My class at Rishikesh Yog Peeth

2 Weeks of Intensive Yoga Training at Rishikesh Yog Peeth: How Do I feel?

Before I came to Rishikesh Yog Peeth I had never done a single yoga class in my life. Now I intend to make yoga an important part of my everyday life. In only 2 weeks I have observed a few major changes in my mind, body and spirit, so much so that I only want to learn more. I know now why it is a lifestyle. Here’s how I’m feeling.

Stronger

I thought the only real way to strengthen my muscles was by lifting weights in a gym. Boy! Was I wrong! I didn’t realize that the best way to build strength is by simply using your own body weight. There are so many yoga poses that once held, build your muscles. A good example is the tree pose. Stand with both feet together. Now lift one leg and press the flat of your foot into the other thigh. (Be careful not to press your foot against your knee). Now lift your arms straight over head so they are next to your ears. Engage your legs and arms and core so they are tight and maintain your balance. Make sure you are standing straight. Tuck in your butt and take 5 long deep breaths. My legs started quivering on the second breath, but I know it’s because it’s improving my strength and balance. I see the tone in my muscles already.

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Yoga students practicing

5 Incredible Things That I’ve learned About Yoga So Far

I’m finishing my first week of yoga training at Rishikesh Yog Peeth Teacher Training School in India and it’s been an enlightening time for me so far. I’m learning so much that at times I feel like my brain is going to explode. I’m not only learning about yoga, more importantly, I’m learning about myself. The study of yoga is a process, and the process is beautiful. Yoga means awakening, and I see now that that is precisely what is happening to me. I’m awakening from a toxic sleep caused by stress, poor health choices and other environmental factors. Through yoga I am evolving and it feels marvelous. We learn new things every day and I can’t share them all with you, but here are the 5 major things that I’ve learned about yoga so far. If you want to know more, you should come to Rishikesh and experience it for yourself. It’s life changing.

Yoga is a lifestyle

Many of the students here at Rishikesh Yog Peeth have been practicing yoga for 5 to 10 years. They practice every day, not necessarily in a class, but more often in solitude. Some people travel from place to place on “yoga vacations” where they learn from various masters or instructors. They read every book they can get their hands on, starting with something simple like The Art of Joyful Living (a thoughtful new friend just bought me a copy) and ending with Yoga Sutra. Sure, you can choose to do “yoga” by just going to a couple of classes a week at your local gym, but that isn’t real yoga. That is just exercise.

Monkey Playing on Rishikesh Yog Peeth

Feeling Overwhelmed: My Initial Experience at Rishikesh Yog Peeth Ashram in India

I was in the middle of a downward dog pose today when I felt tears filling my eyes. Our instructor was slowly counting to ten, very slowly, and I couldn’t hold the position any longer. I collapsed on my yoga mat, frustrated and feeling like a failure. My whole body ached. We were on our third hour of yoga for the day and I had never done yoga before. A whole host of emotions were overwhelming me; anxiety, fear of failure, feeling homesick, along with emotional and physical exhaustion. I wasn’t sure I could push on and then a sweet young girl holding the pose next to me quietly asked me if I was okay. Those few kind words encouraged me. I somehow managed to dig deep within myself to find the strength to finish the class. It’s the little things like that here that make all the difference. Isn’t that the truth everywhere? There are 60 of us going through this program together, but individually we all have our own personal challenges to overcome.

 

Getting There

Getting here was a trip, quite literally. My driver drove me the 7 long hours from Delhi to Rishikesh. He stopped to ask for directions 6 times, although I had given explicit instructions to his boss on where we were going and who to call for directions on how to get here. Finally, my driver gave up next to a foot bridge that our car obviously couldn’t cross. I called the nice people at Yog Peeth and they sent one of their workers over on a scooter to get me. We managed the impossible by stacking two large suitcases, an overstuffed backpack, me and my handbag all on the back of his little scooter! I wish I had a picture of that, because it was India at its finest.

4 Frustrating Things That Created Shipping Nightmares for me in India

Yesterday I shipped a box full of stuff home to the USA. Let me tell you, shipping and receiving in India are exercises of pure frustration. An hour and a half later I left the DHL office feeling ready to punch someone. Here is what to expect if you are trying to ship a box or receive a package in India.

They will repack everything

Whatever you take in to ship will be opened and repacked. So, if you are thinking of shipping home any highly personal items, note that they will be handled roughly and questioned. If it is packed in bubble wrap they will rip it open and you will have to repack it. Furthermore, the people handling your items are laborers. They don’t know how to treat a fragile antique and have never seen an adult toy. You will have to watch them very carefully and be prepared to explain everything. They won’t speak English well either (if at all), so it will just exacerbate the issues. I’m sure the reason they do this is to make sure that the box doesn’t contain some sort of explosives or prohibited items. But I’m an American shipping a box home to America. I hardly think I’m a danger or fit the profile of a terrorist.

ATM line in India

Banking Problems and Government Corruption in India

The Cause

There is a run on cash in India and it is creating huge lines at banks along with growing anxiety and hostility among the people. India is primarily a cash based culture. Only the upper classes have credit or debit cards. Foreign cards often don’t work at all. In a bold and unprecedented move, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced late on November 8th that Rs 500 notes and Rs 1,000 notes would be illegal. The idea behind the ruling is to curb crime, corruption and the funding of terrorism that runs deep within India. They are giving everyone until December 30th to deposit or exchange their old bills. In the meantime ATMs have been closed for days and people are only able to withdraw a maximum of 10,000 per day or 20,000 in one week, assuming the bank has the cash to dispense.

I have witnessed the corruption here first hand. It is a common practice to bribe a policeman with a 500 rupee note when pulled over for a traffic violation. Once an ATM swallowed my debit card which left me in a world of hurt with no access to cash. The ATM guard told my assistant it was impossible to get my card back. He changed his story when she bribed him with a 500 note. I then got it back instantly. So you can see how common corruption is. Now imagine all these officials, criminals and terrorists with STACKS of cash that have been rendered useless. It may very well help stop corruption, but in the meantime it is causing sheer chaos on the economy and its people. 

View from my apartment in India

Living and Working in India: The Hassle Factor

After living and working in India for 6 months now, I can tell you that much of the time I feel like everything is just a big hassle here. Getting things accomplished in India requires a lot of patience, and those that know me best, know that is not one of my best traits.  Nothing, even the simplest things, are ever easy!  Here are some of many examples.

Buying data for for corporate use

We opened a corporate account with a local telecom carrier so that we could more easily make changes to our plans.  This would give us the option for “post paid”, versus pre paid, meaning they would bill us for our data usage instead of having to pay up front. Initially they asked for about 10 documents, such as articles of incorporation, a letter of explanation on company letterhead, copy of the directors passport, etc.  Each page of every document had to be stamped and signed.  After jumping through all these hoops we finally successfully opened an account. A few days later I went into the store to make some changes to our data plans only to find out that I have to provide originals of all those documents EVERY time we want to make any changes.

You see everything on the roads in India

Interesting Random Facts & Observations About India

It is called “Incredible India” for a reason. Every day I learn something new about this place, or see something fascinating. Sometimes it’s entertaining, other times disturbing, but it always interesting!

Hindi Language

1.  The Hindi language is beautiful and much easier to learn to speak than it is to read and write.  There are many English words that don’t have a corresponding Hindi word, so they often mix the two languages.  For example, the phrase “Good idea” is “Acha idea hay” in Hindi.

Healthcare

2. Healthcare is ridiculously cheap over here. I was having some abdomen pains so they did an ultra sound of all my organs. The total cost was $35 USD!  And they sent me out the door with the physical X Ray films.

Human Resources

3.  It is standard practice to give 2 to 3 months notice when leaving a current employer, and often they will buy them back.  It makes hiring over here a real challenge.

Unmarried Couples

4. Unmarried Indian couples often have a difficult time renting a room in a hotel or resort due to the conservative beliefs of society. Sometimes they are even harassed or harmed for trying. Rarely do people live together before marriage.

My apartment complex in Gurgaon, India

The Process of Renting a Full Service Apartment in India

I’ve been staying at the Courtyard Marriott for the last 4 months and as much as I love that hotel and their wonderful staff, it was time to get my own place. I missed cooking, having the ability to entertain and I needed more space, so I decided to look at furnished apartments. I was pleasantly surprised to find some lovely apartment, nicely furnished, in a safe and self-contained community. So after filling out a long contract and providing all the necessary paperwork, I spent the weekend moving into my apartment in a beautiful complex called Palm Springs!

Things to know

Here are some interesting facts. The smallest one I could find is 3 bedrooms and they go up to 6 bedrooms. Mine also has 3 1/2 baths plus a maids quarters. Each bedroom has its own washroom, like a master suite in the states.The maids washroom is outside by the washing machine.The service staff even have their own elevator! They don’t have clothes dryers here and instead provided me with a clothes rack, so I guess all the neighbors will get to look at my delicates out drying in the hot sun.

Getting my hair done in India

My Crazy Hair Salon Experience in India

First of all, my apologies to my wonderful hair stylist back home in the states!  Unfortunately it had been way too long since I got my hair colored, cut and styled and I knew I had to do something about it. So I visited a few salons and decided on one owned by a young hip looking Asian fellow just a couple blocks away from our hotel. He wears his blond hair in a man bun and looks pretty progressive, so I decided to give him a try.

My appointment was at 10:00 and I arrived 5 minutes early to find him and his staff outside smoking. Most people smoke here. Since the smog is so bad I think they figure there’s nothing to lose. Obviously he and his staff were on “Indian time.”  Everyone is consistently late here for everything. He finished his cigarette and then unlocked the front door and asked me to take a seat.

 

The first thing I noticed was that he had 8 guys (all very young) working in about a 300 square foot space. One started sweeping, one started looking through my hair, one brought me bottled water and the rest stood there and stared at me. The owner brought me a book of hair colors and I pointed to the one I wanted. Then Ramm (the guy touching my hair) asked me to sit in one of the stylist chairs. I could feel myself sweating already as the tension took over. I mean it’s my hair!!! What if they screwed it up!?