A health-related Reverb10 prompt. I guess it has its place. I’m doing this on the run before I rush out to meet a friend on this uncharacteristically cold December evening in Mumbai.
December 12 – Body Integration
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
(Author: Patrick Reynolds)
A few weeks ago, the boyfriend decided to pick on his fitness regime again. After a round of the local gymnasiums, he signed up for a membership at one of them and has been regularly working out, working day or not. I can’t understand that. Few things feel as boring to me as repeating the same action over and over again, whether it is running in place or moving an arm up and down or doing crunches. And yet, he seems to really enjoy it.
I realized then that a fitness regime has to be personalized, not just according to the bodily needs but also the person’s requirements. Gymming is not for me. But a lot of other things are.
A lot of my contemporaries find yoga really boring. I’ve been exposed to yoga when I was a child and I can see how that would be an unimpressive experience for most people. But I started a tri-weekly yoga routine five years ago and I revelled in the experience. Not only did I love how I felt later, I really enjoyed every minute that I was actually doing the asanas too. That’s what a good exercise routine should feel like.
I was aided by the fact that I have a very good yoga instructor. She doesn’t just demonstrate and teach the asanas, she also explains the spiritual associations and the relationships of the body’s movement and state to the emotional well-being. For example, when I started the class, I was plagued with chronic lower back pain and stiffness. She explained that a lot of my stress was going straight to my back and what’s more, I had literally made myself more rigid to deal with the situation I was in. I pondered that and I realised that I really had accumulated ego, envy and pride as if they were necessary tools to compete in the corporate world. Through the asanas, she showed me how to release them and let them go.
“Attitude is the most important thing in yoga, not the physical asana itself.”
was her adage and it really worked. I also learnt to empty my head of the various conflicting thoughts that clamoured for attention and focus my mind. It brought me peace, resolution, clarity and confidence. A few years later, she was describing my body type as extremely flexible which made me :-).
The yoga sessions have stopped in the past few months as my schedule doesn’t match my instructor’s. But on her advice, I took to another exercise that I’ve enjoyed almost as much and for even longer – swimming. I swim 2-3 times a week. Working for myself means I have the liberty of a 5p.m. swim in a virtually unoccupied pool.
I try and do 20 laps crosswise. I usually start with a freestyle with my face in the water, which means I reach the other side out of breath. Then, instead of stopping, I flip onto my back and float back to the other side. The 90-odd seconds that this takes is a time when I feel like my ego, my worries, my ambitions, my pride…everything that creates barriers, problems and structures for me, is easing away. All there is the core, the very essence of me, that can’t be bounded or contained any more than a beam of light can.
That’s integration with myself, my universe and my body.