Friday, February 18, 2011

Teacher Training Course and Monkey Pee

Today, while in the yoga hall, a monkey peed on us.

I love India.

It's hard to believe that we are almost done with week two of our Teacher Training Course at Yog Peeth, Rishikesh. Our days are filled with Yoga Asanas (poses), learning anatomy and philosophy, eating, drinking masala chai, sunbathing on the rooftops, pouring water through our nostrils, chasing monkeys away, meditating, memorizing mantras, eating some more, studying, and more yoga yoga yoga.. I'm in heaven!!!

Here is our schedule:

5:30 - 6:30am... Meditation in my room
6:30... Tea
7:00 - 7:15... Cleansing... Neti pot
7:15 - 7:30... Mantra Chanting
7:30 - 9:30... Yoga Asanas
9:45... Breakfast
10:45 - 11:45... Philosophy Class
1pm... Lunch
3-4pm... Anatomy/Physiology
4:30 - 6:30pm... Yoga Asanas, Pranayama, and Meditation
7pm... Dinner
9-10pm... Meditation in my room

I remember back to day one of our TTC... we woke up at 6:30, drank some chai, and then were handed a plastic little teapot-type-thingie and were introduced to the wonderful world of jala neti. Jala neti (neti pot) is a device used for nasal irrigation. We filled our neti pots with warm salty water, tipped our heads, shoved the spout into one nostril and waited til it drizzled out the other nostril. I was no longer a neti pot virgin. My head was burning and I felt like I had just swallowed a gallon of warm salt water up my nose. ouch... But I'm happy to report that I am now LOVING my neti pot and it has become a routine in my life... just like brushing my teeth.

I am so happy I came to India to study yoga and receive my teacher training certificate in yoga's birthplace. In the States I found so much of the yoga to be just another form of exercise... Most of the studios are "power yoga!" or "iron yoga!" They focus on the physical aspects such as sweating your butt off, losing weight, trying to stretch your body as far as you can, and competition was heavy in the air.

Here at Yog Peeth, we have taken a huge leap back (or rather I should say forward) and have started from the basics. We started with the Pawanmuktasana series which is a group of asanas (poses) which loosen up the joints of the body. It is a very relaxing, meditative yoga, where you learn to build your awareness of every single muscle, joint, bone, and cell of your body. Many grew impatient the first few days of classes, but soon we realized how powerful this series was and how we were building up our strength from the inside out. Now, we are into week two and have slowly been adding on poses, but with so much awareness... which is what yoga is all about.

In anatomy class, we have learned about cells, the nervous system, the endocrine system, the musculoskeletal system, and stress... I was never a big fan of biology or anatomy growing up... but I have been so fascinated by our classes. I ran out to buy a huge book on anatomy and find myself buried in it with excitement! hahah... But the more I learn about the body... the more I understand my own practice... and the more I'll be able to help my future students with their practice. Our lectures are wonderful because he relates everything back to yoga.

We also have been having a lot of debates and discussions in our philosophy class... We learned about the origin of yoga, the different paths of yoga, the 6 philosophies, spoke on the differences between consciousness and awareness, and are now getting into Sankhya and Vedanta... But really what I find yoga to be is the journey between YOU (the appearance which is always changing) and YOU (the reality which never changes.)

I'm excited to see the 30 of us learn, grow, and go along this jouney together... but hopefully the monkeys will keep their peeing to a minimum...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yoga in Rishikesh

The first chapter of our yoga adventure has come to an end...

For the last 6 weeks, Stephanie and I have been taking drop-in yoga classes around Rishikesh.

After sampling various classes around town - we fell in love with two very different classes.

In the mornings we would attend Kamal's Ashtanga classes from 8:30 - 10:45am. The class was Mysore style... meaning that you go through the Primary Series of Ashtanga on your own breath. It is amazing to watch our progress over just 4 weeks. With Kamal we learned how to connect our movement with breath, and breath with movement. My practice deepened so much with this increased awareness. I also learned a lot about anatomy and about the importance of alignment in each pose. His adjustments are strong, powerful, and helped me to understand my own body. Many people say that ashtanga is not a "spiritual" type of yoga. But yoga is yoga. It is all spiritual if you put your mind inside and practice with awareness. If you are new to yoga, and find yourself in Rishikesh... you can attend Kamal's evening classes from 5 - 7pm. In the evening session he leads you through the primary series and helps you with the use of blocks and belts so that your maintain proper alignment. At first, Ashtanga IS very physical... but with patience, persistence and awareness... it will become a very spiritual practice as well.

In the evenings we fell in love with Surinder Singh's class. His class has more of a Hatha yoga feel. He has the most amazing heart and energy which he brings with him 100% into each class. His classes are daily from 8:30 - 11am (at Raj Deep Hotel) and 4:30 - 7pm (at Green Hotel). The first half hour is a set of warming up exercises to loosen the joints and warm the body, then we move into sun salutations, into a set of asanas, followed by the loveliest savasana!!!! (he even sings the word: reeeeelaaaaax....) Afterwards, he opens to any questions we have, and will give a bit of philosophy and share his experiences with yoga and incorporating it into your daily life. He has such a warm heart, and gives his full attention into each and every student. He pats you on the back, gives you a big thumbs up, and encourages you in each and every pose. Where Kamal's adjustments are very hands-on, Surinder is able to give you an adjustment just by glancing at you in the eye and giving you a slight gesture... but his adjustments are just as.... if not more powerful because you experience the adjustment on your own and adjust yourself from the inside out. I have grown so much in his classes and caught a glimpse of how deep yoga practice can be.

Just from these two teachers, and giving my 100% these past 4 weeks, my spiritual journey has taken me deeper and deeper... I have fallen in love with yoga all over again and can't wait to begin my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course this week at Yog Peeth.

If you find yourself in Rishikesh... I hope you will have the opportunity to attend Kamal and Surinder's classes. If you do.... send them my love. :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Afternoons in Rishikesh

Our afternoons are usually filled sunbathing and reading in the gardens at Parmarth...

or indulging in the fruit, yogurt, and muesli amazingness at our local hangout: "The Office..."

Meeting and chatting to friends on the street...

Having a cup of chai with friends from yoga class...

Spending time with Mother Ganges...

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti...

Compassionate Communication

Stephanie and I went to a "Compassionate Communication" workshop at Trika Yoga last Sunday.

The workshop was based on Marshall B. Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication. Nonviolent Communication is a conflict resolution process developed by Marshall Rosenburg. It focuses on two things: honest self-expression - expressing oneself in a way that's likely to inspire compassion in others, and empathy - listening with deep compassion.

for more information on NVC please visit: