I was never attracted to yoga for its physical benefits. My view of yoga as a child was that of a peculiar system of boring exercises performed by older people with mediocre physical abilities. Every morning I watched my father practice yoga asanas that presented a minimal challenge to me. He would spend minutes holding a Cobra pose, a Shoulder-stand, or a forward bend, after which he would sit still expanding his abdomen and ribcage with deep breaths. I could see nothing fun or interesting about that procedure.
Instead, I was fascinated by the impossible feats of the human body. My heroes were athletes like the Olympian runner Carl Lewis, and the Soviet wrestler Alexander Karelin. In my early childish imagination, I entertained thoughts of becoming a ninja or a Shaolin monk. Since six years of age I attended a gymnastics class, and by the time I was ten, I could do back-flips, walk on my hands, jump into a split, and run up and flip back off a wall. Doing a Cobra pose presented no challenge.
However, there was another dimension of yoga that I was exposed to through my father. After his morning practice, he was always in a good mood and full of energy. As stressful as his life was, he never showed any stress, but instead emanated peace, self-control, and focus.
Years later, as I searched for meaning in my own life, it was that jovial memory of my father that drew me to seek yoga for its internal benefits. What is yoga? How does one find inner peace? Can people be really happy? What is happiness? These were the questions swirling in my mind as I made a life-long commitment to embark on my own yoga journey.