So here I am, after a round of Surya Namaskars (Sun salutations), pranayama and meditation with a cup of green tea in one hand still staring at a now not so blank screen. I was hoping the meditation would help me calm my mind and gather my thoughts and so it did. As I reflect back on the past to write about my journey so far, I realised how everything has shaped me to be the person I am today.
I was raised in a small town called amravati and grew up close to nature surrounded by all the good things in life. Things that we strive and struggle for in big cities to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a part of my everyday life growing up. Things that I took for granted like being served organic food from farm to the table.
Having lost my mother at an early age, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and in a way was brought up by her. She became the influential female figure in my life. Having belonged to a family of revolutionaries who were a part of Indian’s freedom struggle, she was a strong woman with a set of principles she always adhered to; full of wisdom and poise. Naturally, the ancient Indian wisdom and traditional rituals of health, beauty, wellness and living in general became a part of my life. Things like bathing everyday with a mix of gram flour and milk instead of a shower gel, using face mask with sandalwood and saffron, always oiling my hair with coconut oil before washing them and washing them with a herbal mixture called shikakai. Turmeric milk or now Known as golden latte has always been a go to recipe for me whenever I feel a little under the weather.
Not only did she pass down all these ancient beauty and wellness rituals but also little pearls of wisdom that she had tucked away in her mind ready to impart when the occasion arrived. Those anecdotes mostly came from the Bhagvad Gita. I grew up imbibing the essence of the Gita taught to me by her never imagining it would plant a seed of the quest of self-realisation deep in my consciousness. Though this curiosity and spiritual calling wasn’t addressed until much later.
Inner beauty is as important as outer beauty and even though I always took care of my outer beauty through all these rituals that were handed down to me, the only effort I was expending towards taking care of my inner beauty was the healthy organic food that I ate with a generous serving of pure ghee. It was after I finished my education that I stumbled upon yoga. And as we all know, this 5000 year old practice originating at the foot of the Himalayas in the valley of the Ganges, is known to slow down the degeneration of body and mind caused due to ageing. In yoga we say, you are only as young as your spine is flexible.
‘Me? Yoga? Nah! Its not my cup of tea. I feel it’s too slow for me and neither am I that flexible’. This was me a few years back. I was visiting Tulum which is a small eco-friendly town on the coast of Mexico. One morning I woke up relatively early and my friend Dorit excitedly said to me, ‘‘Oh, by the way Sne, we have booked us a yoga class today’. She turned around to look at me and I don’t think the reaction that I had on my face was what she was expecting. ‘But we are on a holiday!’ I exclaimed. I had never practiced yoga before until then and I was the only indian attending the class. As I entered the palapa, I saw a yogi waiting for the teacher in a headstand. I thought to myself, ‘how long has he been like this?’. He seemed completely at ease upside down on his head with his eyes closed. As soon as it sunk in, I turned to Dorit and asked her if that was what we would be doing as well. I started having my doubts about going through with the class but before my friends could not see me for dust, the teacher arrived. We started with our 90 minutes yoga session, I took breaks, I could barely hold some of the asanas and altogether avoided a few others. When people were doing splits and head-stands I was thinking to myself that this is something I am never going to be able to do in this lifetime. The practice had given me a glimpse into how yoga would make me feel if I incorporated it in my everyday life. How small changes would at some point lead to a complete transformation. How in that one practice I had gotten to know myself a little better than I did before. So what if it was difficult? So what if it needed persistence, perseverance and dedication? The best of the things do! One thing I was sure about was that in the end it would be worth it. There was no looking back after that.
Now you know that if 9 years back in Tulum I would have given up just because it was difficult, I would have never experienced the most amazing transformation I have had in my life so far. And it is never about reaching the final goal of mastering an asan. What made not giving up worth it was the journey, the growth, what you learn on the way to mastering the pose, the falling out of a pose a hundred times and still wanting to wake up the next day and do it all over again. Such practise builds patience, builds character and makes one ready to deal with what life throws at you with an open heart and a strong will to overcome any challenges that one may face. After all it says a lot about a person who doesn’t give up fighting and can be calm in the middle of whatever storm one faces in one’s life.