Part 1- Arrival in Patnem Beach, India
Arriving at Patnem Beach, the place I'd be calling home for the next month was mixed with relief and apprehension. Relief that I've finally arrived and apprehension as I tried to figure out why I came here to India to do my yoga teacher training. More than that...why am I doing yoga teacher training at the age of 47?
The cab ride from Goa airport was as expected and would require some measure of surrender. I've taken taxies in India before in my previous trip a few years back to the Oneness University in the outskirts of Chennai, so I knew what to expect. The taxi driver tried to encourage me to relax and sleep for the 90 minute ride to Patnem Beach. "That must have been a very long flight", he said, when I told him that I came from Canada. Indeed I was tiered after twenty seven hours of flights and layovers in airports. I just wanted to shower, change and crash on a bed. "Take it easy and sleep, I'll let you know when we arrive to Patnem", he assured me. Sleeping in a fast moving taxi as the driver navigates heavy traffic of cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, motorbikes, pedestrians and not to mention cows, would be just about as likely that I learn to levitate with my feet wrapped around my neck in a yoga contortion that could only be imagined.
Sleep I did not, my adrenal glands were pumping out enough adrenaline to keep me wide awake and in a state of hyper vigilance as I let myself be taken away in total surrender, trusting that the divine would let me arrive to my destination in one piece and that no harm would come to persons or cattle.
I was very warmly welcomed by Amit, one of the owners of Shiva Shakti Yoga School, and was offered tea at the Sea View Resort, a hotel and restaurant that was being used by the yoga school to provide our meals. I was told that the beach huts were not ready yet and so Amit was going to put me up in the hotel in the meantime. Perfect, I thought, at least a few creature comforts to help me get over the journey here before settling in the beach huts which I was very much looking forward to experiencing. Back home, I had envisioned myself waking up in the morning to the sound of the waves crashing on the sandy beach...walking out of my hut and taking in the peaceful morning sunrise and starting my day with a meditative walk along the beach...well...in every spiritual journey I've taken, the universe has a way of 'playing' with you even if you're not in the mood to play the 'game'.
In the end, the beach huts were not ready for my group due to the delay in getting them re-assembled, as they must be disassembled each year prior to the beginning of the monsoon season, and this year's rainy season was long and hard. Mother Nature made it practically impossible for the huts to be ready on time and with that; she provided me with a valuable lesson on my own attachment to my expectations.
Awareness raised and lesson learnt! One thing I really did appreciate from being put up in the hotel, was the pool. I spent as much time in the pool as I could given the day's busy scheduled. A short five minute dip did wonders for me and provided a bit of a relief from the constant sweating from the heat each day. Unfortunately the hotel management always closed the pool at 6PM, they said it's because that was the time they added the chlorine. I tried to explain that the evening was the best time to go for a dip, just before bed and 6PM was way too soon to close the pool, perhaps adding the chemicals later in the evening...but no. Alas, my attachment to the idea of taking a refreshing dip before bed was washed away...and yes, another point of awareness raised and lesson learnt.
My room at the hotel was basic, very basic and the bed hard. Luckily I like hard beds but the bed I had was rock solid. I think my yoga mat on the floor was about as comfortable to sleep on as this bed with a two inch mattress. The washroom had a sink, toilet and shower. Actually the shower was right above the toilet. That's right, no shower stalls here. One could do two things at once...shower and poop at the same time if one wanted to! I did find this setup a bit funny, but it was easy to get accustomed to. My first two days in Patnem Beach were just about relaxing, getting acclimatized and exploring my new surroundings. I so appreciated these extra couple days before the start of my training and I highly recommend everyone to consider this before starting any training program.
Patnem Beach is all beautiful sand with a few small shells here and there. A favourite hanging-out spot for the local stray dog population, all of which I witness to be very friendly and docile to humans, and let's not forget the cows. The herd of cows just loved to lay in the sand where a nice sea breeze came off the Arabian Sea. I loved seeing the cows, calfs and dogs on the beach, the animals were more populace on the beach than humans...bonus!
Next Post: Part 2 - Yoga Teacher Training Begins!