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 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.
The staff at Rishikesh Yog Peeth immediately made me feel welcome. I was one of the first to arrive for the course so it was oddly quiet at the time. That certainly isn’t the case now! This place isn’t a cushy resort. It’s a school where people learn yoga, and it feels very much like a school. It’s loud and very busy!
My room is simple but comfortable. I have a private bath with a western toilet (versus the squat kind) and a balcony that is shared with my neighbor. The building is 6 floors high with the classrooms on the top floor. My room is on the 4th floor, so I am constantly going up and down stairs all day long. I’m going to have buns of steel after this month is up!
Meals are served cafeteria style. The food is all vegetarian and quite healthy. The students, representing about twenty different countries, congregate together on the grass in the courtyard and eat lunch while sharing travel stories and adventures. The diversity in race, culture and age is wonderful. There are even two young couples here that have their babies with them. The positive energy of this place is delightfully infectious.
Our schedule is vigorous. We are up at 6:00 and lights are out at 10:00. We do yoga twice a day. The morning session is two hours long and the evening session is another one and half hours. We also are learning proper breathing techniques and mediation. We have about three hours a day of theory and lecture, and we are learning yoga philosophy and teaching methods as well. By the end of the day my mind is saturated and every square inch of my body aches. But I know it’s worth it. I know that when this month is over I will leave here feeling healthier, leaner, stronger and more focused. People are here for many different reasons, but the central purpose seems to be wellness of the mind, body and spirit. I’m indeed blessed to be here. I just have to remind myself of that next time our instructor is barking out orders like a drill sergeant, and pushing us to the breaking point.