Yoga - Yoga in sickness
by Shameem Akthar
Even when sickness or emotional turmoil overwhelms you, yoga can restore balance, says Shameem Akhthar
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
The main reason I started on yoga was because I was very sickly since childhood. Despite that, I would have moments of extreme activity and then collapse because I would have led myself to the point of exhaustion. This pattern obviously not just transferred itself to adulthood but also became an aggravation.
When yoga happened, it not only immediately grounded me, but also suddenly created a powerful shift in perspective. Priorities shifted. I did not need to be a supermom, being just a simple caring one was fine, oftentimes more difficult. In just a few years after discovering yoga, I realised I wanted to be out of all toxic environments. Quitting my job was just one of those choices. Consistently, I have allowed myself the ultimate luxury of choosing whom I work with.
But that freedom also comes with a certain cost. Unlike others who could have the luxury of paid leave, I had none. It is yoga which gave me the strength to cope with that. I could work now, if I willed, to the point of exhaustion and not completely keel over. There have been nights when an upset stomach would have kept me awake the entire night, and yet, when the time came to ready for a class, I would be in class, joking and pushing my students to do their best and nobody would guess that I was actually a survivor of a grisly night of sickness!
There have been times of extreme fever, injuries, emotional upsets, personal losses, when it would seem impossible to maintain a normal fašade, when all you wanted was to crawl under a blanket and sleep. However, because of yoga, it has been possible to leave the crawling, and instead stand up, at first shakily, but more firmly, through a tough spot. At such times, yoga is more than a health practice: it is a state of being, a special energy that I propitiate, as a friend, guru, teacher. And just as the teacher would be honoured by consistency, regularity of practice, and reward its student, so too I believe yoga responds to my love, and hoists me up when down.
So, even when a fever rages, or there is the intense pain of injury, there is a sense of the pain stepping back. I believe this sense of watching over yourself, in the third person, is the peculiar ability of those with some practice, not just in yoga but other meditative techniques as well, that can help us lead a normal life even when the strain of it can try to drag us down.
When recovering from sickness if you wish to continue with your practice, you must choose simpler variation of the classic poses. It would be gentle, yet clarifying.
Sit with both legs out. Lift the right leg, bending it at the knee, and passing it over the stretched left leg, placing the right foot near the left knee. Right arm reaches behind, while the left arm passes over the right leg, to hold right ankle. Inhale. Exhaling,twist to the right side, trying to keep the back straight. Hold for a few seconds breathing normally. Release. Repeat for the other side.
All twists are powerful detox poses. They tone the entire spinal column, including the nerves. They increase the body heat, burning and removing things that must be thrown out.
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