Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reminiscing: Rishikesh

A week ago today I left a place that had become a home to me, of course I'm mostly referring to Rishikesh Yog Peeth and all the wonderful people there, but I'm also referring to Rishikesh in general.  Now that I sit halfway around the world, I realize how much of an impact the place itself had on my experience in India.  It often works that way.  For me, places seem to take on personalities that leave me missing them as if they were people. 

As for the 'personality' of Rishikesh, it seemed to be a bit on the schizophrenic side at first glance, but I think that was my general first impression of India.  I got past that.  After I initially crossed the bridge over the Ganges river and looked past the roaming cows, I was taken by the beauty of the river set against the foothills of the Himalayas.  During the following weeks, I grew to appreciate more than just the nature that surrounded the city.  I felt safe and welcome there.  I even got a few small insights into the power of the years and years of meditation that have occurred along the Ganges.

Slowly, Rishikesh took on the personality of a mystic.  I could see past the trash, as in literally there was a huge mound of trash close to where I was staying.  I no longer feared being attacked by the many professional food snatchers, also known as monkeys.  I accepted the incessant honking horns and tuned more into the early morning chanting and the occasional om from a conch shell.  I begin to experience what was beyond the physical aspects of the city.  It only helped that I was there to experience a variety of festivals and see the large amount of Indian tourists that were drawn to this particular Holy city to celebrate.  

It took six weeks for Rishikesh to show itself to me in this way.  If I had only spent a few days there, my opinion may have remained with the schizophrenic title.  It takes time to really know a place, just like it takes time and patience to know a person.  When we are willing to take this time, we can grow to appreciate it, whatever it may be, and we can see beyond any imperfections that may be on the surface.  Challenging yourself to go beyond what you initially see is one of the many things I enjoy about traveling.

In fact, I was reminded of this challenge a few days after leaving Rishikesh when I was in Agra being hassled by everyone, including some guy who wanted to do my laundry.  Really, some laundry shop owner was yelling at me as I walked down the street..."10 rupee small item, 15 rupee large item, pick up in the afternoon."  I left Agra the next day, so it's hard for me to say much at all about that place, but Rishikesh remains with me.  All the places I've taken the time for do.   

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Life in Every Photo Continued

Here are a few more of my self-portraits from India...


out into india

ganga view

one of the last classes!

after 108 sun salutations


rest at taj mahal

last day in Delhi

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Teachers teaching teachers

As we wrap everything up this week, it's all about us as students teaching the asana classes.  It's been such a great experience to see how we have all developed in our practice throughout the course.  I taught last night and it came really naturally to me and just confirmed how much I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge of asana and yoga in general. 

As we teach this week, I'm realizing how much we have learned from each other over the six weeks.  It's not just about getting up and going through an hour asana class to show what you know.  Of course, this is an important part of yoga, but what's more important is how you live yoga off the mat in your day to day life.  From this point of view, we can see every person we encounter as an opportunity to learn something about the nature of our own self, and therefore human nature, which is so intimately tied to the aim of yoga. 

With this in mind, I've come to see so many of the wonderful people in my life as "yoga" teachers preparing me for my experience here.  They may not be practicing asana or using any yoga terms, but they are practicing bhakti yoga in their devotion to whatever it might be, or they are able to attain a level of one-pointedness when it comes to the present moment.  Or maybe they are living a simple life with a sense of detachment and an understanding that we cannot get infinite happiness from finite matter.  Whatever lessons I have learned from those around me in the past, have come back to my conscious mind during my time here and I'm truly grateful for that.

Essentially the whole time here at Rishikesh Yog Peeth we have just been teachers teaching teachers, who are also teaching themselves along the way.  It's not complicated, although it may seem to be at first.  When we have the final ceremony in a few days, for me it will be more about making a commitment to my own personal practice and a commitment to stay with the teacher within.  If I'm able to help some others on their personal path in yoga, then I will take on that task with the same level of attention and intention that I give my own practice.

I will thoroughly enjoy my last few days in Rishikesh.  I'm realizing more and more how much information I've been given over the past six weeks and how much time is needed for contemplation.  My experience speaks to me, but I feel that I cannot speak for my experience, at least not yet.  Maybe more words will come to describe the time I've spent here, but maybe not.  Sometimes experiencing something is the only way to convey a sense of understanding, and for that reason I'm so thankful for my experience here.