For many years I have wanted to do yoga, but I have never really gotten started due to lots of various reasons. I tried Bikram yoga in Malmö since Tugba practiced there and I liked it due to the challenge of practicing in 40 degrees centigrade. In the end it wasn’t really my kind of yoga and the challenge don’t bring you back day after day, you need something more.
Let me start by telling you about all those years back when I the first time thought about starting to do yoga. I was traveling around in South-east Asia, at this time I was at a place called Pulau Perhentian in Malaysia, relaxing away on the beautiful beach. During the days I was hanging out with some people, playing beach volley ball and talking.
One early morning I met this guy from this group and I casually asked what he was up doing this early. The conversation went something like this…. It’s ten years back so I don’t remember the exact phrases.
- I was out on those cliffs out there, he said pointing at a stony area sticking quite far out into the sea.
- What where you doing there? I said.
- Just climbing and sitting there thinking.
- You’re a climber? Are there any ropes and stuff there?
- No I just climb…
I had been over there, but without climbing, since the vertical cliffs were probably 10 meters high with a lot of shallow stones in the water just below. So a fall from there was like russian roulette with bad odds if you were alone like he was… So at this moment he had my attention
- What if you fall? I reacted like I think most people would have done in this situation.
- I don’t fall.
- How can you be so sure?
- Well, when I climb I never move a hand or a foot until I am 100% sure that I will not lose my grip.
That’s smart I thought As long as you are 100% sure your totally safe then…
- I feel like there is a field around me lifting me upwards, he continued and showed with his hands and body how this field helped him.
- Wow, that’s cool, I might have said, don’t remember…
Then he went on by saying that he got this mental confidence and strength from doing yoga for ten years. He practiced for an hour every morning, even now during his holiday. Since then I have now and then been thinking about starting to do yoga, and finally I got a golden opportunity.
Tugbas ‘requirement’ to go to India was that we find a yoga studio and go and practice there five times per week. I wasn’t so excited about practicing that much, but I really wanted to go to India so of course I said yes! At this time the meeting with this guy in Malaysia didn’t come up in my mind, yoga was for me only a physical exercise not one for the mind, but how wrong I was.
Anyways, we came to India, found our apartment and started searching for yoga places. There was a few to be found on the internet, fortunately one was not to far away from the place we lived. We called up to ask for the schedule of the classes, but no matter how much we asked we were told to just come after four o’clock whenever we felt like it… Ok, we thought, feeling like you feel when you can’t put the pieces together… The version of yoga that we were familiar with was based on classes. The classes started at certain times, there was a teacher in front of the class, that showed how everything was done and everyone did the same poses at the same time and during the same time.
It was mighty hard to find the yoga center the first time, but luckily we got help by a woman that instead of showing us the yoga invited us to her family’s house for tea and snacks. That is another story so I’ll leave it there for now. Finally she showed us the center and we met the yoga teacher Rajakrishna, an older man with a white beard dressed in orange clothes with friendly eyes and an extremely relaxed way of talking and moving around. We talked a bit and decided that we should come back tomorrow for our first class.
The first class was nothing like we had expected. We came there and he started asking us a lot of questions about how we felt, if we had any injuries and things like that. Finally we were about to start, so we waited for instructions, but none came. Instead he asked us to show how we usually warm up for the yoga that we did in Sweden. So we started and did what we knew from back home. After that he started showing us the poses, or asanas with the stress on the first letter like they call them here. He showed us in our pace and on our level. We were moving forward in a slow tempo, we had a lot of time.
After the first class I really felt that this was the kind of yoga that I wanted to do, in my own pace, no stress by others and practically a private teacher since we came a lot earlier than the others. Tugba wasn’t as sure, since she wanted the group energy that you get from people that practice together and do things in synchrony. We decided to come back the next day, and after the second or third class she felt the same way as I did. This way of doing yoga was much better than what we were used to. The weeks passed by and soon months.
Early on we had said that we’ll practice with Rajakrishna until January and then we’ll try another place, but by that time we really felt that this was as good as it gets and that there was no reason to go anywhere else. He is really an amazing person and without him these yoga classes would have been something completely different.
Each yoga session is ended with relaxation, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and finally a discussion with Rajakrishna. We usually talk about how the meditation have gone, how we have felt, what we have experienced and what we can do to improve it and become better. This end of the yoga sessions are the mind-side of yoga, and that is what I like the most about it and what I lacked the most in Sweden. In the west we have never learned that yoga is something more than a physical exercise, when the physical exercise is actually just a means to an end. The end is the meditation and for religious people the finding and becoming of God. Yes, you read it right! He explains that when you see God, you get infinite knowledge and wisdom, then you realize that you are one with God and then you actually become God. I am not religious so I make my own secular interpretations of the parts I find meaningful to me.
As I am writing this we only have one yoga class left before our flight will take us back home to Sweden. I never expected the yoga and the yoga teacher to be the thing that I will miss the most in India, but it already is even before actually leaving! The yoga started as something I had to do since I had promised Tugba, but it ended as the highlight of the day close to my heart!