On International Yoga Day today, it is heartening to see all the attention that is directed towards Yoga. While some of it may seem like hype, it is important to focus how Yoga has been adopted with open arms all over the world. Before the West made it fashionable, this quiet form of living has been enriching our lives for centuries. If all this attention makes more people take up this discipline, there can be nothing more beneficial for our body or mind.
My own tryst with Yoga began way back in college. Extremely thin and with very inflexible joints, I started doing a few asanas at home after watching my sister who had joined a Yoga class. I did Yoga for a few months and then dropped it caught as I was with a bunch of other activities. I guess Yoga was not a priority back then.
Fast forward to that time in 2003 when I moved to Bangalore. With a toddler son, a hectic job and Bangalore’s dreaded respiratory allergies, that monsoon was the toughest in my life. I was battling respiratory allergies on a daily basis. Visits to doctors didn’t really help as we all know how anti-allergy medication does not cure, just alleviates some of the problems and progressively not even that. Thoroughly defeated, I turned to my father. He had been practicing Yoga for 30 years. It helped him immensely with his back issues. He suggested Pranayam to me.
He explained how breathing was the core of all respiratory issues and making your respiratory tract stronger was one of the ways of dealing with respiratory allergies. Of course, I was told that there were no quick fixes and with regularity one will see changes. Well, I was ready to try it out desperate as I was. Few months down the line and I could see real changes. My lungs filled completely with air. I felt more in control of my stress. Being a young mother is stressful and Yoga helped me a lot. Breathing helps you handle stress and relax your body and I was feeling better now. Meanwhile, I incorporated Surya Namaskar and other asanas that helped strengthen my core and spine. Yes, I referred to Baba Ramdev’s videos, the much-maligned guy now whose Yoga videos are priceless.
To cut a long story short, the next year, I was in control of my allergies. Yes, it’s true. And the asanas made my posture better, my limbs more flexible, my balance better. My allergy episodes were down to very few and the intensity had now reduced. I also took to Meditation that helped in handling the daily stresses of life.
I don’t do Yoga regularly but I am reasonably regular with my Pranayam and Surya Namaskar which I incorporate in my other exercise routines as well. A lot of my strength training incorporates Yoga asana like exercises. Yoga will not feel as strenuous as say lifting weights but Yoga exercises all your muscles. It is also easy to customize as per your flexibility. And remember that body-mind harmony that Yoga gives is not found in any other system.
So if you feel cynical with the hype around International Yoga Day, perhaps modifying your thought and embracing Yoga in whatever form that works for you may actually be life changing. Do give it a try for your own sake.