You know how it is – we never give any importance to what we have in our backyard. We go searching all over the world for it. Paulo Coelho wrote an entire novel on it. Remember “The Alchemist”? So it is with most of us Indians – we ignore yoga that has been around for centuries and go hit the gym, join a Zumba class, sign up for aerobics, enroll for Pilates and so on and so forth.
I got acquainted with yoga in my late thirties and took to it immediately. With our near nomadic lifestyle, we have changed 4 residences and 3 cities in the past decade and I have had different yoga instructors.
Some of the things I love about yoga are:
- There is no rush – we really have to take it slow on the mat which is a big contrast from our everyday life. The time that we get to just slow down is such a huge boon. Of course I refer to conventional yoga and not power yoga.
- Our body responds even if we don’t reach the final stage of an asana – there is no pressure to complete. The aim is to be comfortable – everything else will follow. If you cannot do a headstand, there are so many other asanas that give you similar benefit.
- The rest between asanas is at least as much as the asana hold time – to put that clearly, if you hold an asana for 15 breath counts (1 inhale and 1 exhale is 1 breath), then the rest should be for minimum 15 breath counts, if not more, before we start the next asana.
- I dont dread pulling out my mat for yoga – unlike the HIIT when I literally have to talk myself into pulling on my shoes. I know that even though HIIT will give me a toned body, the process hurts. Whereas yoga is a breeze – it is more of a relaxation than the burn.
- It has definitely helped calm me down – from always trying to look at ticking off the next item on the list, I have learnt to be a bit more relaxed. Of course, for a person like me, complete, total relaxation is not possible at all but yes – I have slowed down.
- I am on the path of learning to meditate – slowly getting better at this.
- It has driven so many aches and pains away – my chronic lower back pain has disappeared now.
- My stamina and endurance have gone up.
Now obviously, when there are so many positives, there have to be some cons too. My viewpoint of the cons of yoga:
- It has become an elite pastime – the fees being charged for regular yoga classes ensures that it will never reach the masses. They need it the most – our farmers, laborers, blue collar workers and other lower income groups – but can they afford Rs. 1000/- a month to attend classes? The amount I have mentioned is on the lower side for yoga classes. What we need is a national movement to spread yoga across the length and breadth of the country – maybe many public yoga Kendra to be set up in residential areas – where yoga is taught to all at nominal rates.
- The various offshoots of yoga that have come – hot yoga, beer yoga etc to name a few – should be banned. Or we should at least have a patent and say, don’t call it yoga.
- There are hardly a handful of schools that have yoga as part of the curriculum. Maybe a law should be passed to start the day with a yoga period.
- The governments could do more for making yoga a way of life than just making sure that our mats are rolled out during International Yoga Day.
I am sure that yoga can be the first step to a healthier nation and can really help cure us of many lifestyle diseases. Here is hoping and praying that our nation wakes up to the ancient art of yoga and get it benefits soon. 🙂