Seeking authentic yoga
I completed my 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) in 2016; this is the generally accepted basic requirement to teach yoga. I went on to complete a further 40 hours training in Children & Teens Yoga in 2017, which is when I began to think about taking my training even further, and started to consider doing 300 hours. My first couple of years teaching had been very busy, not only with classes, but training to become a counsellor at university alongside that meant I had little time to spare. Eventually, after a busy but wonderful summer last year, I decided to take an extended Christmas break from university, and teaching, and take myself to India to deepen my practice, and in all honesty, because I was beginning to feel concerned that my offerings of yoga weren't upholding the traditions of yoga. I will speak more about this on another blog post; but just to simplify, my classes have evolved to include less traditional yoga poses, and more functional mobility, and part of me worried that it was inauthentic to call those practices yoga.
One of my closest friends had completed her 200YTT in Rishikesh; she was absolutely smitten by the area, and recommended that I go there for my 300 hours. Rishikesh is believed to be a holy city. Described as a "sleepy town" in India, not too far from Delhi. After much deliberation, I finally selected one of the two hundred schools there, to live in for five weeks and become totally immersed in the practice of yoga. I chose a course that focused on the therapeutic side of yoga, which particularly interested me. However, even after booking the trip (only a couple of weeks before I was due to leave!) I didn't feel a great sense of excitement. I have travelled to Thailand, and Sri Lanka a few times, and, although I usually do get very excited to leave, there is always a sadness to leave that partners the positivity. I am a home bird in many ways; I am truly obsessed with the beautiful area that I'm lucky enough to be able to call home, and I miss my horses and dog very much when I'm away from them. In those couple of weeks and days coming up to my trip, I found myself feeling more and more sadness, and leaving home was much harder than usual, which I couldn't really understand at the time. I wasn't in a hurry to sort out my visa or flights, and had an attitude of "well, if it doesn't work out then it's not meant to be"; but everything miraculously did work out, and I was set to head off to India for the first time. I tried to keep focusing on the positives; the exciting opportunity, and experiences that I was facing, as well as the much needed time off work.
When I arrived in India, I had everything planned to have a smooth arrival, as it was a long journey and I wanted to make things as easy as possible for myself. I was picked up from the nearest airport by a taxi arranged by the school, and arrived at the place where I was due to spend five weeks. I was exhausted on arrival, and in a real daze, which I initially used to excuse my feelings of "not being in the right place". It's a difficult one to explain, but when I got to the school I just didn't feel like I was meant to be there. I generally have quite a good sense of character, and I immediately didn't feel good about the manager of the school. However, I thought that it wouldn't matter too much, as I suspected that I wouldn't be learning from him, and decided that perhaps in my delirious, sleep-deprived state, I shouldn't rely too heavily on my judgements in that moment. So I got to my room, and tried to settle. I remember feeling a little disappointed that I'd found out that the course wouldn't really start until two days later, as I'd specifically asked if this was the day that I should arrive, so I felt I'd been a little mislead. Again, I tried to not let it get to me, but decided to keep my eyes peeled for another school, should I not enjoy the course content, so that I could make a quick move if I decided to.
At this point, on the first day, I had only paid a small deposit for my place, the rest was due on arrival. The manager was very keen to take my money (understandably, to some extent), and I went to a cash point machine, which didn't work. He then insisted on taking me on a motorbike to the main town of Rishikesh, to use a more reliable one. Lucky for me, that didn't work either. I explained that I would contact my bank the next day, and he seemed okay with that. I later found out that this was typical on a Sunday, as most of the cash machines ran out of money.