On June 1, 2018 I made my way from my home in Porto, Portugal to Dharamsala, India the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for my 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. As soon as my plane landed the atmosphere was electric, chaotic and enchanting. The two hour cab ride from the airport through the mountains was like riding on a runaway train. Twisting roads, perilous drops, dodging people, rickshaws, cows and sometimes donkeys all traveled on the same two lane road. But while the ride was a quite treacherous I was very excited to be back in India again, it felt like I had come to my true home after more than ten years away. Home for the next month was going to be a peaceful oasis in Upper Bhagsunag called Sarvaguna Yoga Dharma surrounded by the Himalayan mountains.
The highlight of the first week was that I got to meet the Dalai Lama at his home in McLeod Ganj. Upon arrival I could not control my emotions and started to cry just being in his presence, as did many others. At one point I was so close to him I could almost touch him and could feel the warmth and love radiating off him and filling up the room. I never expected to enjoy such a privilege and will carry the memory for the rest of my life. But then the time had arrived to do the work.
I was a bit worried on how I would handle the 30 day full immersion schedule. My day started at 6:15am and ended at 8pm which included the usual subjects including yoga philosophy, anatomy and four hours each day of asana practice along with 2 hours of meditation. I was the oldest yogi in the whole group at 49 years old. I was pushing my body like I hadn’t done in years. Each day brought new challenges and experience, I had highs and lows but endured the rigorous schedule and despite struggling mightily I survived each day looking forward to what the next day would bring.
Although it was very difficult to calm my mind at first I soon found myself waking up excited about our morning meditation sessions which included pranayama and chanting. I had experienced some chanting with past teachers but had never experienced the power of the practice as I did in the Himalayas. I felt it working on my higher consciousness and transforming my entire being while allowing me to see the world in a different light. Chanting for me has become the way to drop all of the content of the mind and settle into my meditation practice with ease. I always include a bit of chanting in all my yoga classes.
There was an amazing energy and harmony in this small little village of Upper Bhagsunag where Sarvaguna Yoga Dharma was located. I loved seeing how the Indian and Tibetan culture lived together in peace and harmony. There were people from around the world who gravitated to this little village and were here on a journey of discovery just like me. It was wonderful to meet up with all different types of these seekers in these eclectic, locally owned cafes and restaurants which clung precipitously to the mountainside to enjoy a soul nourishing cup of organic chai tea.
This whole experience could not have been possible without the amazing staff of Sarvaguna Yoga Dharma and my amazing classmates, they gave me the love and energy I needed to complete the curriculum and earn my 500 Hour RYT. I’m excited to bring my knowledge and experience here to Portugal to share with students from Porto to Lisbon and beyond.
Like my trip to Chennai in 2005 I once again left India with a sense of peace, courage and focus. My newly enlightened inner being is telling me the time is now right to follow my new passion – Karma Yoga – The Path of Right Action. I feel compelled to speak out about injustice and suffering and to try and motivate my students to seek answers and correct actions through compassionate practices such as yoga and meditation. We need to collectively find a way to transmit this energy from our mats to the wider world TODAY, HERE and NOW. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you at the Lisbon Yoga Festivel in November. And together we can begin to heal the world.