March 2017 –
We landed in Delhi at 4AM on the last Friday of February, and took a quiet, early morning taxi ride to our hotel that belied the energy (chaos!) that we would soon learn India dishes out in spades. Following our first necessary dose of warm masala chai (which we both decided will be a staple on Contigo!), we practiced some yoga to ease several travel-induced kinks, then sat down for our first breakfast in India.
The call to hibernate after our breakfast of hindustan champions was strong, but it went unanswered, and we shot off to Old Delhi to see the sights (Red Fort, Chandni Chowk market) during our only full day in Delhi. The highlight was probably our bicycle rickshaw drive through the market, where our driver and guide was a master in maneuvering in tight quarters. Yes, he hit one or two people/vehicles along the way, and tried to renegotiate the price after the tour ended (“But sir, the quoted price was per hour per person, not total”), but we still had a blast – total for 2+ hours was 300 rupees or $4-5 dollars.
Rishikesh – Nada Yoga School Instruction
The next day we pulled a rookie travel move and took a taxi to the Old Delhi train station for our train ride to Rishikesh… except it was the wrong train station. Our mindfulness lessons had begun! Lacking sufficient time to get to New Delhi station, and with no other viable train options, our mode of transportation shifted to a hired car (shockingly inexpensive, we started to notice a pattern…). With the morning sun rising in front of us, we left Delhi and started the six hour journey to Rishikesh. Dodging a menagerie of cows, dogs, humans, and telephone poles (sometimes simultaneously), we arrived into Rishikesh on Saturday afternoon and unpacked in our new home for the next month!
Karl and I are still digesting our experience in India, and this is not due to any lingering cases of Delhi belly. On that front, we are proud to report that we left India unscathed — though sadly a lot of seemingly delicious street food went uneaten. We learned a lot about ourselves (meditation forces that self-reflection!) and are so grateful we had the opportunity to connect with amazing people.
A typical day of instruction went as follows:
- Asana at 6AM, yoga practice, mostly focused on Kundalini poses for 90 minutes
- Shatkarma (body cleansing) or Pranayama (breathing techniques) for 60 minutes
- Breakfast was papaya, bananas, oatmeal and the occasional paratha treat
- Kundalini philosophy and meditation, more on this below
- Following lunch, another teaching (Ayurveda, Mantra, Tantra philosophy, etc.)
- Afternoon Asana, Iyengar-like alignment class (with occasional crying)
- Dinner, light reading, and lights out by 8 or 9PM.
We realize there is a lot of yoga jargon in here, so our apologies in advance! We are pulling together our notes from the month into digital format, so if you are interested in learning more about the practices, please let us know and we’ll include you in a smaller distribution.
Our favorite part of the day was our daily 10AM “Kundalini Philosophy and Meditation” class taught by an Indian-Canadian physician and Yogi whose authentic spirit and kind nature brought to life a powerful message of Naturality (see link). The crux of his teaching is that each person live their life in accordance with their innate intelligence, rather than by what is externally defined or expected by family or society. This is possible through greater awareness, cultivated through meditation and consistent yogic practice. So with all that said, sorry for butchering your lovely teaching, Jivasu.
Monday, March 12th we had no classes due to a holiday. And not just any holiday. Holi Day – a festival of love – is a color-infused celebration that involves painting anything that moves (humans, dogs, cows) with bright shades of powder. A typical interaction went like this: you would pass a perfect stranger on the street, they would rub your face with the powder, say “Happy Holi!” and then give you a big hug. Can it get any better than that?
In sum, it was an amazing month and we return filled with deep gratitude for everything we learned and had the opportunity to experience. India grabbed a firm hold of our hearts, and it is a place we hope to come back to many times. And, as newly minted yoga teachers, we joke that we can now launch our line of BOGA™ or Boat Yoga instructional videos. Namaste.