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How Yoga found me

What is yoga? We've heard it be called an exercise, a lifestyle, a discipline, and much more. The only meaning that matters, however, is the one it holds to us as individuals. We've got unique journeys, and thus the significance of a particular something often varies greatly.

Before I begin disclosing the circumstances under which yoga and I intertwined, I had better tell you why, exactly, you'd want to read it. Experienced yogis themselves say they haven't mastered this art, so what would a millennial have to write?

That, dear reader, is my point exactly. Videos of heavily wrinkled 90-year-olds bending every body part a full 180 degrees boost our insecurities every month, thanks to the delight that WhatsApp forwards are. Our feeble attempts to bust out a half camel (aka ardha ustrasana) feel straight-up embarrassing. The point of yoga, however, isn't perfection- it's the process. Regardless of your expertise level, if yoga has made what you feel what it must, anything you have to say vis-à-vis it is worthwhile.

I don't remember the first time I rolled a yoga mat out. My earliest memory is of my mother signing up for yoga classes while I was in primary school. I can still recall her fascinatingly re-enacting everything she'd learnt that day, and proceeding to make my sister and me do them along with her. Our favourite exercise was the one wherein we'd roll our tongues out and pant aggressively, unfailingly culminating in us howling with laughter.

At school, yoga was part of the morning assembly. The auditorium would resound with the quick exhales of kids doing the kapalabati. Once a week, all of us had a 45-minute yoga class. We were taught asanas ranging from the chin mudra to headstands, and my entire section would be thrilled at our turn. If I can lay any lifelong claim to being a yogi in my own right, it would be because of my school's endeavour to introduce young students to this world of energy. Underlined, boldened, and italicized is the defining role educational institutions play in shaping a child's habits and lifestyle.

A couple of years later, I started going to a new school. The incorporation of yoga was slightly different here. 10 minutes per day were devoted to simple facial and breathing exercises, to present to the practicers a sense of rejuvenation. A soothing voice would pour in through the class microphone, and we would follow. One day, I was approached by the girl who instructed us every day; she was nearing the end of her final year there. I happily agreed when she asked me if I could take over from her, and over the next two years, I must have given more instructions to rub palms than I ever have followed.

I've had multiple phases wherein I'd awaken early for yoga, but it never evolved into a ritual that stuck. I have always been more inclined a bit to the chubby side- my parents have thus always been on my case to exercise, exercise, exercise (though, admittedly, I haven't always listened.)

Around three years ago, I discovered I have Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD). I don't get my periods on time (practically never). I went through a stretch of 18 menstruation-less months before I started taking hormonal pills, and god, did I hate them. I had body aches that never let me sleep and reportedly multiplied physically. To put it simply, it was one of the most exhaustive experiences of my life, both physically and emotionally. A week or two ago, my parents proposed me getting back on them, and I very nearly wept at the thought of reliving it all.

We decided to rely upon homeopathy and organic remedies. It has been strongly- and consistently- recommended that I exercise, with a lot of emphasis on yoga. From my doctor to the YouTube gurus, everyone said vouched for the in existence of something this naturally effective. Now, I do 12 sets of Suryanamaskaras which have become a daily ritual. 5-days-a-week yoga classes have waltzed into my schedule and though they may be exhausting, I understand just how much they are worth.

Yoga has found a place in my life at every stage, and the reasons aren't coincidental. A stress-buster, health booster, and strenuous exercise all rolled into one; it is the versatility of this practice that has made it a go-to for generations. Circumstances may change, problems may be new, but our refuge will not.

It's hard to find a child in this country unfamiliar with the basics of yoga, and it is heartening to know how well-versed the globe has become with the copious perks of being a practitioner. The biggest? To be one, you don't need to be dropping jaws with your headstands or meditating for days at a stretch. Taking a step towards aligning your mind, heart, and body- that is what will make you worthy of being called a yogi.

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