Entries in shat karma (1)

Friday
May202011

Yoga in Rishikesh, India

Last month I went to India. I went to Rishikesh - the capital of yoga -  to study Hatha yoga for ten days.

The first time I went to India was 10 years ago as a part of a 6 month trip through Asia. My two friends and I spent about six weeks there loving the colours and spirituality and hating the poverty and the Indians who constantly wanted to cheat or rob us.  When arriving at Delhi Airport this time, I was prepared to haggle my way through the thousands of Indians I was expecting to try to steal all my belongings and hassle the crap out of me. Instead, I only met lovely people who wanted to help me (and take my picture). I mean, the poverty was still there, but as I didn’t go to the normal tourists traps like Agra or Jaipur, I didn’t get all the hassle.

Rishikesh is beautifully located on the foothills of the Himalaya. The yoga school, Rishikesh Yog Peeth, was located in the beautiful Ram Juhla where Hindu pilgrims come to stay in Ashrams and to bathe, or collect water from the holy Ganga - which is actually clean just there as it’s very close to it’s source in the Himalayas.

The daily routine from Monday to Saturday at the school was as follows:

0
5.00-05.30: Tea (stillness)
05.30-06.00: Practice and Techniques of Shat karma (cleansing techniques) and mantra chanting
06.00-08.00: Yoga asana
08.15: Breakfast
09.15-10.15: Yoga philosophy
01.00: Lunch
15.30-16.30 Anatomy and physiology
16.45-18.45: Yoga asana, pranayama and meditation
19.00: Dinner

At home I’m pretty grumpy in the mornings, but I actually enjoyed getting up at five in India. The first hour we wouldn’t talk but just sit together and have tea while the sun would rise and the holy cows and the monkeys around us would slowly wake up.

I very much enjoyed the stay, but most of all I enjoyed the philosophy classes, which I’m sure I will tell you more about later. The teacher, Roshan, had a wonderful way of relating the teachings to stories of kings and Gods and to his own personal life.

Unfortunately the asana classes weren’t as good. Our teacher was very young and inexperienced and didn’t speak English very well. Of course he had a lot to live up to as I (and I’m guessing the others too) have had very good teachers at home who would talk about the benefits of the asana, the chacras and the meditative aspect of yoga and create interesting dialogue with the students. Coming to India, and especially to Rishikesh where yoga is said to stem from, you expect a teacher of certain caliber. I am willing to put some of my disappointment down to cultural differences but I did expect a more experienced teacher that could answer questions and challenge me in my practice. 

Every time I go away - especially to do yoga -  I come home recharged. The philosophy and anatomy classes gave me lots of input to challenge my yoga practice and get out of old habits. I loved being in India and experiencing all the colourful rituals that Hinduism contains. Just going for a walk on the ghats of the Ganga was an amazing experience. Every night hundreds of people would get together to preform the ‘Ganga Aarti’ where they would sing and prey together at the bank of the river. Truly magical. 

If you're interested in going to India to study yoga, do teacher training or attend a retreat yoga.in is a good place to start your search.