Three full days of yoga immersion program are now complete and I'm beginning to sink in to the cadence of things.
Chanting and pranayama begins at 6:30, followed by tea and then Ashtanga. I haven't done much Ashtanga before, and it is HARD! We've barely scratched the surface! I like the challenge of it but I don't see myself following that style of yoga much in the future as it is too rigid for me. For those who aren't familiar, there are 3 series, each progressively challenging, and you follow a set series of postures each time. It is unforgiving... no suggestions to 'walk out your dog' or flow into your first postures as you are warming up! I think that for now it is good training and our teacher breaks down each pose slowly, focusing on alignment and making adjustments.
After some self study time, 300 hour students have a yoga philosophy class with our teacher Siddhartha, who spent considerable time at the original ashram of Neem Karoli Baba. Coincidentally, Neem Karoli Baba is the guru of my American teacher, Monica Mesa, and at her suggestion I visited and had a very powerful experience at his other ashram here in Rishikesh on my first full day here. I'm hoping that the yoga philosophy sessions continue to be so helpful as this is where I seek to have such a better foundation of knowledge, especially from a traditional perspective.
After lunch we get an anatomy class, followed by a Hatha yoga class. The first class was pretty chill (and exactly what I needed!) but yesterdays was intense and today we started advanced poses... (being sore after a bunch of chataurangas didn't help)! After studying Prana Vinyasa style yoga, I fell in love with the movement and flow, but I now have a new appreciation for the subtlety and depth of a good Hatha class and it is really exciting to think about how my practice as well as my teaching style can expand and diversify. I also think about working with people with limitations due to injury or surgery and Hatha is better suited to accommodate people with many levels of ability and flexibility, and for yoga as a therapeutic tool.
After more self study time, we have dinner, then are free to go study more. Some people are taking long breaks to go to the river or go to the city during study time. I'm sure I will too once I get restless but right now it seems so valuable to make use of my time as much as I can. This is truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself. I've never had the opportunity to study without worries or obligations; in college I always supported myself working and also had a million extracurricular activities too. It feels so indulgent, and I am so grateful to each puzzle piece of life that has allowed me to Be Here Now.