Month: January 2017

My Encounter with Yoga – 2

Chapter 2: The draconian Zumba class

Days went by, leaving me with an uncontrollable sense of guilt for inaction. What could I do? The now-Canadian yoga teacher had gone away and here I was, bloating again. However, somewhere deep down, I hadn’t given up on finding a new instructor for myself. There were some good gymnasiums and yoga classes in the vicinity of my apartment, but not knowing how to drive a car was a big hurdle in the way. Relying on auto-rickshaws was the last thing I wanted to do, for the apprehension of being fleeced twice, every second morning. The last option was to walk to class, but the mad morning traffic on the highway on which the apartment is situated dissuaded me beyond doubt. I could not risk my life or a limb for getting back in shape. It wasn’t worth it! Again, given the two-hours I had to myself every morning, I had to figure out something within the apartment complex itself and soon.

Once again the law of attraction worked in my favour and a neighbour casually mentioned a Zumba class being taken by a young woman within the apartment. Zumba is a dance fitness programme, usually performed on Latin music, designed to burn high levels of calories during the workout. Dance has always beckoned me (though I never did it!) and Latin music kind of sounds hip. The thought of the transformation from ancient yoga techniques to the contemporarily fashionable Zumba got me all excited and I could feel my lost vigour return, though in unmanageable proportions. I figured out the in-house Zumba instructor’s number and got in touch with her. She very sweetly offered to take a demo class for me, after which I could decide whether I wanted to join the class formally.

“You’re going to love it” she said on the phone, her voice beaming with confidence at her own sense of instruction and prowess.

“I’m sure I will” I said, feeling confident at the degree of her confidence. I was reasonably sure I would like the class and my woes would end, at least temporarily, till this woman too decided to migrate overseas. Who knows?

Thus came the demo day and I, dressed in perfect exercise-type attire rang her doorbell at 6 am sharp. I felt fresh as a bird, something very unusual for a perpetually somnolent personality like me. The excitement of the class had prevented me from sleeping the whole night, not to mention the sudden change I was expecting to see in my own body, after I got back in an hour’s time. Zumba is very rigorous I had heard, and I was sure that it would help me regain shape.

My thoughts were disrupted as the instructor answered the door and ushered me into her house with a broad smile. She was a pretty woman, in her late twenties, extremely attractive and well-dressed. She reminded me of young women in Bollywood movies, who play the most desired females on college campuses. Good for me, I thought.

Apart from me, her class included two other women who had already spread out their yoga mats and waited eagerly for the class to begin.

“Good morning” I said to the women.

“Hey” said one of them. She was a lean young woman of about twenty-two, extremely frail and sickly-looking. The first emotion she evoked in me was that of sympathy. If I was the instructor, I would never have let her join the class, no matter how much she was willing to pay.

“How are the classes? Do they help in weight loss?” I asked in an apprehensive tone.

“Oh man! You’ll loooooooove them. Out of this world I tell you.” she said in an accent that was neither American nor British. God knows where she had picked it up from or may be she created it. Whatever.

“Oh good” I said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Suddenly my eyes fell on the second woman. She was a rather short and plump young girl of about twenty, busy stretching her body as I talked to the lean one.

“How long have you been here?” I asked her.

“Oh you’re talking to me?” she said. “It’s been almost eight months now.”

By her look, I didn’t feel like asking her the weight loss question. I swallowed my disappointment and smiled back at her.

“Don’t judge the instructor’s ability by my fat” she said, pre-empting my thoughts. “My body fat is varrrry stubborn.”

“I see.” said I and began to focus my attention on the instructor, who had been listening carefully to my conversations with the two women. Finding me looking at her, she broke the silence.

“Have you brought water?” the instructor asked.

“Nope. I don’t think I’ll need it.” I said.

“And how can you say that?” she said.

“I prefer to have water only at the end of the class” said I, with a fake air of self-importance.

“Your wish” she said. “Anyway, feel free to take water from the purifier in the kitchen. The glasses are on the counter.”

I thanked her with a smile reeking of over-confidence. I wasn’t going to need any water. I was sure.

“By the way, don’t expect too much out of the demo class. All you must focus on is on doing as I am doing. OK?”

“Hmm”.

“Here we begin” she said and began to tie what looked like a bandana around her head that made her look much more of the college-smartie types. She clicked something on her rather new-looking Mac laptop and there I stood, ready to face the music. The music began and with that, the instructor began to sway her waist from side to side and so did the rest of us. After nearly two minutes, I realised I was feeling good.

The first jolt came when I realised that the music being played was in English. I still don’t know why I was shocked. Did I expect to Zumba on Hindi classics or romantic hits? It was perhaps my apprehension of not understanding the lyrics that was freaking me out. Anyway. As the music gained gusto, the movement of her waist became faster and faster and by that time, my breath had already begun to leave my side. I felt that the symmetry between the corners of my waist had been lost, as if the hip bone had been dislocated by a vigorous jolt. As if this was not enough, the instructor’s rather scary-looking neck movements had begun. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her hurling her head in full circles, forming a rainbow-shaped halo around her head, with her open hair. I knew that it wasn’t even worth trying, yet I chose to give her the impression that I was loving it. The reality was that I was losing it.

As my body got more and more tired, my ability to process information also slowed down. When she started another dance step, I could follow it in its entirety only by the time she had moved on to another. I could see the other two women look at me from the corner of their eyes and then exchange smirky glances. However, I hung on, till a black smoke began to cover my eyes. I felt as if my body was turning ice cold and a vintage black and white TV screen appeared before my eyes. Some good sense got into me and I pushed myself against the wall just behind me. I had just prevented myself from falling like a felled tree.

This experience was not new. Decades ago, I had fainted in the Chemistry lab of my school, owing to high hydrogen sulphide levels. And today this bone-breaking dance had brought me on my knees.

“Are you OK?” asked the instructor.

“Can I have some water please” I said in a voice that only I could hear.

“What?”

“Water” I managed to utter.

The three women exchanged glances and a glass of life-saving liquid was handed over to me. I felt instantly better.

“Thank you” I said, wiping the cold sweat off my forehead.

“Now get up and start jogging” said the instructor.

I complied, only to find myself fainting yet again and asking for more water.

“I guess I must go” I said. “I’m not able to catch up.”

“Sure” she said.

Limping along the path to my house, I got home with the yoga mat in one hand, and my head in another. As I had fathomed, I stood before the full-length mirror in my room. There was change indeed, but not of the kind I had expected to see. Chuck weight loss. I would much rather prefer maintaining the current position of my bones, flesh and muscles.

I never looked back at that class or at the prospect of Zumba for that matter.

Chapter 2 was a complete disaster.

Zumba – out!

To be continued.

Image taken from Google images.

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My encounter with Yoga – 1

I never really thought I would end up writing this piece. The reason being the same as always – apprehension about revealing my own idiosyncrasies. However, after considerable deliberation, I only ended up realising that even the most mundane of things can turn up being rather stupidly iconic in my life. How long can I refrain from talking about them? And why should I refrain? If it makes someone laugh out loud, it’s good, right?  Like any other humorous experience of my uniquely-endowed life, here I am, presenting yet another. Wish you a happy and joyous reading – it’ll surely have you in splits.

With the burgeoning fat in almost every inch of my body (a phenomenon that started about a year ago), I knew I had to do something. Something, to prevent myself from bloating beyond recognition. It’s not a particularly happy situation to be questioned about your due date when you aren’t even pregnant. Childbirth can do this to the feeblest of females, as it did to me. Anyway. Something had to be done.

The first few months of the expansionary trend were spent in ruminating about old days, fabulous dresses I could once don (though I never really did for want of time and energy!) and the head-turning reactions to my presence in ‘good times’ (at least I thought the heads turned at the sight of me. Even if they didn’t, I choose to live with the notion, as long as it keeps me happy). I would spend hours before the full-length mirror in different costumes and angles, trying to figure out what was going wrong and where. With the same appetite as before, where was all this fat coming from? Had my metabolism slowed down or I had begun hogging in sleep, without even knowing? In the traditional terminology of body types, had I grown into an apple? Or a pear? But I had begun to look like a lemon. What the hell!

The thoughts only saddened me, worsened by the helplessness that accompanied the melancholy of losing my physical identity, something which I have identified with for over three decades now. The ironic part was that I have never really been conscious about my appearance ever in life. But now when I stand on the verge of losing it, it hurts. It really does. In fact, it gives me some sense of how people feel as they age. How challenging must it be to witness, day by day and inch by inch, a change in one’s appearance, especially when there’s little hope of reversal. Must be painful.

Not being able to figure out the cause for the geometrically increasing flab in my body, I decided to seek medical help. I met general physicians who guided me to gynecologists, who in turn made me undergo a battery of blood tests in the hope of an explanation to the massive weight gain in such a short span of time. All tests involved getting my blood sucked out in vials that differed only in the colour of their caps, and naturally involved a lot of pain and endurance, not to mention the cash I had to pay to donate my own blood! Plus those ugly syringe marks on my arms. Eeks!

Some blood was sucked out in the name of determining levels of the female hormone in me, others examined the efficiency of the thyroid function and yet others were meant to comment on sugar levels in my blood. After losing so much blood, and a good deal of my hard-earned money, the salt and sugar tests failed to detect anything! “Everything is normal” I was told. “Bloody hell” I murmured under my breath, as I exited the doctor’s clinic. Something was seriously wrong.

After couple of months, the sadness about my changing shape was gone and acceptance came limping along. I would no longer spend time with my mirror. In fact, I began to lose touch with it. I simply wasn’t interested in knowing what I looked like anymore. The only role that damned thing now played in my life was to assist me in putting on my contact lenses and of course, the fine dash of kohl under my eyes. With acceptance of the newer self, came rationality. Instead of cribbing or playing the inquisitive observer, I was now more concerned about managing the newly acquired lemon-shape. I began to ponder about things such as what to wear to look not-so-bloated? What to don to look nice, without attracting unnecessary attention to say, saggy arms? Probably I was slowly beginning to care less and less over time, till one day, something happened and the accountant in me kicked in.

As I opened my cupboard to pull out a delicate-looking yellow top I had picked from the shopping mall just a couple of days ago, I was ecstatic. It was a top I had carefully selected to house me in my entirety, in my new form, and prided myself at the choice of colour and fabric. It was a bright sunny yellow, a colour I usually associate with being alive. The fabric was some kind of flowy georgette that assumed a nice, plaited-fall in the tummy area, concealing its bulge. All in all, perfect.

After I managed to put it on, I decided to sneak a peek in the mirror, in anticipated admiration. To my surprise, I realised that this piece of clothing too, like many others in the recent past, barely managed to house my body. It bulged and stretched on the sides, as if even the slightest bend of my body would leave it in tatters. I couldn’t believe my eyes. While I had experienced slight discomfort in trying to slip it on through my neck, that it would get so out of shape (it was actually I who had gone out of shape!) was least expected. This was too much.

Not only was this phenomenon wrecking me emotionally, but now another aspect, more close to my heart, had begun to pick my brain – the financial aspect. I had had to give away so many of my barely-used clothes in the last couple of months and then this! That vicious circle had started yet again. How many clothes was I supposed to buy? What was their expected longevity? Two weeks or at most, a month? Is the cost of buying good quality clothes for less than a month justified? And what about the now useless inventory of new clothes already stacked in the cupboard? And till when would this weight epidemic continue to infest me? What is it’s end? Or will it be the cause for my end? Not acceptable. I had made up my mind – I had to do something to check my weight gain, else I was sure to explode one day or some night, while in sleep, only to be discovered in bits and pieces the next morning. Thus came the Yoga chapter!

Chapter 1: The wonderful group-class

As I went about enquiring fervently with neighbors, I was apprised of an ongoing yoga class in the apartment I live in. It was conducted by a young Bengali woman, in her early thirties. Extremely beautiful and passionate about her profession, in my first meeting with her, I instantly knew I had to seek her help. Thus began the early morning group yoga classes, every second day of the week. I would slyly get out of bed at 5.45 am, change into comfortable clothing, pick up my yoga mat from the other room and quietly exit the house like a thief. I had to be careful not to make a sound, else I could end up risking my attendance if my son woke up and didn’t let me go. Worse, if it was my husband who woke up, he would persuade me endlessly about the cons of physical exercise and the stress it could cause to the brain in the absence of adequate sleep. After his ridiculous speech, I would lose both my enthusiasm and inclination to go and hit the bed again. By the way, it was only later that I realised that it was perhaps his own guilt of not exercising that he said all that. Anyway.

The 6 am batch was a small one, comprising only five members, including myself. A small batch meant better inter-personal relationships and of course, higher attention from the instructor. A win-win in short. Just as I had gauged in the first meeting, the instructor was extremely professional in her attitude and knew how to get the best out of her students. She would mercilessly make us practise asanas that could beat the hell out of anyone. Innocuous-looking postures designed hundreds of years ago possessed the power to tear every muscle in the body, badly enough to leave one handicapped for the rest of the day. In one of the earlier classes, I recall how I ended up with swollen feet and sore thighs. But that pain eventually paid off and I realised that after couple of weeks, while I hadn’t lost much weight, I wasn’t gaining it either. My weight remained put and so did my enthusiasm for attending the class and sweating myself out.

Like all good things in the world, this arrangement wasn’t meant to last. As I entered the class one morning, I saw my batch-mates seated around the instructor, their faces in their hands, brooding over something. Something is not right, I thought. Even without me asking, I was told “She’s shifting to Canada. Her husband needs to relocate permanently.”

What the hell, I thought. What about my weight then? What about my clothes not fitting me yet again? Who will I go to now? Thoughts began to cloud my head, when I realised that these issues were extremely trivial when compared to life-changing decisions such as migrating to other countries and starting afresh. Being selfish at that point was not right.

I smiled, wished her luck and got into yoga mode again, except that my brain wasn’t with me in that session. It was in my wardrobe, looking for something to wear after couple of days, that would still fit.

To be continued.

Image taken from Google images

New series – Meditative Musings

Hi friends,

Welcome to another of the blog’s series – Meditative Musings. Unlike the never-ending ‘short’ stories and pages-long poetry, this should offer some respite. These reflect just a couple of lines (not exceeding three generally) about something I have had the chance to ponder about, (particularly without my even knowing it!) when something catchy suddenly occupies my head. This I believe is the outcome of the parallel processing of certain issues my brain is engaged in, probably all the time. These largely relate to social issues or human emotions or other things that set my mind ticking. After lot of introspection, I kind of believe that these often reflect matters that affect me much more than I can tend to see. Often times I have felt the urge to pen these down, but my laziness, coupled with the apprehension of the usability of things like these has prevented me from actually documenting them.

However, last night, I finally decided to give it a shot. Given the ‘meditative’ nature of these lines, my motivation to preserve them is that I expect them to provide me some clarity in life, during times when irrationality may end up clouding my brain. With the same objective in mind, I choose to share these with you. If you can relate to them, I’ll be happy and if you cannot, doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s about one’s unique conditioning and life experiences.

As I end, these musings will be in a picture format, which you can easily read in less than two seconds, as you’re ‘on the go’!

Wish you a happy reading! Stay connected.

Akanksha

Image taken from Google images

The euphoria of reading

If it was not for my habit of reading,

I would never have known.

That with a book in one’s hand,

One is never alone.

While others were glued to the television set,

I found a silent corner to read.

Once a hobby, then a habit,

Now Reading is my ‘need’.

I have lifted my spirits with books on ‘self-help’,

And with philosophy, have dived into my mind.

I have been tormented on ‘historical’ trains,

And with the Great Mughals I have dined.

I have travelled afar,

To seas and lands unknown.

Have tasted wild fruits and berries,

That this earth has never grown.

I have sipped simmering ‘kahwah’,

In the vicinity of Dal lake.

Invested billions of dollars in virtual markets,

With not a rupee at stake!

I have created my own ‘book bubble’,

My little world that knows no pain.

When I’m tired of the ways of the world,

I enter my bubble again.

I urge you to start reading from this day itself,

There’s something written just for you.

It’s only about finding that one book,

After which you shall never be you.

As parents of young children,

Let’s sow in them this seed.

We can ‘educate’ them with schools,

But to be wise, they must read.

Image taken from Google images