Written by Mira Saraf.
Lean back, fall back, way back, go back, come back.
These words, among others, would ring in my ears like echoes in a church.
Earlier this year, I was commuting three hours a day, sitting in front of a computer screen between 9 to 5, feigning enthusiasm for tedious tasks and being actively drained of creative energy and life. I undertook my first 30-day yoga challenge in April, where for 90 minutes each day I drenched myself in perspiration in a room full of complete strangers and pushed my body to the limit, sometimes to the point that I trembled as I left. During that time, yoga was more than a temporary escape; it gave me the chance to live.
I didn't realize of course at the time that I was despondent. It was through postures like Camel, Ustrasana, known for opening up your heart chakra, that all of the life I had lost came bubbling to the surface. I desperately needed something creative, free of banal office politics, --something where I could think for myself. I decided I needed to pursue the only dream I'd ever had - to become a writer. Although I was prepared to quit in August, I got promoted. And for a split second the glittery prospect of having my accomplishments and hard work recognized masked the need to escape the monotony that had become my life. A month or two after starting my new role, I realized that the magic was fading and that those repressed emotions, now exposed and raw, were not going to scab over until I made a change. Finally on Tuesday October 13, I resigned. Instead of being mocked for my choice, I was congratulated and even slightly envied. I have never looked back.
The most important lesson that yoga taught me is that although it is a physical exercise and great habit for staying in shape, you still have to know and realize when a break is in order. Through the most tumultuous periods of the last year I have not been able to practice on account of being too distracted by the things I have had to do. It reached the point where I would have resented it if I forced myself to go. You must only go if you can value your practice and your commitment to yourself and share your positive energy with the instructor and others in the room. In some cases I have come back stronger in certain postures-it's almost as if my body needed time to heal before reaching the next level. This should not be mistaken for laziness; sometimes mentally you need a break. If you're truly honest with yourself (as practice teaches you to be) you will know whether your mind is in it or not. You are just feeling lazy, or you do need to step away for some time.
Yoga taught me to push myself out of my comfort zone, to love myself in my imperfections, but most of all it taught me that no matter what your circumstances, inside the yoga room or out, it is possible to create change in your life. There is no point wasting time drowning in self-pity and helplessness; without a positive mindset you will only find yourself deeper in the abyss.
Everyone faces unique challenges in their lives but it is up to each individual to take the responsibility to escape the prisons they built themselves. It teaches you never to compare yourself to anyone else - that each person's challenges and areas of development are their own. Putting all of this into perspective is always easier said than done, but doing so as yoga taught me gave me my life back.