When I first arrived in Rishikesh I was expecting a quiet, meditative place...a place where everyone is constantly practicing yoga and silent meditation...and after spending a few days in Delhi I felt like I really needed to be away from all the haggling, noise, people, and pollution
. I was a little disappointed when I realized that Rishikesh was just more of the same. Construction everywhere, monkeys trying to break into my room and steal my shiny things, jeeps packed to the brim with Indian tourists trying to run me off the road...this was not what I was looking for. Plus, the yoga classes I was trying out just weren't challenging me whatsoever. I immediately started thinking of back up plans and looking at how quickly I could manage to get out of here.
Then I met a Spanish man, who introduced me to a Hungarian woman, who told me about this Ashtanga yoga class on the other side of town. I didn't know that much about Ashtanga, but enough to know it would be more in synch with what I like about yoga than the other classes I've tried since the beginning of my travels. I joined her the next evening and was totally blown away. The practice is so physical and dynamic and the teacher pushes us so hard, and helps us get into these postures that teachers in the West shy away from pushing you into. I'm witnessing my body do amazing things. I think that from just over a week of this class, going everyday, I will make more progress than I have in all my years of flitting in and out of various yoga classes. And having the luxury of attending a two hour yoga daily makes all the difference.
So I've ended up staying here much longer than I ever would have thought in those first couple of days
. I've remembered that this is India, and with India comes masses of people, traffic, and noise. I've met fantastic people who come in and out of my daily routine for hikes, swims, and meals, but who I consistently see at class every night. And I've found a style of yoga that really resonates with what I'm looking for physically and mentally. It doesn't hurt that I have a view of the Ganga from my mat or that I go for amazing Indian food every night with new friends. Or that when there are power cuts during class we practice by candle light while listening to bells and chanting coming from the river. I walk home each night in the cold, wrapped in my new Nepali scarf along the river, under the beautifully lit stars. I'm learning that often things in India take patience. You just have to wait a bit for the gems to reveal themselves.
So my only excuse for being such a poor blogger is that I'm having such an incredible time...which is quite a good thing. But I've been thinking of everyone and wanting to share some pictures with you and let you know that India is everything and more than I had hoped. If you look to the previous posts I've added some pictures, as well as a new post about my final days of trekking in Nepal and a post about Varanasi. I'm in Rishikesh right now, which is in the foothills of the mountains and fancies itself the yoga capital of the world. There is every type of yoga, mediation, and potential spiritual journey here you could imagine...and plenty of Westerners to join in. There are also loads of Indian pilgrims who have come to worship by the Ganges...but unlike the section of the Ganges that flows through Varanasi, here it is a beautiful milky greenish blue color and you don't cringe when you see people drinking straight from the river.