I was one of those people who was always annoyed that anyone I met usually expected me to be really into yoga and meditation and the like. Why? Why did they assume this? Well, because I’m from India. And it pissed me off. It felt like I was being squeezed into this little stereotype they had been fed or had concocted by themselves, by virtue of their own wild imaginations. The only purpose their annoying selves and their assumptions served was to push me as far away from these activities as possible. I wanted to be least like the stereotypes they wanted to cast me in. I will be honest: I did attend a couple of yoga classes that an ex-bf’s (Mr. Busy, remember him?) mom taught, but that was years ago. Also, she’s Greek and for some strange reason that made it a little better. It was mostly because I wanted to bond with her…and didn’t know how to tell her what I actually thought of it.
“Hot” yoga, especially, made me scoff. Why the hell (!) were they practicing it in a room heated to 40°C when in India yoga’s practiced early in the morning to avoid the intense heat of the day? So much I just couldn’t—nay, wouldn’t make my peace with. If I wanted to practice yoga, I would’ve done so while I lived in India, right? But we take so much for granted when it’s easily available and there’s no need to pay through the nose for it.
To get to my point, recently a friend told me she was thinking of taking up yoga. There are quite a few popular yoga studios a 15 minute walk away from where I live (She lives two streets down from me) and I suggested some to her. We decided on one that offers “hot” yoga, wouldn’t you know it. But, in my defense, they were offering the best deal! As it turned out, I signed up for the awesome introductory deal (2 weeks unlimited for $20) and my friend did not.
Man, have I eaten my words since that first class! I sweated through the surprisingly effective poses, almost puked within the first 10 minutes, almost fainted within the next 20, and came back full circle to almost puking again. I tried telling the instructor about how sick I was feeling and she suggested I lie down until the sickness passes and get up whenever—and if—I feel like it, to continue with the class, which I did a few times during those 75 minutes.
I came to the realisation that it was probably because I wasn’t well-hydrated, plus I’d eaten barely 45 minutes before the class and I was wearing these Lululemon yoga pants that are designed for warmth. (Feel free to roll your eyes at me.) I’ve fainted in India’s heat before and I’m pretty sure that after having been in Canada for a while my sweat glands had gone into hibernation (but they’re nice and active now. TMI?). That’s to say, I probably got overheated too.
But I went back for a second class (chose a 60-minute one this time), a third, a fourth, breezing through a 90-minute fifth class, so on, so forth…And now I’m hooked. I just signed up for a month’s unlimited lessons (no great deal there, sadly…). I’m learning which classes are least crowded and in which ones I’ll be forced to have a mere inch between my neighbour and me. The classes are a medley of people of all ages, of all levels of advancement in yoga. It was tempting, at first, to compare myself to others, but I quickly realised that there were poses at which I fared well and there were poses in which others were more advanced than I. So I let go of trying to keep up with the rest. I challenge my body to beat itself, to bend and twist deeper into poses than it could earlier, surprising myself with newfound strength and range of flexibility every once in a while.
And I don’t care anymore about why they want to practice yoga in such a hot room when in India blah blah blah. All I know is it feels great. Whatever they’re doing, I’m loving it. Sure, if I want to make this a daily thing I have to wash my hair every single day and that’s a hassle for someone like me who has super curly hair that’s a bit of a pain to straighten, but when I walk out of that class I feel so good. I breathe better. I think more clearly. I feel perkier, more cheerful, more active, more balanced, less stressed. When I’m there, I’m thinking only of myself, my body, my mind, my breath. Not of work and deadlines, not of friends and nights out, and not of phone calls and texts. My embarrassingly pink mat becomes a 6’x2′ oasis of calming space. (I did stop being embarrassed by it once I saw a man walk in with an even pink-er yoga mat.)
I feel healthier. I feel like eating healthy foods. I actually bought fruit after maybe a year or something. And I’ve been going to the trouble of actually making oatmeal with apples and bananas and berries for breakfast. Do you know what a big deal that is? I mean, I generally like to eat cake and Belgian waffles for breakfast. Preferably with some melted chocolate and Canadian maple syrup on the side. No joke.
The only downside is that, sometimes, after these classes my legs feel too tired for heels. That, I kinda am not thrilled about. But it’s a side-effect I can deal with. I might miss a train or two, but I like my extra 4-5 inches of height. Yoga won’t make me taller. Or will it…? I’d still wear heels though.
But, I shall still clarify, I practice yoga not because of where I’m from, but because I wholly enjoy it.