When Yoga Is Not Competition But Challenge To The Body And Mind
Joining a group fitness activity can be very intimidating, especially when you are a late bloomer with questionable fitness levels, like me. In the initial days after joining yoga, I often felt a childish happiness at the possibility of being able to bunk a class. Every time I looked around, from the way people carried and placed their mats to the way they held their postures I got overwhelmed. I could not hold my own body weight. The conversations around the journey from XL to L to M were even more discouraging. I never felt the high that people claimed exercising gives.
Nobody I know will ever consider me as remotely athletic, I have never had any misgivings in this regard either. However, I was at a point in life where fitness had to be embraced, there was no other way out. I have been practising yoga regularly, more or less, for the last two years now. In the last six months, my relationship status with yoga has undergone a metamorphosis. We now have a love-hate relationship.
I have realized you are as strong in yoga as your mind is. The epiphany first came on the day I could feel a Khumbak (retention or holding the breath, a state where there is no inhalation or exhalation) and enjoyed it after Kapalabhati (pranayama). As you sit with your eyes closed it was a happy place to be in, what needed to be accomplished was accomplished and what was to be achieved next was away. Since then it has been my favourite zone. A friend had once compared this state to the time you take in deciding between two books, especially when you have just finished reading a very good one. You want to savour that aftertaste.
As you sit with your eyes closed it was a happy place to be in, what needed to be accomplished was accomplished and what was to be achieved next was away.
Now yoga classes have become more about me and my mind, the outside is not intimidating anymore. To achieve a posture all you need is a pact with your mind and I realized this on the day the eldest person in my yoga batch did a headstand. She was the first one in the group. It also brought back the joy of celebrating together and admiring each other’s journeys. I have learnt to look beyond the competition and push my body. Of course, none of this can be attained without a good teacher who opens your mind first and then literally handholds you through this journey.
To achieve a posture all you need is a pact with your mind and I realized this on the day the eldest person in my yoga batch did a headstand.
So, am I a changed being? I definitely feel better in my own body. However, I still have days when there are aches and pains which make it impossible to get out of bed. I succumb too. But I also take my body and my mind more seriously. I am still learning to know the difference between my mind giving up and saying “no, not today”. I am more in sync with myself and try to achieve a Khumbhak in most things I do.
At the end of a yoga class, you always do a Shavasana when you lie down after a rigorous session, you relax and rejuvenate and are ready to brave the world. You have earned that brief time to yourself because you have sweat it out and that has been the best lesson I have learnt in self-love. I now pat my back whenever I think I have outdone myself.
The views expressed are the author’s own.