I have now been in India for 5 days! I still can't believe I'm here... experiencing a dream come true. At the same time, everyday is so full of new experiences that I feel like I have been here for a long time.
I arrived in Trivandrum ( in the state of Kerala) on Thursday morning around 8:30am (after 40 hours of travel time and a 15 1/2 hr time difference from Hawaii). I was completely drained and disoriented, but my heart was still racing with excitement. I stepped off the plane into a thick wall of heat (I am surprised how much hotter it is here than in Hawaii). Noticing everyone and everything around me, I saw a tall man wearing all white with a white beard welcome a fellow passenger with a hug and a "welcome to the holy land". I made my way towards baggage claim with ease and eventually found the belt with my flight number. There were tons of people crowded around the belt. The group I had flown with was very diverse; I saw a group of India nuns (I think they were nuns) wearing all black and red, lots of native Indians, and of course numerous international travelers like myself. My backpack was one of the last pieces to come out.. it was about a 45 minute wait. I was thankful for that time though... just to be still and allow my body to stand after all the traveling. While standing there, wondering if my bag would arrive, I felt some shock as I recognized that I did not know a single person around me, that I was now alone in this foreign country, and that I was extremely far from home. The anxiety passed as I took some deep breaths and settled into a state of focus. I organized my bags, exchanged some US dollars for Rupees, and purchased my prepaid taxi ride to Neyyar Dam. I stepped outside the airport and was surprised at how calm and quiet it was. I found the taxi station and an older man came up and took my ticket, he was my driver. I followed him to his little white taxi and got in. I had been told that the drive would take an hour, I asked the driver and he said two hours. I knew it was going to be an interesting ride. The first thing I noticed was that the steering wheel was on the right side! I had forgotten about that difference. As I settle into the back seat, I noticed that the seat belt buckles were not accessible. I asked the driver if I would be able to use the seat belt and he responded with "it's good". I spent the first 15 minutes wrestling with the seat belts until I finally pulled out the buckle and clicked myself in. I was over- heated, exhausted, and getting more and more car sick by the minute. I was sucking on GinGins (ginger candy- thanks Nikindra!!) like there was no tomorrow! I watched in amazement as vehicles, pedestrians, and motorcycles all weaved through each other in harmony within the perfectly chaotic streets of Trivandrum. There were literally inches between passing vehicles and people. It was total sensory overload- SO many new smells, sounds, and sights. I asked the driver what his name was, but I couldn't understand his response... he said something about 73, which must have been his age. He eventually turned on some upbeat Indian music, which I loved! The ride took about an hour. The driver drove me right up to the the gate of the Sivananda ashram.
I paid the driver and was so relieved to have made it to my first destination. As I walked up the steps, the security guard gave me an "Om Namah Shivaya" and I smiled. I made my way to reception to register for the yoga vacation. I was given a sheet set and mosquito net for my bed in the dormitory. I have a simple bed on the second Floor of a three story building. I share the space with 16 other women (very international :) ).
The first few days here at the ashram were a bit of a blur due to the severe jet lag. I was walking around feeling completely excited, but at the same time having a hard time keeping my eyes open at any point in the day. I am slowly adjusting to my new environment day by day.
The daily schedule here is pretty busy:
5:20am - wake up
6am - satsang (group meditation, chanting, talk)
7:30am - tea time (chai!!!! :) )
8am - asana class
10am - vegetarian meal (delicious food and I LOVE eating with my hands!)
11am - karma yoga ( I help to clean the dorms)
12:30pm - coaching class (optional)
1:30pm - tea time
2pm - lecture
3:30pm - asana class
6pm - vegetarian meal
8pm - satsang (group meditation, chanting, talk)
10:30pm - lights out
Today was the first day that I truly felt present in my body again. I am loving the 4 hours of yoga everyday!
A few highlight from my first few days:
* I have been hanging around some new friends from the Netherlands, Germany, and Holland! One day I went down to the lake with some of the girls and we just sat and enjoyed the beauty of our new environment. We also went to a neighboring hut, where a woman sells homemade hot chai and banana bread :)
* There is a cafe called the "Health Hut" here at the Ashram. It's a really nice place to hang out in during the free time. I have already found a drink that I am obsessed with ~ my kombucha replacement! Haha. It is a super refreshing Ginger Lemon Honey juice. I think it costs $.50 (US).
* On Sunday morning, all of the Ashram guests (about 300 people) were lead on an early morning meditation walk that ended in a beautiful sunrise view over a lake while chanting.
* I really enjoy the Sivananda style of yoga. The classes always start with 30 minutes of solid pranayama and then move through a set series of asanas while taking savasana (corpse pose) numerous times within the series. I began in the beginner's class and am now consistently taking the intermediate level classes which are held outside by the lake, which is one of the most ideal settings of yoga that I can imagine!
I have been spending lots of time Journaling... diving into my inner reality ~ focusing on my mental patterns ~ connecting to the purpose of my visit to this transformative country.
That's all for now~ lots and lots of love to all of you ❤️ thank you for the abundance of support and well wishes 🙏
I plan to be at the Ashram until the end of this month and I look forward to sharing more experiences & insights.