I'm back on the mat. After a 5-year hiatus, I've somehow found my way back on the mat again and this time, it's so much more mellowed, and a hell lot better.
Yoga was introduced to me in my teens by my cool aunt, after an ankle injury forced me to detour from doing classical ballet the professional route. I was given a copy of the original Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar in its orange cover with Iyengar illustrating all the fascinating bendy poses.
What started as my rehab got all serious when I hit my early twenties. The perfect post-yoga mental calm was just what I needed at that time; an effective antidote to the mental stress brought on by a constant existential crisis and an avalanche of bad romantic situations. It was an hour and a half of Ashtanga before sun rise and an hour and a half of Iyengar for alignment at night, six days a week, with a subscription of Yoga Journal and a shelf full of yoga books thrown in no less.
Then came the teacher training course of almost 2 years and yoga trips in India at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and Sri Pattahbis Jois in Pune, completed with the infamous "Delhi Belly" for 2 weeks post-India (strange cos I thought I would get it during India). Next, I found myself studying the Vedas, The Yoga Sutra, The Bhagavad Gita and Vedantic text, all of which now covered in dust on my bookshelves. I was so devoted I could write in Sanskrit the entire opening prayer of Ashtanga yoga which I made myself learn by dictation.
It was hardcore. Yoga was me. I lived, breathed, ate, talked yoga and even dated a yoga teacher (who turned out to be a big mistake!). Then, came subbing in for a couple of Ashtanga classes at On The Mat (now defunct, used to be at Robertson Walk) before teaching 5 classes a week while holding a job in a luxury company.
That completely ruined it. Teaching yoga was fun for the first couple of weeks. I loved my yoga practice but hated teaching. The whole "Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work for the rest of your life" is a complete farce for me. Instead of doing my practice in a 6am Mysore class, I was teaching, adjusting my students in different stages of their "pretzel-ness" when all I really wanted is just to do my own practice. Led classes were even more tedious, with the constant need to give out instructions on the asanas, watching everyone and correcting them. My dream job turned out to be a complete drudgery and it was a disappointment I couldn't understand.
First the teaching stopped and slowly, over a period of a year or so, my 6 days a week routine whittled down to drips and drabs before drying down to nothingness. I have no idea how it happened. I traded yoga for Power Plate training and pole dancing but despite being physically fitter and stronger, something's missing.
Then, some weeks back, I clutched my mat and went back to the yoga studio I started out at over a decade ago and then I feel home again.
This time, gone are the obsession and addiction of using yoga as a form of escape and respite from my troubles, it feels so much more mellowed. Yoga used to bring me peace in the 20s but for the simple reason that I wasn't at peace with myself then, my dependence on yoga manifested into a somewhat toxic reliance on it. It was too serious, too intense and it burnt out.
Now that I'm a lot more at peace with things, yoga brings new perspectives, new joy and new teachings. There's no gripping, no stress, no pressure. The way yoga should be.