For as long as I can remember, I have always been called FAT and was overweight. It made me feel unconfident, insecure, ugly, and shy - I hated myself inside & out.
When I graduated from high school, my birthday gift was a gym membership with a weight loss plan. I followed it religiously, killed myself working out, punished myself for eating or even craving food. I thought this would make me feel & look beautiful and make others like me, accept me & approve of me. As I kept losing weight, I did feel proud of myself but I still felt that I looked fat. So I joined a dance class to add my physical activity and I lost more.
On and on it kept going until I lost 25kgs. Yet whenever I looked at myself in mirror I was still that Fat Ugly girl.
Over the years, I left the gym, left the dance class and started exploring working out on my own while still punishing myself with extreme workouts. That’s when I stumbled across Yoga videos on YouTube. I started doing them for the same purpose. Meanwhile, I chose acting as my profession because one of my friends suggested that I should try it out. It added more fuel to the fire. Everyone told me I needed to follow a diet, fix my skin & teeth, learn to dress up, a personal gym trainer to tone my body and more. Mind you, I already did ALL those things! I wasn’t earning anything; my mother paid for all of that.
But, throughout those years, I never asked myself: Did I really want to be an actress? Or was I just doing it to feel loved and validated?
When someone asked my why did I want to be an actress, I gave answers that I heard other actors saying like - they feel alive on stage, they feel like they can be anyone, they feel a sense of freedom while performing – I poured my heart to feel all those things while acting so that I could sound more believable. And did I? No. And in this journey, I had become lonely, I was surrounded by people, I worked with them, shared my time and the stage with all but I couldn’t open up to anyone anymore except my boyfriend.
When it came to auditioning, I gave reasons like "when I don’t have acne, I will go for it" or "when I lose a few more pounds, I will go" or "when I get the right part offered, I will go." I barely gave 10 auditions in the past 3 years. I kept to my theatre group where I was comfortable and felt like I belonged.
I started getting severe anxiety attacks and I shared what I felt with my boyfriend but it didn’t help. I knew I had to do something. So, I chose to put acting on hold and focus on myself - my mental & physical health. I was tired of hating, blaming, punishing & isolating myself from people.
One day, I was thinking of an alternate career option & I thought to myself apart from acting what do I know? I remembered creating a workout plan for my boyfriend one day which helped him. I realized, over the years, I had developed understanding and knowledge about Yoga and creating workout plans. I had noticed that most of the trainers in the gym and in fitness Studios were focused on earning rather than genuinely helping their clients get healthy. I could see how they misguided their clients. That was one of the major reasons why I left the gym and started practicing Vinyasa Yoga through YouTube channels like Fightmaster Yoga, Yoga with Tim, & Yoga with Adriene (I didn’t have a good Yoga class in my city).
The flows that were created always intrigued me & made me question how & why this particular sequence.
That’s why I chose to do my Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training at Mysore Yoga Teacher Training Institute (Samyak Yoga) in Karnataka. To be honest it was like an adventure for me. I was 25 year old & this was the first time I was travelling alone, living alone in a different state for a month. It was a life-altering experience which made me believe that all is going to be well after this.
When I taught at Samyak Yoga, I felt confident and I never felt like that when I was acting or even dancing. I spent 3-4 years of my life learning how to be “in the moment.” When I taught, I realized I was there - in the moment. I felt good about myself & it felt good to help someone feel energized. That’s when I chose to teach Yoga back home. It’s been 5 months.
I am teaching and practicing Yoga. I feel happy and confident to say that I am a Yoga Teacher. I never felt this when I told someone I am an Actress. The Teacher Training made believe in one thing about Yoga:
It always makes you proud of your growth but makes sure that you stay grounded & humble at the same time.
I currently have 6 clients with different needs and I consider myself fortunate to have their faith in me. I make sure to teach them the way I would want to be taught by someone. I want to make them feel proud and grateful for their body.
That’s what Yoga is all about.
Love & Light,
Anupama Vijay Udawant
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