With little cash left, and everything is paid for in cash here, I decided to make my way to Ganesh this morning to change $500AUD. As I only had 180 rupees in cash, I knew this wouldn’t get me far so this was a priority before heading out for food. Unfortunately, as the stock market was not open today being Sunday, Ganesh advised he cannot do the transaction today so come back tomorrow. Bummer.
I decided to wander the streets of Gokulam looking for one of these fantastic restaurants listed on the yoga shala’s website. Considering I ate one meal yesterday, and the portion would have been enough to feed a pigeon, I was pretty hungry this morning. Surviving on Digestive biscuits is certainly not a long term solution. The problem I find however, is the map for where these restaurants are located is completely wrong when compared with the actual address of the cafe or restaurant. It really is a guessing game when it comes to finding places / things in India. So I wandered around for an hour or so, walking through the labyrinth that is India, and eventually stumbled upon a little health food mini mart. I had circled that shop many times, finding myself back where I began but was only able to get there via a the only alley I hadn’t yet walked down. I’m thrilled to have found this place. In desperate times - this is where I will turn.
As I am craving some form (any form) of health, I took a chance and ate a green apple. Washed with bottled water - so far so good… I also made myself a vegimite sandwich with my new earthy flavoured (some would say dirt flavoured) rustic bread. Excellent - I was now guaranteed to at least not pass out from lack of food in the first class.
At 11.00am today our class gathered at the Shala. Everyone was very awkward and clearly nervous. Sitting silently in the shala (it’s the rules) a group of about 30 of us in total sat in a circle which spanned the entire length and width of the small room. As our teacher, Barath, entered the room there was certainly a powerful presence he brought with him. It is not something I can describe as such but all I can feel is it commands immediate respect whilst at the same time offers a gentleness, an understanding that we are all vulnerable in this very moment. For this entire course. I am only one of 3 who will be continuing past the 4 weeks and completing the full 9 weeks - so I will get to know this man quite well over the coming months.
We each received a little ‘showbag’ if you will, full of our teachers manuals and training guides. Bharath took time to explain the purpose of everything within the bag and how we are to treat these materials.
We sat in this circle on our folded mats all facing the front of the room where Bharath sat. The entire wall behind Bharath is painted purple with an orange and yellow vortex leading your eyes to the unavoidable Om in its centre. It’s quite amazing what this painting could evoke - being drawn into something which is incredibly deep - but what the 'deep’ actually represents for me, I am not yet sure. All I know is it will come to have more meaning for me as I deepen my practice over the coming weeks.
After 2 hours of sitting on the floor cross legged and with back perfectly straight, it was a relief when we were told it was time to break for lunch. Just sitting is a major workout in itself!
A group of us wandered down to Anu’s cafe where everyone at the vegan buffet provided. Amazing mixtures of salads to choose from, from beetroot to lentils to what looked like a coleslaw - I was jealous of everyone having their lunch. As the meal cost 250 rupees and I only had 180 rupees, there was no lunch for me. But i did have a banana and strawberry smoothie in a bowl which was amazingly tasty. This was enough for me until I made it home and inhaled my lovely dirt flavoured bread for a second time. Mmmm!
It was great meeting other people from the course. It’s particularly nice knowing I am not the only newbie to the area. Many people only arrived when I did, and are just as lost and confused about everything as I am. There are all sorts of personalities in the group - the loud ones, the terribly shy ones, the ones who are English but act as though they are Indian, the hippee ones. It’s great! It’s amazing how such different people in the world can, through sharing an experience like teacher training, come together and just enjoy and appreciate each others company. Traveling is amazing for this. So far, I have new friends from Toronto and Quebec Canada, Holland, Perth, Melbourne, southern India and France. Pretty cool!
After lunch and chilling out at home for a while - chatting with Owen who has safely made it to Melbourne (our new home) - it was time to return to class. A little more confident this time, I wandered into the room and found a place against the wall near the front of the class where I folded my mat and sat quietly whilst the others arrived. Tonight’s class was all about the significance of asanas and pranayama breathing. There is so much beauty behind the practice of yoga and just listening to Bharath speak so passionately about it reminds me of why I came here to train. The authenticity of the practice is so important to me, and to learn from a guru like Bharath is what will make this journey so much more precious. In all my years of training, I feel I have only ever been taught by 2 teachers who seem to share this same passion - who haven’t forgotten the true meaning of yoga through commercialising their businesses (as modern gyms have done). Don’t get me wrong, I intend to start a successful yoga business however the vision of this business will be committed to the passing on of this beautiful practice in its most authentic form. Not bastardizing it by introducing ideas like 'hip hop dance yoga’ or 'barre yoga’ or gym junkie yoga taught by a PT who has no true understanding of what yoga is or means.
Back to class - we learned tonight that each day we will be teaching for at least 30 minutes to the class. We will be given 4 asanas to learn including: the meaning of the asana, its benefits, the limitations, the variations, common mistakes, the technical components of the asana and how to enter into and move out of an asana… and the others I forget already. Excellent start!
So, with a 4.00am start tomorrow, I am now ready for bed (it’s 8.40pm here).