My Experience with Yoga

Aditi Shah

'Disease can be a doorway to yoga for some people in which case it is considered to be a blessing in disguise.' This is particularly true in my case and I now realise the tremendous value of yoga - both as a physical and mental healer.

I had been suffering from severe asthmatic attacks for seven years, and after giving up all hope of being cured, the last avenue left open for me was to try yoga. I had absolutely no faith in yoga and thought of it as a type of spiritual fraud. This extreme viewpoint became less severe after reading a review of Satyananda Ashram, Calcutta in a leading newspaper on which I could rely. Yet, with great reluctance I went to the ashram.

When I first entered the ashram, I found it to be quite different from any other similar place. It was antiseptically clean, calm and quiet, with a welcoming atmosphere. The director of the ashram spoke with confidence, and when she said that my asthma could be cured completely, I was awe-struck and willing to join that minute, for I could not imagine myself separated from the disease.

So began my cure at the ashram. The first two days I was given simple asanas and then introduced to neti and kunjal. I did these every day for fifteen days under the guidance of a swami, and any mistake or problem that I faced was dealt with promptly, with greater care, love and understanding than I I would receive at home. I also had the opportunity of reading the book Yogic Management of Asthma and Diabetes, a superb publication of Bihar School of Yoga. This helped me to plan a sensible diet, thus excluding things like ice cream, cakes and pastries, artificially flavoured foods, cold drinks, all milk products, and fried oily foods etc. which I had greatly indulged in earlier.

The example of the swamis, the trust they ingrained in me, combined with regular yoga practice, brought about a remarkable change within weeks, which I could not believe myself. Before I started with yoga, I took a tablet every day before going to bed and in spite of that, quite often I woke up in the middle of the night only to gulp down another tablet so that I could sleep in peace. But during four months of regular yoga practice, I have taken recourse to tablets only twice. What a miracle!

Now I realise that the root cause of my asthma was anxiety and mental agony from unfulfilled ambitions and desires. Due to the disease, chronic sickness and depression led to continuous mental tension, which depleted all my energy and left me susceptible to further attacks.

Meditation practice at the ashram helped me to replace self-loathing with love and tolerance, and has infused confidence and optimism in me, changing my entire outlook on life. If I do face a temporary state of depression, then it just passes away.

By coming to the ashram, I not only benefited from the practices, but also learned a lot from the swamis themselves. They greatly emphasise the importance of practising asanas in the early hours of the morning between four and six a.m. This seemed quite ridiculous to me earlier, but now I feel that getting up early keeps me fresh and active throughout the day.

In short, I now feel like a million dollars, for I am almost cured of a disease which modern science states to be basically incurable. I will continue towards the betterment of life by means of yoga.