At age 59 I decided to re-ignite my dalliance with Yoga. With undue encouragement from my wife (she was more excited than I) we signed up at the neighbourhood Yoga school.
Our first challenge surprisingly, was linguistic, not physical. Master-ji was on tour and our adhoc instructress was his disciple: a young Gorkha from Nagaland. We communicated with each other in English. But she and I had different views on how English was spoken, and this had strange effects on my motivation. On our second day she told me sternly “I would like to see you IN HELL!” Nothing I did (or didn’t do) deserved such reprimand. Granted, I was not like the lissome lasses in the class, but she could clearly see that I was making the effort? By the fourth day I was really working hard on my breath control. As I emptied my lungs till my eyes popped out, yet she admonished me again! But now – in a satori moment–I deciphered her Naga dialect. “Kaushik-sir, I would like to see you INHALE”! Hari Om!
On Day 6 she was still breathing down my neck: “Your High-Brow has to come down”. What, me a high-brow? She also said I needed to study my “hellbows”. Oh, that was Naga-speak for “you need to relax your eyebrows and steady your elbows”. I was improving…
In the second week, she started teaching new techniques. Suddenly she said, “now lie down and breed”. Sure, my wife was in the mat next to me, but “breed” here? Were we getting prepared for erotic and tantric yoga? Seeing me hesitate, our instructress reiterated “Breed sir: in-hell and ex-hell” Oops, all she wanted me to do was inhale and exhale— breathe! Hari Om, Tat sat!
By the third week Master-ji returned from tour and normal communication-lines were restored. But he was a harder task master than my Naga Teacher. He raised the bar on physical contortions. “Now raise your left hand and pass it around the bent right knee, while twisting your spine 30 degrees right; at the same time place your right palm behind the middle of your back, turn your head right and focus your eyes on the centre. Slowly chant OM five times.” And the final order “but don’t forget to breathe”! Huh? Who will un-tie the knots once I complete, I wondered!
On many days I walked home with aches in body parts that I didn’t even know existed before. That’s a new level of consciousness, eh?
I survived. I am now 5 months old in yoga school. Or 4 months old, if you discount the days I missed due to sprains, aches and plain de-motivation. But I can do the crow pose (Kakasana) like a regular crow; I can even perform the head stand (sirasasana) without losing my head. The nubile young things in class do not look askance at me anymore. At the street shop where we stop for cold drinks after class, I no longer take stupid questions about why I practise Yoga. It shows: there is a spring in our steps when we walk home!