Yet something must have stuck, a seed was planted, because before I knew it my best friend/roommate, Shelly, and I were signed up to attend Siddhi Yoga’s 200 hour teacher training course in Dharamshala, India. As it came closer to the start of the course I began recording reasons that I was attending. Among them were “to find inner peace,” “to get to know myself better,” “to feel proud of my body,” “to challenge myself,” and “to investigate my believes.” The most foundational reason though came as a whole, “to put my full time and focus into strengthening the unity between my mind, body, and soul while becoming my best self.” What I didn’t realize is that I didn’t need to become my best self, because I already was (am) my best self, I simply needed to let my best self out.
We would then spend some time reviewing what we practiced in the morning and taking turns teaching each other. I liked that we were expected to teach throughout the course, it made the final practical exam less concerning and helped me to retain all of the day’s teachings.
As the days continued on like this I learned many things:
Not that I ever thought it was easy, but there were a few poses that I felt pretty confident in. However, after learning the correct way to form the poses I realized that if a yoga pose feels easy then you are probably doing it wrong. Even if you are an expert you will still feel stretching and opening and strengthening in each and every pose.
In Indian culture it is said that a baby is born knowing how to do three things: eat, cry, and dance. In the western world dancing is almost inclusively found with alcohol and being sexy, but in Indian culture dancing is a part of their lives. Although the first few times of dancing meditation were awkward and uncomfortable, eventually it became fun and freeing. This is one of my favorite things that I will carry with me from this experience.
There was a quote on the entrance to the yoga hall that I think summed this one up nicely: “You can go on doing asanas, postures; that is not yoga. Yoga is an inward turning. It is a total about-turn. When you are not moving into the future, not moving toward the past, then you start moving within yourself – because your being is here and now, it is not in the future.” Yoga is not the poses you make but the stillness you find within those poses.
So often throughout the course the teachers encouraged us to not take their word for it, but to experiment with ourselves. Take the yogi diet for example, part of the diet is to cut out chocolate and sugar. We did not have either of these during the training (hence the many trips to the sweets store) but the idea is to try this on your own to cut these things out and see how it makes you feel. Perhaps you will feel the same as the ancient masters who felt rushes of active energy, messing with their balance. The idea is to figure it out for yourself, and find your own balance.
Life constantly pushes us to be busy. If you are not moving forward you are moving backward. However, when you are constantly in motion you can’t find stillness. People want to schedule in a time for bliss. “From 7:45-8:00 on Monday mornings I will be still and find bliss.” Then when it doesn’t happen instantly they give up. Sounds absurd, right?
As an artist I have always had a natural curiosity in observing the world around me. You know when a movie is setting a scene and you see it flash from a bee landing on a flower, to the breeze blowing through some branches, to the water bubbling in a creek? That’s what I see. I’m looking at the big picture but I get lost in the smaller frames of the scene and they are so SO beautiful. Yet, as I’m watching, the world comes in and says “Go, go, go! Do something! Be active, don’t just sit there!” This month gave me the chance, the permission, to get back to that love of seeing, of watching, and through that there is so much beauty, inspiration, and bliss.
As I mentioned, we learned a lot of ancient tools and paths for finding bliss, we also learned some very old techniques. There are a series of cleansing techniques to clean your body inside and out. The one that we practiced was cleaning our sinus cavities, with the rationale being that you breath is your entire life force and if you have clear sinuses you have better breathing.
The first way we tried this is with a nettie pot. Essentially a small tea pot that you pour warm water from through one nostril out the other. The other way we tried was with a catheter. We lubed up our noses with ghee (clarified butter) and gently attempted to bring the catheter up the nostril, down the throat, and out through the mouth. I must say on the one nostril that worked for me, it felt very clear and clean for the rest of the day!
In life you can sit on the sidelines and be satisfied watching the action or you can get in and try new things, explore, create, live! The choice is yours, but people rarely regret what they did, only what they didn’t do.
I am not a very humorous person, I’m not exactly sure why, I guess I have more of a serious personality. So often during training we were reminded not to take life so seriously. It is said that the brain holds the intellect, the heart holds the emotions, and the stomach holds the self (soul). Any true laugh comes from the belly, which mean it comes from the truest part of our self. Which is why we preformed laughing meditations and told jokes every class. Have fun! Smile! Laugh!
I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a place where there was such an abundance of love. I feel like I was loved even before I arrived to the training. All the way through I was greeted with nothing but absolute care and love from each and every teacher. There was no judgment, no questioning, no earning of love, just absolute adoration. I’m still human, so there were still moments of sadness or frustration or defeat, but it helped me realize that all of those negative feelings were inside of me which means they were in my control.
I’m sure you have heard this before, so have I, many times I’ve seen it against a pretty picture in the throngs of Pinterest or scrolling on Instagram. I’ve always felt content with myself – or so I thought. I don’t long to be anyone else, I’m happy where I am with what I have and with who I am. This month has allowed me to come even more connected with myself. I was able to see the parts of me that I have struggled with in a new light. I am able to show off both my successes and my failures at the same time with much less judgment. I no longer love myself in spite of my faults, I love myself. Period. End of sentence. “I am that which I am searching for.”