Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cutting knives with forks, vege diet, exercise, pranayama and yoga

Last Sunday I saw a documentary movie "Forks over Knives". It was an eye-opener, a new wake up call, a eureka moment! The last time I had this moment was exactly 5 years ago as I stood on the side of a cold, smoggy New Delhi road puking my guts out after a severe asthma attack. I thought I was going to die and it started me on the path of yoga. "Forks over Knives" inspired me to go "cold turkey" vegetarian only since last Sunday. I had anxiety pangs, meat withdrawals and on two occasions I cheated a bit, but all in all I stuck with the plan of mostly plant diet.

I have had several shorts stints of vegetarian diet since last year in May when I had the pleasure of meeting Geetaji (Ms. Geeta Iyengar). The Iyengar family is strictly vegetarian. But each time I would give up. Today is my 9th day and I remain committed to remaining vegetarian and I think I can keep going at it.

I have also been practicing pranayama and my second class with Jen on Thursday evening felt even better. I realized I had been practicing Ujai 4 for the last many days on my own. I would say that makes me feel the best. I also increased my exercise regime, with short bursts of intense cardio, interspersed with brisker walking and more yoga stretches at gym.

On Friday I went for my physical exam and my blood pressure was was 98/68 from the typical 140/90 type. My pulse was 88, when its usually in the high 90s. The nurse was shocked. The doctor checked it again and it was 98/70. He suggested dropping dosage or stopping one of my BP-meds all together. I suggested waiting.

I am not sure if its just one thing, but even a few weeks of diet, regular exercise and yoga practice is making a difference in my health. My energy levels are higher and stress levels lower. "Long interrupted practice", is my mantra for diet, exercise and yoga! I will keep repeating this in my head as I travel to Hawaii/Maui tomorrow AM. I will be packing my own fruit salad as lunch to take on flight - a first!

Change happens slowly - one step at a time. A deep inhalation, a pause, followed by a deep exhalation - Shubh Ratri, Good night - Namaste!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Exhale out your stress in Ujai 2 - Begining of Pranayama

Finally, a formal 8 week pranayama class arrived at Sunset Yoga Center to be taught by Jen! I have been waiting for such a class and I wouldn't miss it for the world. The catch, no make ups or walk-ins. That will break my walk-in mode of attending yoga classes in Portland. I had become a walk-in drone for the last two years. Everything is sporadic when it comes to yoga, except when I am in Pune, when I can get to yoga for 2 hours a day.

I arrived to the class promptly, right from the gym and to my surprise found a small group with none of the regulars (those who attended level 3) around. Jen started with a great intro and some supine poses as preparation for pranayama and then in the last 20 mins of the class we practiced Ujai breathing - 1, 2, 3.

I found Ujai 2 the most relaxing and meditative, as those deep exhalations lead you to that empty space between the exhalation and the next inhalation. Its the nothing space, where you have let go for a moment every thought, desire and distraction and your mind is at peace and calm with yourself. I practiced it again last night before I went to bed and slept well.

A quote from Lord Krishna to Arjuna from the book "The Yoga of Bhagvad Gita"" perhaps best describes the feeling of Ujai 2: "O Partha, (Arjuna)! when a man completely relinquishes all desires of the the mind, and is entirely contended in the Self, by the Self, he is then considered to be one settled in wisdom".

There was great wisdom of being content for those few moments in Ujai 2 on Thursday night. I look forward to many more. Thank you Jen for a great class.