I’ve been doing yoga since I was quite young. Wait, that makes me sound too disciplined. I’ve been doing yoga on and off since I was quite young. When I was in school, I was part of a dance troupe, and we once performed “snake dance”. It involved wearing a shiny costume with a snake hood and writhing and wriggling on stage to snake-charmer music. It sounds silly, but it was actually a pretty decent display of flexibility – a lot of our poses are things you’ll see in advanced yoga, just done at a faster pace and in group formation. I was pretty good at it, if I say so myself. I was never particularly thin, even as a young girl, but I was fit and I was very flexible.
I’m still quite flexible, but not nearly as fit, which is why I’m trying to put yoga back into my regular routine. What I like about yoga is that size doesn’t matter. I find that running and other aerobic exercises depend a lot on size – if you’re larger, it’s harder to do them, and the possibility of injury is greater. Yoga also provides a lot of modifications, so people can choose what they’re comfortable with based on their degree of flexibility and strength. It’s this strength part that I like most about yoga. I’ve been doing it every alternate day for the past few months and I realise that I can sweat as much as I do with aerobic exercise, but that I feel a lot stronger as opposed to drained. I once started a 55-minute session of yoga on YouTube thinking I was going to sweat it out, before realising that it was yin yoga, which involves sitting in one posture for up to five minutes at a time. I almost switched to another video, because I thought it wouldn’t be enough of a workout, but curiosity kept me going and it turned out to be pretty energising, even though there wasn’t a lot of movement.
I’ve mentioned that I don’t much like travelling in Bangalore when I don’t need to, so for now, I’m sticking to YouTube videos and doing the sessions at home since I already have a decent amount of experience to not need supervision. On some level, I find it amusing that I, an Indian woman, am taking yoga instructions from mostly white ladies, but even if I do chuckle at their pronunciations of the different asanas, I can’t deny that they’ve all been good teachers. Most of them are patient and understanding (yes, this shows even through a computer screen) and make yoga a holistic experience, rather than just sticking to poses. Often, there are breathing and meditation exercises included in these sessions, and there’s an emphasis on slowly getting better and stronger in all ways rather than pushing yourself to exhaustion.
I recently saw a video of some 90-year-old woman doing advanced yoga, and it was quite inspiring. I’m also slowly trying to get rid of the mentality of size and weight being related to fitness, focusing on the latter and hoping the former will follow suit. And I don’t know if yoga is helping me lose weight, but it’s definitely helping me feel fitter, and I think that’s what matters right now.