We spent 22 intensive days of learning not just the asana practices of Ashtanga and Hatha styles but the true nature of what yoga should be. We quickly learned the Western practice of yoga has deviated from the traditional Indian origin of yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle, detox, a diet, a freeing of the mind, a spiritual path, a physical and psychological healing process, and several lifetimes journey to bliss. We never imagined that traditional yoga would include drinking saline solution followed by specific asanas as a colon cleanse. We realized the depth of our training was only the tip of the iceberg as the lessons will not stop as we continue our practices.
We enjoyed our training and are grateful to Yoga Darshanam for showing us a glimpse of where yoga can take you. Our bodies and mind feel healthier as we have been following a vegetarian diet, daily meditation, and multiple asana practice every day.
Mysore is a beautiful place. We fell in love with the city, the people, and the culture. We left knowing we will be back. When we first arrived, we stayed in downtown. It was dirty, hectic, and constantly being approached to buy trinkets. We were worried this was our life for the next month. As we moved into our homestay located in Gokulam (a neighborhood located NE of downtown), our love for the city grew.
We stayed in a beautiful homestay with a husband and wife couple who managed half their home for incoming yoga students. Ushe, the wife and kind woman, graciously let us into her beautiful home. We quickly learned our home was a 20 minute walk to our school. That doesn’t sound far but having to make that walk at 5am and 4 additional times a day plus practicing Ashtanga daily, we wanted to find an alternative to walking. We met a man named Pradeep who’s business is built around accommodation, transportation, and tours for incoming yoga students. He rented us a scooter for $40USD for the entire month. Great deal however it meant we had to learn how to drive a scooter in India. Dan took a few test drives white knuckling his way to the yoga studio but after a few trials, driving a scooter became easy and fun. It reminded Dan of backcountry skiing through trees as you are constantly dodging and skirting through traffic (as traffic laws seem to be only a suggestion). Rachael was less comfortable but proved herself a capable driver in the less trafficked areas of Mysore.
Outside of the yoga training and Gokulam, the sights in and around Mysore are stunning. From Chamundi Hills to Mysore Palace, we were inspired by Indian’s dedication to beauty, their religious pursuits, and craftsmanship. Taking a tour outside the city, we found this to be true as well. We took a tour with our yoga school to different temples including Chennakeshava Temple where every stone in and surrounding the temple was intricately carved to detail, depicting different gods and goddess’ that tell a story or symbolism.
What stands out the most about our experience in Mysore and our yoga teacher training were the people. The kindness and generosity must be a genetic trait of Indian people. From our peers and teachers to restaurant staff and shop keepers, we felt a genuine connection with everyone we met. We were invited into homes for breakfast almost every morning and visited a fellow students home and family. America has a lot to learn about generosity. As for our school, our peers comprised of people from around the world with a majority from India. We were humbled by the connection each person provided to the group and each other. Although we have said goodbye, we know we will be seeing them again.
Quick note on Goa as we spent only 5 days in Patnem and Palolem beach. We decided to find a nice relaxing place before we head to our next destination. Goa is a prime tourist destination for foreigners (which, surprisingly, were a lot of Israeli) to relax and/or party. We stayed on Patnem Beach the first 2 nights only to find out we were the first guests at our hotel for the entire tourist season. Everything was closed, cows and stray dogs dominated the beaches (shit included), and there were only two overpriced restaurants available. After 2 days, we decided to hike our luggage less than a mile to the next beach north called Palolem. Night and day difference between Palolem and Patnem even though they are neighbors. Palolem caters to the ‘hippies who love to party’ vibe. Although we weren’t interested in the party scene, we found the accommodations and food more appealing. The beaches were exquisite. We found what we were looking for; watching the fishing boats go out every morning, the incredible sunsets, and ability to relax on the beach without the worry of a cow shitting on us.
It wasn’t all perfect. Rachael slipped on rocks and cut both of her feet. On one of her heels, she incurred a laceration that required medical attention. Palolem did not have a hospital so we had to wait till we reached our departure town Vasco de Gama. In the mean time, Dan played doctor with cleaning the wound, supergluing and bandaging the wound, and being a set of crutches for Rachael (which she was very grateful!). After visiting the hospital in Vasco de Gama, we were given a hopeful prognosis and Rachael was advised to stay off her feet until the laceration completely heals. Her ER visit only cost $8USD without insurance. Also, special thanks to Dr. Dan Stilwell, our Podiatrist on call (and congratulations on lil Baby Teddy joining the family).
As I write this post, we are sitting in a coffee shop overlooking Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal. Rachael is still not weight bearing (her calves are going to be ripped for the trek) but healing nicely. We are relaxing and soaking in the simplicities of Pokhara until we start our Poon Hill and Annapurna Trek. Our Nepal experience has already begun, but you will have to wait till the next installment.
Love you all,
-Dan and Rachael