My quest to finding out more about Yoga took me to Rishikesh in April this year. After months of searching and reading about various Yoga schools (I felt all had something unique to offer) I finally settled on Kaivalya Yoga Teacher Training School in Rishikesh. I am not sure what led me to going to Rishikesh – not that I was visiting it the first time. Years ago, I used to travel to Rishikesh when I was a child, meeting a few relatives and taking a dip or two in the holy river. Few years back, Rishikesh was only a rafting destination to me but this time, the calling was different – the purpose was different.
Better Known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, Rishikesh is located at the foothills of Himalayas and traces its history back to the Hindu mythology, Ramayana. It is mentioned in the holy veda that Lord Rama crossed the river Ganga using only a jute rope at a point where the Laxman Jhula stands today. In 1986, Ram Jhula was also built near Sivananda Nagar. It is also proven that almost all the noted Saints and Yogis like Swami Sivananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi lived / halted in Rishikesh to deepen their spiritual learning and wisdom. One can seek solace, learn the original practice of Yoga from the true masters or simply experience the tranquility and drink the nectar of a positive cosmos in Rishikesh. Worldly recognized, Rishikesh is a favourite destination for yoga lovers and spiritual seekers.
So, my journey to rediscovering my bond with Rishikesh and Yoga started from the time I entered the holy city accompanied by three other yoga enthusiasts like me. We were put up in a nice hotel situated just a few mtrs from River Ganga. One thing which I keenly observed throughout my stay in Rishikesh was that the roads were narrow, no matter where you went but people’s hearts were wider irrespective of wherever you went.
Coming to the 200 – hours certification course – the name sounded quite fancy to me and I was all excited to get into it. Course Moderator, Amit Kaushik kicked off the orientation with a Havan ceremony. In the Hindu tradition, it is believed that any activity if preluded with a Havan is auspicious. This ceremony also became an informal ground for us to meet our teachers, understand the course structure and daily routines. What caught my attention was a reminder to adherence to code of conduct during the month – long course and regular theory and Viva tests to determine our understanding at different levels of the course. Now, that was something surprising. Last time, I appeared for an exam was like 11 years back. Determined to put my best foot forward, that night I slept like a child excited for the first day at school. And nonetheless, the experience of this course from day 1 to day 30 was simply amazing.
A thoughtful mix of practical Asana, Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga Philosophy, Life Anatomy, Mantras and essence from the Bhagavat Gita redefined my understanding and knowledge of Yoga by many folds. Right from correctly chanting every word of a mantra to continuously focusing on improving a posture, correct and controlled breathing, philosophical aspects of Yoga from a teacher’s point of view and understanding the body anatomy, our teachers made sure that as students we get the best out of this course.
At times, it was a bit too much for the body and mind with rigorous schedule of 6 am to 8 pm but the learning and experience was truly wonderful. A parallel bond was developed between me and my co-students while we together practiced asanas, chanted a mantra, paced in the corridor revising a note for the test and cracked into a laugh at the dinning table.
I gained much more from what I expected in this month long course while spending my time in such a peaceful yet vibrating city where people from different countries, backgrounds and moods get together as one and rejoice in its positive offerings. That is Rishikesh.
I also thank all my teachers – Amit Kaushik, Mahesh, Sabbal Rana, Vivek, Swami Om, Rana and my dear co-students – Sadie, Anjelina, Craig and Abby for making my experience of undertaking the 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher certification truly memorable.