“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda
The International Yoga Week (IYW) 2015 currently taking place in Rishikesh is the window to peek inside of you. The door that leads you to a path that you’ve probably not travelled before. At least it was that door for me.
I started my journey to the IYW without many expectations. I did see the itinerary but I couldn’t understand much from it. Words like ‘Heartfulness’ ‘Yukt Yoga’ didn’t resonate with things I knew. So I started by being a blank slate but ready to be written on with what the world brought with it.
I was left speechless, ok to be honest my jaw dropped on arriving at Hotel Ganga Kinare. It’s a riverside boutique hotel which is situated right at the banks of the river Ganges. The hotel opens up to the view of the beautiful and bountiful river Ganges flowing with its pristine green waters. She is calm and flowing like a beautiful melody. A music that has no end….it just goes on and on. The mountains lay ahead, green with its luscious vegetation, magnanimous and strong. Clear skies, beautiful sun……..don’t believe me….I know it sounds made up. Go visit!
Later that afternoon, I couldn’t wait to explore the city I always knew about but didn’t ‘know’ it for real. The energy was pulsating! Me and my friend crossed the Ram Jhula and walked towards the Parmarth Niketan Ashram which was one of the venues for IYF. With a great list of speakers & spiritual leaders that we saw on their board, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must be like.
People from across the globe were present here, each seeking something different. People came there to heal, to understand themselves, people who had set on their path to spirituality but needed guidance, people who came to just ‘be’. I slowly soaked in the beauty of the atmosphere, soaking in the energy of the yogis and non-yogis who were just there, loving, living and being at the moment. For the first time I was in the moment!
The first day of the IYW started with a Hatha Yoga Session that was refreshing. Conducted by Yogi Akhilesh, a professional yoga teacher since 2005 whose also taught at various wellness retreats including Ananda in the Himalayas. My body definitely needed that!!
After a well needed shower and a change we proceeded for breakfast. The buffet looked sumptuous and I couldn’t wait to dive in. While we were in the midst of breakfast bliss, we heard Yogi Dr. Amritraj. He is a 4th generation Ayurvedic doctor and a Certified 500 Hours Yoga Teacher. Now here was a twist I didn’t expect. I was expecting a serious food session with him on talks of Ayurveda and here I was stuffing my face, mind you in the most lady-like elegancy that I could come forth with when the session proceeded.
Talks about knowing your body type as per Ayurveda such as Vatta, Pitta and Kapha, food habits, water intake were all super beneficial. He made us do this magical experiment. We walked up to the riverside deck outside the restaurant called Holywater of the hotel and threw our hands up in the air and we shrieked that we connected to mother earth. Now on a normal day I would have found this silly and impractical. But I’m not sure, whether it was the view, the energy, of all of us being together or some uncanny explanation that we literally felt connected. I felt a spark of some rejuvenating spirit igniting inside of me and with happiness in my heart and smile that touched eye to eye I proceeded for the next session.
Our next session was with Jivasuji, Founder-Naturality Foundation, Canada. The session was about a topic called ‘Heartfulness’. I had no clue what Heartfulness meant but as the session proceeded we wrapped ourselves around words like ‘Flow Psychology’. To flow in the river of life, to understand that the body is 1st the door to life, Emotions being the 2nd, Gyaan Yoga (self enquiry) being the 3rd and Soul being the 4th. Helping us with guided meditation.
I had never meditated before. I never thought I had the patience to sit through it. I had just tried ‘Nada Sadhna’ (which is practised at the end of the day after all worldly duties are over & is another form of meditation) but never really sitting through a seated one. For the 1st time, I genuinely meditated. For the 1st time I focussed on my breath.
My meditation for most of my days is my connection with my mat. My journey into the asanas. My efforts to attain focus, control and strength with time. But manifestation of love, to know that our left big toe transmits the maximum bio energy which has been proved with experiments, to know it’s correlation with our Indian tradition of touching the elders feet, to learn that Swami Vivekananda achieved enlightenment after Paramhansa Yogananda touched his forehead with his left big toe were things that was far…way far from my knowledge pool.
The session ended with my heart overflowing with gratitude for the knowledge, the insight that I couldn’t have achieved elsewhere.
Lunch was again divine, how can it not be. I have a plateful of super foods and I’m watching the river flow, the gentle breeze pass by causing gentle ripples in the water. How can the heart not swell up? We are city folks, surrounded with loud noises, busy lives, deadlines, traffic, busier markets & gadgets that rule our lives. Post lunch a little rest, a much needed ginger tea (or two) and we were ready for the next session…
This would be my highlight of the IYW. The session was with Dr. Kathy Kangarloo, Founder Emerging Om, California. Practiced Yoga, Meditation & Reiki for over 25 years in the USA, founded Yukt Yoga which is a combination of Hatha Yoga, soft movements, mindful meditation, Qi-Gong & Reiki. I totally fell in love with her.
Her energy was divine. Her connection to each and every being in that room was unbelievable. Yukt Yoga felt like a dance. We were all moving, yet it was not strenuous, we all were smiling for the body was smiling, our hands moved, our breath joined in these unanimous inhalations and exhalations, the room reverberated with gentle sounds of life flowing in each one of us and we all just gave in. She conducted energy experiments, feeling the energy of your partner in that room without even touching his/her hand. We all cried, being overwhelmed by emotions that never surfaced before (each time questioning as to how be that possible).
For Day 2 she made us try to connect to our angel…yes I was sober when I was writing this blog. Angel is what I said! I had never attended an angel workshop before but I was taken aback. I even made a friend from Holland on Day 3, we cried together, our energies were like Siamese twins and our messages to each other were exactly the same. We made that connection with our Aura. Can you believe it.? These are things you only read about, hear about but never experience. How is that possible?
Day 2 for Jivasuji was about Mindfulness. The meditation made us feel light and airy and that’s when I realised that it’s the Pranamaya Kosha for that wing of the meditation. Now I did study the ‘Panch Koshas” in Yoga , Pranamaya being the second of that list while I was finishing off with my certification but I didn’t know or understand the practical side of it.
Cultural music with ‘jugalbandis’ (duet of two solo musicians) that touch every beat of your heart, Ganga aarti to connect you with the pristine river, food that nourish every cell of your body, leaders that are approachable, who you can talk, meet, hug easily & connecting with people from world over, beautiful people, kind people are just those little moments of love, acceptance, rejoice and surrender at the IYW!!
I could go on and on and I still wouldn’t be able to put down all of it on paper. This is an experience that you all need to feel. This is for those of you who believe and those who don’t. Believers will drown deeper in the realm of things that they knew existed but never experienced, non-believers will come back being believers and will crave for more. I was in between a believer and a non-believer and I am just a seeker now.
To end this blog, you need to know what Kathy said in her session before I embarked on my return to Delhi, “Be Indian, stay Indian. You have no idea what a gift it is to be born on this divine land, have customs that justify and reason with science, to have a culture that is gifted & inborn in all of you. For us westerners we seek that divinity and we keep running towards you. For you…it’s already there. Respect it. Love it”
As I always say, #ifitfeelsgooditisIT