Om: A Yoga School Adventure in India

At our beachside shala, after our opening ceremony... complete with chanting, fire and rice throwing.

At our beachside shala, after our opening ceremony… complete with chanting, fire and rice throwing.

Full disclosure: After high school, I developed this habit where I have never been great at sticking with things. Whether this be hobbies, sports, fitness routines, relationships, cooking, future plans…you get the idea. I have dabbled in yoga for the past couple years, and really enjoyed it, but never would describe myself as a “yogi”. I enjoy fitness, and I like a variety of things to attempt to keep fit. At first I thought yoga was a bit foo-foo and new-agey (funny I could think an ancient practice seemed new-agey but it must be all those stereotypes of modern yogis I had in my head), but when I discovered Power Yoga at a local studio in Washington, DC- I was hooked. I liked the intensity of the Vinyasa Flow-type classes and paired with the heated room, it was enough to make me feel like I was getting an actual workout. My arms started sprouting definition that I had never seen before, which to be honest, was enough in itself to make me want to keep coming back time after time. Forget the meditation, I was in it for the muscle definition and obtaining a booty that would make a pair of leggings proud. So why would I come to India, one of the most spiritual places in the world and the birthplace of yoga? Well, because I like a challenge of course.

Perhaps around a year and a half ago, I stumbled upon a blog written by a young woman who had been to this yoga teacher training school in India, and I became intrigued. So I went and checked out the website for myself and thought the place looked pretty sweet.. and then the seed was planted. I thought it would be amazing, but when would I get the time off? A month is not exactly an easy amount of vacation time to obtain as a [Army] nurse (or generally anyone with a full time job working in the US). So the idea was put on the back burner- a thought to occasionally turn over in my mind, perhaps something I could do in the distant future.

I WILL make you love me, Shanti.

I WILL make you love me, Shanti.

Then came my 3-months-turned-into-10-months backpacking trip. When in January, my boyfriend (who I met while traveling and traveled with for 5 months) decided it was time to go back to the real world and a job, the ideas of what I would do started popping up in my head. New Zealand? South East Asia? India?! … Yoga teacher training??? I thought on it for a few days, and decided that the universe was trying to tell me that this was my shot to do it. When would I get this chance again? When could I bear to leave my dog again for more than a short vacation? I completely fell off the fitness/health wagon while backpacking, so perhaps this month-long course could whip this increasingly soft and fleshy body back into some semblance of shape? And boom, I sent off my deposit and confirmed my spot.

Holi Day celebrations with my fellow yogis.

Holi Day celebrations with my fellow yogis.

Now a hop, skip, and a jump later- here I am in Patnem Beach, Goa, India at said (Kranti Yoga) Yoga Teacher Training. I am currently 21 out of 28 days into the program, and let me tell you- I am- we are all- T-I-R-E-D. It’s an intense program based off the Ashtanga Primary series, with nearly 12 or sometimes more hour days, it’s not easy. This week especially, people have been dropping like flies, straight into savasana mid-primary series. I too have battled with myself to keep going, but I am happy to say I am still plugging along. Today I taught my first ever yoga class! I taught it to a small group of other teacher-trainees, but nonetheless, it was done! I am happy to report, I actually enjoyed it once I got over my initial nerves. As for my practice, it’s getting better and better every day. I came here without any real desire to teach, rather as a way to learn more about yoga and become more dedicated to it, but I must say perhaps a little desire to teach is blossoming inside of me. 🙂 It’s really fun to come up with themes and figuring out how the different postures can lead into other postures and getting creative with it. It’s inspiring to be around people (there are 36-ish in total) from all over the world, at different points in their lives, each bringing something new and interesting with them, and each with a different story of who they are and where they come from. It’s really nice to be in the same place for a while, unpacking my suitcase, laying my head on the same pillow night after night- while still half a world away from home. It’s fun interacting with the locals, becoming a regular at a restaurant, having the vendors recognize you when you walk by and wave. It’s been an experience seeing how my body reacts to new things- like hours of yoga everyday, completely new foods (now that’s an experience), challenging myself to a vegetarian and alcohol-free diet for the month.

One of our resident spaghetti noodles in Anatomy and Alignment class.

One of our resident spaghetti noodles in Anatomy and Alignment class.

When I first came here, I could barely touch my toes in a forward fold, and when I could, the instructors would tell me my form was bad and bring me back so I was just touching my shins. Now I can bend forward and touch my nose to my knees easily, with no complaints of improper form! That’s progress in it’s most physical form. But what about my spiritual progress? Well… I can’t sit still in meditation class, sometimes I can’t control my giggling in the breathing exercises (you would too if you could see what we have to do sometimes), and sometimes I still have… negative thoughts (insert collective startled sharp intake of breath here). I am told that means that’s what I need to work on the most… but I would still rather have a nice bum first. So, there’s the answer to that question. But hey, one more week left, still plenty of time for a spiritual awakening. 🙂

Namaste, beautiful people.

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6 responses to “Om: A Yoga School Adventure in India

  1. Pingback: Transcending the Clouds: Life Lessons from a Hare Krishna | girl meets world·

  2. I tried yoga for the first time about a year ago when I was travelling around India. I didn’t do a long retreat or training session like this but I loved it so I can only imagine how great (but exhausting!) this must be. Sounds like you’re having fun!

  3. Yes, it is not easy to choose the right school, but I realised, that it is never a wrong decision. Maybe the teacher is different than you imagined, maybe you wanted something else… but it is teaching you in another levels. It can teach you to be more humble, to find your inner peace even if the surrounding is making you crazy. It cen help you to find your inner teacher and don`t be dependet on any teacher. So what I found out, every experience is a special experience for you and you will never loose.
    I have a great experience with Shree Hari Yoga School (www.shreehariyoga.com). Their YTTC is multistyle, so you learn a lot about Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Yin, and a lot of Pranayama as well. I think thats good for people who dont want to focuse to only one style of yoga.

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