A week with Rajuji is like dipping your toes in the Ganges on a hot summer day – shocking to the body, and just enough “aaahhh” to make you wanna jump right in!
We spent two hours in the mornings practicing pranayam, much to the delight of my respiratory system, and another two hours later in the evenings on asana and meditation. Sweet, sweet practice holiday – how do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .
1. Despite the change in weather (from beachy warmth to jacket weather cold) and the somewhat manky conditions of my living quarters in Varanasi, I managed to avoid getting sick. In fact, I cured myself of the nasty throat bug I imported from our charming desert abode! Go, go gadget yoga!
2. I was able to bust into some pretty advanced arm balances, albeit with the help and careful observation of my teacher. Something to work toward doing independently . . .
3. Good friendships were solidified, and new seeds planted as well. Raju Baba and his lovely wife Bridgitte introduced me to their new kitties and we bonded over many a chai. Alok, Rajuji’s apprentice, is now my penpal and friend. Good times!
4. In the light of seva (service), I thought of an idea to implement over my next visit: Seva for Mama Ganga! It’ll be the first community outreach program through Project Surya (my seva brain child) where we’ll clean up the litter in and around the river. As a thanks to participants, I’ll be teaching a free yoga class.
5. I learned a sweet pranayam sequence from Rajuji that correlates with the chakras – stoked to share this with my students!
6. Though being on “Planet Yoga” makes coming back to the “Real World” that much more difficult, I deepened my appreciation for life in India, and am now certain of my commitment to spending six months there to learn, teach, write (articles, blogs, start of the novels) and develop yoga programs with my teachers.
7. New opportunities for the future have made their potential known! Rajuji asked me to be a part of his yoga school and perhaps do a tour of northern India, teaching side by side. Rock.
A week of yoga in Varanasi left me with a light heart, a focused mind, and a renewed appreciation for my personal practice – which, frankly, had begun to sometimes feel tedious and stuck in a rut.
Below are some yoga-centric photos from my week at Om Shanti Yoga Niketan in Banares (Varanasi). More on the overall trip to come!