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Published: March 12th 2017
I'm sorry that it's been so long since I've updated! After I arrived at yoga school I was pretty much consumed by the busy schedule, I barely had time to sleep. Enough excuses. Yoga school was amazing, emotional, exhausting, educational--and I am so glad I did it! The ashram is stationed in the beautiful city of Rishikesh, which itself is nestled in between the Himalayas and the Ganges river, providing unbelievable views. Rishikesh is much more peaceful than the other Indian cities I've visited. Most of the people there will tell you that the only two businesses that survive there are coffee and yoga--two of my passions--so I was overall very happy with the location. It is also illegal to eat meat there so there was an astounding amount of vegetarian food all over the place. There are two main bridges in the city, about a mile apart, and the majority of the shops, stores, restaurants, ashrams, and apartments are nestled around these bridges. Scattered on the streets are plenty of street dogs and cows, the occasional donkey, an abundance of foreigners, and many Sadus and babas (these are men who claim to have reached enlightenment-they give up their belongings and leave their families and everything they have an attachment to and move out onto the streets. They are given clothing, food, and accommodation by passersby and ashrams). Not all of these are actually enlightened holy men--some will even try to sell you marijuana!
As for my classes, we woke up everyday for our 6am hatha yoga class, which was an hour and a half. Hatha yoga is a traditional form of yoga which focuses on strength and slower pace transitions between poses. This is not to say it didn't kick my ass! After hatha, we have pranayama class. Pranayama is a class focused on breathing techniques. In yoga there are many different forms of breathing that you can do to extend your life and benefit your health. Unfortunately I didn't attend many of our pranayama classes because I felt really uncomfortable after being told by the teacher that my taking western medicine for my bipolar disorder is a drug addiction and I should stop. He kind of lost my trust there and I sadly couldn't brush the experience off for the benefits of learning in his class, but I plan to do my own research on pranayama. This class was followed by breakfast (all of our meals were Ayurvedic, an ancient medicine/health code in India that is designed to benefit the body and mind). The meals were typically composed of fruit, rice, cauliflower, peas, curries, potatoes, lentils, soups, chick peas, cabbage, and spinach. They were pretty delicious, but after three weeks got a tad repetitive. Our breakfast was followed by anatomy/physiology class, teaching methodology class, alignment class, or mantra class. We then got two hours for lunch. The afternoon consisted of philosophy class, meditation, and at 6 we did 1.5-2 hours of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. This type of yoga utilizes a flowing sequence of postures, think poses with slow prolonged push-ups in between and very few breaks. After class we had dinner and then either called it a night or went into town to get fruit smoothies and vegan cookies. I spent a lot of my free time feeding street cows and sleeping. The course was overall quite intense and I definitely had to skip some classes and take some time for self care, but I'm really happy I saw it through to the end. It is a huge sense of accomplishment that you gain upon finishing the program. My teachers for our yoga pose classes were amazing. They are so talented and most majored in yoga in college! We even got to try acro yoga with one teacher, which is a form of partner yoga that involves acrobatic poses.
On the one day off we had per week, we spent time visiting temples, going into town shopping, and catching up on rest. We also headed up into the mountains one morning to watch the sun rise over the Himalayas. I can't describe how beautiful it was.
The end of the course consisted of a written exam that was more like an open-book homework assignment, and a trial class for each student teacher. I sequenced my class poorly and was so nervous that I definitely cried after, but everyone was very supportive. The group I was with in general was amazing. We had people ages 20-60 from Austria, USA, Canada, South Korea, Hungary, India, France, and Spain. Hands down the best part of this program was the incredible bond our group formed. All of these men and women have great hearts and beautiful energy and I feel so lucky to have spent so much time in a little yoga family with them. They really showed me that I shouldn't be afraid to be myself, and I can be accepted the way I am-attributes, flaws, tendency to cry all the time and all 😉 I feel renewed and a lot more confident in myself after this program, and the people and place will always have a special place in my heart.
One thing I forgot to mention was the cleansing techniques we learned. Not only did we use Neti pots a few times to pour water in one nostril and let it fall out the other, but we had to try to stick a rubber catheter up our noses and bring it down through our throats and mouths. I definitely tried and definitely did not accomplish this--but I'm not sure if I really believe in it's benefits or just loved the strange challenge of it.
I am so happy to say that I am now a certified yoga teacher! Hit me up for classes when I get back to the states 😊
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