I cannot remember the last time I stayed in the same place for an entire month. It has legitimately been 7 years (since I started working at Epic). Even though I didn’t travel for work in Dubai, I went on a trip at least once a month, if not twice, or three 😉 – every single month. So I’m parking myself: in one country, in one place, in one ashram to be exact. For the entire month of April, I’ll be in Rishikesh, India, the Yogi Capital of the world! I’m at the Yoga India Foundation for a 200-hour Hatha and Ashtanga Teacher Training course.
I fell in love with Yoga about 3 years ago, in 2015, when I went on a yoga retreat in Goa, India. In a week alone I learned a lot, and loved the way my mind and body felt. That was also the last time I saw Jeff (besides the hospital, a moment I hold very close to my heart, but it wasn’t really Jeff). I was terrified to go to India by myself! I was struggling with some real, deep, depression. Yes, me: positive, happy, optimistic, sunshine loving, “brave” me struggles with depression. Everything was hazy around me. Waking up felt like getting strangled. I put on the same clothes for a week straight (I remember this vividly too, a pair of jeans, peach tank top, and grey jacket, haha). Jeff saw this in me when I visited him in Dubai before I went to India. He had some real-talk with me about letting go, but also gave me some tough love on the matter (of love ironically) too. He made me actually believe I was better than I was being, and that the real me was worth something. He gave me this great pep talk while he drove with me to the airport about how amazing this trip to India was going to be, and how I was going to kick depression’s ass. And you know what, I did. It wasn’t right away, it didn’t just disappear in a week, in fact in went through a weird twist when Jeff died, but because of him I couldn’t let myself fall any farther. I started picking myself back up beginning that week of yoga in India.
Why and How Did I Choose This Training?
Why? The mind is beautiful, it’s powerful, it’s our gift, our differentiator as humans. As humans we have the ability to think for the betterment of humanity, not just for ourselves, and that’s beautiful. But mine is numb. It’s been strained, stressed, depressed, diluted, running a thousand different directions every day. I’ve buried it in work to distract from pain, from grief, from anxiety, and it’s caught up to me. It’s so tired that it can’t process or handle new information, yet I’m craving knowledge. I want to learn. So the why is actually quite simple: BE PRESENT. BE IN THE MOMENT. Don’t dwell on the past, no stressing or planning the future. Be at PEACE. Peace is the level of happiness that is eternal, not the emotion of happiness that comes and goes based on others or material shit. That’s what I’m here for. I’m confident it’s possible. I’m confident I can get there.
Location: I knew I wanted to be in India, that’s where yoga was born! Rishikesh caught my attention because it’s proclaimed to be the Yoga Capital of the World. It’s an interesting place. It’s located at the foothills of the Himalayans, a good distance north of New Delhi, in the state of Uttarakhand. It is situated along the Ganges River, which is the “holiest river in the world” (According to Hinduism, the goddess Ganga, bathed in the river because it causes the remission of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death), and therefore the water of the Ganges is considered very pure. The city is full of hippies, everyone here is either studying yoga or just blazing all day. The entire city is meat and alcohol free. I’m like a 2 out of 10 on the hippie scale here.
Ashram: I chose the Yoga India Foundation because they have a specialized course on Emotional Blockage, dealing with anxiety and depression. I would love to be able to use yoga as a way to break through some of my own anxiety, and then be able to share with others through yoga who also have these struggles (which I firmly believe we all do in one way or another).
Price: India yoga trainings are also relatively cheap compared to other counties. My entire month is about $1,500 USD, and that includes accommodation, 3 meals per day, and the certification courses.
1 April 2018: Day 1 in Rishikesh
Okay I’m really nervous! It’s a good nervous, I’m also excited, but I just really don’t know what to expect here. I like yoga, a lot, but I’m really not that good at it, and this is a whole new realm. I’m scared I’m going to be bad at this, that I won’t feel confident as a teacher by the end, that I’m going to get sick of it, I’m going to be soooo hungry! Why the f*$% did I chose to spend a whole month waking up at 5am and working hard all day when I could just be chilling on the beach in Bali doing casual yogs here and there with nothing else to do or no schedule to follow. Well that’s also why I’m so excited: I cannot wait to fill my days learning, new things, filling my brain with something that isn’t “healthcare software”, people complaining, screaming, getting yelled at for things I can’t control. I get to control the what I learn, how hard I try, how much I want to get out of each day. That’s a luxury I haven’t had in a long time, many people don’t get on a day-to-day basis. I want a challenge, I want to be bad, I want to fail (I mean just a little not a lot of course).
What I’m learning:
What is yoga? The connection between mind, body, and soul that works together for peace. Peace in the mind, peace in the body, and peace in the soul. Peace comes with a balance or neutrality between positive and negative, good and bad, happy and sad.
The aim is neutrality. Neutrality doesn’t mean emotionless (which I’ve fought with for a long time). It’s good and okay to show anger, but don’t let yourself become angry. Showing anger teaches others, maybe it teaches them facts, feelings, or opinions, but it’s my way of showing others what I know to be true or right. It can help others, or they can ignore it. In return, I need to pay attention to others when they’re showing anger, sadness, and the flip side when they’re showing happiness, excitement, because that’s when I can learn from them. Why are they feeling that way and what makes it tick for them?
What I’m feeling:
- Holy shit I feel at peace. Real peace. In a way I don’t know if I’ve ever felt, and for sure not since June 2016. I got to breathe for a whole hour straight today. Nothing else. I wasn’t thinking about what happened before, or what was happening after. Just breathing in and breathing out. That’s what I’ve been dreaming of. That level of peace. That level of feeling okay, content, satisfied in the present, the now, the moment.
- Philosophy and beliefs (religion too, but please not one specific right or wrong kind of religion!) aren’t taught to kids in primary and secondary school. You can choose to take these courses when your older, but what a loss of so many years of pain. If kids at a young age knew that they aren’t expected to be a certain thing, think a certain way, that we’re all different for a reason, and that’s beauty. It’s okay to feel, it’s okay to love, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be awesome. My opinion? Power. People crave power so much, it’s gotten into our government system to teach and educate in an emotionless manner, so that those in power can continue to have that power. Not just government, but in families, social groups, school, hobbies, etc.
- These people are legit. I’m surrounded by real, by amazing, by talented, different, weird, caring, sick, super fit, hippie hippie hearts, reiki, spiritual healers, beginners, experts, chill *AF*, cool people. I’m really excited about this!
- Shartkarma: So this is new. It’s “cleansing”. Everyone knows the Neti Pot, so that’s the first thing we do. That’s fine, it’s known and it’s not that bad. But after that, things getting a little intense for cleaning…a thread up your nose and out your mouth, chugging water right away when you wake up until you induce vomiting, sucking water up your anus, swash it around and then release…for real these are the things we’re learning are Shartkarma, and we GET to participate every morning from 6-7am. Stay tuned.
- I get to breath for an entire hour in the morning. Seriously that’s the DREAM I’ve been dreaming of. An hour dedicated to breathing. Not for thinking, that’s an important part of this, but before thinking I just want to be. Breathing in, breathing out. From 7-8am every single morning that’s what I get to do, and it’s called: Pranayama.
- Quick tea break
- Yoga time!: From 8-10, we’re practicing hatha for the first few weeks, then ashtanga. This is my favorite part of the day.
- Breakkie, finally!!!!
- Knowledge is Power: from 11-1:30 we have classes that change up a bit as the weeks go on: Philosophy, Anatomy, Yoga Alignment, Teaching Methodology.
- Lunch: starving again by 130, gimme more chapati!!!
- Karma Yoga: For about two hours in the afternoon, we have time to reflect, to study, and to find ways to help others and the place around us with.“Karma yoga can be applied to everything you do: from the most trivial, ordinary tasks to greater, more challenging works.”
- More Yogs! Two more hours of yoga!!!!
- Emotional Blockage and meditation: This time of the evening we focus on Emotional Blockage: certain pressure points on your body that are built up over time from blockages. We’re taught where they are, what they mean, and how to release them. We also spend this time on meditation and meditation techniques. This time is a bit more difficult for me. I still get a bit anxious and tense, reluctant to get too deep into this. I am interested to see how this evolves over the month.
- Dinner time, #morechappati
- Relax and snooze: in the evenings I spend my time chatting with these beautiful people, reading all that I can, writing, and practicing getting some real sleep. I think it’s working!
What I’m wondering:
Very random thoughts pop into my head, most I don’t remember later, but here’s a few from today that I actually remember:
- More about the moon and it’s energetic power
- What are the meanings of all 7 chakras?
- If we’re supposed to let go and not let bad things make us angry
- How do you keep that feeling of peace when things get busy, when they get stressful, when you have to get 10000 things done in a day just to keep up, plus you want to take care of others (volunteering, friends, family, maybe even kids of my own someday)
- How am I ever going to be able to fly on a plane with a kid? I have to get my flight anxiety under control
So yalla, chello, api yamo! here it goes! I’ll be writing along the way, although I’m also trying to take a technology detox so sorry if I don’t respond to messages quickly, I still love you!♥