While I meant to contribute to the blog more while I was actually in India, between technological difficulties, time priorities (the intensive training was just that: intensive!), and the internal processing of what was happening as it happened, it really wasn’t possible. Instead, here are a few reflections.
I will say that the entire experience was completely transformative in a billion ways I wasn’t looking for and didn’t expect. In a lot of ways I feel like a whole new person broke through my old shell, shedding through old skin like a snake and leaving it behind.
Lots of things in India were not comfortable. Sometimes I got irritated with people in my class, or about how things were going in the course. Sometimes the noise in the streets or adjacent to my hotel would grate on me. The continual dodging of scootys, rickshaws, jeeps, bulls, and salesmen hocking their goods in the streets. Never knowing the language. Not knowing how to get around.
But it is in this discomfort that there is growth. The people in my class were all amazing and gave me such beautiful lessons, both when we discussed the material and as I learned about them and their lives; much of my irritation was of my own insecurity or ego or other personal thing. No course is ever completely what one expects and it is best to lose one’s expectations anyway; ultimately, so much learning and embodiment of yoga happened. Even with calamity all around one can go inside to find peace: relating directly to withdrawal of the senses, or the pratyahara limb of yoga. In the midst of being in a place that is so comparatively crowded to the places I choose to live, one just can’t help but have a sense of wonder at the diversity of life that happens in each glance in the street. Because I couldn’t participate in Hindi conversations I had more chance to reside in my own mind; I also know that next time I travel it is really important to me to learn some basic phrases. And slowly, I learned how to get around. All of the discomforts are discomforts of the mind.
India is magic. Being there, there was such an incredible sense that everything is following a greater will. I have one story I posted about this on instagram, don’t feel like repeating it here, but you can take a read if you like: https://instagram.com/p/Bf6F_VUBy5m/
Everything that was initiated in my first teacher training was elevated and taken to a new level here. My personal practice grew like I never imagined. In my physical practice, there are several asanas that I can perform now that I had either never attempted or never been able to do before. Ashtanga felt like a cruel punishment during the first week but by the end I elected to do most or all of the connecting vinyasas. My alignment is significantly improved, and along with that, my cueing and adjustments in teaching.
The mantras we learned in this class were almost entirely different than those we sang in my first YTT; it was great to learn new material. The pranayamas I learned about this time in much greater depth. I came to love morning pranayama and chanting even more, and really enjoy doing it in a group, especially a group that is studying and learning together and sounds increasingly beautiful from the time we begin singing together until the end.
Learning yoga philosophy in a place where temples are embedded in the cities and the hillsides and tops of mountains, and where shrines and imagery of deities are as common as the cows on the streets, really takes it to a deeper meaning. Our teacher’s stories peppered in with the discussion of the theories gave everything an anchor, and his ability to respond to our questions gave provided relevance. Studying the sutras here penetrated my outer shell and got me to question so many things about myself, my outlook, the life I live, the path I’m on. A lot of acceptance and release came about long-term stories that make up my life.
Interestingly I felt my old samskaras (patterns) hit me as soon as I came home. Between jet lag and these old patterns associated with place, it was instantly harder to maintain the wonderful routine I’d created for my days. This period of readjustment to normal life is special and its important to integrate all these good and positive habits I’ve just gained… especially since I’ll be going to back to work soon, and once that happens it will be even more difficult. Sometimes it’s already so hard to even feed myself healthy food, bathe, and keep the house tidy when working a 10-hour day!
India rocked my core innumerable times: Each soft footstep in wonder through the Neem Karoli Baba temple (the guru of my first yoga teacher) on my first day in Rishikesh. Sitting cross-legged with the humble baba and his friend while they smoked bhang just outside of Rishikesh in his hut that was just long enough for him to sleep in. Dipping in the Ganga and feeling its rejuvenating waters. Standing at a 4,000 meter peak at sunrise overlooking 6-7000m peaks in the distance in a mountain range I’ve longed to know for so long but never expected to be in this year. A beggar kissed my hand when I handed him a banana.
India is full of little moments, big moments, beauty and sadness, but most of all, love.