India – a country that I knew was going to be special but a challenge. It was definitely both. The beauty, the poverty, the majestic beaches and waterfalls (some still barely touched by people), the heat, the pollution, the generosity of the people, etc. They were all there, some more pronounced than others depending on where you went.
Our first major stop was Goa. A touristy beach town with now a Russian influence due to the influx of Russian tourists the last ten years. We, however, stayed about a mile from the nearest beach. The purpose of this stop was to do a yoga training program that Kirsten had started a while back and wanted to finish. Being an INCREDIBLY loving husband, I decided to partake in this program with Kirsten.
We stayed in a two-level open bungalow. We had the upstairs, two women in the yoga program shared the downstairs, and we all shared a bathroom. The bungalow was more like a tree house, with curtains as our doors and worn out mosquito nets covering our beds. It was definitely more like camping than staying in a hostel or hotel. Bugs and small critters were everywhere. The next bungalow over had a family of rats living with them (or was it them living with the rats)! I had the pleasant experience of having a frog leap out of the toilet as I was sitting on said toilet.
The program itself had a daily schedule which started at 6:30am each day. Two sessions of yoga in the morning and one longer session in the evening. We’d practice poses and learn lots of yoga theory. All this in humid temperatures in the 90s. Plus, the diet for the program was vegan/vegetarian. And no alcohol. Perfect! As was taught to us on the first day of the program, “What’s in the way is the way!” And for me, I had a lot of things in the way – I hated the heat, I hated bugs and frogs in my toilet, I loved meat and the occasional beer (or six), plus I have about as much flexibility as the stiff wooden chairs that we sat on during our dinners.
The program was three weeks long and I had, to my surprise, adjusted. What helped was going into it with the mentality that I would be facing a lot of things out of my comfort zone but that this would ultimately make me better. So I simply accepted my fate and circumstances. A giant spider about the size of my fist crawling onto my bed? Just brush it off and go back to sleep. What to do on a hot and sweaty day when the fan is not working? Pound another celery and beet juice and take the mile hike to the beach. What also helped were the people we were with and the friends we made. Debz (from Scotland), Jina (from Korea), Jade (from the Philippines), Librette, Emily, Mary Lou (from Cincinnati). Yes, they were all women. Yes, their boyfriends and husbands had the forethought of not joining them and I’m sure were somewhere watching college football in an air conditioned bar. But this was not a time to hate and be jealous. It was a time to just accept things as they are.
And out of this came the sweet practice of Moga. Part of the yoga training required each of us to be the yoga teacher and lead the class through a yoga routine. When it was my turn, there really wasn’t much I could teach. I said my mantras incorrectly, my poses were led with mainly verbal instruction since I myself could hardly do the poses, and I’m sure I probably hurt someone when I tried to “correct” that person’s pose. But what came out of it was lots and lots of laughter. If by the end of my lesson you weren’t relaxed from my teachings (and chances are you weren’t), you were definitely relaxed by the giddy atmosphere. For me at least, that became the point. Have fun and laugh and don’t worry about doing perfect poses and mantras. Mary Lou told me that there are a lot of people who would benefit from my yoga BECAUSE of my limited flexibility and the way I teach. Sounds horrific but I think she was simply making the point that people generally go to relax and have fun. Until my limbs can stretch a bit farther that’s what Moga will be for now.