I clearly remember the day I walked into a tiny basement yoga studio in New York in the winter of 2004.
I was an exhausted on a sabbatical from work marathoner/triathloner, trying hard to pretend that I did the right thing by quitting a corporate career.
And when I walked in, there was no one, except me and my partner, whom I dragged reluctantly in the lure of, let’s do this, then go for a lovely dinner.
There she was, a young woman Gillian waiting, smiling with lots of calming energy.
As she lit the incense, lit a lamp, dimmed the lights in the studio, my skepticism and that scoff went off in my head, ‘what does she know about Yoga & Indian rituals?
And it took only 10 minutes for my ego & arrogance to vanish and it was replaced by shame, humility, listening & following. And that was it. Yoga took over me completely.
From signing up to daily classes, I began exploring every possible style of yoga that the city was offering. I didn’t scrutinize nor criticize any of them, just observed and took it in with an open heart & mind.
As I pursued Yoga, in what was turning into an obsession, I had an epiphany. One day in spring 2005, in my apartment, overlooking the city and with a slight nip in the air, I felt content to the fullest.
I felt I needed to go no further than this.Listening to a bird chirping made me realize that I didn’t want more than what I have now. This is my life and this is how it’s going to be.
And at that moment, I also felt this desire, this uncontrollable desire to express & share what I have experienced practicing Yoga. My thoughts were, if only they could feel the happiness & contentment I am feeling right now.
And that kick started my journey into Yoga..
When I started writing this blog, I wanted to write more on the experience I had at the wonderful Sivananda Ashram in Kerala where I underwent Teacher Training 11 years ago and made friends with lasting relationships for a lifetime.
Yes, it changed my life completely. It changed my perception completely. In fact my life turned a full 360 degrees after that.
But as I am writing this, its become more and more clear to me how Yoga has impacted every aspect of my life. Be that in me, in my relationships, in my life and in my loss.
From fragmented complicated relationships to an accident that almost took my life away to the irreparable loss of my suffering parents to loss of broken relationships. In all this it was Yoga that stood like a rock next to me.
It goaded me, made me think, made me realize the innumerable mistakes I made, made me see my flaws but also gently made me aware of my vulnerabilities, of letting go, of not being selfish, of being rightly selfish when the need was there. It was just this philosophy that kept me going.
It’s been almost 12 years since Yoga welcomed me with open arms and when I reflect back, especially now in 2016, I can’t thank enough as to what it did to me as a spiritual being trying to live a balanced life in this world.
It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions in 2016 too, and under the current circumstances, I can only thank this wonderful ancient philosophy from my country India, that has changed millions of lives and continues to do so.
And one thing I can tell you, take pride in this country, take pride in it’s culture and acknowledge the contribution it has given to the world, with all it’s flaws.
So when someone asks me, what is Yoga? I say Yoga is you, Yoga is me, Yoga is everybody and Yoga is nobody.
It’s not just a practice of meditation & Asanas. It’s life, it’s love, it’s the very core of your being. You don’t ‘Do’Yoga, it’s already there.
The way you live your life is Yoga.