Towards the end of the class, while waiting to unwind on our mats, the yoga teacher asks each of us to come up with a personal statement and silently repeat it three times with conviction.
The affirmation needs to be short and positive, and my mind immediately jumps to a future self free of worries and pain. ‘I am healthy,’ I utter the words in my mind’s voice. ‘I am healthy and happy.’ ‘I am at peace.’
When I first tried yoga almost two years ago, it was my way of choosing to heal my aching body and unwind after the stress of a two-hour commuting office job and recurrent lower back pain (worsened by the said commuting).
It was high time for a change, a new beginning, aside from rethinking career prospects. Unhappy about some things and overwhelmed by others, I knew I had to start somewhere: with my body-mind relationship.
Perhaps yoga was a convenient choice in a moment of despair and hopelessness. Still, I found the support I craved in my bi-weekly yoga sessions, and I never looked back.
‘I am healthy and happy.’ As my body felt more centred and alive, these words became essential to my physical and spiritual healing.
Yoga was more than just a means to move the body and give it purpose. It meant more than lessening the burden of backache, which happened with regular practice.
The transformation had been fantastic. It had taken several months of various classes to find what was best for my body and settle on a comfortable and therapeutic pace.
Here’s what I learned: The physical part of yoga is as easy or as complex as you want it to be. You decide. You don’t have to aim for the headstand unless you want to do it. I don’t.
Early on, my body told me to be patient and not to hurry. I only had to move through the poses (asanas), breathe deeply, observe my thoughts and never judge them. Listen to your body, the teacher said.
‘I am at peace.’ This has been my most recent mantra after breaking through my physical barrier to better health, posture, and vitality. I am no longer on autopilot, anxious and powerless, but on a new path of higher consciousness.
Balance, harmony, and peace of mind. This is yoga’s ultimate gift.
As I’m going through a torrent of thoughts and emotions, I close my eyes and gently push my body into the softness of my exercise mat. A sort of acceptance and gratitude washes over me, perfect in its imperfection, as it should be. Breathe in, breathe out.
So here I am, in the child’s pose, laying face down on my mat, alone but not lonely, surrounded by other yogis, practising mindfulness and making peace with my bodily sensations.
I take it in, all of it. There is no pain, only the discomfort of knowing or not knowing. I embrace the feeling and let it pass. I have to live with my emotions, my thoughts, my everything. Yoga is about me.
This story was published in Molshoop magazine, November 2022, on pages 38-39. Click here to view it.