Blog post by: Nirupa Rangaiah.
I am putting down some thoughts that come to my mind while practicing Yoga every day. They are random and disconnected, not jotted in any sequence and may be seen as my ramblings.
This effort is more like recording my thoughts and experiences in a journal. Maybe if I continue this practice regularly and with discipline (I really hope to do so), I might be able to look back at these thoughts and trace my journey and growth through Yoga.
Reminds me of the good ole scooter. When functioning properly it used to start promptly with just one kick. Otherwise, despite multiple kicks it would make the gnawing, whirring sounds.
This analogy keeps coming to my mind each time I practice Ujjayi Pranayam. The days I am not able to do it properly, despite all the effort and pressure, I feel as if I am making the sound of a scooter with a weak or dead battery getting kick-started. Whereas on days when I am able to do it properly (I use this word as a new practitioner of Yoga), it seems as if the scooter has started with just one kick. I can feel the vibration reaching my shoulders and upper part of the chest. I do not need to exert myself too much. It just happens on its own. In fact, overexertion or a desperate attempt to put force on the throat completely kills the vibration.
I feel Ujjayi Pranayam is more about a quite awareness that it is required to exercise the throat. I have to build this awareness and slowly attempt emanating a sound from my throat. For me it is more about focusing on the fact that the sound coming from the throat is consistent and gently exercises the vocal cords. I think in the process, with consistent vibrations, it stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands on its own. When I focus on the sensation of vibration in the throat and chest, it is also a soothing and feel good factor for me.
I feel the most important thing that differentiates Yoga from many other forms of exercise is that it does not demand excessive exertion. For me it is not about relentless pressure but about knowing when to stop exerting and going with the flow.
Despite practicing Yoga regularly for the past nine months, I can still not perform Chakrasana. I do try and I give it my best. In fact, I put in my 200%. Despite my efforts, the body just refuses to lift after the first try (which is ten seconds, at best). In the ten or so minutes that we practice Chakrasana in the class, I keep cajoling and enthusing my body to try and not give up. Nothing helps. Maybe my back is still not strong or maybe I am not able to balance and shift my weight equitably on the legs, arms and back, as a result of which the back has to take all the weight. Whatever the reason might be, at this point of time I am not able to understand it from the point of my body, though I understand theoretically.
It was very disappointing initially. Let me be honest, it still is! Nevertheless, I have decided to be patient. I try but do not push myself relentlessly. I feel, at times change is subtle and happens at a subconscious level. Our body’s inability or unwillingness (I do not know what it is at this stage) is also a signal that our body is giving to us. I think this once again reiterates (as many experiences of life) that understanding theory is only the first step towards accomplishment. I need to be at it keeping in mind three mantras – consistency, patience and perseverance. I need to be patient and need to learn to push myself to some extent and then hold back for some time. This process needs to be continued till the time I make it through. Ultimately, it is the balance between pushing myself and holding back that will yield results.
Leg stretching exercises
I have never had much of a problem with leg stretching. In fact, I could from the beginning touch my tows or even circle my hands around the toes. Even so, there is always scope for improvement, in terms of developing more strength, stamina and flexibility. I am nowhere near perfect, but just trying to explain the ease that I feel while doing leg stretches. Today, I felt that the stretch in my hamstrings is slowly starting to shift lower, closer to the knees. It could be something temporary or permanent, I cannot say for sure right now. However, this is what I observed.
Yoga helps you get in touch with your body, mind and soul
Human body is a wonderful piece of machinery. It has its own intelligence and speaks with us in a soft voice through aches, pains and sensations. In the rush of our day-to-day existence, due to the competitive and stressful lives that we all lead, we lose touch with the ways in which our body is trying to communicate with us. Yoga, in its truest and complete sense, is a tool to foster a deeper connection with oneself (at a physical, mental and spiritual level).
We should use Yoga to rejuvenate our inherent intelligence and combine it with the external intelligence and knowledge, which at times, unfortunately, numbs our body’s voice.
I would at best call myself a novice in my Yoga practice. Nevertheless, I have started noticing (and understanding to some extent) the faint signals that my body gives while performing asanas.
Thanks for Reading.