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Out of many things, I learnt to respect my boundaries and my limitations, it taught me to be patient with myself. Yoga encouraged me to be curious about my relationships, not only with others, but with myself- my body, thoughts and food.
Covid’19 hit me like it hit many. It brought with it financial losses, job insecurity, tested a lot of my relationships, and I know and acknowledge that I am far more privileged than many others around the world for whom this pandemic has been way more catastrophic.
I don’t know if I should thank the pandemic in anyway, but it did bring perspective to life. If not for this pandemic, I would have never pursued my love for Yoga, mindfulness and well-being. I would not have thought of living in a city like Mysore to attain 200 hours of professional training at Yoga Sattwa, Mysuru. I was lucky to have met some of the loveliest people, saw some beautiful places and received the learning that I will carry with me through my life.
Most of us know that in order to lead a fulfilling life, we need some form of physical exercise and yet, not everyone is able to manage that. We live in a fast-paced, modern world riddled with challenges like a pandemic and one of failings of this world is that ‘time is luxury’. We’re constantly trying to get so much out of 24 hours in a day that we’re deprived of the opportunity to take care of ourselves.
We are experts when it comes to lavishly expending energy but not so much at renewing it. However, if we truly value our life, and our well-being, we must take a conscious decision to prioritize ourselves and try to not squander away the little time we get in this busy world. The fun part is we can choose the kind of exercise that we enjoy, from an array of options available. This would also help in maintaining consistency, which is very important and quite often a big challenge for most of us.
The onslaught of pandemic has changed this world in more than one way and maybe forever, this is one of the biggest crises known to our world in the last tens of decades. Not that we need anyone to tell us this, but there are many research that call attention to grave impact on our physical, physiological, psychological and social being led by anxiety due to unpredictability, depressing reality, constant negativity and prolonged stress caused by Covid’19. And it becomes even more significant to pause and zoom out to think about how we’ve been taking our body, mind and the entire self for granted and realise the impact of it.
Without trying to put a positive spin on the pandemic, the fact remains that most of the services & deliveries have moved to the ease of online methods and a large chunk of people have to stay at home. One has to take a call as to how we use this technology and extra time to effectively manage the challenges we face in the pandemic.
If you’re looking at complete well-being and an activity that offers a comprehensive approach involving weight management, mindfulness and right knowledge for complete nourishment of body- Yoga is your one stop solution.
Traditional practise of Yoga is very different from today’s dynamic forms of exercises, where you’re required to build extra muscles that you may not essentially need in life or loose fat that is actually required to protect your organs. Yoga doesn’t just stand for stretching or slow movement of body. It is a systematic practise that involves physical movement and co-ordinated breaths to relax & calm one’s mind, boost self- confidence and get in tune with your own body, mind and environment to exist in harmony.
Yoga achieves this in totality through several streams like Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, Ayurveda and more. The best part is that it can be done without any equipment using your body weight, in the comfort of your home. Yoga benefits our body physically by improving our flexibility, muscle strength and body balance and the regular practise also offer several physiological & psychological benefits, people have experienced improvement in respiratory system, alleviation of stress and anxiety and better functioning of digestive and excretory system. There are said to be as many asanas as there are species of living beings and as per Tantric philosophy there are 84 lakh asanas and since asana practise can be done indoors and without any props, it means there is something for everybody to practise.
Everyone can reap the benefits of Yoga, irrespective of age, gender, location, or physical conditions. All you need to do is, acquire the right knowledge or have an expert of a teacher, who understands the Yama Niyama of being a yoga teacher.
Two of the most important yet less practiced aspects of Yoga, that are absolutely important in these times are Yoga Nidra and Pranayama. Yoga Nidra, also known as Yogic sleep, is one of deepest kinds of relaxation. It is the state between wakefulness and sleep. We all experience this phenomenon for a few minutes twice every day, in the night and in the morning. The idea of Yoga Nidra is to sustain this stage from few minutes to even going up to 1 hour progressively.
Yoga Nidra is known to help people suffering from insomnia and enhance learning by complete absorption. It helps you declutter your mind and accept the state of the body and mind as it is.
Another extremely powerful segment of Yoga is Pranayama. Whether it’s the ancient philosophy of Hath Yoga, Tantric Yoga or Bhakti Yoga, Pranayama plays an important role in all disciplines. Simply put, pranayama is the regulation of breath using frequency, timings and even duration. If done correctly it cleanses toxins and activates the para-sympathetic nervous system which is also known as rest and digest mode. It calms and synchronises mind and body and it is said to have the ability to cure many ailments. However, if done incorrectly, it has the potential to activate your sympathetic nervous system which disturbs our homeostasis and invites a lot of diseases. Hence, it is crucial to be careful with pranayama practise and ideally it should be introduced after months of regular asana and breathing exercises, so your body is ready to reap the benefits of it.
When practising Yoga, also known as personal sadhana, it is important to set personal themes and affirmations to make your practise wholesome and beneficial during these times. Goals or affirmations have nothing to do with achieving a certain posture. It can be something as simple as being mindfully present on the mat or surrendering yourself to the flow of practise.
What works for me is, not talking to anyone during my practise- no phone calls, no disturbance which is why it is better to do it in the morning before the day’s madness begins. And, in order to monitor these goals, it is essential to journal your practise.
Journaling can be based on experience or observation of body, breath and mind. The notes are personal and can be unique and very simple.
Journaling not only helps in tracking progress of your sadhana but also brings you closer to your body and you start respecting and appreciating for what it is than what it should be. You also learn a great deal about what your body needs and doesn’t need. For instance, let’s say you consumed some food or drinks previous night that your body didn’t really need. Maybe you spent a lot of energy doing something you didn’t need or maybe you spent too much time overthinking something you had no control over, everything is reflected in your practice the next morning. In a subtle way, your personal sadhana starts communicating with you and slowly you learn to listen to it.
Yoga has another segment that could really help us during anxious times like a pandemic, it is called the Triguna theory, from Bhagavad Gita. It is essentially three states or natures that reside in every individual, place, food, work, relationship or conversation.
The three states are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is balanced, rajas is passionate and tamas is dull. In explaining the modality of Sadhana, it is said that all Sadhanas have a twofold mission that is, cultivation of Sattva and eradication of the dominance of Rajas and Tamas. The Sattvic mind is known to be of spiritual quality, rajasic of active quality and tamas of material quality.
It is very difficult to be in one state of mind for most individuals given the kind of world we live in and also because rajas and tamas are extremely powerful, one can’t simply ignore it, but effort should always be to choose sattvic way of living. The idea is to placate and coax rajas and tamas till sattva becomes one’s dominant nature. As per Bhagavad Gita, however one must transcend all the stages to attain liberation, the kaivalya state.
Like many, it was Yoga Asanas that got me attracted to Yoga, but I have come to learn and appreciate that there is much more to Yoga than just Asanas. It has the ability to transform you as an individual, if you have the willingness to learn.
Out of many things, I learnt to respect my boundaries and my limitations, it taught me to be patient with myself. Yoga encouraged me to be curious about my relationships, not only with others, but with myself- my body, thoughts and food. My favourite part from my learning, apart from the asanas, is the learning of Ayurveda. It has brought so much clarity about so many things about my body. The knowledge of Doshas in Ayurveda has been one of learnings I will always be thankful for, and I hope I have an opportunity to dive a bit deeper into this vast ocean of knowledge.
When it comes to Yoga, we now know there is something for everybody and for beginners, we could start small yet strong with regular asana practise incorporating long breaths, preferably in the morning, before we start engaging with anyone or anything (read- our phones) and not clutter our mind. We should get into the habit of journaling, be it asana practise journal, food journal, thoughts journal or mediation journal it gives us the overall emotional well-being and happiness. We must practise Yoga Nidra and Pranayama regularly to improve mindfulness by deep relaxation. And always choose Sattvic way of life, when it comes to our Interactions, by choosing compassion love and truth or Food, by choosing food and the quality that our body needs and not wants or Work, by being productive and progressive without stressing ourselves too much and asana practise, by being patient with our body and not push ourselves beyond what body can take.
Images source: Dinky Chhabria
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Dinky Chhabria is a Director operations at Scroll.in, a digital news publication. She is
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