Hanuman’s leap of faith

I end up reading everyday. While there is no fixed plan or agenda, often I have found exactly what I needed to hear. Yesterday it came through the Ramayana. It has been a while since I read it but something got me to pull it off my shelf and it opened to a page that was an encouragement.

There’s a chapter in there where Jambavan reminds Hanuman of his true self while the latter is in doubt about his abilities and is despondent. Being reminded of his innate power, Hanuman grows in stature to be a mighty vanara who leaps across the sea for his Lord.

I’ve found myself slipping into a space of unmanageability and that brings up self doubt which prevents me from taking action. I don’t do well if there is relaxation, I prefer to be in a little discomfort as that keeps me attentive. A week long break from regular routine has had its effect.

I suppose I could be considered to have a predominantly vata constitution. Stressful situations, internal or external give rise to the agitations in my thought and procrastination in my actions.

A sampling of the train of thoughts would go something like
“Oh no, I got a whole ton of stuff to finish. The dishes are staring at me. Lunch and dinner need to be fixed.
The laundry is waiting to get done and the clothes need to be put away.
I have work to get started on. I need to sleep on time. I have to get out for a run tomorrow. I don’t feel like going for a run though. I also need to practice asana but I don’t feel like it. I am so bad at it anyway so its no use. I need to get my daughter’s school admission sorted. Will she get a place somewhere? I want to be left alone. I really need a break from my family.”

These thoughts paralyze me from being in the moment and fixing what I can. When I see them from a little distance it is so clear that I haven’t taken care of myself and my tendencies.

The single most important reason for this setback is that I did not keep myself first. I can only be of service if I am healthy- body, mind and soul.

On a separate note, I am excited, nervous and eager to start a beginners class at RIMYI next week.

Off the mat

It has been a long time since I was away from home for more than a couple of days. The mat came with me but my practice has been very limited. It is more about just keeping the discipline of unrolling the mat. At one time, I needed privacy and ideal conditions to do my bit but slowly the self consciousness is falling off. Maybe it is seeing that my actions influence others.

There was a fair bit of soreness in my quads, glutes and upper arms for a couple of days after the handstand and backbends. So I took it easy and just did very basic arm releases and some forward bends. Virasana seemed to help a bit.

This break has been about spending time with my mom, brother, mother in law and playing the fool with my kids. I see how both the mothers have aged and become like little children. They need a bit of pampering, prodding and encouragement to keep their spirits alive. Every time I see them, I realize that the roles have reversed and I am more a mother to them now.

Getting away from my routine and quiet time has demonstrated how change can create a doshic imbalance. The manifestation in my case is an achy neck that can blow into a full fledged flare-up. A little awareness about these things means I don’t have to react but can choose to respond in ways that do not harm. There are limitations living out of a bag but I do what I can to replicate a little bit of my life back home. I did have one small meltdown moment though but a good night’s rest restored me.

H.A.L.T. is a good check when I start losing my patience. Am I too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? More often than not, tired is what gets me. If I scratch below the tired, it is my pride, my ego. How can I be tired? I am supposed to be strong and go on and on. For a long time, I didn’t understand the cues my body gave me and everything would spiral into a mess. I would be hurtful and say and do things that I would regret later. It is so much simpler to pause but that wouldn’t satisfy the need for instant gratification of anger.

Every time I restrain myself from reacting, it gets a wee bit easier to do so the next time. I still stumble and react without thinking but the difference is that I bounce back quicker now. One setback does not negate all the little steps forward. All I need to do is pick myself up and start again.
Practice until it is no longer practice.

Back to basics and a handstand

Out of town for a bit and had a fabulous start to the trip. I was missing my yoga class and was lucky to be able to go to an Iyengar class here. There were a lot of wow moments today. I did a supported handstand and halasana for the first time. I can now see how the wrist opening and hand extensions help in developing strength in the arms for balancing poses as well as backbends.  I remember thinking it was way beyond me just a few months ago. Today, I felt hope that I might be able to do an independent handstand someday.

There was a great deal of learning as it was a beginners class. Since I started yoga class in between sessions, I never quite went through the initial basic movements. I hope to go back to a beginners class in June and start all over again.

The emphasis here was on getting the action right and we used the props a little differently. Unlike the class I go to back home where the instructions are more technical, this one was focused on the general getting in and out of poses.

It was a light and playful class with easy laughter and I left with a feeling of lightness in my body.

In gratitude to all teachers, present and eternal.


Tadasana is a difficult pose.

As I practise, I see how there are points that light up. The feet, the ankles, the calves, knees, back of the knees, thighs, hips, spine, trunk, abdomen, shoulders, the back, throat and the head are all check posts that draw attention to one single asana.

Yesterday, I found myself sweating in the pose, holding it for long. A longer hold helped me see how much my heels had dug into the mat. Every time I adjusted a few things, I felt the attention had moved elsewhere and there was again the attempt to get back. It was a bit like falling down and getting up again and again. In the process, while I didn’t get all of it happening simultaneously, I did understand the lift of the inner thighs and experienced the quietness of the outer thigh, a new awareness. It got me thinking that perhaps, tadasana is what I need to find in all the asanas.

All these years, my mental flightiness was expressed through my unsteady legs. I never realized how much freedom there is in grounding.


Every time I practise, I find something new- sometimes a change, sometimes a dawning of realization of some action that needs to take place. Despite this, at times I feel lazy about rolling out the mat. Like today for instance. But it has become something of a need now. It helps keep a balance in my life as I go about my different roles. I did the Week 3 routine from the preliminary course – Yoga in Action by Dr. Geeta Iyengar.

Mostly standing asanas and it ended with paschimottanasana and Setu band sarvangasana. There was an ardha halasana in there too but I skipped it as I have never done it before and was not sure if I should attempt it for the first time without a teacher.

Many years of wrong posture, physical and mental will take time to correct. The head knows it, the ego fights it. Sometimes there is is impatience as I want the change to have already happened. Even as I type, I know that the perfection of Guruji’s asana was a result of intense sadhana and years of tapas.

What then is my hurry?


It is easy to slide back and lose sight of the yamas and niyamas without devoting a certain amount of time to study everyday.

Come weekends and the family needs my attention so I put away my reading, writing and studying. I enjoy the time spent with them and feel blessed to have what I do. At the same time, I also see how the mind starts to wander. Regular study maintains the discipline to stick to the path come what may.

My family thinks I am a yoga fanatic now. Yet they can see the small changes. My older girl remarked that she didn’t know when I started my cycle because I didn’t have one of the typical PMS crankiness that pops up every month without fail. The husband started going to a class a couple of months ago. Somewhere even they have experienced the changes that yoga brings for themselves.

I just have a huge sense of gratitude for the relief from pain that I used to experience. Even greater than that is the thankfulness I feel for finding the direction I was seeking. Reading my earlier notes, I see how my understanding is changing as I stick to the journey. Increasingly I find that a goal is not as necessary as much as the journey is.

Some Supta Padangushtasana

Last evening, I barely managed to complete the invocation when the door bell jangled madly. I had to attend to my little girl who was quite hassled and needed my attention.

There went my video lesson. But I still sat down and practiced a few asanas. This is a change for me. Previously, I would have been more likely to add to the chaos and it would end up in taking longer for both of us to settle. Additionally, I would have just given up practice for the day and got on a thought train to nowhere, resenting all and sundry.

Since I did not have a set of asanas decided, I just did a few that first came to mind.

Supta padangushtasana 1,2,3 and 4
Paschimottanasana with support
Uthita padangushtasana with support
Adho mukha svanasana
Supta sukhasana with support
Supta baddakonasana with support
5 cycles of
Shitali pranayama
Brahmri with shanmukhi mudra

I don’t know if this is right or not but did it to the best of my ability. A change I felt was the contact of the back of my thighs in Supta padangushtasana 2. One of the actions I struggle with is moving the thighs behind and calming them but it seems to be getting better.

Amongst the 4 variations, I find 2 and 4 difficult. My right leg goes down easier whereas the left is stiffer and painful.

My left knee gets a twinge if I pull beyond a point in 4. Maybe its the tightness in the groin of the same leg. I notice it in the padmasana and sukhasana positions as well so now I use support for that knee. It seems to have eased up a bit. The stiffness in the knee is lesser. I bend gingerly expecting to hit resistance but it doesn’t come as much and I fold easier.

As a runner, I am almost religious when it comes to practicing these asanas as it has worked in keeping my legs light and free from the aches and groans that I used to experience earlier.

All in all, despite the interruption, a good practice. I had a small moment of change and for that I am grateful.

Gayatri Mantra

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Rig Veda III: 62.10

Let us meditate on the most excellent Light of Savitri. May she guide our intellect.

My gravatar is an image of a tattoo on my back, done a few years ago. It is an inscription of the Gayatri mantra around a sun.

Lately, the mantra has come up from within. I find myself silently chanting it in my mind while I run at dawn. There was no conscious reason to start doing so. I suppose I just needed to use something to focus my breath on and this just welled up. I usually catch the sun rise on my way back home and it never fails to inspire a sense of awe. It makes me marvel at the intelligence of this celestial body that illumines everything. And I mentally prostrate before the effulgent one.

The mind is so fickle that even though the intent is to chant continuously, I find myself drifting away into other thoughts before I realize it. There is nothing left to do but to come back to it again and again. Sometimes, these thoughts are about the beautiful flowers that are in full bloom now and at others, they are about all the things I need to get done by the end of the day. At other times, it is chewing on some thing that upset me or smiling at something that made me happy. In a nutshell, an incessant thought flow where I am not in the now. I don’t know how many lifetimes it will take before “yogah cittavrtti nirodhah”  happens.