One of the new year memes that landed in my inbox says: Don't get too excited about this new year stuff. Only the calendar has changed. The spouse, job and targets remain the same.
True. Despite all the new year hoo-ha, our lives mostly remain the same. Unless you want to change yourself. There is something about the new year that is promising. It is also a great time to start afresh. I, for one, never fail to make resolutions. And in all these years, my steady practice of yoga has stood me in good stead at this. Yoga is a great tool to bring about changes in our lives.
One of my fellow practitioners at the studio (let's call her A) confided in me that she has stopped having sweets and reduced the intake of sugar in her diet. A had the habit of munching on chocolates after every meal, a habit she was not proud of but like all habits, this too was difficult to shirk off. After many attempts at “de-addiction” she had given up. After a few months of steady yoga practice, she was able to give it up as easily as she started it. “Could it be yoga?” she asked me gingerly. I told her I was happy she recognised the connection. To her credit, A has been a dedicated yoga practitioner and did her abhyasa mindfully.
Recently, I came across the news of Hollywood actor Lindsay Lohan taking up meditation to help her get back to her career. LiLo's trysts with drugs and law have made headlines many times. She got familiar with yoga during her de-addiction retreat. Singer Ellie Golding calls yoga a powerful drug that always gives her a high without substance. Hollywood's 'Hermione' Emma Watson wants to be a yoga instructor when she is not acting. Material girl Madonna's love for yoga is known to everyone. West is embracing yoga like never before.
It has long been considered in the Indian tradition that man is a combination of mind, body and soul. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means yoking. The yogic practice is aimed at bringing these three things in harmony. What we often forget is that our body has the innate wisdom to know what it needs. We thrust new learnings upon it and fail to recognise the signals the body sends out resulting in various ailments of both mind and body. Yoga is a way to reconnect with our body. Like my friend A experienced, once that mind-body connection is established, your mind will register what your body wants. Your body will return the favour by avoiding external stimuli to keep your mind happy.
The mind is a good servant, but a poor master. As a shrink friend once said, our mind often behaves like a mad monkey bitten by a snake. There is no better tool than yoga to bring this monkey mind under control because yoga abhyasa uses both svasa (breathing) and drishti (focus) to improve the mind's capacity to think and act better.
The yoga world is full of life-changing experiences. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga instructor Deepika Mehta had a fall from a height of 40ft that crushed her ankles. Her doctors said she would not walk again. Deepika is a well-known yoga instructor now. Kundalini yoga fame Tomy Rosen was a drug addict before he turned to yoga for help. He has written many books on how to save yourself through yoga and travels the world to teach Kundalini yoga. Renowned yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar was a sickly child before he found solace and health in yoga. "My poor health was matched, as it often is when one is sick, by my poor mood," Iyengar wrote in his book Light on Life. "A deep melancholy overtook me, and at times I asked myself whether life was worth the trouble of living."
Yoga is undoubtedly a powerful vehicle for change. Now ask yourself: Do you want to change yourself for the better this new year? If yes, you know where to turn to for help.