Ila Sanghani

There I was, a mental and physical wreck, a menopausal woman at 51, and it showed in everything I did. I needed a break and I finally took one from my mundane routine – a vacation trip to Goa with some close friends. It was a very good trip, a welcome break. Sharing problems with friends helped but even then my depression and pain would not leave me. A very dear friend suggested the 7 Day Yoga Camp at The Yoga Institute in Mumbai.

I was in two minds, but then decided to join, figuring that if it was going to help, I had nothing to lose. At the camp, ours was a mixed group of some willing and some reluctant participants. I was the oldest. On the first day I could not sit on the floor and I also hated the food, to say the least. But as the week progressed, I started enjoying every bit.

Getting up early, doing yoga exercises with Kavita Ma’am, a brisk walk, breakfast, followed by a Karma yoga session – it all involved a lot of learning but with a lot of fun.

I looked forward to sessions with Hansaji. She would explain the complex things of life in such a simple and subtle way that I even shared my problems with her separately. I loved the sessions with Sujata Banerjee, with young Ankita teaching us about Bhavas, Hansaji’s video talks, Bhajans and games sessions, a session with my friend Ushma Shah, Pranayama sessions, the evening yoga sessions with Daniel……they all imparted some really substantial lessons.

Yoga is very holistic. Apart from relieving my physical pain, it taught me the importance of loving myself. We are always taught to be giving and unselfish, but in the process many times we end up being unhealthy and negligent towards ourselves. At the camp I learnt how important it was to treat ourselves well. The calmness and stillness here helped me to love myself and learn that anger is destructive, first and foremost to the person who is angry. It became the start of a very healthy process.

It was one wonderful week that had come at a very important time in my life. I seemed like a new person. Despite this, I was apprehensive about whether I would be able to implement all this when I returned to my routine life. Little did I know exactly how much I would later apply all that I had learnt. After the camp was over, I returned home to Kolkata where some terrible problems occurred. Of course, I had left them behind for a vacation and could not expect them to magically disappear when I returned.

However, I was able to deal with them calmly and coolly. I could not believe I was the same person: the old me would have reacted negatively, crying and shouting, but I really feel that Savasana helped me to remain composed and calmed me down a lot. My reactions were completely different; I was surprising myself by handling things so maturely.

I continue practicing yoga exercises. I still feel depressed at times, but I am able to tackle it. I also re-discovered my passion for music and am now taking classical vocal music lessons. Now I tell people I meet to practice yoga to make their lives better. I thank everyone at the camp who helped me to re-discover the parts of myself I thought I had lost forever.

Published in the Jan 2011 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine.

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