The initiation ceremony was lovely. Along with two other students, all dressed in white, a garland of flowers was placed around our necks as we were warmly welcomed into the Shiva Shakti Yoga School program. We were given our yoga books, notebook to write in and a neti pot! A small plastic vessel with a spout that looks somewhat like a mini teapot.
This neti pot however is not to steep tea, but rather used to flush the sinuses with a saline solution; standard issue for this type of training in India. Little did we know, the neti pot would become a ritual of sorts each and every day of the training. Luckily for me, I'm quite familiar with the neti as I use it back home during ragweed season to help manage my sinus blockages due to seasonal allergies, and when it came time to use it, I had no issues like another of my fellow student who was not accustomed to its use.
We were introduced by Amit, an owner and founder of Shiva Shakti School, to our three teachers. Neha, who would be teaching asanas, pranayamas (breathing techniques), yoga adjustment and alignment and teaching methodology. Shubham who would teach anatomy and mantra chanting and Dr. Himanshu who would teach us about Indian philosophy and meditation techniques. With warm smiles and great energy in front of me, I immediately felt safe and secure with my teachers and I knew that I had made the right decision in coming here and that for some reason, my path was meant to cross with the path of the people who I would later consider to be family.
Then we were given our daily schedule for the next month...and my shoulders slumped.
My first thought was, "When will I be able to relax on the beach?"
With only Saturdays off to rest, recover and visit the area, I wondered if I'd have the time to experience a little bit of India at the same time. The schedule required a very early start and a late finish. I had no issues with an early start since I'm up with the birds but I did have to adapt to the late finish and late dinner...in the end, not a big deal, the packed schedule made the days go by fast!
06:30 to 07:00 - Cleansing Kriyas (Neti Pot)
07:00 to 08:00 - Pranayam, Mudra and Bandha
08:00 to 08:30 - Tea & Light Breakfast
08:45 to 10:45 - Asana
10:45 to 12:00 - Lunch
12:00 to 13:00 - Anatomy
13:00 to 13:30 - Mantra Chanting in Sanskrit
13:30 to 14:00 - Break
14:00 to 15:00 - Philosophy
15:00 to 15:30 - Meditation
15:30 to 16:00 - Break
16:00 to 17:30 - Asana Alignment, Adjustment and teaching methodology
17:30 to 19:00 - Break
19:00 to 20:30 - Dinner
I had to remind myself that I wasn't on an all inclusive vacation. I was here to learn how to teach Hatha yoga in an intense and immersive program in a small south-Indian village away from most of the typical tourist trappings found in other popular yoga training spots and away from most, if not all, western comforts and standards that are so easy to take for granted. With this in mind, I full-heartedly looked upon the schedule with acceptance, excitement and eagerness to dive-in.
I think that when you embark on a journey of self-discovery, you have to put in place the conditions that will make your experience enriching and one that you'll commit to and follow through to the end... and this starts in the mind. You have to create a mind-space that is clear and free of expectations. This will become the most important thing on your journey because if you've defined in your mind what it is you expect out of an experience, if and when those expectations are not met, disappointment, regret and anger will result. As you suffer through this, the whole nature of the experience will change and this can lead to abandoning the journey resulting in the feeling of personal failure.
So, put aside all expectations of what you think an experience should be and flow into the experience with all the self-discovery predicaments that arise. If in the course of the experience you feel the need to express your disappointment or frustration, do so...not out of anger, but out of self-expression and as a way to process the energy that arose in you in the circumstance that brought you the discomfort. Once expressed, let it go and move forward so you can fully live the new moment in front of you and continue with the journey of self-discovery as it's presented to you in the present. Holding on the the anger or frustration that arose because your expectations were missed will deter you from achieving your purpose that lead you on your journey's path in the first place.
Next to come- Part 3 - Learning Hatha Yoga