Practicing yoga in India: feedback
"Practicing yoga in India", article written by Anaïs, exclusively for Yogis on Roadtrip.
Anaïs is a yoga teacher. She has attended many Yoga trainings and retreats around the world. Find it on his instagram by clicking here.
A country like no other ...
I never but then never wanted to put a foot in India. Not that the beauty of the country has never attracted me but, great human rights defender that I am, the idea of a country still divided by a system of castes, a passion for gang rape Too rarely repressed, extremism Hinduism and a total lack of concept of ecology did not position this country in the forefront of my dream destinations. In addition, having never borne the smell of incense and too spicy food that did not settle my case. And to be perfectly honest, I had only a moderate desire to confront the reality of a country divided Manichean way between big Indians living a perfectly comfortable life, and Indian handicapped, atrophied, rickety, seeking by I do not know what means to survive a time is little.
But it is true that my passion for yoga is not limited to the physical practice of asanas and its teaching, but to the philosophy that it involves.
For a brief explanation for novices in this field, "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means "to unite", "to bind". "But to unite what? Will you tell me? "Well, body and mind," I would answer you. It was then the discovery of true yoga that led me to the kingdom of curry.
Everything is possible in India
So after many hours lost with my friend Google in search of the best place to deepen my knowledge of yoga, I discovered that everything is possible in India.
Because like everywhere in the world in the 21st century, you can go to a beautiful school or retreat in the south of India (Kerala and Goa being particularly popular for that) where you will have a nice room with all comfort with a nice room bath, air conditioning, fresh water available and where you can maybe even go to the beach during your free hours. But is this the philosophy of yoga? I regret to tell you that my poor Lucette and you will have to sacrifice a little if you really want to know more ...
In India, those who are allowed to be named "Yogi" are people who have entered young ashrams, see very trop young, and learned quasi-military fashion yoga philosophy, the history of yoga, meditation, pranayama (breath control) and finally the asanas (or postures), and for a minimum of 6 years ! They are therefore the best able to transmit this teaching as a guru (nothing to do with the word "guru" do not misunderstand me, I'm not dragging you in a sect ...)
But do you think they're going soft in Kerala these yogi ? I am still sorry to announce that not my poor Jose.
The Yogi hides in more severe ashrams where you will have to get up very early (5h of the maximum mat, it stings), you will have to practice a lot (minimum 4h a day, it also stings ... especially when you go up the stairs at night) you'll have to listen to rant guys for a looooongues hours on completely elusive subjects at first for any European normally made (so I not even explain to you if you have a small delay), you have to clean your own room as big, wash your plate alone like a big one too and eat all your plate (and believe me, it's not easy), do not talk at the table (certainly the most difficult), arrive early in class (like that you'll pass 5min more sitting cross-legged to permanently break your little knees), be dressed as what they consider a "correct" (goodbye too cute little top and leggings makes you a beautiful diaper, pant hello alon informs and long sleeve top ...) and most importantly, you will love curry and incense!
« But does it really bring something because I think of the beach during free time I like? You ask me with haggard eyes. " Yes and no I replied, nodding like all the Indians.
That does not advance us much but here is something to enlighten your lantern.
Learn with real yogis
Indeed, it is deeply interesting to learn yoga from great Yogi because you will be immersed in yoga from top to bottom in all that it entails. Yoga a philosophy often summed up in practice in our western countries but it's also a " lifestyle "(You know what I mean?) And subject you there during 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks may allow you to open your eyes to what is good for you and why not keep some habits eventually see all the habits (good but then there courage).
But also because the Yogi practice for so many years that he knows ALL the secrets of the postures and you can progress more in 1 only course with him than in 20 course in the studio where you used to go.
But still because teaching with only names in Sanskrit it's stylish (after you can do the beautiful saying you do not like Utthita hasta padangusthasana).
Or because the rituals surrounding the practice are interesting to discover if you really want to continue on the path of yoga (including shatkarma which are the process of cleaning the exterior and interior of the body necessary for the practice.) But also and especially because, how can you definitely practice yoga if you can not master your breathing How to practice ashtanga yoga without Ujjayi How to understand the purpose of yoga and want to benefit from it without knowing its origins and fundamentals? would go to Colombia to learn how to make Camembert? No. So, should I go to India to learn Yoga with capital "Y"? Yes.
But since everything is never all white or black, and as I have a passion for complicating things, here I am who will throw a little oil on the fire of the lantern (you did not believe anyway not get away with an easy answer huh?).
Before going to India in this ashram, school, retreat or whatever else, fold yourself into 4 to do THE perfect head-to-toe (and believe me it'll take some time), you have to become aware of some important points.
A country with some violence ...
I am still going to break your hopes by telling you here that India is not the country of Yes-Yes (who has good back in this kind of comparison when we do not know but it may be a psychopath).
NO NO NO and far from it. India is a country of unheard-of violence (unless you stay on your little touristic route where we took good care to keep the poor away and all that is "bad"). If you go to India, no matter which region you choose to visit, you may be surprised to see a mother hitting her child, even when it is very small. You will be surprised to see people who are missing an arm, a leg, an eye, sometimes a bit of the three for the less fortunate and you will be surprised to see them begging on the total indifference of Indians who gorge samosas before their eyes without looking at them (this is not a myth, the Indians are stuffing themselves with samosas). And this violence you will find in your ashram.
So no there will not be beggars in front of your bedroom door but know that when it will be too difficult for you, when you will not feel your small muscles or when you will be too exhausted to get up to 5h morning, they will have hard to conceive of it and can make you feel it. Know that when they push you further in a posture they will not do it with the delicacy of your European prof and can therefore push you too far and see even break your little back (which complicates the dog-head-down) ) ... Also know that 4h intensive yoga for them is not the end of the world. Even though I used to practice intensively, there are nights when I suffered to remove my T-shirt, my pecs having remained on my yoga mat because of too much Chaturanga Dandasana. And that sometimes you will not even be able to comfort you under a good hot shower, the hot water having simply decided to be absent in a regular way (there it is the moment when logically I have a little want to cry alone on my bed but as it's time for dinner I do not have time to cry and then I find myself eating for the umpteenth time curry chickpea and there I really want to cry).
It's "part of the game"
These are details that must be taken into consideration so as not to be surprised in the first days. But these details are "part of the game" of the ashram in India. If you dream of progressing quickly and learning yoga deeply, I warmly advise you to go to one of these timeless places so far removed from our modern Western conception of yoga.
It will also be an opportunity to meet a real yogi and be close to them to get the most from teaching (but wait for you to be eared with Shiva, Vishnu and all the clique !).
In which case India and Yogi attitude attract you, I strongly advise cities like Dharamsala (and all the little bleds around such as Manali, Shimla for example), Mysore (especially if your passion is yoga ashtanga) , Gokarna (for the ocean side that goes well with), Bengalore, Chennai, Pune (especially if you like the teaching developed by BKS Iyengar) and finally Rishikesh (a bit too much for my taste but where you will find excellent schools if you search well and where you can also discover Ayurveda).
And then it will also be an opportunity for you to discover India, to walk in cow dung (which makes up about 70% of Indian soil), to sniff incense and read illuminated texts to reach in your turn, enlightenment. And if it's not your cup of tea massala, you can always choose a comfortable school in the south (often more expensive however) where you will necessarily find your account, and where you can also eat a lot of curry!