Blog

Apr
06
Hey guys... Lacey here, back from India!

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This past month has been a complete whirlwind. I’ve had monkey’s steal my food, learned breathing techniques to boost my immune system, shaved my head, made new friends from all walks of life, escaped near-death by driving off the side of a mountain and more. As I think back on my trip I imagine all the crazy stories and endeavors that Taylor and I experienced. I cannot help but feel enormous amounts of gratitude and emotions. Travel will do that to you!


On February 25th, my boyfriend of three years, Taylor and I began our trip to India. We travelled for over 40 hours to get to Delhi, and it was a stressful mess to say the least. They say that the trip to personal growth and self-realization is met with adversity and chaos; and that is pretty spot on. All of our struggles from the past year met us at the airport and attempted to pull us home. Our pursuit to save money during our travels ended up costing us more than planned, our flights were delayed, Taylor’s dog Goku mysteriously began to limp before we left, and the Coronavirus began to spread around Europe.


When we finally made it to Delhi, we remembered why we wanted to come in the first place. India is a mixture of smells (good and bad), crazy drivers who by some miracle never crash, intricate and lavish fabric, a lot of trash, sensory overload and magic. We both have a soft spot for Asia. Taylor’s family is Filipino and I have loved my travels around Southeast Asia in the past. The lifestyle is relaxed, and you feel at ease even though you are surrounded in chaos. Bargaining is a favorite hobby of mine with the rush of adrenaline to get the best deal. If any of you have travelled to a third world country you know how big haggling is apart of the culture. While in Delhi we met the cousin of a friend of mine, Ankita, and she was the perfect person to introduce us to India. Ankita taught us all about the area, culture, corrupt government, and messy history of India. She took us to the most beautiful market with anything and everything from all 28 states in India; and I got to practice my semi-professional bargaining techniques.


We stayed in Delhi for three days and then flew to Rishikesh to begin our 200-hour yoga certification. Yet again, our flight was delayed a solid 4 hours with the airline adding on an extra hour every 30 minutes. We arrived in Dehradun (city near Rishikesh), and realized that my GoPro had been stolen at the airport in Delhi. We felt pretty defeated by this point, but knew that just meant we needed to get to the ashram to start our training even more now. I took it as a sign that I needed to be more present and stay off of social media and technology. Upon arriving at the yoga centers office in town, we met 5 women from all walks of life. Two women in their 40s and 50s from New Zealand, and 3 women in their 20s from Mexico, Brazil and Dallas, Texas. These were the women we were about to spend a month with learning yoga secluded in the Himalayas.


We made the trip from the busy city to our quiet ashram next to the Ganges river. The road that leads to Rishikesh and all the surrounding towns is the only road in the area. That means it is always filled with cars and not surprisingly, construction. A large pilgrimage habitats this lone road every spring, and the citizens wanted to finish this construction before millions of people made this pilgrimage to visit The Ganges river the following month. The Ganges river, known as Mother Ganga, is an extremely important landmark in India. It is a goddess in itself and a bringer of life to Indians and animals in the surrounding area. In Rishikesh, Varanasi and many other cities this river is a hotspot for Indians and tourists. Indians come to bathe in the river to purify their bodies and souls, cremate their loved ones in the southern portion of the river, and pray to the many Hindu gods. In Rishikesh and other northern towns along the river, tourists flood the city to go river rafting, bungee jumping, practice yoga and visit the many temples throughout the area.


Our ashram was 20-30 minutes from Rishikesh and it was absolutely magical. The river was across the street and we were surrounded by monumental mountains. We all synchronized sighs and awes as we stepped into the ashram. The grass was so green, the mountains were towering and the cottages were quaint. We were met with flower necklaces, pakora veggies, and chai tea. Then we were given a tour of the ashram and taken to our cottages to rest. The next day we began our training.


Here’s an example of our daily schedule:


7-8am: Hike in the adjacent mountains or walk along the beach.


8am: Tea and fruit: usually bananas that monkeys would try and steal (successfully occasionally)


8:30-10: Hatha Asana class (asana means poses or postures): This is a physical practice of yoga.


10:15-11: Breakfast - usually consisting of fruit, oatmeal/porridge, bean sprouts mix and chapati (flat bread like naan), or banana pancakes.


11-12: Yoga Asana Alignment: to practice and write down the multiple sequences and postures.


12:15-1:15: Yoga Philosophy and Mythology: we heard stories, learned mantras (peace songs), and the history of yoga.


1:30- 3pm: Lunch & break: usually consisting of chapati, fruits, veggies, bean soup, tea, etc.


3-4:30: Ashtanga Asana class (more intense physical yoga class)


4:30-5: Tea


5-6: Understanding Yoga Anatomy: Science based human anatomy class.


6:30-7:45: Understanding the deeper dimensions of Yoga with meditation: My favorite class where we learned pranayamas (breathing techniques), mudras (hand signs), and meditation techniques.


8-9: Dinner: This was my favorite meal with pasta occasionally, chapati, veggie soups or curry, pakora and more. It varied every day, but all the meals were vegetarian.


Then sleep!


Our days were long and intense with over 3 hours of physical yoga, and diligent note taking since we were not given notes or books to go off of. Taylor’s hips were getting increasingly more flexible and we were very sore, but we were getting better each day. We had these classes Monday-Friday and on Saturday’s we had one asana class, a cooking class and karma yoga. Karma yoga is the cleaning of the ashram. Sunday’s were our day off to go into town, river rafting, hiking, or relaxing. We were lucky to celebrate a wonderful Indian holiday while we were there called “Holi”. At the ashram we were given colored powder and told to throw it at each other, and as you place the color on someone you give them a blessing. It was a great day of fun, dancing, singing and good food with the owners, their friends and our classmates. Look up Holi if you’re curious!


Sadly our certification was cut short and we had to leave a week early due to the Coronavirus outbreak. India was not allowing airplanes to fly in or out from Sunday March 22nd - March 29th, but our certification was set to end March 27th. We awoke on Friday March 20th to this news and had to choose between staying for a week and possibly being stuck for a month or longer, or leaving that day. So we all had to make the painful split-decision to leave that day and cut our certification off a week early. We hurriedly packed our bags and rushed to the airport in Delhi. But before we left, our philosophy instructor: a woman named Seema who is one of the owners of the ashram, surprised us with a short, yet beautiful ceremony to give us our teacher certificates and end our journey together at the ashram.


Our yoga certification was so much more than just physical movements. Our teachers were the best of the best and taught us all about how yoga began, how critical chanting mantras is, the importance of silence and stillness, and to be giving and honest humans. My intention when going to India was to go inward and work on myself, yet in class I found myself thinking about how useful and helpful these movements, breath work and peace could benefit the people of The PEWC. Though our certification was cut short, I feel like I learned so much and have just touched the surface of how much knowledge there is to be found in India. Until next time India,



Namaste


Pranam


And thank you.


ॐ सह नाववतु ।


सह नौ भुनक्तु ।


सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।


तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।


ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥


Om Saha Naav[au]-Avatu |


Saha Nau Bhunaktu |


Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |


Tejasvi Naav[au]-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |


Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


One of my favorite mantras that I learned at the ashram.