When did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing Bikram Yoga four years ago, but I had learned other styles of yoga while growing up in India. Yoga was an integral part of our life. We would practice sun salutations, alternate nostril breathing and om chanting every morning with our grandparents. It was an after dinner ritual to sit in vajrasana [kneeling pose] and talk about our day.
I was formally introduced to yoga during my summer break in second grade. The emphasis was more on controlled breathing exercises, which increased the supply of oxygen to the brain, thus increasing our focus and concentration.
Now, when I go on a vacation to India, I look forward to the practice of advanced techniques like Yoga Nidra or Chakra Meditation or Mind Sound Resonance Technique.
What brought you to BYX?
I had been complaining of a stiff neck and chronic back pain. My gut feeling was to stay away from painkillers and cure the disease, not just treat the symptoms. With the determination to live more holistically, I tried a couple of healing regimens and finally settled on Bikram Yoga. I was sure the heat and the meticulously designed beginner series with emphasis on spine strengthening exercises would mitigate my pain.
Why do you keep coming?
The friendly and fun-loving environment at BYX brightens up even a dull day. I love the nonjudgmental attitude of my teachers. It helps me to be myself.
What benefits have you seen from your practice?
Within a few weeks of starting at BYX, not only did my neck and back pain vanish, but my skin and sleep cycle improved. I felt lighter, as if loads of toxins had melted away. Over the years, my strength, stamina, endurance and flexibility have all increased considerably. My concentration and focus have also improved. There is greater clarity of thoughts now. Just like we do in the postures, I have learned to seek balance in various aspects of my life.
What has surprised you about practicing?
No matter how many times I practice, I always get a high after the practice. I feel happier and calmer every time.
How has yoga improved/changed your life?
"Yoga is not about self improvement, it's about self acceptance." I have developed an acceptance and appreciation not just for myself but also for everyone around me. The nonjudgmental environment and certain yoga postures have opened the Heart Chakra, not only giving a boost to my self-esteem but also making me more compassionate and loving towards myself and others.
What is your favorite posture and why?
My favorite posture is ustrasana or camel pose. Not only do I like performing this posture, it is also a panacea for my emotional healing. For me, the most important mental benefit of this posture is the ability to process emotions. When we expose the front side of our body, the deeply rooted emotions come to the forefront. By acknowledging those feelings and then writing about them, I deal with my negative emotions. Over the years, this entire practice has helped me in lessening my anger and staying my smiling self.
What did you learn from the intermediate class?
The intermediate class was an eye opener. It is a very well designed sequence of postures that worked my body from every angle. It builds upon the strong foundation of the beginner class and challenged me to test my limits in exhilarating advanced postures in a fast paced environment. I thoroughly enjoyed this level of intensity and look forward to attending many more classes.
Do you have any new goals that you did not have before practicing?
I would like to improve my standing series. I would like to develop the strength and grace to be able to do postures from the intermediate series. Yoga has unified the body, mind and spirit and lit the spark of divinity in me. I would like to keep that flame burning by being persistent yet patient with my practice.