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How Yoga Transformed My Life

At the age of 6, my mother began to drag me to a tiny Yoga school on hot afternoons post-school and it made me want to cry. I was giving up on my beloved afternoon nap just because my mother wanted a new hobby (mostly an excuse to give herself a break from her daily-joint-family-duties).

The only students in that school were other disgruntled housewives who turned up to use the school as an immersive outlet for venting their husband and in-law frustrations. And in between those sweaty, salwar-clad, angry, aunties- I was bored and counted every minute to go home and finally watch some cartoon. But one fine day, the main mentor of that school walked in and saw some potential in me. He induced a little bit of competitiveness (in my already very competitive personality) which got me to start enjoying yoga. However, this love was very short-lived. It dawned upon my mother that I could do better if I didn't partake in some random Yoga competition and use those afternoons to start my math tuitions. I firmly believe she simply got bored with the classes.

Thus ended my tryst with yoga and although I did end up practising taekwondo and tennis for a majority of my school years, I never really bothered much about Yoga. It felt "too slow" and "too boring" for my "high-flying" life. But you can't really run from what's destined for you.
As I graduated into adulthood and a few years of working boring jobs later, I figured that I wasnt cut out for a traditional 9-5, it is then that I started looking up alternative careers which would allow me to be on the move and make money while at it. But like most of my dreams and desires, I failed to follow through on this and with my increaing weight, I kept telling myself that I was nowhere close to being ready to pursue this anyway.

In 2020, the world had come to a standstill, and I lost my job a few months before that, I realized what better time than now to actually re-incorporate yoga into my life. My mother kept raving about this yoga teacher she was taking classes from and asked me to try a few of his classes. Although he was a really great person, his teaching style did not sit well with me. He followed a traditional Hatha Yoga teaching method whereas I was keen on learning vinyasa-style classes. I felt he lacked variety and eventually dropped out of his classes but what those few months of yoga practice did was, it piqued my interest in Ashtanga Vinyasa, and this time it wasn't going away.

A lot happened in my life in 2021- I battled a very severe case of covid, massive depression, gave up my thriving business, and left home- I gained 12-15 kgs almost overnight. My clothes no longer fit, I looked different in pictures and started to feel highly conscious about myself. This is when I started taking my health seriously. Initially, I started going on walks and turning up to the gym in my housing complex but the number on the scale didn't budge. It was around the same time that these Yoga Teacher's Training course adverts kept popping up on my Instagram; it made me feel both excited and nervous because I thought my weight would be a factor and I wouldn't be able to handle the intensity of the course.

Once I exchanged a few emails with the folks at Rishikesh Yoga Association, I felt a sense of calm and decided to just give it a try. Hence, my Yoga journey commenced at my highest recorded weight and after my first class- the morning Hatha session, I genuinely wanted to give up and felt a bit dejected. I even asked the instructor If I would be able to finish the course. He smiled and told me, "it is difficult for everyone". I told myself, that giving up wasn't an option so the only way out was to dive deeper into it, and dive, I did!

We all know that mastering Yoga is difficult and takes years of devoted practice but what nobody ever tells you is that yoga is also going to break you down and crack your heart open until you allow the ancient wisdom of Maharshi Patanjali. Every single day during my yoga asana practice, I had to be present not just on the mat but also for myself, for my every breath, focussing on steadying the postures and after these intense sessions, I could feel a surge of emotions rush into me while also enjoying a very static, bliss. It is this exact euphoria that is entirely addictive and brought me back to the mat every morning and every evening.

While the Hatha sessions were truly difficult, I found a newfound love in Ashtanga Vinyasa. Right from its discipline and rigor to its daily repetition, it provided my soul with exactly what it needed, and it's funny because I yearned to learn this form of yoga for what felt like ages almost as if that Universe beckoned me towards it. And despite my mind being completely busy during the course and my body, completely tired, my outside world slowly crumbled apart. I suffered a huge loss during my course, something I knew nothing about and didn't even think would impact me, my feelings towards my relationship became clear- It wasn't serving me or aligned with my true self and the kind of life I wanted to lead, and my love affair with the city I was living in had run its course and it was time to say goodbye and start preparing for a new adventure.

These realizations may seem very benign at first but then when they start gnawing at your brain late in the night, making it impossible to sleep, is when you understand its intensity. Your heart always knows when it's time to start something new and work towards those. But change is always scary. Having to say goodbye to daily habits and attachments is scary. And this is when one of the most important Yamas from Yogic philosophy helped me.

Aparigraha which means non-possessiveness or non-attachment. It was the one word I fully embraced. I learned that your yoga practice is never just limited to asanas but only when you take into account the whole Ashtanga philosophy, is when changes happen more holistically.

Ashtanga is the eight limb practice of yoga that is made of Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. And anybody who wants to go on a yoga journey must embrace this philosophy to allow any transformation within themselves. And this transformation is going to hit you in the most unexpected ways. Once during our classes, when things got a bit too tiring, our Ashtanga Vinyasa teacher made us go through a restorative Yoga session. Right after the class, I sat there bawling my eyes out for reasons still unbeknownst to me. My tears kept flowing and I had no way to stop them. Maybe it was the trauma of the months before, my past, or the fear of my future, the reason still remains a mystery and I am willing to let it stay that way. Many others go through similar experiences in their Yoga journey, that’s the power of breathwork.

Today I feel more at ease, not just with my decisions regarding my life path but also with my body. There's a certain kind of peace in knowing that I am taken care of by the force above and all I really have to focus on is the present, my breath, take one step at a time and allow life to take care of the rest. Sounds like some hippy-dippy bullshit right? But that's simply how it is. Yes, I do worry often, I still struggle with anxiety that's not going to magically disappear. Yoga isn't some quick-fix pill for all our issues but at least now I know what to do when that happens, I know how to turn inwards. So here’s my transformation story through Yoga and its magic. It might seem a bit unreal at first- too good to be true but isn’t that how all transformations begin?

P.S. Yoga is not a treatment plan if you have been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness and need expert help in managing your mental health.


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