Some consider it a passing fad, others think its a way of life. To me it was a powerful vortex that sucked everything in. It started pretty innocuously, just a sun salutation to round off our morning practice. Slowly it grew and consumed every other constituent of our daily constitutional. Now let me begin at the beginning.
Much before home gyms became a rage we had installed a treadmill, cross trainer and multi- functional weight station in a spare room to control our expanding waistlines. The idea was that we would be compelled to put our mouth where our money was. That the room was opposite the kitchen didn’t help matters and because it was located near the front door, guests would get a glimpse of our swanky gym as they passed. They would curiously look at the facility and us inhabitants, all pleasantly rotund and wonder what was amiss. Tired of the probing questions that followed I had devised the perfect rebuttal. When they asked whether we used the equipment I would reply that we had hired a person to use it for us!
Over the years, due to misuse, disuse and well, some use, the equipment had slowly disintegrated. I never replaced the broken pulley or the worn out belt for I was on to newer things. I had shunned external devices and was now using my own weight to lose weight. I had become an online exercise enthusiast and followed YouTube videos . It gave me the freedom to change exercise regimes and instructors at will.
After years of sweating out alone, at the beginning of this year I started exercising with a friend. We were doing aerobics and Zumba, the amount my aging body would allow. When my friend suggested adding suryanamaskar to our workout, I readily agreed. I liked the idea of two minutes of Yoga to silence my mother who being an enthusiastic yogi herself has been after me to try it.
Saluting the sun was tougher than I thought. I could barely reach my ankles, the floor was much further away. I would somehow contort myself into one pose when the instructor would move on to the next. As I huffed and puffed my way through the sequence without getting a single aasan right I realised how unfit I was.
Greatly humbled , I decided to add fifteen minutes of basic yoga to increase my flexibility. The problem with Yoga is it appears sedate vis-à-vis the sweaty adrenaline rush of aerobics. It seems easy till you try it. Every time my mum had recommended it in the past, I had dismissed her saying that I didn’t have time to lie around doing nothing. Now I realised that child pose is not child play and with a stiff rod for a backbone mimicking the agile cat, dog and cobra isn’t easy. It was difficult enough to imitate these lowly creatures, emulating the mighty warriors and gracefully balancing Gods seemed impossible.
As I gradually conformed to this ancient science the benefits were almost immediately apparent. The morning stiffness and evening aches vanished. My stride improved and stairs became less of a challenge. After years, I felt loose, more pliable. I still need the support of hands to get off the floor but now they are my own, earlier someone else had to pull me up.
Yoga has slowly become the main ingredient of my exercise regimen. I am still a beginner level yogi but have realised that it is a complete workout for strength, stamina and flexibility. My mum, the advanced yogi, is now nudging me in the direction of Pranayama….but who has the time to sit around and just breathe!
( published in the Hindustan Times on 7/12/2017)