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. :-)