A Japanese concept that means "a reason for being" or “a reason to jump out of bed every morning”. The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one's life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.
They say, if you follow your Ikigai everyday passionately enough, you can live up to 100 yrs.!
Now, I can’t really vouch for this fact but I am all set to find out, haha!
If the title of the blog wasn’t a hint enough, this story is about my journey with yoga and its countless wonders in a quest to find my own Ikigai. Yoga, for me, is an expression of self-love and a conscious pursuit of letting go of the materialistic sense of reality in order to become ‘one’ with the universe. Asanas and pranayama are simply a medium.
I was introduced to yoga back in high school. It was a warm summer and school was closed when my uncle from Brazil visited us. Growing up I used to drown myself into books and stories of adventure, travel and magic. They eventually became a part of me and a dream took birth, a facile dream to travel and seek. Back to the summer, my uncle had returned to India after 5 years, having travelled the entire Latin America and most of Europe. His stories and experiences with culture, people and the almighty were my window to the vast world out there. He sensed my excitement and interest immediately and told me about the ancient treasure of India, Yoga. His anecdotes included sadhanas, siddhis (superpowers) and great yogis. I was really intrigued and went on to dig deeper into the subject. I couldn’t wait for school to get over so I can learn from experienced yoga masters.
One and a half year later, I enrolled myself for 200Hrs Certificate course in hatha yoga in one of the oldest Ashrams in India, Kaivalyadhama ashram in Lonavala. And that changed my life. A month before I was supposed to leave for the course, a got a serious lower back spasm due to a jerky forward bend. Weeks of physiotherapy later, doctors told me to forbid myself from bending forward for my entire life. My whole dream shattered in front of my eyes and I didn’t know what to do. I closed my eyes and promised to myself that I would go anyway. The first couple of days in the ashram felt very natural and beautiful but I was still worried about my spasm. However, just 3 days of slow hatha yoga practise were enough for my spasm to go and voila! I could bend forward again. That day I realised the importance of correct alignment and transitioning in asanas. My yoga guru taught us the principles and philosophies of various schools of yoga, which confused me to no extent. He said, “Yoga is the Equanimity of mind” meaning the worldly actions shouldn’t affect our mental state, it should always be neutral and balanced. I realised how yoga transforms our body on all levels, be it physical, mental or spiritual. The 17-year-old me wanted to learn more and more, there was no end to my questions.
All these experiences became even more vivid when my guru took our first ever yoga session. I found myself immersing in the deeper values of asanas and getting lost in the unknown cosmos during savasana. I let out a serene smile as I opened my eyes back to reality, for I had found my purpose. The course ended and I stepped into my graduation course. I studied business administration and specialized in Marketing from a well-known college in Pune. Amidst all the classes, deadlines, assignments and chaos, the morning yoga practise in the community garden was my tranquil abode. One such day, a couple of ladies interrupted my practise to ask me if I would teach them. Until that moment, I never intended to teach yoga but there I was, sheepishly nodding to them.
The group of two increased to 7 and then to 13 people, all of them eagerly waited for me, every alternate morning to teach them yoga. I also started volunteering at International yoga day workshops, assisting my colleagues in their studios and taking drop-in sessions at the community garden. I traveled for a couple of months across various states of India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, soaking myself in awe- worthy experiences such as scuba diving, trekking and bungee jumping, meanwhile gathering more and more experiences with my yoga practice. This went on for a while until I decided to explore different styles of yoga and signed up for an advanced 300hrs TTC in Ashtanga yoga. I readily imbibed all the knowledge and styles taught in the yoga school in Mysore, Bangalore.
I still didn’t think of taking up yoga as a career, I just wanted to learn more. I sat for placements in college and the next thing I know, I was working as a business development executive in a start-up company. My practise became irregular and teaching completely stopped. Six months after working, I was completely burned out. I wasn’t feeling like myself at all and somewhere in the hustle I had forgotten my dream. I read a beautiful quote out there, which said, “Everyone in life has a dream, to give them up is to give up on life itself”
I realised that working in corporates is not what I want to do in my life, it didn’t make me happy. Thanks to my lucky stars, I knew exactly what would. It was Yoga, learning and practising while I began teaching as a private instructor in my hometown. I was dreadful to take my first session; I had no experience in professional teaching. That’s the thing about ‘Firsts’, it is so hard to start- until you start. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.
Almost a year later, here I am, still seeking the wonders that await me, still learning about the intricacies of my yoga practise every day, still finding what more can a simple breath do, still teaching yoga with a warm heart, extending a hand to you:)
In my yoga session, I like to help you not only achieve your specific goal- it could be strengthening your body or be able to do a split, or relief yourself from the daily stress, or cure any ailment; but also dive deeper with your awareness and breath to the subtler levels of the body, experiencing bliss and deep relaxation.
I invite you to take that first step, the first step to an adhering journey of self-love and discovery, just like the younger me did, because that one decision that you are too afraid to make could be the very thing that sets you free in the best possible way!As for me, I still believe in magic, my only question is, Do you?
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