Most people come to experience great love by chance. I came to know yoga 8 years ago, on a guest pass at one of the outlets of a global fitness centre chain. After that, I tried various yoga studios and classes, curious about different ‘styles’, such as yin, vinyasa, Bikram, power, kundalini and Iyengar. At the beginning, like most people who started getting interested in yoga, it was out of curiosity, and out of the desire to have a more healthful and shapely body, without giving much thought to the greater significance of yoga.

When I completed the yoga teacher’s training, I came away not only with knowledge of yoga’s history, philosophy and practice, but wisdom. Awareness and insights on one’s self and life are corollary to going through such transformational training.

I encourage you to not consider yoga as a fitness and health routine, but a way of being, with love as its premise. Yoga is about universal love, and that starts from loving oneself first. When I started out with yoga, there was a lot of ego involved. Ego is self-obsession – to look great, to have the perfect pose, to be respected, and so on – but not self-love. Regular yoga practice can bring you to self-awareness of your strengths and flaws, instead of constantly measuring the self against artificial benchmarks. Self-awareness helps you to use your strengths on the right occasion, and accept your shortcomings during others.

Loving oneself also entails taking care of the physical body, the receptacle in which our souls rest in this lifetime. Yoga teaches one to care for the body, and not treat it like a dump, including feeding it the best nutrition, and cleaning it regularly, and this actually removes real as well as apparent blockages.

Start with self-love this New Year, and the rest will follow.