When did my life get so busy? Two years ago, I had the acute realization that my work, both actual and aspiring, was following me everywhere. As I strove to outshine at my workplace and make the most of a thriving social circle, my life ran at a breakneck speed where soon it felt like a tailspin.
Being in a fast-paced environment was not unfamiliar territory. By the time I got done with my MBA, I had pieced together an attractive resume dotted with an impressive lineup of achievements. My formative years were both grueling and wondrous, and I juggled all activities while managing to stay afloat.
However, soon the intensity of workload increased along with the distance to my workplace. I began to experience the perils of commuting a long journey everyday, and self-care became yet another unchecked activity on my to-do list. Regardless, I continued unperturbed as the upside of meaningful work and cherished co-workers was attractive enough.
It was not until I went from being energized and motivated to disinterested and stressed that I realized something had to change. Not long ago, I, just like many other women, had viewed regular physical activity as a luxury for those who had the gift of time. This was further cemented by looking at my mother and other women of my household who placed the needs of others before themselves and considered exercise to be a nuisance - something they did as a last resort only when a directive was issued from the doctor.
While I had sworn to be different and make self-care a priority, I floundered to make it a reality. Work-filled weekdays and fun-filled weekends left me with pain, distress and pangs of guilt. My body no longer agreed with being ignored. It was at this time that Yoga came into my life as a rescue boat, drawing me in to inhale and exhale towards a healthier and mindful self.
I began to gradually undo and unlearn. I came to view care for my body less as an occasional treat and more like an essential ritual. Yoga was where I found calm, my anxieties melted and my ailments were lifted.
For the uninitiated, beginning with Yoga can be daunting as you watch professionals contort their bodies into unimaginable, difficult poses. For some, it is associated with boredom as the last thing expected from a traditional Yoga routine is enjoyment. Some dismiss Yoga because it does not push them enough. Well, here is the catch. Unlike everything that we do in our lives to push ourselves, Yoga is the antithesis. It is about being in sync with your body and going with the flow rather than waging a war. It is a wholesome, fluid and grounded experience.
That being said, my inception with Yoga was not as magical as it sounds. I encountered severe muscle pain, fretted over changes in my menstrual cycle, struggled with changing dietary preferences, and combated a growing disinterest in doing anything after work other than binge-watching television. Yet, I kept going and after few weeks, the benefits began revealing themselves. There came an inexplicable lightness with the feeling of being attuned to my body. I rejoiced as I finally cast away minor pains and ailments that had plagued me consistently. I slept better, kept my troubled stomach at bay, and my skin began to show a healthy glow. All these were small, subtle changes but as my practice deepened, these changes accumulated and together they had me hooked.
In the past year, I experimented with other forms of workout to satisfy my growing need for complete healthcare. I dabbled with learning a new dance form and sampled Zumba sessions which were exhilarating. Nevertheless, invariably I find myself returning to Yoga. It manifests itself in more than just a form of workout; it is a path to transformation. For those 60 minutes, my mind focuses only on the present moment as I breathe to hold each pose longer and with more finesse. With small but firm steps, I inch closer to flexibility, strength, stability and balance.
For all women like me, who frequently struggle with accomplishing a never-ending ‘to-do’ list, it is time that you relax, breathe and make self-care your priority. It does not have to be yet another chore that perpetuates exhaustion but a carefully thought-out pattern that allows you to energize and restore. I see that most women around me associate exercise with only weight loss while drooling over carefully instagrammed pictures of taut celebrity bodies. Whereas in reality, there is so much more nurturing that female bodies require from the inside. You will be able to shed that stubborn fat slowly with yoga, but it is the deeper experience and holistic care that will not be lost on you.
Today, I have created a comfortable space in my home, have curated my own yoga routines, and have a deeper understanding of what my body requires. Even though I am in a better place now, old habits run deep and seep into your system. Whenever I feel like I am going into the tailspin again, I reach out to my mat and take out time to breathe and be more mindful.
Anushka Bhatia (Author)