In Hindi, there is a word, 'bulawa' – used to indicate that it is only when He wills, will one actually set out on the journey (to the holy place) of one's intent... and at times, even when there was no intention to do so.
Sometime in early 2019, I remember a dear friend telling me about these Yo-ga classes she attended and suggested I sign up too. I politely declined then without much thought. A year passed by, and it was in the third week of March 2020, that I actually found myself at the Yoga studio, attending a class.
We started with the invocation – the sacred word 'Om' being said three times, followed by the prayer to sage Patanjali, the founder of Yoga and our Guru, BKS Iyengar or Guruji, as he is commonly referred to as. I remember being instructed to stand with 'heels out, toes in' – the opposite of Chaplin, as the Yoga teacher called it. After the class got over, the Yoga teacher suggested I come in a little early the next time so that I could register for the morning classes at 7 am.
That weekend of course, life, as we all knew it, literally came to a standstill. A few days later, the Yoga teacher reached out to tell us she was starting online classes. It took us quite a few sessions to correctly position our laptops/ mobile phones so that our teacher could watch and correct us as we did the asanas. In those uncertain times, the classes grounded us, brought us together.
My first inkling that I had set out on a journey like no other was when our teacher announced that she would not be charging any fees - this was her way of supporting the society during these trying times. The morning class, twice a week, gave me a reason to get up early, sit and watch with awe as the seasoned practitioners deftly moved from one asana to another, and acknowledge the limitations of my own body.
As she guides us into an asana, very often our teacher gives us an insight into what the asana means and does to the organic body within. She draws parallels with little things that happen in one's life, the involuntary way we use our body, and the long-term damage that some of these wrong practices can have. For example, some of us sleep with our tongue curled up against the palate of our mouth - this suggests that our brain is in constant overdrive. The tongue must be trained to rest in the lower jaw instead.
During Yoga, we use a lot of props - blankets, chair, bricks, belts, and bolster Our teacher tells us that our Guruji devised these props to help us with the asanas. At times, she gets us to do the asana - initially without the props and the second time, with the help of the prop to help us appreciate the role they play. Do you see the analogy here? Alone, we may find it difficult to accomplish something.. but with the right help, we can.
The invocation at the start of the class has an energizing effect and prepares you for what is to follow. Over time, the names of (most of) the asanas have become familiar.. gone are the days when I would peer into the 'gallery view' hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the seasoned practitioners perform the asana that was being asked of us. Though, I must confess, some asanas come easier than others, and then there are some which this body is yet to mold itself to. After years of neglect, getting the body to behave is indeed a task, but I tell myself, these are baby steps one has to take.
With the lifting up of the lockdown restrictions, the online classes have turned hybrid. Never a morning person, I do not know what it is that has brought about this change – I am able to make it to the in-person classes at 5.45 a.m. There is a sense of belonging and familiarity there.
Somewhere on this journey to take better care of the body, I have started to appreciate the rich legacy left to us by our forefathers, and their deep understanding of the human anatomy.. and somewhere along the way, it has seeped into my soul.. I do not know when the shift happened.. but there is a word in Marathi, 'Yog' meaning 'the time is right'..