Yoga School - Day 1 February 2, 2023
This may be too weird even for me! At least that was my first impression which I am not letting influence me… just yet.
First the staff. They are excellent from what I can see. They are so welcoming and informative, gentle, patient and continually telling us that we are now “family”. The meals have been very good - not spicy at all but flavourful even though they are sattvic which includes foods that are light and healthy. In Ayurvedic practice, sattvic foods are thought to increase energy, happiness, calmness, and mental clarity. In practice, that means eating things that are vegetarian, nutritious, fresh, and tasty.
and no onion or garlic. So meals are all vegetarian which so far is okay, I guess, although there are too many beans for me - there is always a bean dish and always rice. I don’t really like either so I eat the fresh vegetables and the cooked vegetable medley. There’s also delicious hot ginger water and chapati, always chapati.
After breakfast, we were to meet upstairs on the fifth floor - thank goodness my room is on the first floor and I will only have to climb steps Iike that for class. Of course we didn't start until at least 15 minutes late and this whole time we were sitting on the floor on yoga mats and already I was starting to squirm. Legs crossed, legs straight, hands in lap, hands behind back and on and on. Meanwhile there was a man preparing a firebox at the front of the room.
Eventually we started with an introduction of what and why we were having the fire celebration. By burning 30+ herbs and ghee - clarified butter, we are first purifying the air and then as we breathe it in, we are purifying ourselves. So, he built a fire-
the whole time chanting something in Sanskrit. He did the welcoming ceremony with the two owners and then walked around and put tikka and rice on our foreheads. We also got melted ghee put on the spot where our hair meets our forehead and a new marigold garland. We said three very long ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmms, then he chanted some more while we clapped. As the ceremony progressed, we went up, 9 at a time to sit around the fire and throw herbs into it-
We had to pick the herbs out of a dish using our middle and ring fingers and our thumb and throw them into the fire on a certain word. Once everyone was done, we formed a large circle with our right hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us and shuffled forward. Eventually it seemed to be winding down and then he started beating the shit out of a drum and people, not everyone and not me, started dancing or more like hopping around. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one standing on the sidelines. I already stick out like a granny in a kindergarten. The fire ceremony was over and we were cleansed. I guess.
Next we were given a rule sheet - drugs, smoking and alcohol are grounds for expulsion. Okay. We also introduced ourselves. There are close to 60 students taking either one week, 200 hour, 300 hour or 500 hour courses. I am the only Canadian and by far, I mean really really far, the oldest here which I find very disappointing. There is a German woman who looks old and a Spanish couple, probably in their late 40s, then a whole bunch of kids trying to ‘find’ themselves - you’re in Rishikesh honey!
This took the whole morning and as we were leaving, we were given a cloth bag containing a water bottle, a heavy yoga pose book, a Nettie pot with a cord to put up your nose and pull out your mouth - not likely, a notebook, the cheapest pen I have ever seen, a workbook and a yoga mat. This is serious business because we have a practical and physical exam at the end. I hope we don’t have to memorize all the bones and muscles in the body - I failed physiology twice in university and I’m sure my memorization skills have not improved in 43 years.
After lunch it was a free afternoon so I went for a walk in the beautiful sunshine. I made a big loop and because we are next to a river there is no way to get across close by. Once home, I sat on my deck but it was too hot.
We 200 hour people are going to be put into two groups and we will soon be getting information via WhatsApp. I hope my WhatsApp works. It seems to have a mind of its own. I also hope I’m with the German woman. I don’t have much in common with these 20 year olds.
I'm hoping for another good sleep and very curious about tomorrow.
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