yoga, the asanas we have learnt are so many that not all can be fitted in a session. Each day we schedule different asanas which also means that we go through the whole gamut of what's been taught to us on a rotation basis.

Ashtanga yoga and meditation are the foundation of one's path to self discovery. One can hardly go on a spiritual quest without a calm, balanced body and mind. Meditation stills the mind and prepares it for advancement to the next level. It gives us access to an infinite reservoir of wisdom and bliss.

My moment in my journey came with the realistion that there was a higher being than me seated in my Soul.

And bowing down to Him.

Surrendering to Him.

This is what truly freed me.

Touch this moment, set yourself free.

(Me in Meditative stance~ Photo Credit: Meenal Jaiswal Photography)

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