Of autumn leaves and things

Of autumn leaves and things

One of the many things I love about Kerala is how lush and green it is here. These past few days have been wonderful for so many reasons, being back in my grandmother’s house, a wedding in the family, lots of food (no I don’t starve in London but I don’t have to worry about cooking when I’m in India, and the food seems unlimited and so delicious) and this morning there was a torrential downpour. I could hear the sound of the rain when I was in bed half-asleep, and when I woke up properly the foliage in and around the house looked even more spectacular, green and fresh.

Which got me thinking back to how I’ve been unconsciously amazed everyday in London the past few weeks: autumn colours are stunning! I love waking up in the mornings and looking at the tree outside my window, the leaves have turned a fiery red and are slowly changing everyday. Back in school we were taught the four seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring but the seasons are different in Calcutta (the raging monsoons, for instance) and its in London I’ve experienced autumn for the very first time. I think its my favourite season, but to be fair I’ve learnt to love each season in its own right and the English weather doesn’t really bother me, besides an occasional rant I might have if my shoes and bag get wet.

Autumn colours, oh my goodness, they take my breath away. Everyday mundane tasks like going to work or the shops is made so interesting just by the vividness of the scenery around me, nature at its finest. Besides being stunning to look at, autumun reminds me of the natural cycle of seasons every year, which I like to mark by the trees along the road I live on. Bare and ghostly in winter, new life blossoming in spring leading to luxuriant blooms in summer and then my favourite, autumn, where it feels like the trees are shedding off their excesses in preparation for a long rest in winter again. I love making up analogies in my head and one of my favourites is the sad, bare tree in winter feeling very dejected that it has nothing to show for itself or its life. By the time spring comes along the new shoots signal hope and the tree hangs on, and by summer it has almost forgotten how sad it had been its so busy enjoying its finery of leaves and flowers…in autumn it is resplendent in its sheer beauty and as its leaves start falling it starts becoming sad and scared again, but then reminds itself that this too shall pass. Troubles and sadness pass, happiness is fleeting, change is the only constant. I tried selling this to my sister a while ago when she was feeling very low (with pictures of said tree to boot) and at the time she was less than appreciative and its the closest she has come to swearing at me, but now that she is in her “summer” she admits I had a point.

What else do I love about autumn?

The air is so clean, chilly and crisp.

The sun is still around, but you can tell its on its way out.

I love the promise of winter, yes I quite enjoy winter too there is something magical about it (now thats another post) and Christmas is in the air which in itself seems to cheer Londoners up a great deal.

I tried a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks the other day and despite it being £3.25 (definitely not going to be a regular feature in my life!) I loved it, and it made me anticipate the gingerbread lattes coming soon.

Mulled wine, YUM!

Fireworks, Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali.

I always come back to the colours though. Bright, vivid, stunning and just so alive yet signalling the end for themselves. Reminding me that nothing lasts forever, and to live for the moment.

When Piku made me cry

A few months ago I went to watch the film Piku with my friends (those of you who’ve watched it will know what I’m talking about, those of you who haven’t, I’m not giving anything away). One was an old friend, the others were all new friends at the time, the “I like hanging out with you and want to impress you with my coolness and wit” kind of friends. I don’t remember thinking or feeling anything during the film except immense irritation at Amitabh Bacchan (role well played). The film ended and we walked out and one of my new friends asked me what I thought…and I burst into floods of tears. The kind of ugly crying Oprah sometimes refers to, snot and tears everywhere, running to the bathroom to have strangers worry about me kind of crying. The old friend (and the only female friend) coming in to check on me, asking me if my dad is okay and when I spoke to him last and perhaps secretly wondering if I was on my period. I wasn’t on my period and my dad was and is fine, bless him.

I miss home. SO MUCH. Home means so many things now, it’s no longer four walls and a roof, a physical entity. To friends and colleagues here, it’s India, if they ask more questions I tell them it’s Calcutta. To those who are still curious, I explain while I spent most of my life so far there it’s not where I’m “from” whatever that means. September 2010 onwards this feeling of missing home was a constant, physical pain that wouldn’t go away, I just didn’t have a physical injury to show for it and I couldn’t articulate it. Where would I have started? 24 years of everything I had ever known, a very long and uncomfortable Air India flight away, all discarded by me for a life I thought I wanted. It’s gotten so much better over the years, and I happily consider London home, my other home, I don’t know, something along those lines now.

And then ever so often, something will remind me of what I’ve left behind perhaps for good. The quaint, old buildings of North Calcutta that I used to go past everyday on my way to college and back. Eating puchkas whenever I felt like it and not getting sick (totally different story now, oh my delicate NRI tummy). Spending days and nights at my friend’s house, where her father never tired of quizzing us about current events and would be appalled each time at our ignorance and yet never gave up. Loving the monsoons and running around the school garden getting soaked to the skin during lunchtime, I genuinely did not care if my socks were wet let alone my uniform. Waiting with bated breath for the inter-year school fest that we weren’t allowed to participate in until we were much older, but if we got lucky and leaned out of windows we could maybe spot a boy or two (it was an all girls’ school I went to, and yes it was slim pickings). Sitting in our balcony at home with my dad as he smoked and drank his tea (kalo cha, black tea) which is also when he is most chatty, man of few words otherwise. Family dinners at Mocambo, best restaurant in the world hands-down, highlight of my week. Hanging out at “the lakes” with my friend trying to learn how to smoke a cigarette feeling very, very cool and grown up until an old lady yelled at us saying even girls in America don’t smoke apparently. Going to New Market with my mother and always coming home with way more stuff than I anticipated I would be bought. The first and only time I ever went to Tangra; my sister and I were never allowed to go there because of so-called anti-social elements…perhaps a figment of my dad’s imagination? Nutrition classes in my final year at school where I was always assigned cleaning duties and fair enough, I set fire to a dish cloth during my practical exam and was most concerned about my teacher seeing it, not setting the whole school on fire. The feeling, the slight nip in the sultry Calcutta air when you know winter is coming, out with the monkey caps and shawls. Drives down the second Hoogly bridge, don’t remember doing too many of those but the times that we did were magical. Mamata Banerjee campaigning in our neighbourhood, and my four year old sister asking why that aunty was so angry? Durga Pujo every year, and my father huffing and puffing about the “bloody city going bonkers” and the traffic jams. The heat and humidity not really bothering me, in fact I remember defending it to someone from the Delhi of the dry heat “your dry heat makes me sick.” Trips to Forum the first mall in the city after school, sometimes without telling our parents, and running into my dad there one such time…and his classic comment later “I thought my God that girl looks like just Sona!” Uhhh yes dad because it was me! Going to Flury’s, old and new. Oxford Book Store, the stuff my dreams were made of. Park Street during Christmas, and my one and only time singing Christmas carols in our choir at college; no I don’t have a beautiful singing voice but I enjoyed it thoroughly anyway. Lying around in my sister’s room talking and laughing about nothing and everything, our mother feeling left out yet you can see the “proud mother” look on her face as she complains. Writing love letters to Leonardo DiCaprio and yes mum I know you read at least one of them, still haven’t forgiven you.

Calcutta reminds me of me, my childhood, everything I was and am now. Whenever I go back now it feels quite alien, things and people have moved on, I’ve moved on, and yet so very familiar at the same time. So yes Piku unwittingly elicited a pretty strong response from me, and now I’m happily counting the days down till I’m back where I came from. Reservations at Mocambo? Check.

The Dangers of Being a “Good” Girl

Excellent, relevant, powerful stuff.


Imagine this: You’re at a party with a bunch of your friends. You’re a little buzzed. Eventually the music dies down and you all end up crashing at your friend’s house. You wake up the next morning and you know something’s not quite right. Something happened but you’re not ready to talk about it. You feel ashamed, you try to forget.

You don’t want to make things awkward, so you don’t say anything. You meet your friends again- he’s there, and you pretend that nothing’s wrong. This goes on for weeks, till you can’t take it anymore. You finally confess to your friends- he molested you that night after the party.

“Why did you wait so long to bring this up?”

“Didn’t he apologise? Just let it go”

“Lets not make things awkward for the group.”

“Maybe you just misunderstood.”


Why did you stay over at his house…

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This is how a heart breaks

This is how a heart breaks

I love it when people say I remind them of my Amamma (maternal grandmother). She was among other things intelligent, witty, beautiful, fiercely independent, generous to a fault and wonderfully quirky and eccentric. To think I’ve imbibed even a tiny bit of what made her the way she was is a compliment and a blessing. I was her eldest and favourite grandchild (sorry my lovely sib and cousins, facts must be faced) and she was my third parent, the only other person besides my mum and dad that I remember feeling “at home” with as a child. All my knowledge of Hindu mythology is from the stories she used to tell me while putting me to sleep at night, or trying to get me to eat my food in a timely manner. She was there when I split my eyebrow at age four and needed stitches, she was there through the hardest times we went through as a family when my dad was out of work, she was there each time my mum was unwell, so unwell we almost lost her, I remember her holding my hand and praying all night long when I had pneumonia and couldn’t sleep because I had difficulty breathing. It’s no wonder then when my little sister injured herself when she was a child and as the anaesthesia wore off she mumbled asking for our Amamma, where is she? Amamma taught me how to have faith, “do your best and leave the rest” she would always say. I didn’t appreciate it at all as a child, but she always pushed me to be the best version of me that I could be.

I remember once laughingly saying to her “I hope you’re around to meet my children, I don’t quite know how to describe you to anyone…they have to meet you to know just how weird you are.” You see, for as long as I can remember she always wanted to die. Yes that’s right, she used to long for death. I never understood it, it used to confuse and upset me, and after a point I just chalked it up to being “one of those things” about her. Ironically once she actually left us, I totally get it.

She and my grandfather were childhood sweethearts, as the story goes she rejected all his initial overtures but he persisted and she melted. They went on to becoming colleagues at university, she taught English and he taught Accounts I believe, they were the golden couple of their time. They had two beautiful children, started building a house for the four of them, and had their whole lives ahead of them when everything changed. One day on his way to work my grandfather was in a road accident, and he died. I think he was thirty eight, and she was thirty three…I say I think to a lot of this because I’m piecing it together from what I’ve heard over the years from different people, she would never, ever talk about him. Except one evening about eight years ago, she was visiting us in Calcutta. I came home from college and she followed me into my room, and I assumed it was to tell me off for oh I don’t know, throwing my bag in the wrong place as I walked inside. What followed was one of the most precious conversations I’ve ever been a part of, it was more of a monologue I just listened and cried with her. I don’t know what prompted her to tell me all the things she did that night, but I remember even then feeling very privileged. She talked about her life with my grandfather, and the pain she felt for most of her life which was without him. She told me stories of him and my uncle when he was a baby, and how excited my grandfather had been when my mother was born. She told me how she wanted to die with him, but his final words to her were asking her to look after their children so she did. On the first anniversary of his death she was teaching her class “Duchess of Malfi” and how she had to maintain her composure through talking about the Duchess’ dying plea for her children to be cared for, and the poignancy wasn’t lost on her students.

For years she had ridiculously high blood sugar levels and her blood pressure was through the roof (really, the numbers were scary) but she stubbornly refused or discarded all forms of medical advice. She finally got her wish (!) and had a heart attack and didn’t tell anyone until the pain became unbearable; once at the hospital she asked the doctors to only put her on morphine to lessen the pain as she passed away. Erm…they didn’t agree, needless to say. She had surgery, everyone was doing everything they could to get her better but you know when someone just doesn’t have the will to live? A cousin of mine told me later how she had been to see Amamma in the hospital and commented on how well she was looking post-surgery, to which she responded that it had been forty-four long years and she just wanted to go. I remember ringing her from London and willing her to live, saying the most ridiculous things including asking her if she didn’t want to be around for my wedding. She asked me if it was happening anytime soon had I found someone, not to rush on her account and to only get married if and when I felt like it, end of. As always, she was stubborn and insistent about what she wanted, and what she wanted was to finally get to be with the love of her life.

Even in death she has taught me valuable lessons. She died four days before I was heading to India, heading to see her. The night she passed away was the longest night of my life, I found out about midnight and I’m still not sure how I made it until the morning all by myself. But now nothing seems insurmountable, I made it through by far the most difficult hours of my life so far on my own and as they say what doesn’t kill you certainly makes you stronger.

It has been three years to the day since she left us, since she left me. It still overwhelms me when I think about how I’m never going to see her again in this lifetime, or hear her voice. A few weeks ago I was walking home from work and somehow started thinking of her and was in tears in a matter of minutes. But I don’t for a second wish she would come back, wish she was still here. It isn’t until she left us that I was able to fully comprehend the pain and loss she had lived with for over four decades. I’ve dreamt of her several times since, especially the year after her passing away; in each and every dream the message was the same, she is finally where and who she wanted to be with so I shouldn’t worry or be sad. There have been other signs of this message too, one of which inspired my third and what I think is my final tattoo (which I know she wouldn’t be pleased about!) She spent her whole life living selflessly, for her children and her grandchildren, keeping her promise to her beloved and now it’s only right that she is with him where she belongs. Even the math is unfair, I had twenty six years with her on this earth which is more than what they had together. She would be so proud of me, one of her biggest worries used to be my selfish tendencies as a child and now my grief is entirely secondary to me, I’m so happy she is finally happy.

Don’t rest in peace Amamma. Love, laugh and make up for lost time you both have a lot to catch up on. Till we meet again.

And I lived happily every after…

And I lived happily every after…

I once told a friend “I wish I knew what the rest of my life will look like, I can’t stand not knowing.” I was all of 23 and very anxious about what I would do once I graduated with a Master’s degree. What if it wasn’t a first class degree though? What if my dissertation wasn’t a revolutionary essay that would forever change the course of social work in India? What if I didn’t get a well-paying job? What if I got a well-paying job and then everyone judged me because social work isn’t meant to be about the money?

By the time I turned 25 I had moved to London, had a job that paid extremely well (by Indian standards, oh the judgement!) and had started living my dream of travelling the world. Yet I remember spending sleepless nights after hours on Facebook looking at people’s seemingly perfect pictures of coupledom, marriage and babies. I don’t even have faint love-interest let alone a boyfriend, what kind of an Indian girl isn’t married by the time she is 25, worse yet what kind of girl doesn’t want to have babies, oh my God what if I’m not married by the time I’m 30?

I travelled to Berlin on my own in June 2013, the day I was coming back to London I had some time to kill before my flight. I remember sitting at a roadside café in the sunshine (I am aware of just how posh this could sound, but stay with me!) looking through my journal. This is a journal I’d brought with a flourish way back when in 2006, and I would have spurts of writing furiously followed by months and even years of blank pages of silence. I took it along with me thinking this would a trip of introspection and achieving self-actualisation, and of course I didn’t crack it open until it was time to head back! Berlin is such a fantastic city yet my most vivid memory is of not being able to sleep at night worrying about work. I was about to rant in my journal about just how stressful my job in social work is, I needed to figure out something different to do with the rest of my life, once I switched jobs of course everything was going to be perfect.

For the first time since I bought my journal, I looked through it from the very beginning and I had a massive Oprah-esque AHA! moment…my journal was proof that at every stage of my life I’d been anxious, restless and hankering for that next big thing to make life perfect: once I pass this exam, once my crush likes me back, once I’m skinny, once that horrible person that is mean to me goes to a land far, far away, once I have a lot of money. It is now blindingly obvious, but at the time I remember the revelation sinking in that it was something in me I had to change: I was the constant through changed circumstances over the years. Anxiety, stress and worry had become such an intrinsic part of my life that sadly I didn’t know what it was like not to feel those things on a constant basis. It struck me then that I could win the lottery and never have to work again, and yet I would find something else to worry myself sick over, catastrophize and ruminate about the elusive perfect life I didn’t have.

I wish I could say from that moment on I was a changed person, Mary Poppins and Little Miss Sunshine rolled into one. But changing years and years of thought and behaviour patterns takes more than a little hard work, and I really struggled. What do you do when you’re used to waking up every morning feeling sick with anxiety and you don’t even know why? Or when all you’ve ever thought about are the things you’re seemingly lacking in, it’s impossible to think of yourself as being complete just as you are?

It’s called gratitude. I started off practising it in quite a militant fashion; I remembered Oprah (yes I love her) talking about a gratitude journal on one of her shows…somewhat dubious I looked it up anyway, and started making a list of things I was grateful for. Uhh…what? It felt so forced and trite but I kept at it anyway, didn’t do it again for a few weeks, and tried it again when I’d had a particularly hard day, forgot about it and then came back to it again. Sometimes it was things as basic as having a bed to sleep in, other days it was being grateful for a chance encounter with a friend or having a handsome stranger wish me a good day.

It apparently takes 21 days to form a new habit, or is it 40? It took me much longer than both put together, and I’m still a work in progress. What I am thrilled about is the fact that with time, effort and practice my perception of myself and my world is slowly shifting. I don’t own a house, car or a husband but I’ve been to Iceland and seen the Northern Lights in all their glory because I wanted to. My job can be insanely difficult, but at least I don’t have to work as a butcher (no disrespect to any butchers, but this is about me and I cannot think of anything worse than having to kill and dismember hapless animals to make a living!) Anxiety and worry have slowly been replaced with feelings of well-being and contentment. During difficult times I have the foresight to remember that this too shall pass, and there will be lessons learnt. When I’m particularly angry or frustrated I want to tell the voice in my head to shut the f*ck up enough with the clichés already, but time and experience have proven her to be annoyingly right and I’ve started believing her more.

I remember trying to share some of my newfound wisdom with my sister when she was going through a particularly rough time in the not too distant past, and she pretty much told me where to go and where to shove it too. I persisted as I annoyingly do with her, and today I take immense pleasure in telling her I told her so: everything does work out one way or another just not necessarily the way we think, analyse and plan.

I’ve started to realise and accept there is no such thing as happily ever after. What’s important and real is happiness in the here and now, and hey my sister is just about 23 now and there’s hope for her self-actualisation as well!

Voy a España!

Voy a España!

My love affair with Spain and all things Spanish started when I was about eighteen years old, I met this wonderful Spanish girl at a charitable organization we were both volunteering at in Calcutta. I remember being really excited at meeting a “foreigner” and was amazed at the Bengali she had already picked up and taught her some more (if you’re reading this, you know who you are…”khub bhalo!”), she in turn taught me how to tell a man he has very beautiful eyes, as well as how to call a man a pig, all in Spanish. Very useful. We spent a lot of time together, she came back to Calcutta a couple of times to the same organisation and I’m thrilled to say we are still friends and catch up whenever she is in London. I had however promised her a decade ago that I would visit her in Spain the first chance I ever got, I loved everything she told me about the place and I loved Ricky Martin (no connection really, I know now, but I was in love back then).

Cut to about five years ago, I’d just moved to London and was miserable, cold and the realization that I was not, in fact, Bridget Jones and my Darcy wasn’t waiting to sweep me off my feet at Heathrow was sinking in. My friend on the other hand was very excited and asked me to visit her as soon as I could before she moved to Brazil for work. The woes of being an immigrant, I couldn’t get a visa because I hadn’t been in Europe long enough. Ah well, a dream deferred.

Another time when she went back home to Seville from São Paulo on holiday she asked me to visit, only I had a trip planned to India then. No regrets about this one, I’ve now travelled far and wide but nothing makes me happier than going back home and I breezily figured Spain is practically next-door, I could go anytime.

A while later, my friend moved to Madrid and in April 2013 being unusually spontaneous one day I told her I was coming to see her and booked my flights, my visa was already taken care of. Third time lucky I believed, and I had already started harbouring fantasies of a chance encounter leading to the love of my life and settling down on our own tomato farm in rural Spain (my job causes me a great deal of stress, I figured plants can’t do that).  I got to the airport, texting my friend with both of us hardly believing this was finally happening! Must have been a premonition of sorts…that was the day hundreds of flights were cancelled at Heathrow because a blessed bird had hit a plane.

I waited six hours to be put on the next available flight out to Madrid, thoughts of living it up with my friend, and cavorting on my tomato farm with my hombre keeping me going. Six long, tedious hours later only to be told the next available flight to Madrid was on the day I planned to come back to London after the bank holiday, needless to say I did not take up their offer. I remember getting back home feeling extremely annoyed, fed up and dejected all at once, surely it shouldn’t be this hard to get to Spain?! I could walk there if I really put my heart to it, that’s how close it felt and yet so far. A couple I knew in London, dear friends of mine who have since moved to Australia (I miss you, come back!) felt very sorry for me and said they would bring Spain to me instead…what I remember of that weekend at their house is lots of tequila, sangria and music. While I had a smashing time with them and that weekend is among my favourite memories of my time in London so far, my Spanish dreams remained unfulfilled.

Until now finally in three days I’m meant to be heading out to the land of Gaudí and beyond…only my friend is going to be in Bali! All first world problems I’m well aware, but this time I have a gut feeling not only is this trip going to happen but it is also going to make up for all the anti-climactic times before. And maybe, just maybe this will serve to break the jinx my friend and I seem to be under? Watch this space!

The Unlikely Yogi

The Unlikely Yogi

Growing up, physical activity and I were not friends. Memories of PE lessons consist of hot, sweltering afternoons in Calcutta being forced to play dodgeball or faking period pain to not have to play dodgeball. Athletic, fit and sporty are not words I’ve ever associated with myself; I still haven’t managed to block memories of sports day at age ten, failing miserably at a “sack race” with my family watching- cringing, praying, pitying. Add to that the seemingly inevitable self-esteem issues at puberty, an addiction to all things sweet and sugary and a desperate need to be skinny…my early twenties saw numerous stints at the gym which never lasted more than a couple of weeks when I didn’t lose a bazillion lbs in the bat of an eye. When I thought I had become a proper grown up, I hired a personal trainer for a bit. That didn’t last for too long either (to be fair what sustained it as long as it did were his blue eyes) because I almost went bankrupt. I signed up for Pilates but didn’t go back after about two weeks when buns of steel and washboard abs didn’t materialize. I didn’t like exercise, and exercise didn’t like me.

One fateful day I noticed an innocuous door I now know I walked past everyday on my way to work and back. Power yoga something or the other, promising a “hot body and a cool mind.” In true form of getting far too excited far too quickly, that was going to my next big thing. Who cared about the cool mind bit (not me!), I was on my way to looking like Beyoncé. I told everyone about it of course, and while some were encouraging most reactions were snorts of laughter and bets about how long that would last. I wasn’t even offended, I didn’t think I would hit the three lesson mark. I went in to my first class not knowing what to expect, and tried not to stare too obviously at the lithe and ethereal goddess (I mean teacher) gliding across the studio wondering how long it would take me to look like her. I’m still not entirely sure how I survived the hour. I just vaguely remember the screaming in my head “Why God why am I doing this to myself?!” and feeling like I’d been wrung out from head to toe as I hobbled to the tube station after.

Nearly a year later, bright and early (by my standards) on a Sunday morning, there I am on my mat ready to go. Friends know not to try and make plans with me when I have a yoga class, they will be rejected. Short of a life or death situation, there is very little that I will pick over a yoga class…hell I cancelled a date once and as soon as I was in my downward dog I knew well in my heart it was the right choice. As they say, you know when some things are meant to be? That’s yoga and me. The physical benefits are an afterthought now, and leaving aside my flair for the dramatic, yoga has changed my life.

“Yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras, is a cessation of the fluctuations of the mind…also known as ‘the monkey mind’, when the mind is continually jumping from one thought to the next.” This is especially poignant for someone whose mind at the best of times can be a monkey hopped up on ecstasy. What initially started out as a quest to become a size zero has become a way of life. Things I have learnt on the mat while trying to twist myself into a pretzel have seeped into everyday life, making it bigger and better each day.

Some things are impossible or insurmountable…in my head. The best example would be the first time I was able to lift myself up into the wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana). For a long time I was terrified and refused to try, knowing just knowing that I’d fracture my spine and having visions of my family debating whether or not to turn off life support. Then I chose to try one day and was happily surprised, shocked even and now I lift myself up into it without a second thought and thoroughly enjoy it. I find myself using this analogy off the mat too with increasing frequency, less thinking (or overthinking), more action and I love surprising myself with all the things I can do if I just try!

Learning to be kind to myself and to others. While the competitive and overachieving  Indian in me started out wanting to the #bestyogiever all day everyday (growing up in a land of a billion people can do that to you), I very quickly learnt there is no such thing. It’s okay if I wobble or fall out trying to balance myself as a graceful tree (Vrikshasana), I just pick myself back up and try again. Learning not to criticize or belittle myself was challenging, but I’m now more accepting and appreciative of myself and the very fact that I’m still there trying and not flouncing off in a huff. Every other person in the room is trying and persevering with me, there is something very humbling and empowering about that all at once. Isn’t that an incredible idea to live life by as well: what matters isn’t that you fall, it’s that you pick yourself back up?

Its important to breathe, it makes everything easier! Not going to lie, I find the seemingly simple act of holding my arms outstretched in Warrior II (Virabhadrasana) incredibly difficult. I soon start quivering in pain and  long for sweet release until I’m reminded to breathe deeper. And somehow that makes it a little bit easier to hang in there, soon enough its over and I forget the discomfort instantaneously. Off the mat whether its a stressful meeting I’m worried about at work, a difficult situation I’m in or if the blessed monkey mind is going at it in full force, a few deep and purposeful breaths work miracles. I feel calmer instantly, and I have a growing sense of perspective that as long as I can still breathe, everything is and will be okay. Keep calm and carry on.

A helping hand is a wonderful thing. No I cannot stand on my head (I’m sure I will one day), I need a hand trying to get into a shoulder stand and sometimes I just want to lie there with a block supporting me and my legs in the air. And that’s okay, it doesn’t make me or my practice any less if anything it makes it better. Not easier, but better. And just like that asking for help when I’m struggling is okay, as I’m starting to accept. I can’t fix everything and I don’t have to, just the act of reaching out to someone starts to make whatever it is less scary and manageable. Whether it is stress at work, or I am in the throes of a quarter-life crisis related drama, I don’t let it overwhelm me anymore and ask for help. And very often even talking about it eases the burden, and I am able to get on with it. Yet again keeping calm and carrying on.

I sleep better, waking up in the middle of the night wracked with anxiety is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I smile more, I stress less, I’m more available to people who matter to me. I can hold a plank without my arms shaking, and am able to get into a full bind (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana) without crying. I don’t sweat the small stuff as much anymore, and the big stuff doesn’t seem as big. I light incense and wear beads but hey I did that before yoga found me. Most importantly, I am more aware of the stories I tell myself and that they’re just stories with no truth to them unless I act on them…physical activity and I, not friends? Excuse me, I need to go do a few sun salutations now.

This post is dedicated to the wonderful folks at Lumi Power Yoga (www.lumipoweryoga.com) you inspire me everyday!