My first vision of yoga was watching appa prostrate to the surya namaskarams and a vague recollection of a yoga poster or book with instructions he owned. Well! it was back in the 80s when internet was unknown in the underdeveloped state of Bihar, India (we didn’t even own a TV) and I was the curious six-year-old, who waited for him to go into down dog to run under the bridge with glee :-). And in the cruelly hot and humid nation, there was no need to advertise “hot yoga”, it was a given! The tiny room he practiced in overlooked a dingy passageway, between two tall apartment buildings, which often reeked of something decaying, only worse in summer months. He didn’t own a fancy yoga mat or lululemon wear. He didn’t care for the mahamrityunjaya mantra nor the Om and didnt sport beads on his neck. Just flexed, breathed, moved and sweltered in the balmy suffused air. Yogi-without-the-baggage !
I caught the bug pretty late into my teens and had a love-hate relationship. It was mostly to do with lack of patience. Asanas weren’t quick enough to lose all the fat and they werent easy. The pranayam and meditation counterparts only seemed worse and uncool. In my final year of undergrad a friend and I had mustered the courage to attend a month-long pranayama class. On a nightout pajama party, we had in the newly found resolute spirits, woke up early to practice. Our crow breathing technique and a few other pranayama types were of course! met with much derision for many days after. We reveled in the laughter too; who takes anything seriously in the days as a college student?
That behind me, the book with notes of that pranayama session, comfortably lost, my next encounter with yoga was in the westernized urban setting. I was met with “prana music”, 5$ student discount per class, yoga mats that breathed for you, something called a yoga block, chic yoga pants, Om tops, beaded necks, carefully careless hairdos, toe rings for fashion, the Om chants and uber flexible toned bodies all around me. I had grabbed at it. I was alone in a beautiful city and I had made peace with sweaty vinyasa yoga and fallen in love with the stretch of jogging track by a river that ran right through the city. How awesome was that for a serene yogasmic setting?
That didn’t last long either! 😦 Let me just say, life came in the way, simpler to understand! And probably, I was more moved by the setting and yoga baggage than yoga itself; it didn’t seem important enough to keep it up!
After nearly 5 years since, with spurts of yoga here and there and lots of running, I decided to attend the yoga classes to recoup for winter. This time, I was already experienced with the joys of setting ones body to motion. The classes come with a few baggies; I love my yoga mat. I use the yoga block for support, especially the inverted-triangle-pose. I love my yoga teacher and her sense of humour. I love that the stretches and flexes are complementing my running form! I love that I can practice even when i am traveling and did so during my last road trip during thanksgiving. I can quietly flex and breathe in the solace of my guest space without waking anyone up and without a mat! I love that every time I believe I have mastered the asana, there is always a more challenging one.
So yoga is here to stay and I want to stay on top of it like brushing my teeth taking inspiration from amma; who is undeterred by anything for her 30 minutes of morning pranayamas; be it a flight or train journey come morning, she is breathing herself to good health!
Evolving goals and challenges are always fun. Practicing yoga and keeping up running is mine, hopefully forever!
Stay hydrated! Eat sensibly! Exercise like you own the world!