Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Acquiesce" to Pain -- today's mantra!

Monday evening was a challenging class for me, though I thoroughly enjoyed it. The poses were difficult, so the next day I was in pain and extremely sore. I was walking funny as my left glute was particularly affected. Therefore I decided to make an appointment for massage with Jeremy this evening. So here I am on the massage table, being pulled, kneaded, stretched, pressed and crushed. And each massage stroke would result in more pain.

I felt it was making it worse until I had another "eureka moment". I recalled something I had read in "Light on Life" by Mr. BKS Iyengar a while back. It was a chapter where he discussed "pain" and "surrendering to pain". It had particularly struck me, as life is full of painful moments. So I "acquiesced". I let my mind surrender to all the pain in my body, which included my particularly sore glutes and quads and back. Suddenly I felt a new appreciation of the pain. Then the calmness sunk in and I started breathing. I finally relaxed to really experience the massage while letting go of the pain it was causing me!

In that moment, I realized my body had simply re-awakened. It had "oxygenated" and the cells in my muscles were regenerating. The soreness and the pain was simply a catalyst. Jeremy commented that the muscles were not as tight as the last time a few weeks back. They were sore but they seemed to handle the pressure better.

So "acquiscence" is the new word I re-learnt today. Acquiscing to pain is not just a great way to learn difficult yoga poses but to deal with pain in life as well. By acquiescing, we let the pain and all it manifests in our life to take its course. We give ourselves room to appreciate those painful moments and in that process we build new strength to learn to bear such pain. An appropriate thought and frame of mind, as we learn and re-learn all those difficult back-bends and difficult asanas. I appreciated Guruji's words in his book more than ever. I deal with stress and pain all the time. Acquiscing to it is probably a better way to deal with pain, more so than fighting it.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Yoga this evening

T'was an evening to remember. Today it was an advanced class by Nina, full of poses that hadn't been done in a while. It started with a classic Gomukh Asana (in sitting form), which I had performed only sparingly in the past. As we performed, she remarked "let go of your ego" and don't try to get your back foot straight. Let go of my ego? -- that is what I need to do in life I said to myself! This is a yoga pose. Eureka!

It made so much sense. So in the next pose called revolved triangle pose I just did the best I could and the best I could was worse than a beginner could do. Ah! home practice is what I lack I said to myself! Then that voice in the back of my mind reminded me again "Let go of your ego"! OK OK I am letting go!

And then we moved to back-bends and other poses that really worked your thighs and hamstrings, everything leading to the incredibly difficult Rajkapot poses and boy did I yell in pain after every leg strech. No, no ego here, just honest expressions of the pain. Nina threw in a adho mukha vriksasana (hand stand), my favorite pose.

I did it twice and the third variation was too much. I had no energy left and and my panting heart had to let go of my ego. I just went into a child pose. My heart was racing fast and it felt like I had just run a marathon. A Supta Virasana lead to another painful grunt. It prompted a fellow student to comment "make the effort effortless"! Yes Barbara, one day I will, but right now every effort is painful.

We moved on to chair supported back-bends and a chair supported halasana in lieu of shavasana and it was the end of a very challenging class. I was really humbled. As I left the class I promised myself I would continue to work on letting go of my ego. And folks, if you are serious about letting go of your ego and looking to make your efforts effortless do visit to find out how. Thanks Nina for another great class, I will actually sleep well tonight!

The Yogi

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My yoga guru is back!

Since mid November last year, Nuvana Zarthoshtimanesh ( my yoga guru has been in India and with the holidays in December my yoga routine was turned upside down. I first took her class in January 2006, upon my return from from a business trip to Pune, when I was inspired to take a yoga class. It was at Hawthorne Athletic Club ( and hers was the only class on a Sunday morning. I just about died in that class. It was hard. Imagine 250 pounds of inflexible and atrophied human waste, with an ever expanding 42 inch waist. I could barely touch my knees and I was at my worst lung capacity. I could barely breathe and my asthma had come back with a vengeance.

I had done yoga as a child, and all I recalled was padmasana (which I no longer can do), dhanurasana, and sarvangasana. I even wrote a play on yoga when I was 13 in 1977, a knock off the only yoga show on Indian TV then by Swami Dhiren Brahmachari, who never performed any asanas, and I doubt if he ever did, he was more known for his friendship with the Mrs Indira Gandhi and his private jets. He later died in a plane crash. So I digress....

Back to the point, so this first ever yoga class at my home base was one rough class. I just about collapsed trying to do the downward dog pose, but it felt good. I felt like I had run a marathon and done weights at the same time. I had no clue Nuvana was teaching "Iyengar yoga", it just felt good but very difficult at the same time. I then took an evening class with a lady named Muir, who had spent 2 months in India at Sivananda in Kerala. She was teaching it differently. There was music and she used no sanskrit names. I couldnt keep up with her, it was Vinyasa, flow yoga. Wow, pretty cool I figured. After the first session I was in a lot of pain and hurt my back. But I persisted and went to both Nuvana and Muir's classes. The Vinyasa class became wierder and wierder. She was doing partner yoga all of a sudden and that felt a bit strange. She coupled me with a guy and I had to grab on to these ugly feet to strech my arms out for the child pose. That pretty much did it for me. I decided to just stick with Nuvana, but an hour class in the gym was not enough. I asked Nuvana if she would give me private lessons and she accomodated. So once a week I would go to her house for a yoga lesson. It changed my life forever. It became a family affair and my kids started to join me. We all did yoga together.

Nuvana had taught Iyengar Yoga in Mumbai, India before she moved to Oregon.
She came from a family of serious yoga practitioners. Her grandmother, uncle and cousins were all serious Iyengar Yoga practitioners. Her cousin Zubin is an accomplished yoga teacher and runs one of the best yoga studios in Mumbai and is one of Guruji's most senior students. He travelled with Guruji around the world in the early to mid 1990s. Fate brought me to Nuvana and Iyengar yoga and that led to a series of coincidencesand connections, that included introduction of Iyengar Yoga to my employees in Pune India.

My connection with Pune started in 1997 when I hired my first employee from Pune and then again in 2001 when I started a company in Pune. Little did I know that right accross the street from the hotel I stayed at when I visited Pune, was the heart and soul of yoga and a yoga guru whose style would completely change my life. Looking back it all makes sense now. It makes sense that of all places in India I would choose Pune. Add all the connections -- from Nuvana, to others who inspired me to bring yoga back into my life and it all makes complete sense. It was bound to happen because it was meant to be and there was a cosmic connection to Guruji. Awareness of such connections are important and they are inspiring to one's soul.

I was very fortunate to find Nuvana and be trained by her. I feel that one on one teaching I received from her propelled me in a short period of 18 months from a novice to someone who could take an advanced yoga class and not be intimidated. It awakened my body and mind, and within a year I had lost nearly 6 inches off my waist and 60 pounds of weight. She inspired me to teach yoga to my kids and bring them into yoga at such a young age.

She also inspired me to join Sunset Yoga Center as a student and experience other great teachers like Nina Pillegi, Julie Burtis and Terry Peterson. By experiencing different teachers I built more confidence which in turn increased the awareness of myself and encouraged me to try harder. I may not be the most flexible, but I am not afraid to try a new pose, or a new way to do the same pose or attend an advanced class, even though I maybe the rookie in the class. Every pose I do, I do it with all my heart and soul and all the pain I can bear and my painful grunts and heavy breath when I am in agony during class are a testament to that. I am truly inspired by these awesome teachers who have such commitment, love and passion for yoga and they have really inspired to keep on the path. They have made a huge impact on my life and I salute and thank them.

So with Nuvana's return I am inspired to get back on my yoga path 4 consecutive days a week.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Low blood pressure and eat/drink before an early AM yoga class

We have a rule to not eat and drink 2-3 hours before starting yoga practice. In my own experience if I have an early morning class I eat a small snack to engergise the body, especially a piece of fruit and some indian chai. Any caffienated drink is bound to increase your blood pressure so I would certainly take advice of a medical doctor about consuming caffiene drinks if you have low BP before an exercise routine.

Here are some of the poses that Mr. Iyengar recommends for folks with low BP. I would suggest the following as a strarter:
1. Paschimottansan
2. Virasana
3. Padmasana (you could try sidhasana instead)
4. Baddhakonasana

If you are intermediate or advanced add the following:
1. Salamba Sirsasana I
2. Chair supported Hallasana
3. Salamba Sarvangasana

Then end it with:
Savasana or a Supta Badhakonasana

Exercise does tend raise the blood pressure, so I would imagine any exercise that doesnt force your blood to gush down is going to be good. Again I am no expert, I follow Mr. Iyengar's recommendations in his book "Light on Yoga". Please try it and comment here if it helps you. I have the opposite problem, I have high blood pressure, so I practice a different set of poses. If you are a novice, please consult your yoga teacher, or take a yoga class.

Also check out for details on the suggested yoga poses.

Yoga with kids today

Last Friday of every month I teach yoga to kids in my 7 year old's class. These are lower elementary kids (1st-3rd graders), ages between 6-9. There are about 30 kids in the class. I break them into groups of 10 and then we do 30 minutes of yoga per group. I started teaching last year in Feb to 4-6 year olds. I found the kids picked up yoga very quickly. So I continued it into elementary class. But of-course the support of the teachers and the school was important in introducing this into kids of this young age. My older daughters' class has a yoga card collection and her teacher herself is a yoga practitioner.

Several of the kids I teach were familiar with the poses as their parents practiced yoga. I have been teaching this group since September and most of these kids really enjoy it. I have taught them the basic poses, but I found adding jumping jacks and animal poses makes it more appealing and interesting for them. We would do the typical standing and sitting poses with 5 minutes of savasana, which they so lovingly call "the dead pose". They love the dead pose.

The challenge in teaching kids of this age is that they will certainly not do the pose correctly, some of them have a difficult time staying still. Its is the concept and awareness that makes it fun! And the ultimate reward is that you have planted the seed for the future.The kids are very open to new ideas and relish on it. I started from the very basic jumping, geometric and animal poses and slowly added more interesting ones. After 4 classes I was able to add the hand-stand pose (adho mukha vriksana) and suprisingly the kids responded to this pose extremely well. My 7 year old can perform this pose and the salamba sirsana quite well and she became my demonstration assistant. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it and we ended up spending a majority of the 30 minute class with wall supported downward dogs and hand-stands. I was simply amazed at how much the kids enjoyed it and they wanted to just perform handstands. That was the cue to me -- they wanted more, so here was my chance to add some more.

Therefore in today class I announced to the first group that we were NOT doing hand-stands, but instead I was going to introduce some new ideas such as sequencing and a new concept. The concept was "breath meditation". So at the start of the class when we sit in sukhasana and chant 3 OMs, I instructed them to focus on their breath, the inhalation and exhalation. I was pleasantly suprised by how well they responded. They are proficient at lifting up their sternum, sitting up straight, lengthening their spine and rolling their shoulders back, so adding the breath focus was easy. Then we performed the following sequences :

1. Tadasana to Warrior Pose II to Triangle Pose (Both sides)
2. Tadasana to Urdhva Hastasana to Uttanasana to Downward Dog, to Child Pose, Downward Dog, Uttanasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Tadasana
3. Sitting poses starting with Virasana, Janursirsasana, Paschim-uttanasana, Badakonasana

We ended with a 10 minute Shavasana with instructions from me to re-observe their breath. It was really incredible to see these kids respond so well to this new idea. Usually there are laughs and giggles when they are in "dead pose". Almost every kid went into a proper shavasana. Eyes were mostly shut. Some took their time to come out of Shavasana. These are 7 year olds!!!! I couldn't believe it. One kid commented that meditation helps you concentrate better. Yes it does! I told them if they could learn to focus on their breath, and keep their attention on it, imagine how well they could do their lessons and projects in class and when they needed quiet time and concentration. I encouraged them to practice it with their parents that evening. It really made my day today. I felt incredible joy that I had made an impact. All the rowdy and impatient ones were calm and composed. I couldn't ask for more! Thanks kids and thanks Amy -- you made my day!

Yoga poses

I find the yoga journal ( to be very useful in looking up details of various poses. Browse I have been mentioning a variety of poses in my earlier posts. Simply go to the yoga joural site and look up the names. It even has poses grouped into anatomical and therapeutical groups. You can even create your own sequences. I am off to teaching 5-9 year olds yoga today. Will report back later. I teach a class once a month.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Goji berries are for real!

Avi, the inappropriate yoga guy, just clarified for me that "goji berries" are not imaginary high-in-antioxidants berries from the himalayas, but for real! They are used in chinese herbal medicines and available in health food stores in LA (and around the country I imagine in stores like Trader Joes). Anyway, check out the link at the end of the post, for more information on Goji Berries. I am sure Avi is going to make this an important word in the yoga vernacular as he produces more of his funny yoga videos.

For those readers and yes many of you have come to visit this morning, please subscrible to any of the "subscribe email" links I have. There is feedburner and an RSS link on the right side of this blog. This way you are kept upto-date on new posts on it. For those who love tea and especially "chai", you must know I am a "chai yogi" and no not just the starbucks kind. I have some interesting recipes that I plan to share and yes maybe there is a chai blog on the way in the near future. Anyway, thanks for all those who came to read the blog today. And please, I would appreciate comments, critiques, suggestions and if you want to contribute to the blog, please do let me know by sending me an email.

The Yogi

Link for Jogi Berries:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The very funny Inappropriate yoga guy

A few months back I was introduced to this video called "Inappropriate Yoga Guy". I saw the first video (Tato Salad) and fell to the floor laughing. Ogden is this crazy yogi who hits on these attractive ladies in his yoga class. Ogden in real life is Avi Rothman, who is a very talented comic, writer, actor, producer and an accomplished yoga practitioner. Avi just recently released his sequel on called "Yoga Bitch". This is even funnier and he so comically blends yoga poses into these short movies. Avi in real life practices Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. His myspace profile says he likes berries and tea, hence his infatuation of "goji berries", which I think are imaginary berries from Nepal. Avi was kind enough to communicate with me via email and has told me he plans to release a third sequel to the inappropriate yoga guy series. I can't wait to see it. I have asked Avi for clarification on goji berries. If they exist I want some!!!

Check out Youtube for these videos and other short films that he is in -- they are all VERY FUNNY. Kudos to Avi (Ogden) for taking yoga to another level where it brings us some good laughter.

Sequel 2: (Yoga Bitch)

Sequel 1: (Tato Salad)

Namaste: (Live Sketch)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This touched my heart

I was browsing through CNN and found this video of Guruji. In July/August 2007 I was in Pune for work and was blessed to be allowed to take intermediate classes at the Iyengar Center. CNN visited around that time to interview Guruji and here is the link for the interview. I saw the interview. I was really touched by his experience of racism in the 50s in the UK and US as he strived to introduce yoga to the world. When I watched the interview I got emotional because its a struggle many of us have experienced who have come to the west from the east. What is so inspiring is that this struggle has only produced a profound change for the betterment of the world and Guruji really strived to make yoga popular around the world.

And look where this country has come -- its likely that the next president of the United States will either be an African American or a female. 31 million americans practice yoga. I have met guruji once in person in the basement library. I begged my way one Sunday in May 2006 to meet him. The center was closed but they let me in and I tried the props in the main hall. I was just a novice. I went to the basement library and there he was. I was in shock. He was so polite. I told him about my story and he gave me advice on how to deal with my high eye pressures (and yes they have come down since I started practicing yoga). I touched his feet and cried. It felt like I had come home -- finally! Enjoy the interview.

Beginners (Level 1) Yoga

I balanced my evening with tabla and yoga, by taking the 5:45 pm level 1 class with Nina. When I started at Sunset yoga, I never took any level 1 classes, just went right to level 2. Nuvana taught me level 1 in a short few months at her house. So coming back to Level 1 yesterday night was refreshing, its always great to re-learn the basics and Nina is excellent in walking you through them. I thoroughly enjoyed re-learning how to properly stand in tadasana, using blocks between your arms in urdhva-hastasana -- yes Nina that really did feel like doing yoga weights!!. I also realized how much I had progressed in my practice in 2 years, how far I had come and how much I understood about the rotation, the push and pull of various muscles. That felt encouraging and good. I would really encourage all you advanced yogis to re-visit level 1. Its refreshing!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Running and Yoga

Runing and Iyengar Yoga. Two years ago I used to walk about 7-10 miles a day and also ran 2-3 miles on tread mill. Running and Walking are great cardio exercises but both these exercises tend to contract your muscles. Running especially can be bad on your knees. My Iyengar teacher, Nuvana Z (see ) advised me to do 20-30 minutes of yoga stretches after either a cardio or weight training work out. I would do the following sequence of poses:

Modified Surya Namaskar--Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Ado mukha Svanasana, Plank Pose, Adho-M-S, Uttanasana, Tadasana, and then Paschim Uttansana, Janur Sirsasana, supta padangagustasana 1 and 2, and occasionally add a twist such as Marichyasana III. At the end Sirsasana on the wall and then 5 minutes of shavasana or supported badhakonasana for relaxation. Eventually I added sarvangasana, along with chair supported halasana before shavasana. I didnt start Sirsasana till one year after I started doing yoga, so I would simply do shavasana after the seated poses.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Back Care Class

This morning I went to the back-care class that is conducted every Saturday at Sunset Yoga. The class is generally taught by Nuvana, but was subbed by .... . I had discussed about the certain poses in my earlier blog to help with lower back ache. Here is a list of other supported poses that help relieve lower back stress in a supported form with belts, blocks and blankets:

1. Adho mukha Viranasa (child pose)
2. Utitha Trikonasana (triangle pose)
3. Vrikshasana (tree pose)
4. Uttanasana (forward bend)
5. Paschim Uttanasana (sitting forward bend)
6. Tadasana (standing / mountain pose)

I will upload some instructional videos on the mechanics of these poses in a supported form. Most of these poses help you strengthen your quads, shoulders, hamstrings, maintain good balance and posture and help relieve pressure on your lower back and help relax those muscles.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How was the massage?

Jeremy's massage is probably the most intense I have encountered. Its a relaxing massage with a work-out. The stretching is phenomenal. The virasana type leg stretched and the arms stretches really feel like yoga. He also used some aroma therapy with a chinese herb oil that the accupunturist on staff uses for clearing up my sinuses and heating pads for my back and shoulders. All in all very refreshing and good massage soreness. I highly recommend this type of massage for de-stress.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why no yoga today?

My life has been quite stressful lately. I am debating ... do I do it today or do I go to Nina's class today at 5:45 pm or take the Saturday early AM class. I have decided on an alternative. Why not go for a massage instead today and attend the Saturday class? Recently I have been going for a 90 min massage when I am REALLY stressed out. I go to a place called Angelic Healing Hands ( The massuese (Jeremy) practices a combination of swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, and "martial arts stretching". The stretching part is what is amazing. Some of the stretches are similar to yoga stretches, like the leg folding in a "virasana" This is a great stretch for the legs, thighs and ankles. I will talk more about various massages that are helpful in keeping your mind, body and soul fit. I have experienced numerous types in India. My lingering back-ache by the way has not come back yet. Just from one evening of Yoga on Monday. So all of you who are reading this blog who have not tried, please find an Iyengar Yoga studio like and try it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What a way to burn stress!

So tonight I finally got my butt in gear and went to my first class this semester with Nina. I attend classes at sunset yoga ( as well as take a personal class at my yoga guru's home. Oh what a relief! I have been having lower back-ache since since Xmas. Today when I got home from work it had moved from the left side to the right side. I HAD TO DO SOMETHING!

I somehow motivated myself. Cancelled my tabla class and went to the advanced class with Nina. I told her I was having lower back pain. Lo and behold the first pose Nina chose was suptapadangusthasana... . Yes its a mouthful, but for all you who have lower back-ache this is a wonderful pose to help you with relaxing your back muscles. If done correctly it forces your hamstrings to work and relieve pressure on your lower back. We did several other poses, that included uttanasana (forwared bend) see, wall supported uttithatrikonasana (triangle pose), and then transitioning into ardhachandrasana (half moon pose) see Between these four poses my back-ache had pretty much disappeared. We did several other more advanced poses involving lotus positions and finally ended with shirsasana (head stand) and sarvangasana (shoulder stand). 90 minutes later I was refreshed energetic and had a sumptous Daal and Rice dinner when I got home. I felt alive. This is what yoga does for me -- at 5 pm i was tired and stressed out, lounged in front of the TV. By 9 pm I was a new man! Thank you Nina!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cool Yoga Videos

I am collecting a list of videos available online. Here is one called Please visit this site. It has some good instructive videos on flow and movement, vinyasas/ashtanga yoga.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How to do a triangle pose? uthita trikon asana

1. Stand straight in Tadasana -- standing Pose. Feet rooted to the ground, joined together, knees and quads pulled up, chest and sternum lifted up, shoulders rolled back, head straight, arms pulled down, fingers and hands straight pointing downwards and parallel.

2. Then jump your feet apart and arms apart. Arms are straight accross. Stretch your arms out completely in both left and right directions. You should be firmly balanced on your feet

3. Now rotate your left foot out to the left. Your right foot is inverted inwards towards your left foot at an angle. Bend your left knee and extend is slightly over your left ankle to form a square. Do not bend your right knee.

4. Then bend or tilt on the left side to touch your left leg or shin with your left hand. Your right can either be raised or bent to touch your right waist. Straighten your left leg to form a triangle pose. Then pully yourself back to look up. Stay in the pose for 2-4 minutes and then raise yourself gently and slowly to come out of the pose and get back to standing pose. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. For beginners, use the wall for support. Also if you have trouble bending sideways completely to touch your feet, use a chair to hold and be more parallel to the floor.

Follow this link for alternate instructions:

Additional References: Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Want to change your life with Yoga?

So if you are just starting out -- here are some important tips:

Tip # 1

Take a class in person. Need recommendations? There are many choices. It is best to find a good yoga studio and take a beginners class. Visit and look under teachers to find an iyengar style yoga studio. These studios have great beginners programs and you can simply drop in. The classes are semester based. Typically they will start in Jan, June and then in Sept. Check out the credentials of the teachers. They are rigorous. Most certified teachers spend 3 years in certification. Other similar styles are Anusura yoga. There is also Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Vin yoga. They are more movement and breathing focused. Some folks like this style better. I personally suggest Hatha yoga firs to learn basics and then evolve and add.

Tip # 2
Buy a yoga mat, two blocks (foam), get a couple of blankets and belts. This is for home practice. A folding chair and the wall are other important props.

Tip # 3
Try a few classes and change instructors to see who you like the best.

Tip # 4

Practice what you have learnt. I did that by doing 20 mins of yoga after a cardio work out at the gym or when I did weights. Its good as your body has warmed up, muscles could use some stretching. It is best to do yoga after your work out and not before. Your muscles tend to be tight after cardio or weights, even though your body has warmed up. I will tell you what poses to practice after the work out.

Tip # 5
Listen to your body when you take a class. Don't be compelled to follow the crowd and feel competitive. Do it at your pace. If you feel tired stop what are doing and go into a resting pose. Its best to try the “child pose”.

Tip # 6
Become self aware. Yoga helps you to become self aware, but you have to make the effort. If you feel de-motivated, just go around the block for a walk. Walking my friend is the best exercise and movement. Even if you walked for 10 mins a day once or twice a day, its a great exercise. If weather does not permit, heck get out and go to the mall and walk, but please WALK! :)

Tip # 7
Give it time and repeat and practice as often as you can. Its only with small repetitions and small steps and time will you see progress. Build on the progress... and dont expect immediate results. They will come in time. Go at your own pace.

Tip # 8
Bear the pain and soreness. Those are good signs. Its in the pain that you achieve salvation. Don't ever give up hope. Its in the hope that you survive and bear the pain.

Tip # 9
Lets wait for the next blog for more tips. In the meantime here is an inspirational video on yoga and a snippet on how to do the triangle pose.

What is yoga?

Basics of doing a triangle pose

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hello World!

Hello Readers!
This is my first posting. Let me tell you about myself. I am a 43 year old male (just turned 43) 6'1 about 200 pounds, 35-36 waist. I am in decent shape today and follow a decent path of personal wellness. Exactly two years ago I was in terrible shape. I was about 250 pounds, 42 waist, panting for breath, depressed, sad, tired, over-eating, over-stressed business executive who had become a couch potatoe. I had developed a slew of medical problems, includng high blood pressure, high cholesterol, severe asthma, depression, chronic back-ache, shoulder ache, acid reflux. I was on several medications, including anti-depressents, inhalors, and steroids. I felt I was a walking time bomb, at the verge of just imploding. I had achieved so much, but inside I was empty, my spirit was empty.

I had tried everything, diets, including atkins, gym, including personal trainers and nothing worked. I had become what I had become over 12 years, as everything else in my life took over. Work, business, marriage, kids, family, employees, travel, investors. I worked to please everyone, to take care of everyone and in that process ignored to take care of myself -- physically, emotionally and spirtually. I got caught up in what we call "the american dream". I wasn't always this way. I am a type A person, very motivated, driven, hard working, but I also took care of myself and tried to be regularly physically active. I was active in sports in school, athletic, walked, biked, hit the gym till I was 29 and then stresses of life took over me. Stress took over me and I lost track of myself and my spirit.

I was in New Delhi India on January 3rd of 2006, standing on a road-side puking after a late night dinner. I had had a severe asthma attack and my body was rejecting everything I ate / put in my stomach. I felt "sick" and I felt I was dying and I couldn't take this anymore. It was a wake up call for me. Here I was in my country of birth and maybe that night would also be my country of death. I missed my wife and kids dearly that night. I was terrified. Something had to change.

The next morning I flew to a city called Pune. As I drove in a cab to my hotel, I read an article about yoga in a magazine in the cab. This article wouldn't have come at a better time in my life. The article talked about how yoga had helped many in many ways, improved their physical body, manage the diseases, improved fitness and health. I suddenly awakened and became aware and recalled I had done it as a kid, but had put the memories of yoga away as something acrobatic but not as fun as running, playing tennis, doing weights or swimming.

So I was intrigued. I wanted to try yoga. There was a gym in the hotel. I went up -- and yes they had a yoga class and yoga teacher. I asked if I could just take a private lesson. For $10.00 he would come to my room and teach me yoga. I went for it. That one hour of yoga awakened my body. It included some basic poses and breathing exercises and "shavasana" -- relaxation at the end. Something clicked. I felt most refreshed, energized and relaxed. I was ready to go to work. I couldnt sleep that night, I had so much energy and excitement.

I came back home two weeks later and started taking yoga classes at the gym. My first class was on a Sunday. The teacher was definitly not orginally from the US. I couldnt tell where she was from, maybe australian, but she looked mid eastern. Her yoga style was very precise and different. There was no breathing, and by the end of the session, I was exhausted and felt like I had done a serious workout. She was very instructive and detailed about how to do the pose. I later found out she was from Bombay India, and practiced and taught a yoga style called Iyengar. I will come back to Iyengar yoga later, but she left an impression in my mind. I could barely do any of the poses she taught, but she was very patient and she showed me how I could do the same pose with the help of blocks and chairs and the wall.

I also took other classes, one that I found was fun. It was a vinyasa style, the teacher used music, and it seemed like a dance. I enjoyed it, but I felt I was not really doing the pose, I was always trying to just keep up with her and everyone. There was not much instruction. Just watch and copy and being out of shape it would be harder. I felt like I got a workout, but then later my back-ache would get worse and I felt I was hurting my body, just like what I did when I was doing weights and cardio with my personal trainer. Twice I pulled my groin muscles and I was repeating that. So I went back to the Sunday class with the Iyengar teacher. It was more refreshing.

Within 3 weeks I felt I had more energy. I started doing treadmill, I started walking in the morning before the yoga class. A felt better, more energetic and more motivated. After 4 weeks I was hitting the gym 3 times a week, walking, doing eliptical, and doing two yoga classes. At the end of my cardio I was practicing certain poses for 20 minutes and then at the end I was always doing 10 minutes of relaxation or shavasana.

Lo and behold on Feb 4th, 2006 I checked my weight. I had lost 10 pounds. Wowee!. Thats the most weight I had lost ever in years. It had been a steady climb since 1995. I had lost 10 pounds in 2001 after 4 weeks of atkins and then it all came back. My journey to wellness had become and yoga became the core of this journey. Iyengar Yoga became the yoga of choice for me. Within 12 months I had lost 60 pounds. My weight started to peel off. I never much changed my diet, the only thing I gave up was coke and pepsi. In January 2007 I had a physical which showed dramatic changes in my health. My cholesterol was way below 200, all the numbers dropped. My lung capacity increased to where it was in 1997. My waist reduced by 6 inches. I was back to wearing a size L shirt from XXL. I was 190 pounds and unrecognizable to many who had not seen me in a while. I had been off my anti depressant for nearly a year now. Yoga had saved me and I felt a lot better. Yoga had given me a new life.

Today I only practice yoga. Usually 3 times a week 90 minutes each time. I only hit the gym to take my kids to swim or use the suana. I dont do any weights. I need to kick my walking and cardio back some, but when I do yoga, I do everything, I breathe, I awaken my muscles, I work out holisically and my body responds to it tremendously. In two years I have gone from being a novice to an advanced student and I am not that flexible, but when I do yoga, I do it with all my heart and soul and it has simply become a part of my psychy. I am not an expert, but I am a true yogi as it helped me to start a holistic life. I could do better on the food I eat, but I really dont pay too much attention. I feel my body is able to process what I eat and burn it up. My stress has not gone away, but I am able to manage it better. I feel healthier.

I am sharing this new found wellness with others. I teach yoga to kids 6-9 years in age. I feel sowing such seeds early will make a huge difference in their lives as they grow up. Yoga is not just a way to stay fit. "It is a way of life". Many people in this country have taken this ancient way of life and improvised it, extended it to our infatuation with our bodies, to the way we look. I think thats great, but we need to not forget that our bodies are wired to be the way they are and if we can combine that with our internal beauty of the spirit and mind, we will become more healthy and live happier and more fullfilled lives. That is the "essence of yoga".

I plan to use this blog as a way to spread the messsage of yoga, as a way to make people aware of the choices they have, to educate them, to enlighten them and help them bring the true essence of yoga into their life, so they too can become healthier with less stress in their life. As at the end of the day no matter what we look like, what matters the most is how we feel about ourselves and we all just want to be well.

So I hope all you readers will join me in this journey. Share your wellness challenges with me and we will get on this journey of personal wellness together. All comments and experiences and are welcome.


The Yogi.