It’s just the beginning . . .
Five days into the advanced teacher training program here in Neyyar Dam, India, and my body is in a mild state of shock. Prior to this I’d been spending about eight hours at my computer, applying for jobs, working away at my other two websites and building a new online resume, faffing the rest of the day away eating lunches of dosa rather slowly or strolling along my Goan paradise, Agonda. Honestly, I must’ve practiced asana about three hours a week – nothing compared to the hardcore training sessions in Varanasi!
So, in a much as I was mentally ready for this course, especially the Sanskrit classes, I wasn’t exactly physically prepared for the challenge! We’re holding postures for ten minutes at a time, practicing scorpion with no wall, all the while getting valuable teaching tips from Sivananda’s most esteemed asana teacher, a direct disciple and friend of Swami Vishnudevananda, Prahlad.
It feels so strange to be challenged in an asana class again – for one, I’ve been living in such isolated places the last two years, I haven’t really had an opportunity to participate in big group sessions like this. The only teacher I’ve known recently is Rauji at Om Shanti Yoga Niketan – and he always pushes me so hard (usually in a one-on-one scenario), when I do a video or practice a Sivananda class later, they’re pretty easy in comparison. Whew, I really let my asana practice slip these last few weeks . . .
Thankfully the pranayam in the morning (5am to 6am, baby!) revs me up and prepares me for the long day to follow. Me and the 80 other teachers (from Iran, Japan, South American countries and England, mostly) are constantly running between pranayam, satsang, asana, anatomy, lunch, Sanskrit/Raja Yoga, the main philosophy lecture, karma yoga, asana, dinner and satsang! Despite the funky shoulder and the wobbly legs, I’ve got a big Hawaiian smile on my face. I’m finally doing the ATTC – yes!
The last few years I really felt like I had take two steps backward to move one step forward and now I’m finding my stride. The thought crossed my mind when we went on a silent meditation walk to the lake. The path twists and turns and at one point goes straight up a massive incline – and it’s at this point where I feel like the endorphins have kicked in and I’m flying up that thing like there’s a big box of Godiva on the top!
It seemed to me this walking meditation was a perfect analogy to certain situations in life – if you can step up your game when the terrain gets toughest to handle, the difficulties really don’t seem so intense, and the rush you feel at the end is like no other. Of course, I thought of this potential plan of mine to move to New York, start my own yoga organization, contribute to my community, go back to school and somehow make it in a city known to either eat you up alive or give you a big ole bite of itself. If ever yogi power were needed . . .
So it’s a challenge not to be using my time here planning for and visualizing the future, especially since I’m only 80% sure of what I’m doing next. With all these other students, the energy is pretty full power – factor in all the yoga vacationers (100?) and a new wave of old Sivananda teachers here for a reunion and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged yoga party. Mmmm . . . at this point, I’m kinda missing my happy little family of 29 in the Madurai TTC . . .
But you “adapt, adjust, accommodate,” as the Sivananda song goes . . . the Sanskrit classes are fun, the surroundings a lot like my tropical paradise home, and the food . . . oh, the food! The best part so far: I’ve met up with three people I know through previous yoga events, totally by surprise. Chloe from a yoga vacation at this very ashram, Teeny from my TTC, and Maxin Louis from a Health Camp in Bombay. Maybe I do feel at home in Neyyar Dam, lions barking in the distance, jack fruit hanging from ancient trees above . . .
I’ll stop the babbling here. Internet is iffy and I have a dinner of chickpea curry, coconut rice and bananas to gobble down 🙂