Countless times in the past week, I have looked around at my surroundings with gratitude and awe. Coming to India to practice yoga has long been on my list of things to do, and here I am, working towards my yoga teacher certification. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself.
These moments often happen in yoga class, when I’m in the middle of a pose and fixate on a point outside of the classroom. The open windows look out to the Himalayas and people going about their normal routines. I stop and think about how lucky I am to practice yoga in the place where it was born. To learn the history and practices in its place of origin is an experience unlike any other. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m living in a dream. For as long as I can remember, this is something I have wanted, and now I am here.
Getting here, to this moment, was complicated. It all started with last year’s trip to India that never happened, but it led me to where I am today. When I landed in Delhi last Friday evening, after a fourteen hour flight, everything felt right. I know I was supposed to be there at that moment, even though I was unsure of what my next seven weeks would bring me. Unsure of who I would meet. Unsure of what I would be doing each day. Unsure of almost everything. Now, after a week of yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, I am feeling more aware of myself and the life I want to lead.
This week has been a bit of a whirlwind, but it has also been transformative, powerful, and has reached beyond my expectations. While I’ve only had a bit of time to explore it, Rishikesh is a magical town and while I have yet to see the rest of what India has to offer, I feel a strong connection here. Situated among the Himalayas, with the Ganges running through it, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place. I am grateful to be living here for a month, so that I can take my experience even deeper.
Each day, I wake up between five and five thirty, then head downstairs for tea. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we meet outside, fill up our neti pots and clean our our nasal passages. This is part of Shatkarma, which has six groups of purification practices. Honestly, this is still something I am getting used to. After using the neti pot, we head upstairs for mediation, which includes chanting, then have our first asana class of the day. This takes us to nine o’clock, when breakfast is served. Usually it consists of a flat rice, corn flakes with warm milk, or oatmeal. If we’re lucky, there’s also chai masala.
After breakfast, we head back upstairs for an hour of philosophy and an hour of anatomy before lunch. Then, we have a break until our four o’clock asana class, the hardest of the day. Dinner is at six-thirty and lights need to be out by ten. Saturdays are all about Shatkarma, where we cleanse a part of our body, then rest and Sunday is our day off, which includes an activity together and free time.Each meal is vegetarian and some of the best food I have ever had. I hope to keep up a vegetarian lifestyle once I return home, hopefully, I can make my meals as delicious.
My yoga school, one of many in the area, is everything I hoped it would be and so much more. My teachers are kind, supportive, and don’t let us take ourselves too seriously, which is important in a program such as this. Still, they work us hard each day and test our limits. Classes are exhausting, but at the end, I feel stronger and more confident in my practice.
The classes are small, there are fourteen of us here, and all of us seem to be on the same energy level. We help lift each other up and have become each other’s personal cheerleaders. It’s so wonderful to have the support of each other, especially during the difficult moments. In less than a week, I feel that I have already made friends that will last a lifetime.
Before coming here, I didn’t really have any expectations of what this experience would be, but each day, no matter how hard I am working, I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. It’s hard and I struggle, but I am never miserable or want to quit, I am willing to put in the time and hard work to achieve this goal. The opportunity to deepen my yoga practice, in a place as beautiful as this, is something I am grateful for, and I am looking forward to seeing the changes within myself in the coming weeks. Namaste.