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.

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