Last week at Azul Villa we hosted a very special group of yogis from the UK. Rachel Blunt, a Bikram and Vinyasa teacher originally from Leicester, led the joyful bunch here for a week of yoga, sunshine, laughter and a side helping of some seriously inspiring stuff.
Enter Jig, a guest instructor on the retreat, who shared his story with us. Originally from Mumbai, Jig is a yogi with humour, strength and a zeal for life. He can humbly perform asanas some of us only dream of.
Something you should know about Jig; he is paralysed from the waist down. Until the age of 17 he was paralysed from the neck down and spent most hours of every day in a dug out hole in his family’s back garden, in order to stimulate circulation in his body. Having contracted polio at a young age, Jig thought his life would be spent unable to participate in the sports he loved, instead watching from the sidelines.
Jig attributes the love and care of his ‘hero’ – his mum – to the miracle that happened next. Aged 17, he regained the use of his body from neck to waist; something that doctors couldn’t explain.
Since then Jig’s life has never been the same. After moving to the UK shortly after, and with a new found ability to participate in his much loved sports, Jig went on to represent Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball team in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.
One day he decided to learn how to swim, and then promptly took part in a Sport Relief swimathon to raise money for the charity. He also discovered a new passion – yoga – which led him to become a qualified teacher.
Jig’s humility, sense of humour and unassuming determination has inspired many a student and fellow teacher. Jig throws himself into everything he does with a fearlessness that we can all learn from. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ he says. ‘It’s always worth trying something new’. And that’s exactly what he does everyday.
Jig led us through an asana sequence where we were challenged to practice without using our lower limbs. We experienced yoga Jig-style, understanding how poses can be modified…and how much more difficult some of those asanas can be! And post Savasana, of course Jig invited the group to have a spin around the shala in his custom-made wheelchair.
Listening to Jig tell his story reminded me that only a fraction of our yoga practice happens on the mat. His abundance of positivity, fearlessness and light is an inspiring demonstration of the yogic virtues in practice. When asked what motivates him, Jig says without a split second hesitation: ‘My mum. She believes that I will have a second miracle one day, and regain the use of my legs. I don’t want to take that dream away from her’.
Thank you Jig and Rachel for sharing with us all.