I met Louise in Wellington, when I first started teaching yoga. After a couple of months, I held her up as an example of ‘balance’ to the class. She is in her early 40s, has two beautiful childern, a rocking career, wonderful marriage…and she still found time for her yoga, tennis, hiking, reading etc. The credit for making her life so rich and full goes to no one but Louise. After all, she could also sit back and complain that she had wanted a career/tennis/amazing body/(fill in the blank) but had to give it up because of: children are too small/husband has a transferrable and demanding job/has other familial obligations/(fill in the blank). Granted Louise comes from a culture and country different from 95% of my students, and many who are reading this are thinking “well you know in our culture (fill in all the perceived limiting factors of being a married woman with kids in India)”.
Now I have an example of an Indian woman (yes, married to a man who has a demanding and transferrable job; yes, has two growing children who demand/want time/attention; yes, has all the familial obligations that come with being from our culture) who reminds me of Louise. Sharmishta Vardhan has been regular in my class from Day 1. When I got to know her better, I found out that she’s a Bharatnatyam dancer. When there’s no yoga she goes for a walk. She’s an amazing swimmer and has been swimming since she was 8 years old. (Incidentally, she taught me how to swim within 10 days. I’m confident standing on my head on land, but 10 days ago I would list drowning as my biggest fear.) Here’s an Indian woman, in her 40s, married for 9 years, two crazily energetic boys (I’ve seen them in the pool), who defies the ‘Indian woman married with two kids’ convention. She reads, sometimes travels to pursue her hobbies, gets in her daily swim before heading home for dinner, cultivates her own friends circle with whom she goes for movies, exhibitions, fairs etc. You can see the results of daily yoga in her before-after.