I need to stop with the hip openers!
It seems like this will be a tough last few weeks, we have our teaching sessions coming up, our syllabus is nearly ending and my postures certainly aren’t up to the standards iv set myself. It seems I struggle to do headstands or handstands and it seems like I will never get it. I see myself doing it in my dreams and then I wake up and think I can. Then reality sets in. I did one the other day against the wall with Susie’s help but haven’t managed one on my own yet, or even against the wall by myself. It seems like Im getting left behind. But I need to get out of that mind set and that’s the hard part for me. Something that comes to mind, which particularly brightened my day yesterday, was after Yoga when Susie told me she admire my strong will during Asana practice. We had to do one forward bending pose back and forth for almost 110 times and she told me that she admired me for carrying on without a struggle. Its nice when someone gives you a compliment, but it seems that I can neither take a compliment nor take a criticism. Roshan talks about not letting the world influence you that If you are happy and content with your life then no matter what people say or do you should just smile and say thank you, not letting it penetrate or disturb your bubble of happiness.
I need to stop with the hip openers!
Our 4th week went pretty good apart from a few ups and downs, generally expected in or around this time, but I am back on track, full of energy and now ready for our last two weeks of yoga! It sounds crazy saying that! As i mentioned before, a few of us are studying Reiki and so far we have had some great experiences. This weekend we will finish Reiki 1 and will move onto Reiki 2, which will be interesting. Its somewhat intense at the moment studying both, because we now have no free time during the week but it is worth every minute. We do three hours a day from 2pm until 5pm after a cup of chai at Kanaan where we meet him, which seems to fly by when we get into it. We are learning a lot about ourselves, each other and our abilities doing these studies and it seems like fate that brought us together to do this. This week I have been trying super hard with two poses i struggle with 'The wheel' aka 'The crab' and 'Headstand', taking time in our yoga hall at night time and in my room to keep practicing and practicing. It seems to have paid of and I have mastered the wheel and am now somewhat able to do a headstand, still partly using the wall though, but still. Its a start! This weekend we planned to buy Sari's in Rishikesh, for our graduation in two weeks and we managed to get our hands on some beauties on our outing today. After a big Kanaan lunch of course. I absolutely love mine, but all will be revealed when the time comes. How exciting.
Today we had a pretty great Yoga class this morning in which our teacher Nirendra had us individually guide the class through a pose. The funny thing is, I got the twisted triangle which i can never normally get balanced with right away, but when the time came to speak and guide everybody into the pose correctly I managed to get into the pose and carry on with my cues. Proud or what! This week our syllabus will end and we will spend the next week doing lesson planning and sequences of poses which will be fun. Then the scary stuff happens, where we have to teach our class for anywhere between 45- 90 minutes, but as we are in the same boat, I feel we will fly it. So for week 4 its been a lot of ups and downs but it has ended with an extreme up, and it was proved to me last night when we decided to skip meditation and create our own mediation by my Shiva shrine in my room complete with meditative music. It was so beautiful apart from the moment when the most non relaxing song came on the playlist towards the end and we all burst out laughing. We went to bed feeling chilled out and super happy, and woke up feeling the same which is the way it should be. There has been a lot of little dramas here as well to keep us entertained but they are our little secrets, so I cant be telling. On a final note, tomorrow is the 1st of September and the anniversary of my 8th week in India, which is so crazy but so exciting. Here's to two more amazingly happy, joyful and
Where to begin? It seems like I go to write my blog every week and I don’t know where or what to start with. Its become the norm here to have numerous things happen each day and numerous stories to tell, so it’s hard to know where to start. I guess you can say when it comes to our routine, everything is pretty much as it has been which is great and we are all feeling very good in ourselves. As of now the 300hr students, who had spent their last week and a half teaching us in the evenings, have finished their course, graduated and left Rishikesh Yog Peeth. It seems a lot smaller now and with my fellow Irishman gone, I am now the only Irish person left standing. Its strange not to see them walking around from time to time, even if we never spent much time with them, you always had time for a quick chat with them in Kanaan or en route somewhere . Did I mention that we attended their beautiful graduation? But ill get to that a little later!
This week has been somewhat a week of drama with two people leaving the ashram, a debate over the food we are being served and the exit of one of our teachers. One of the best pieces of drama to come out of this week though was the day, when we were told that we would not only have a free Philosophy/Anatomy class but that they had set up the screen for us to watch a Bollywood/Hollywood movie called Outsourced. It was a nice mid-week break for us and it was due to It being Brother & Sisters day in India that our teacher had other family commitments. Pretty sweet! There we were, all cuddled up on the floor on our bolsters hovering around the screen for the entire two hours. The plot was basically a very accurate account of a guy arriving in India from America for the first time due to work commitments and pretty much had us in hysterics all throughout the movie. It was uncanny how everything that happened to the main character in the movie is typical for first time travellers in India, particularly me and It is a must watch for anyone interested in knowing what its really like to travel here. We had previously discussed going to the Bollywood theater in Rishikesh as a group some evening so for us this was perfect. Needless to say we want the real Bollywood theater experience at some point before we leave. The ultimate drama actually happened on Saturday evening, when instead of our usual meditation at 5:30pm we sat and watched our own private Indian concert complete with drums, keyboards, singers and eventually what felt like a rave. But no, it was just lots of students crazy dancing like It was the first time we had experienced music and beat, purely going for it, like it would be taken away at any minute. But it wasn't! The band continued to play until the compact room began to fill with an airy sweat and one by one, breathless, we wandered out soaked to the brim to find some cool breeze on the rooftop. Needless to say it was an amazing experience but thanks to my insane migraine which I had for two days straight, I couldn't fully enjoy the occasion. It was on the rooftop that some of gathered to watch a few of our friends perform with Poi, fireless of course. We stayed up there until the sun set which in India still never seizes to amaze me.
As I mentioned earlier we had the chance to attend the graduation ceremony of the 300hr students earlier that morning at 11am which was a very emotional experience, even if it wasn't us who were leaving, it still felt like it. There we sat, cameras in hand as the group of girls all in beautiful custom made sari’s and the only guy and Irish at that, in very culturally attire, accepted their certificates and posed for photos. After a speech from Roshan, It was clear that when our time came, in three weeks, we would all be in floods of tears, most likely gripping onto the doors not wanting to leave. It was the end of an era for these guys and for some of them who had been here for 9+ weeks, it was hard to imagine how they were feeling. But with every departure comes a new arrival, and so a new group of retreaters arrived for 2 weeks to Rishikesh Yog Peeth, all whom are very sweet!
It was this week that I experienced my first massage in India, crazy after 6 weeks here eh? But how and ever, I took the plunge and booked myself in with Susie and Frannie at Risikesh Yog Peeth's other centre nearby. It was an experience to say the least, and as a massage therapist myself, It was interesting to see the differences here to the western way, in relation to protecting your modesty and such. Nevertheless we all enjoyed the relaxing experience, nakedness and all. As I have mentioned before, many times, Sunday is always our treat day, the day we pigged out and satisfied our cravings of the week, but this time, we decided to be active and productive by taking a trip to the waterfalls nearby. We had asked reception at our Ashram about renting motorbikes or other ways to get there, but decided to walk across the bridge to Laksman Jhula to take a collectivo Rickshaw to the waterfalls. It wasn’t until our way back from the waterfall that we thanked our lucky stars for not renting bikes, but stay tuned for that!
With 8 of us in the Rickshaw, all ready to go swimming on this particularly hot day, we took off to Neer waterfall, where our driver chanced his arm by stopping half way and having us think he couldn’t go any further. After a bit of a heated discussion with him, he eventually took off down to the entrance of the falls, where we bought our 30 rupee tickets into the national park. Here we met a man with his two kids, who joined us as we hiked up the mountain. It was at this moment that Frannie and I realised that we hadn’t been very practical when it came to our footwear. Flipflops… Not the best hiking wear that’s for sure, but nevertheless we kept going and managed to reach the first and second waterfalls where we swam with some other tourists and some locals. The water was so cold that you could almost forget that It was such a scorcher in Rishikesh that day. After a lot of snap shots and messing around in the water, the group separated and some decided to go up to the higher fall, while Frannie and me decided to get a head start on going back, considering our flip flops lengthened what should only be a short walk. We had planned to go to The Honey Hut in Laksman Jhula for lunch that day so we decided to meet the guys there once they were done.
Off we went down the mountain, along the gravel roads when a motorbike passed us, slow enough though for the two boys on board, to turn to look at us to wave and say hello. Within seconds, the bike skidded and the two boys flew off, with the driver scratching his arms and breaking one of his shoes. In true Indian style, they promptly picked the bike up saying ‘No problem, no problem’ and proceeded to check the bike for damage. Within a few minutes the boys were back on their bike and off down the road before we knew it, when suddenly with them out of sight around the corner, we hear a loud grinding against the gravel and an eventual crash of the bike hitting the ground. We rushed around the corner to see if the boys, who seemed to be very accident prone today were ok, for the second time in the space of 5 minutes. With even more embarrassed faces, the two boys, lifted their bike up again and attempted to get on for a third time until we advised them to walk. We awkwardly walked alongside them the whole way down the mountain, with Frannie having to use her medical skills to bandage up the drivers cuts at one point. As we walked and walked, the boys would regularly attempt to get back on the bike, but would then decide against it and carry on walking beside us. Eventually after trying to hold in the laughter the whole way down, the boys got to the main road and hopped back on their bike. As we kept walking, we came across them further up road side with a bottle of coke they had bought, which they handed out to us and said ‘You helped us, you helped us’. It was so cute! We told this story a few times when we got back but It was obviously a ‘had to be there’ moment.
Afterwards, as we walked and walked down and around the spiral roads of the mountain, on the hard shoulder, we finally came to Laksman Jhula, where as soon as Frannie said ‘I bet the guys have gotten a taxi back’, they pulled up beside us. We heard ‘Jump in’ and saw the door opening while we spotted our friends all sat in the trailer of the truck. We jumped in and headed to the Honey Hut, where we planned an amazing lunch. This place had the best veggie burgers apparently and not only that but most of their food had honey instead of sugar making even the deserts healthy. A win for everyone we thought! After receiving our orders, all at different times, It was clear to us that these minuscule burgers, McDonalds style chips nor the ‘passion fruit smoothie’ I got, were anything special. It was the first meal I’ve ever eaten that actually made me hungry. Very unsatisfied, we left the restaurant and headed back over the bridge towards our ashram, where we could look forward to a nice meal that evening. It was always in our plans to go see Dilip, in Kanaan restaurant to order some delicious Nutella crepes and when Honey Hut failed us, we did just that.
Kanaan is a chilled out restaurant where we all go to hangout, eat some ‘naughty’ food, chat with friends, or do some study (not so much me) Amongst our favourite things to order are Chai Masala (traditional Indian tea with masala spices and lots of sugar) which is so yummy and cheap, Lemonana (which is a mint, lime and crushed ice drink which revitalises you with its zingy taste), Nutella crepes of course (speaks for itself), jumbo chocolate ball with ice cream (crushed cookie in a ball covered in coconut), and when we are feeling too guilty to treat ourselves we will opt for butter toast with honey which satisfies the craving. It seems that all we talk about is food here and when, during a normal conversation, we catch ourselves mentioning food, we can’t help but laugh and say ‘Here we go again’. We are the little piggy’s of Rishikesh but I love it!
It also seems that when it comes to writing my blog, there are so many small details that have become so normal that I forget to mention them but yet in a normal routine It would be something out of the ordinary for me. For example doing Neti pot in the mornings. We do this only when it is not raining outside and it sets us up for our pre yoga Pranayama (breathing exercises) by cleansing out our nose. It’s funny that as I write this I am congested with a cold and couldn’t do the neti this morning, nor do the Pranayama properly. It is said that when your right nostril is clear it means you will be able to perform asana (physical postures) that day, which kind of guides me during the day. I feel that since I have started doing yoga again I have changed physically and mentally, but maybe not emotionally! It is said that when doing hip openers, you release a lot of tension and trapped emotions which you may have held for a while and I sometimes feel that these come about at random times for me. It seems like there is a lot to take on here when it comes to studying philosophy and the meaning of life and I’m struggling to find myself. I feel like here is the best place to be to find myself but its still a very overwhelming experience, sometimes quite hard to escape. Nevertheless I know there will be days like this in life and in these circumstances its bound to hit me harder than it would anywhere else.
As I sit here and write this from the quite area of the terrace dining hall, while everyone is in their rooms just after finishing class, I feel a sense of peace for once. Its nice to have somewhere to retreat to and I think that once I master meditation It will be nice to have that constant ‘bliss’ we all search for.
We are in the beginning of our third week now in Rishikesh Yog Peeth and so much has happened since last week. It seems so much happens every day to be honest, it’s hard to keep up so I make small notes for myself to remind me of the things we have done. During the week we have had many more hilarious occasions for example, one day when we didn’t attend lunch at the ashram and we asked Raine what was served, she replied ‘Oh I heard it was a different kind of lentil today’ which just had us in hysterics. You see, here we are pretty accustomed to a set breakfast lunch and dinner, sometimes with a few changes but generally the same things such as fruit, chickpeas, lentils, curried vegetables etc, so when we skip lunch or plan for our weekends we plan hard. This week made us laugh because we literally couldn't go a single day without looking through that Kanaan menu in our minds and setting out our order for our Sunday lunch. Every conversation would lead into such things as ‘Oh maybe I will get the nachos to start and then the veg cheese burger and then maybe the banoffie pie’ ‘No wait, I will get a nutella pancake with mango icecream’, ‘Or maybe both’. This literally became the bane of our existence in Rishikesh…. Sunday lunch! We lived for it. It was only our second weekend in the Ashram yet we craved all sorts of things, like coke, coffee, chocolate, pizza and for me, even plain cheese.
Our week at Yog Peeth was great and we had continued with the new routine of the 300hr students teaching us in the evening and various changes during the week to ensure a good mix of experiences which we all felt great about. Meditation continued to grow for me, and I continued to have more experiences during this time, something I will stop at here. We are told that It is important to keep our experiences to ourselves, because every person’s experience is so different that It may be hard to accept them all, yet for me, I found sharing my experiences with my friends very helpful for me. On the other hand, I am going to try and let my experiences be, and just see what happens within me without any details of the journey or the outcome. Well for now anyways! Let’s just say that this is an incredible journey so far, and I feel like I am on my way to finding my true self, which will be something nice to come out of having no initial expectations. Instead, this blog will be about our outings, our experiences and of course…. Food!
It was a week prior, on our first Sunday off, that we asked the owner of Kanaan restaurant, if he would mind preparing some mango ice cream for us for this week. Needless to say, all week we put together a menu of what we would have and every day we would alter it to ensure we satisfied all our cravings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a prison, we can have whatever we want to have, but being the group we are, we decide to eat healthy weekly and then ‘treat’ ourselves on a Sunday! Weekends are pretty cool here, we have a half day on a Saturday, some meditation at 5:30 and then we have Sundays off. Sundays generally include an outing somewhere, and last week we had the ceremony down at the Ganges to attend. This week however we had a trip to a hill top temple planned. On Saturday we had a documentary instead of Philosophy, which pretty much summed up all we talk about in class about finding enlightenment, universal understanding etc etc, but this documentary was told by a very witty man called Jaggi Vasudev, an Indian Yogi and mystic. I will try and find the documentary on you tube, for anyone who wants to see it, and I would definitely recommend it. He is a wise man!
After the documentary, we had a lot of free time before our dinner so Franzisca and myself planned to go to Rishikesh town to do some shopping and explore. We took a rickshaw there for 10 rupees each way and while there we did some shopping, at one point even buying bras from a man who I had to explain it too. Embarrassing! And another moment where we bought pots of wax and strips which we thought would save us money going to salons but it turned out to be pure crap. I'm convinced it was j a jar of pure honey. We ate a beautiful simple Indian meal in a restaurant filled with locals for 45 rupees each before some more shopping and then we came home for dinner. After dinner in the dining hall we all decided to do something spontaneous for a ‘Saturday night’- to go and dance on the rooftop. Sure why not? We grabbed pillows; blankets etc from our room, took some extra chocolate balls from our dinner with us, and headed up to the roof where we lay out our yoga mats, opened up star gazing apps on our devices and set up speakers playing chilled music. After some funny limbo, crazy dancing and an all-round fun time, we decided to head to Kanaan for a cheeky Chai Masala (and some cheese) before the gates to our Ashram closed at 10pm. Kanaan was definitely the place to be and it showed, especially when we turned up and noticed everybody from our class hanging out there enjoying their treats. It was after this that we came back to the Ashram and had a good sleep. Saturday nights were nice because you knew you could sleep in until at least 7:30am the next day and be up on time for breakfast at 8am. For some of the girls though, they planned extra yoga classes in the yoga hall at 5:30am, but for the rest of us, we took our extra few hours in bed with great satisfaction. We deserved it right?
It was Sunday after breakfast when our excursion was planned to the temple and we were all set to leave just after 9am. We split into groups and took a half our jeep safari up the spiral mountain side before arriving and continuing on a 10/15 minute steep hike to the temple. Needless to say, the blood sweat and tears –figuratively, was worth it when we reached the top, hearts beating out of our chests, and looked upon the vast green countryside. I thought India was beautiful from what I had seen already but this just blew my mind all over again. We had a view over the swirling Ganges river, quaint hill top villages and the sweeping lush terrain. We all walked around it for a while taking tonnes of photos, complete with yoga postures of course, before heading into the temple to get our Bindi and say some prayers. Everyone just gathered around and chatted while the staff who had come along with us, huddled around a custom made fire, making us fresh Chai Masala. We spent the next while munching on plates of cookies, drinking Chai Masala and chatting with each other before we headed back down the mountain. Much easier this time!
When we got back to Ram Jhula, we hopped out of the jeep and like the wind, we were gone, in the direction of Kanaan. Not wasting any time, we ordered our meals in advance while we hurried back to the ashram to shower and change, which I am aware makes us sound like crazy people. From the start of the week I knew what I was going to have; the veg cheese burger and then the nutella pancake with our special mango ice cream, but once again my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I was well and truly stuffed as a Christmas turkey by the end of the meal. It was quite funny because at first there sat a group of very enthusiastic foodies and not even an hour later there lay the same group of people sprawled out on cushions just bulging with food babies. It was well and truly worth it though, but next week (and yes here I go again with the forward planning…I can’t help it) I may opt just for a main course and not a desert. Later on that day when we mustered up some energy, we pulled ourselves off the comfy cushions of Kanaans floor, and headed to Laksman Jhula (the next town which is a 15-20 minute walk) to check out some clothes, have a chilled evening stroll and maybe pop into our waiter crush in Lucky Restaurant. It was a lovely evening of chai and sunset walks before it was time to go to bed and prepare for week three. Week Three Baby!
Some of the quotes from this week that have made me laugh include one from Franzisca who said while in Kanaan ‘I haven’t had chocolate in two weeks’ to which we replied ‘You had chocolate balls last night’ and she then said ‘Oh yeahhhh, sure that’s just a name though its mostly coconut’. Amongst others such as ‘I want to be a hardrock bunny’, ‘Don’t you mean a playboy bunny’ ‘Oh yeah that’s it’. ‘Did you wear any sun cream today?’ ‘No’ ‘Oh you’re well in the cancer boat.’
It’s funny how much we talk about food here, but its super exciting to know that we are losing weight here. We notice ourselves becoming more toned, more flexible and svelter which makes us more inclined to stay on our health buzz during the week. It’s nice to eat out once in a while but after having lunch today we realised that we had in fact missed our good ole chick peas and lentils which today had been extra spiced up. The food here is incredible and big props to the cooks who work hard for us during every meal time, always cooking everything from scratch and looking after our every need. Sundays will be our treat day but for now we are enjoying our Indian diet. As I mentioned, we have noticed some differences in our bodies in the past two weeks and I have especially noticed some differences in my flexibility and capabilities. I’m not quite able to do a shoulder stand yet but every day I am edging closer and closer to nailing it but I am now able to stretch a lot further in my poses compared to my first day. It truly is incredible and rewarding and I can’t wait to see how we have all changed in a few weeks’ time.
Events in Rishikesh
Its hard to believe we are in our second week of Yoga teacher training here in Rishikesh Yog Peeth. As I previously mentioned, the time here has been flying and trying to take in every moment of it, is on the top of our agendas right now. Live for the moment, in the present moment- a little something Philosophical which makes a lot of sense to the way we are living right now. I find myself becoming more aware of the present moment and have found myself not thinking about previous events nor future plans, which is certainly a step in the right direction. I also feel very much on the road to universal understanding, having figured out from last night’s meditation class, I experienced a glimpse of the Kundalini Awakening, which I will explain a bit more later on. So at the end of our last week, we had a very chilled weekend to look forward to. We had Saturdays morning Asana class but this time, we had Dani, a previous student turned teacher who has returned to Rishikesh to teach workshops to us. I personally found this class very helpful when it came to breathing correctly, correct alignments and altering routines for different level yoga students. It gave me a great insight into the postures we do regularly and how altering them can make a routine easier for a beginner or more challenging for an intermediate student. We had group discussions and we learned a lot about this through each other’s input and ideas which was great.
Later on when it came to having our usual Philosophy and Anatomy/Physiology class with Roshan, we were told it was cancelled due to a power cut. We had planned to watch some documentaries to do with Philosophy to add to our chilled day, but with the cancellation, it made our free time longer. We had a long gap before we had to return to Krishna Cottage for meditation. It was during this free time, that we headed to the Ayurvedic clinic near our school, for some fish pedicure pampering and some yogic massages- stretching/breath massage, which we really enjoyed. I took some of the free time I had to go to my usual salon in Laksman Jhula and get some waxing done, which is great in India and super cheap – just an fyi for all you girls out there. Afterwards, when we came back we had our dinner as usual and went to Surya for the meditation. This time, we had a candle meditation where our teacher put a candle in the middle, arranged us in a big circle around it, and turned off the lights. We were to watch the yellow of the flame, with our eyes half shut, eventually closing our eyes and visualizing the same candle in our minds, continuing the meditation. As per usual, my thoughts kept distracting me and I couldn’t fully settle my mind, even though the candle was very relaxing to watch. Meditation never seemed to be something I could do, but I guess I would prove myself wrong.
Sunday was our day off and so some of the group had arranged hikes or day trips to the surrounding areas. Some of the others, including us opted to take a walk to see The infamous Beatles Ashram located very close by. Some of the girls had opted for a pay as you go yoga class that morning at 6:30am which the night before, I had opted in for, but when the time came the next day, I opted for sleep. I felt slightly guilty but felt slightly deserving of it though. I felt very refreshed at breakfast! After breakfast we got some directions from the reception at Krishna Cottage, and began our journey towards the Ashram, which only took us 20 minutes to walk to, despite the scorching heat. When we got there we were in awe of the location and the stillness of the atmosphere around the ashram, which sat, slightly hill side, beside the banks of the holy Ganges. The story behind this famous visit was that in 1968 The Beatles, who had met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London during one of his seminars, decided to take him up on his offer to come to his Ashram in Rishikesh, to study Transcendental Meditation under his guidance. Many of their companions, wives and other celebrities came on the journey and they all left at different times to go home. It was here that they meditated for long periods daily, ate a pure vegetarian diet and wrote tonnes of songs, many of which are on their album ‘The Beatles’ aka ‘The White Album’. Their visit here, gained a lot of followers and interest in The Maharishi during this time, and even with the Ashram in abandonment at this moment in time, It still draws backpackers and yoga students to see it. It wasn’t until later on that evening when we talked to some of our friends that we realised there was a ‘rabbit hole’ we could have used to enter the inside of the ashram, but for us, we just got to see the outside. We are planning our next trip to see the inside of it. It is always so incredible to be somewhere that people so famous have once been, which happens every day around the world, but to be here had a very spiritual significance. It seemed as though we, as yoga students were standing here on the grounds where The Beatles once came, to find exactly what we are looking for. Peace and universal understanding. This was something special for me to experience. I couldn’t help but imagine them there at that very site, looking out over the Ganges searching for sheer tranquillity and it seemed like the perfect location for it.
Our plan all week had been to set lunch at our school aside on our day off which is Sunday, and instead, indulge in something we have been craving such as pizza, crepes or veggie burgers. When we returned from The Beatles Ashram, we did just that! We headed to Kanaan, a local rooftop chillout restaurant where most off us ‘yogi’s’ hang out. The service is crazy slow though, even for Indian standards, and with seven of us there, each receiving our meals at different times, I of course received my pizza 2 hours after we arrived. One of the girls who had a massage booked, even had to cancel her order to make her massage on time. Nevertheless, the food is beautiful, the lassi’s and lemon nana’s are amazing and the sweet owner is always so friendly and welcoming, so yes, it has become our local eatery! It goes without saying that we each enjoyed very single bite and savoured every single smell of delicious food before It was time to leave and get ready for another week ahead. The food at the ashram, is amazing, but because it is pure vegetarian and very health conscious which is so great for us I know, we still can’t help but miss our little luxuries, for Franzisca that would be her love for Gin and Tonics and for the rest of us it varies a lot. I was super happy with my pizza and it almost becomes one of those routines where you feel great eating healthy during those 6 days that treating yourself for that one meal on a Sunday seems very doable in real life. Maybe not so affordable for a backpacker though, but I’m determined to keep it up when I leave here. For breakfast at the ashram/school, both groups (us from Krishna Cottage and the other half from Surya Palace) meet in Krishna where all our meals are served. We would generally have fruit salad, noodles, porridge and herbal tea in different combinations, which we will have after our two hour yoga session in the morning from 6-8am. For lunch we will then have a cooked selection of vegetables, sometimes curried sometimes plain, some curried lentils or chickpeas and maybe a salad. For dinner, we will generally have a similar meal to lunch but in different variations, sometimes it will be chickpea or lentil soup with rice, a salad and a desert like rice pudding (which is a lot different to Irish rice pudding) and other times It may be the same combination but in different forms such as veggie meat balls. On a Saturday we are generally given a completely different meal as a sort of ‘treat’ I guess, for example last Saturday we had pasta with a beautiful tasty sauce and cheese dressing. Before our meal in Kanaan we also had some amazing homemade guacamole with giant deep fried ‘crisps’ which were amazing and afterwards we opted for some chocolate balls with ice cream which were also to die for. It goes without saying that Sunday is probably our favourite but most guilty day.
On the other hand, there was no need to feel guilty considering we were going to the Puja ceremony down by the Ganges river with our classmates and teachers that evening, where we could wash away all our sins. The Ganges Is well known worldwide for its holiness , spiritual history and ceremonies, so when we were told we would be attending the Puja ceremony to give thanks to Mother Ganga, we were so excited. That evening, we gathered at Krishna Cottage and we all walked to the river where we waited ten minutes for the gates to open. We passed the time by posing for pictures together and with various Indians who yet again approached us saying ‘Photo photo please’. Once we entered the ceremonial space, river side, we all took seats along the steps and before we knew it the place was packed full of locals and tourists, all here to give thanks and witness this daily event. It was easier to see the location of where the Lord Shiva statue once stood out in front of us on the river, before It was taken away in the very harsh floods, back in June 2013. Just before my arrival! You can notice a lot of reconstruction and excess deposits of sand around Ram Jhula and Laksman Jhula from the floods and it’s hard to think about how many people died in the small mountainous villages so recently from the flooding and landslides.
The ceremony kicked off with various mantras and relaxing Hindu music, enough to send me into deep meditation, something I thought Impossible for me. We sat there as more and more people arrived and not long after, the familiar scene of worshipping Mother Ganga with candles. As the candles moved around the crowds, everyone reached out to grab the handle of it before the swaying began. When it got closer to us, we managed to get our hands on it and helped to move it around with everybody. It was such a nice ceremony. Once this was done, everyone rushed to the water were they put their feet in, prayed and even drank the holy water. We got our feet in, but afraid of falling into the fast current of the river, we didn’t stay there too long. Afterwards, we gathered, put our shoes back on and headed back to Krishna Cottage. After dinner, some of us went to bed and some of the others played games in Surya Palace. It was a really great weekend and we can’t wait to experience more events like this, especially with such a nice group of people.
During our second week, our schedules changed once again and this time, we would have a normal class in the morning with Jeet, and then in the evening, our other teacher Nirendra would supervise two 300hr students as they taught us the class. Both evenings were quite intense and fast paced but It was great. I don’t think any of us have sweated that much in our lives. Literally swimming in sweat after a 90 minute class. Its always great to get different experiences and we are now having an Astanga yoga class every Tuesday with Jeet, from this week on, which gives us some more variations of yoga and routines. It also keeps Franzisca happy, as she loves Astanga yoga. Oh and have I told you that she gets everything she wishes for? We think she is supernatural. We keep telling her to wish for chocolate, potatoes or pizza someday at Krishna Cottage, but I don’t think that would ever come true. As I mentioned earlier, I was finding meditation quite annoying, which is quite normal I hear for beginners. I was never good at keeping quite let alone keeping thoughts out of my head and my mind still but nevertheless I tried it. We have meditation at 8:30pm every evening after dinner for half an hour, in which we try out different methods. First there was just silence, then there was the candle to watch, then we chanted ‘OM’ 108 times and finally the past two nights we tried a new method of counting from 100 down to 1 on every exhale. Here we go again I thought to myself. We talk about The Kundalini awakening in Philosophy a lot and about getting deep into your mind through meditation, by preparing with yoga Asanas (poses), Pranayama (breath control), Neti Pot and a good healthy diet. Basically we are all living in the external world and we do not understand the universe nor ourselves living in this way. Every human has the capacity to delve into the deep subconscious of the mind to find out the worlds answers, the universal understanding and most of all who you really are. They call this an ‘enlightened’ person. As an enlightened person, you have released the energy in your body to flow up through all seven chakras and finally power through the crown of the head, meaning that you have finally understood the world and you can live your life in peace with fearless expression of yourself without any doubt. I wouldn’t say I am a sceptic, and I am always open to new things and hearing about peoples experiences but I just felt like meditation to me would always just be me, sitting in a dark room in silence just waiting on the time to pass, only with incredibly numb legs to sow for it at the end. Taking all we had learned in the past week and all the insights into this experience into account, I once again went into my meditation class on the first night we did the numbers method. I got into a comfortable cross legged position on my cushion, placed my hands on my knees once the ‘Om’ and mantra were said and I began to relax into my position. I counted down from 100 without getting lost and noticed that I was starting to drift into a state of thoughtlessness where I could no longer feel the pins and needles in my leg, nor hear any noises around me. It felt almost like nodding off to sleep but I was awake, just without any thoughts, and anyone who has tried to meditate knows how hard it is to not think. Think about it! But in all seriousness, there I was in or around my second countdown, feeling my breath go deeper and more relaxed just like before you go asleep, when all of a sudden a huge force of energy swirled up my back from the base of my spine through to the top of my head pulling me up into an even straighter position. I quickly opened my eyes unaware at what was happening and slightly scared, thinking I may need to leave the room. Suddenly I closed my eyes again and embraced the feeling, letting it continue to tak over my body, heat up my back and power through to my crown. When I felt it push through my head, my mind felt so settled, yet so full of awareness and I had an incredible burst of joy and happiness within me. Still unaware at what had happened to me, but still knowing I hadn’t imagined it, I walked out of the room saying ‘That was an amazing meditation’ and continued on into my room where I lay in bed for the rest of the evening researching my experience. I had in fact come to realise that this was Kundalini awakening. After a few conversations with friends the next morning about this, I was encouraged to discuss this with Roshan our Philosophy teacher to see what his thoughts were on this. I thought this would be easier than standing up and telling the whole class my experience as had been previously mentioned to me. At the end of Anatomy I queued up, as you do when in one of Roshan’s classes (everyone always has questions for him) and when It was my turn, I explained my experience, which to him seemed like the start of Kundalini awakening. He told me not to dwell on it in each meditation class and that every time is completely different, the key is to sit still, and see what happens. The next evening IA couldn’t help but wait for something to happen, and so It was not anything special but I definitely felt energy and the start of something but I guess I wasn’t as thoughtless as I had been the night before, to encourage these feelings to happen. I have no doubt in my mind though that this feeling exists now, and It only gives me more hope and faith that something will come again when I am ready. From researching I noticed that it takes some people along time to release this Kundalini ‘serpent’ (energy in your spine) and it as to be done under supervision and with preparation such as the Asanas, Paranayama, diet and the right mind set. I have been living in the present moment since I got to India and since being in the Ashram, I am even more devoted to living my life, living for the present moment, and when the time comes -finding out who I really am!
-Here is something we say after our mantra’s every day.
‘Shanti Shanti Shanti’- which means ‘Peace to others, Peace to everything around us and Peace to myself’
It’s been 4 days since we arrived at Krishna Cottage In Rishikesh, our home for the next six weeks, and It’s so hard to believe how quickly its gone. When I think about the routine we currently follow, it’s no wonder the time flies though, because as the saying goes, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ and we are doing just that! The past few days have brought about new experiences, new meetings with people from all corners of the world, a completely new diet and some aches and pains here and there, but overall It has exceeded whatever expectations I did have initially.
From our first 6am-8am yoga class to our yoga class today, I can notice the difference in my capabilities and also the insensitivity of the classes beckoning. It is great to be able to get back into a routine of doing yoga and having that feeling of satisfaction and achievement every day when I may be realise I can stretch that bit further, or master the triangle or even chant one of the mantras without my mantra page in front of me. That is a nice feeling. Our first day we had our first yoga class in the morning which set us up for the routine we would go on to follow for the next few weeks. We would sit on our branded ‘Rishikesh Yog Peeth’ Mats and in a ‘comfortable cross legged position’- a common phrase around here-, we would close our eyes, join our hands in prayer and chant ‘Om three times in between three deep breaths’. No words can describe the peacefulness of the group as a whole chanting this small word aloud, but It is a great feeling. ‘Om’ is the universal understanding that we are all searching for, and which yoga helps us to achieve. It is the peaceful world we want to live in free of stress, pain and worry and full of love, happiness and understanding of the universe. We chant this before and at the end of each class. It was in this class that we took out our Mantra pages, and began to chant the first Mantra ‘II Genesha Mantra II’ which is written in Sanskrit but translates as O mighty Ganesha of Large Body, curved trunk, with the brilliance of a million suns, please make all my work free of obstacles, always. I like this one! As the days went on we began to chant the next two of the ‘II Guru Mantra II’ following the lead of our teachers and their melodies. I really love the uniqueness of the Indian sound and the way we chant is so different to anything in the Western world which makes it so unique and beautiful. I go on for the rest of the first and second day chanting the ‘Ganesha Mantra’ in my head and even tried using it during meditation to help me concentrate.
After yoga, we have breakfast and then philosophy and anatomy/physiology with Roshan who brings about a new sense of learning within all of us in his style of teaching. Its always amazing to have a class with him and It always beings about conversations in the dining hall about the philosophies of life and enlightenment within ourselves, or anything we have talked about in class that day! Everything he says seems to make so much sense and I feel myself already becoming more open to understanding the universe and everything in between. We have a long break after lunch where we generally go out in our little tight nit group of ‘crazy girls’ to explore Rishikesh, get our usual Mango Lassi’s or just run some errands for that day. Today we plan to have a chat and a Lassi and after that who knows! I am enjoying every minute of it, even when I am in serious agony trying to bend and stretch and achieve Yoga Asanas (poses) I try to smile (as our teacher tells us to) and remind myself of my reasons for being here and the pride I will get at the end of this experience.
We also do a practice called Neti in the morning (depending on if it’s raining outside or not!), in which we use a plastic Neti pot filled with salt waterwhich we use to clear out the nasal passages. We did this only once so far because of the rain, as we do it outdoors at 5:45am, and It was easier than I imagined it to be and really made a difference. After our break from 1pm to 5:30pm, we come back, have a rest and then get ready for our evening yoga session. Both sessions are in a different building to Krishna Cottage, and both lectures are also in another different building which generally entails trudging through flooded alley ways and tonnes of cow dung. The usual! Our evening session so far has been a bit more intensive than our morning one which is more relaxed and involves Pranayama (specific breathing techniques), Asana (poses) and Chanting, wereas our evening one is more full on and involves alignment’s to our current poses (using our specific belt straps), various harder poses and a faster routine. Its all in our favour though and I just wish my muscles would hurry up and stop being so weak, so I can actually enjoy trying these moves out, although I did master the triangle yesterday to my surprise! Trying out handstands today was a bit of a challenge for me as I could never do handstands even as a child, so as an adult It will certainly take practice. We did this in pairs getting the other person to position themselves so they could hold you up, but no I had no coordination and so it took 3 people to get me upside down and in the right position- Laughing stock! I have to remember though that this is new for me and It’s been a while since Iv done any yoga, let alone this type of pose. I do have a tendency to have little faith and confidence in myself and I think that this course will aim to help me realise my bodies capabilities and my ability to achieve.
Everybody here at Krishna Cottage is so friendly and I have met so many people from all walks of life, with their own individual reasons for being here which Is great. It goes without saying that YES, I did meet an Irish person here, but to my surprise he is the only one in the whole school, and is doing the 300hr which means he is not in my class, leaving me to be the only Irish one around. Nice! Everyone here seems to be a similar type of people, which is probably what brought us all here. Firstly we all have a love for yoga, we are all open to learning about life, we are all open to meeting new people and at that, everyone seems very open minded and easy going, which I love. Even in a big group of 40+ people, It’s hard to feel like an outcast or anything of the sort because of the friendliness that oozes from everyone around here. Everyone swaps chairs and groups at meal times and places in the Yoga Hall, so you are always mingling with someone new which is great, but our little group cant stay away from each other and most of the time, we spent laughing and laughing which is the key to health and happiness. Some things that have made me laugh this week include one conversation we had about re incarnation and having a choice to come back as something different, to which Franziska said randomly in her German accent ‘Well you could either come back as a King, or you could come back as a …….*looks around philosophically *…. Mango Lassi. And regarding a not so nice Mango Lassi we were drinking, she then said ‘It tastes like how it smells on the street’ which had us in convulsions. A day doesn’t go by without laughing hysterically at something silly, (well so far) which I love, but that may be kept under wraps once the 7pm silence rule comes in this evening.
Philosophy is something I have never studied but something that I always thought would be an interesting topic, and boy am I glad I am learning in India and not only India but in Rishikesh Yog Peeth. Our teacher Roshan, as I mentioned before takes teaching to a whole new level and leaves you walking out of the class room with your minds blown and many more questions you want answered. He says that the key is to never accept what he says, nor decline what he says, that we need to be open to interpretation and have our own questions too. Some other quotes which I really loved were ‘Yoga is not what you think you are but who you really are’, Every time you point at someone, 3 fingers are pointing at yourself, ‘Universal understanding is fearless expression of yourself without any doubt’, If you are here with your questions, you are already here with your answers’. Some of the topics in class are very intense but seem to make a lot of sense, but at the same time, leaving me with more questions. It’s an incredible topic and is something that can be interpreted in so many way, but that is the joy of learning it., and what better place than spiritual Rishikesh.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I feel like I shouldn’t be here, that I am incapable of progressing or achieving, because that’s just always been my mind set, something I need to change and am working on. Some days are tougher than others, but it all falls back on my reasons for being here and what I will gain from progressing through this course. I think back and wonder if I hadn’t have went travelling for so long, I may have stuck with yoga and been pretty damn flexible at this time, but then again, life isn’t about what if’s, and I am here now so I am going to aim for achievement. Knowing my own body, I realise my abilities and capabilities and have noticed different changes in my flexibility, minor, but still there, still progressing, still on the road to achievement.
During the week, we have Sundays off and a half day on Saturdays which we will makes plans for. Maybe a bit of pampering, some massage, a trip to the Beatles Ashram and of course some Asana adjustments and practices so we are not out of sync on Monday morning. It’s a nice break from the week and during our week we have a change of teachers and routines for the first half of the week and then the second half which is also a great idea for us. Rishikesh has become something of a home to me and I feel very happy here at this moment in time, with the people I have met and with what I am learning and gaining from this journey. My life motto- Everything happens for a reason’ could not be more clear right now and I can’t help but think of how my path in life has magically brought me here to meet new friends, practice discipline and hopefully find out who I am as a person. I am content and happy with my life and my achievements at this point in my life and this journey can only better it, which I am going to let it do one hundred per cent.
On a final note – ‘To have choice, you need to have free will and 100% free will, is only present in the present moment’ – Roshan
So for any of you who don’t know the reason form my 6 weeks stay in Rishikesh, here is where I will elaborate a bit more. My first and foremost reason is that I will be attending a 6 week Yoga Teacher Training course here, in the Yoga capital of the world. I had been practicing yoga back when I was in school and on and off ever since, which we had to discuss in front of our new group during our first day at the school- but I will get to that! It’s not that I want to necessarily be a teacher after the, but I figure I would rather do it for the experience and journey rather than having high expectations of myself at the end. I’m no expert at yoga and my being here, Is the beginning of my real yogic journey, my aim to learn the philosophy and practice of yoga in detail. If teaching comes from that then so be it, I will take it all as it comes.
So to begin with, my less yogic like journey to Rishikesh itself was something entirely different. I had been in contact with Raine, Franzisca & Susie online through the Rishikesh Yog Peeth (our school) website and group emails. It was so great knowing that I would arrive to Delhi once again having people there to meet me and that we would all take this journey together. After two short flights but a long transit overall, I arrived In Delhi for the second time during the trip, only this time my flight was late. I wandered around through the exits to find my new yogi’s and the private car that would take us to Rishikesh. I was so late, but when I arrived we all were so glad to see each other. We finally left in the car, which then took a further 9 hours on familiar bumpy roads, with a few stops along the way for food and toilets etc. The route to Rishikesh had been changed due to the Shiva festival which saw thousands of people dressed in orange marching from Rishikesh to Delhi, and this was the reason for the longer than usual transit to Rishikesh.
With the four of us in the car, we alternated between conversations, listening to ‘Im a Barbie Girl’ on the stereo and taking well deserved nap times, before finally reaching Rishikesh at around 10:30pm Aug 3rd. Our course would start on the 5th but our orientation would be on the 4th therefore we were super happy to have arrived with some time to spare. We were all so relieved when we were shown to the Krishna Cottage where we would be staying, and furthermore to our private rooms. I was ecstatic to see my large room, complete with King size bed, Balcony and En suite which I could finally unpack, having been used to on the go travelling for the previous 4 weeks. Krishna Cottage itself seemed beautiful and had a jungle setting, with a grassy courtyard, a dining hall, and overlooking balconies surrounding it. We all decided to get a shower and head straight to bed. The next morning breakfast was at 8:30am, unbeknownst to me, so I didn’t wake until 9:30- I much preferred the extra sleep anyway! I met the girls down at reception where we gave our documentation, filled in some forms and paid our fee. We paid USD$1250 for our 6 week course which included all your food, your private room and your training which was incredible, as I would probably spend that on a general trip with no training included.
It’s always hard to hand over your beloved credit card when you know how much you are spending and are on a budget but working t out at around $20 per day is an absolute bargain. When all the serious stuff was done, we decided to head to the market stalls in and around Ram Jhula and Laksman Jhula which are the areas surrounding where we are staying in just near Rishikesh. After a long walk around, popping in and out of quirky shops and admiring scenery of the Ganges and mountains along the way, we handed in our laundry in one of the only laundrettes we could find and right next to a beauty parlour, which we were also looking for. After a bit of waxing and threading, we were on our way onwards through more of the somewhat busy streets, when we decided to stop for some lunch in Lucky Restaurant, where we all had amazing meals including Paneer Butter Masala, Palak, Mushroom Masala & Cheese Dosa along with plenty of naan breads. The food was amazing, and the waiter wasn’t bad either. We laughed a lot yesterday and it seemed like we were all quite similar people with a similar sense of humour. It was at the orientation ceremony later that evening after a rest and a shower-It was scorching in Rishikesh,-,that we met the rest of our group from Krishna Cottage and the other half from Surya Palace, which we had been divided into at the beginning. The orientation began with a prayer at the top of the room and we all watched in awe at the ceremony . During the prayer we were each given a red bracelet on our right hand, markings on our foreheads and some Indian sweets. Towards the end we were invited to come to take part in the prayer by gathering at the front and two by two, moving a chalice of candles in circular motion in front of the statue. Im not quite sure of the meaning of the prayer but it was an amazing experience and it was so nice to be able to take part as a group. All of us who are in the same boat experiencing the same things here.
After the prayer, we had a talk about the schedule we would be undertaking in our 6 weeks. It goes as follows
-5am- wake up
-5:30am- Herbal Tea
-5:45-6:00am- yogic cleansing (using a Neti pot with salt water to clear the nasal passages)
-6:00-8:00am- Mantra/Asana/Pranayama (yoga, breathing, chanting)
- 8:30am- Breakfast
-10:45-11:45am- Anatomy and Physiology
- 1pm- Lunch
- 5:30pm-7:pm- Asana and Paranayama (yoga and breathing)
- 7pm- silence to be observed onwards
- 8:30pm-9pm Meditation
-10pm -Lights out
We then headed back to Krishna Cottage, while the other half stayed at their homes away from homes at Surya Palace. I really loved that we were brought to Krishna Cottage and that we were altogether, It is an amazing place and setting here. I was so excited to start on my new journey, for whatever reasons I have been brought here, for whatever experiences I am destined to learn and whomever I am supposed to cross paths with along the way! Our first day would be tomorrow! 5am let's be having you!
I AM SO READY!!!
‘Everything is possible in India, but not everything is available’ – We laughed after hearing this quote from a local we met here In Goa, and It rang very true all of us who had been travelling India. India had been a crazy place so far and It had taken a while for me to understand India and all the aspects of it that made it the way it is. A friend once told me that you either hate India or you love it, there are a lot of good things but also a lot of bad things here, but by far the good outweighs the bad. Having been at home in comfortable Ireland with only a vision of what India would be like, I couldn’t quite grasp what she meant but after 4 weeks of hectic, tiresome travelling through India, I finally understand her words. I have come to believe that I do in fact love India, but there are definitely certain parts of travelling here, that can get to you. It’s a question of can you handle it or will you give in. I think I have moulded quite well so far into the way of travelling here and have come to grasp the way of haggling, standing up to touts, and avoiding being led astray by the locals claiming to help. I think everyone at the beginning of their trip here, finds they end up trusting everybody and being ripped off only to realise a few weeks in, how to actually get the balance right. You learn to know who you can trust and when something you are being told is wrong, it just comes with practice, but it certainly doesn’t come straight away!
During our time in Goa, we planned to chill out at the beach- we hoped for at least a bit of sunshine-, explore the area and meet new people. 2 out of these 3 plans happened, and with it being monsoon season here, I think you can guess which two. It’s very possible to explore India in the monsoon season, and I regret ever asking tour companies for information while I was planning this trip considering they all told me to avoid most of the country at this time of year. Yes the monsoon season is annoying but It doesn’t stop you travelling, meeting new people and taking in what a country has to offer. It’s just the annoyance of sudden downfall, or no downfall at all, that’s the monsoon way! Our time through Delhi, Varanasi, Rajasthan, Mumbai etc had been great no matter what weather we had endured, It was still another story to tell and It was a different way of seeing India. It always seemed that the rain would pour out of the heavens right when we were to take a train or a bus, therefore the majority of our trips, saw us enduring soaking wet clothes for hours upon end. Nevertheless, I would still love to come back to India in the high season –regardless of the towering prices- just to see the sheer difference in atmosphere. It seems you get to see more of authentic India in monsoon season, considering what we have been told by the locals about the high season being crazy busy, which doesn’t sound too appealing, but still, I would come back to see the contrast!
Arriving from a 13hr train journey (my last in India, and our last journey ever together), we were told by the tonnes of touts at the station that it would cost us over 1000Rupees to get to Vagator, where we planned to stay in Asterix Hostel. After our usual, fight with the touts, we overheard a man say it was only 30 rupees by bus, but he would take us to the station for 100 rupees- which made no sense- but nevertheless, being on a budget we opted for the cheap option even if it meant changing three local buses.. Ughh! It wasn’t the best time to have Delhi belly I tell you, but thanks to Eliza and her meds, the journey was certainly not as horrific as Id imagined. After taking three buses, we got dropped off at the side of the road in what we were told was ‘Vagator’. We had got talking to two others who had come down from northern Goa to check out other places to stay, and so the four of us hopped off the bus and began walking down the deserted road which initially put us off Vagator. We had pictured our hostel to be beachside, with somewhere to chill out and watch the sea, even when It was raining, but these deserted roads, weren’t what we had in mind. When we finally reached the hostel, we were intrigued by its appearance and location, which seemed like it would be an amazing find in the high season. It was in a jungle setting, like most of Goa we had seen on the bus journeys here, and had coconut trees all around it. We decided to check into a 4 bed dorm which was the cheapest, and which we had to ourselves for the two nights. I had opted to skip the third night and instead take a taxi to the airport at 11pm the last evening and stay in the airport for my flight at 7:30am to Goa. It was either this or pay to stay an extra night and then have to leave at 3am to the airport. I’m no stranger to sleeping in airports at this stage; In fact I think I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in airports throughout my life, so why stop now! We had dinner at The Mango Tree on the first day- pretty easily located beside our hostel- where we enjoyed a lovely veggie burger each. We decided to walk to Anjuna and check out some of the markets and restaraunts, where we stayed in one bar for a drink, to take the weight off our feet. On our way back after being surrounded by a pack of angry dogs, I opted for an easy way out by a passer-by who was heading to the Mango Tree. In the Mango Tree we had some more beers and a cocktail while enjoying the brilliant 80’s music they had playing loudly in the background- give or take a few power cuts-.
Our first day was pretty short considering all the travelling we had done to get there, and so we had an early night. The next day I had planned to hire a moped to go and check out the beaches, and for 200Rupees a day It was a bargain. Off I went with one of the girls from the hostel on the back, stopping off at a few beaches along the way –Big Vagotor Beach, Little Vagator Beach and finally Anjuna Beach, where we met back up with Eliza and some others at a café. We had some chai with some fellow travellers and locals before taking one of the locals up on his offer to show us Anjuna Beach. He walked us along the beach which he said was completely different in high season as everything was shut now and the beaches were full of rubbish etc. It looked like It could be paradise in the high season and I vowed to come back in the new year, I even vowed to consider it as a location for my prospective hostel. I would love that! After our long walk and a lot of shopping at te markets, we headed back to the hostel on my bike, taking in the lush green hilly countryside as we drove by, with the wind in our hair. We met Eliza later on at The Mango Tree were we had dinner and were joined by one of the locals from earlier who wanted us to join him at a bar near Anjuna Beach. We politely declined as we didn’t want to go too far away and Eliza was leaving very early te next day to Hampi. We headed back to the hostel to mingle with some of the other people who were having some drinks in the common room before going to bed, hoping for a good night’s sleep before both of our further travels. Eliza left to the train station at 5:30- not the best time to be saying goodbye when you are half asleep and It feels dreamlike- but nevertheless we had a hug and said our goodbyes. It was weird waking up the next morning with a dorm to myself, but It wasn’t long until I had a new roommate. Sort of! I checked out for the day and killed time before It was time to head to the airport! My last night in Goa, was pretty calm to start with then turned a bit crazy, as if Goa was trying to show me a different side of itself, enticing me to stay a bit longer. And it worked. Well for 2 hours at least! As I mentioned, my morning/afternoon was quite calm, as I chlled on the comfy cushions in the common room typing up some blogs and uploading pictures before my flight that evening-you can never be too sure that you have everything backed up before a big journey-, before, heading off down to Big Vagator Beach for a bit of a read before the sun disappeared and the rain came to visit once again. I had a nice stroll down to the beach, with a nice purchase of a beautiful Kaftan to be had en route, and stayed on the beach for almost an hour and a half among scattered groups of people, chilling on the beach or running in and out of the sea. And who can forget all the cows strolling up and down the sand enjoying the rolling green hills and crashing waves along the way.. Or so I presumed! They lived the life! I arrived back to the hostel just after being caught in the heavy monsoon rain where I had to take shelter road side, with a local man who was doing the same. We both looked around as the rain eased and took the opportunity to go back on our way to our destinations. I headed straight back out to The Mango Tree where I ran into Tanja from Germany who I had met the previous day at Sea Paradise Café in Anjuna. We had dinner together and started on the hard stuff not long after that. After a few hours ad passed and we went our separate ways, I headed back to the hostel where I had a drink and a chat in the common room with Andy, the guy from earlier who had checked into our old room. We chatted for ages and after he said he hadn’t had dinner, I suggested we got to The Mango Tree, I had loads of time until my taxi at 11pm anyways. The Mango Tree was always great and we had eaten most of our meals here as It was so close to the hostel, so delicious and played great music.
I had numerous beers with Tanja earlier at dinner and then again in the hostel, and at this point, I was drinking Whiskey sours which led me to change my taxi until 1am giving me two more hours of drinking, which wasn't such a good idea before the airport, how and ever. Andy suggested we try the strong beers which turned out to be so strong that after one glass for our 600ml bottles, we had to give up, they were that strong. It was so funny, and there was no drink I had known to be that effective since Long Island Ice Teas. I will never drink these beers again, that's for sure. After getting my taxi, I ended up falling asleep, feeling quite sick- maybe the hangover was kicking in?-, and upon arriving at the airport I was refused entry without a ticket (which I had in my emails) -Bad Planning! Nevertheless, they had free wifi and a seat outdoors near the heavy rain, for me to sit and repeatedly try to connect to. I knew if i didn't, I would be sitting here all night, or even worse not be allowed in at all to catch my plane. I prayed and prayed and after 45 minutes it connected, to which I smugly pulled up the email and showed the security, who then let me in and informed me that I could go to my Domestic terminal at 5am when it opened. I didn't get a wink of sleep all night and when I finally got into my terminal at 5am, I was as close as being 'zombiefied' as i could possibly be.
My time In Goa was quiet and chilled out, with some amazing scenery to be had. A great way to end all of the crazy travelling we had endured so far, and a great way to get back into a calm mode again right before 6 weeks of yoga and meditation. The next chapter of the Indian adventure will no doubt be a completely different experience but a well needed one and I absolutely can’t wait to meet my three new yoga buddies along with the rest of my yoga family. Bring on Rishikesh!