“Take a deep breath in…”
“…and a long breath out.”
“Now bend your knees…”
Feet rooted to my yoga mat in the Downward Facing Dog pose (Adho Mukho Svanasana), I obey my yoga guru’s instructions. It’s been seven months since my first class. I distinctly remember groaning while attempting this asana for the first time. I still don’t like this pose as much as the others (Shavasana is clearly a universal favourite), but it’s helping my back. So say many of the nearly five million people who learn from my teacher through a screen, like me.
Yes, you read that right. My yoga guru teaches through YouTube videos.
How Did I Get Here?
Working out in a gym has always been out of the question for me. Expense aside, what if I wasn’t regular? Walking and running were, hence, better bets—at least they were free! And I live near Diamond Garden, Chembur’s own Joggers’ Park. I had a wonderful experience in winter and happily braved the summer. But I wondered why everyone, including those gym rats, weren’t doing it?
The answer was provided by the rain gods one morning when they drenched me from head to toe. The park, too, was swamped. For years, I faced a spell of inactivity during those four months of unpredictable weather. The result: weight increase and back to square one in October. Also, the hour-long walking and jogging eventually took a toll on my knees.
This got me thinking. What if less is more, even in fitness? What if yoga was the answer? But I recalled a bad experience from a few years ago, during the free trials at a place near my former office. The instructor asked me to do a headstand on my second day there. While I held on to a wall for support, my body just wasn’t used to the idea of being upended, so my feet never left the floor. Keen on avoiding trips to the physiotherapist, I never returned to that yoga class.
No other class or fitness studio fit my budget, time and location constraints. One day, a silver lining emerged on my laptop screen.
On a whim, I keyed ‘yoga’ into YouTube Search. I clicked on the topmost result and hit the tiled floor. Surprisingly, unlike many of my jogging rounds, or the TV aerobic shows from my teenage years, there were no injuries the next day, except for a little graze in my knees (for which I got a yoga mat). ‘Find what feels good’ and take it slow, my online trainer says smilingly, minus the pushiness. No other investment required, except for taking out thirty minutes a day. The commitment comes easily when you realise you can do this anytime, anywhere, without the pressure for perfection.
Yoga—especially sun salutations and power yoga—is gold for cardio freaks like me. In addition, you’re training with your own weight. During my periods, I focus on pranayama or simply take rest.
It’s not even been a year, and my stomach has almost flattened. My balance and reflexes have improved, and I’m more mindful than ever. I don’t pant much when I step out for the occasional short jog, and my family tells me I walk faster than before. My body is happy, and I feel spiritually connected. I might even go advanced by signing up for a friend’s class. But, until I start earning enough for that, my living-room sessions will continue.
Caution: Make sure you choose a well-known yoga guru online, do you research, read the reviews, before zooming in. Also take it slow. Follow the rhythm of the class for your level of fitness and slowing build up. Know that you will not start looking like those professionals overnight. Fitness is individual.
(Priyanka Agarwal is a Mumbai-based author, freelance writer and copyeditor. Her first book, PiKu & ViRu, is out now on Amazon.)