Coming to India, I wanted the real, full experience of yoga. Not only what the west has exported from it, that is the physical practice; I wanted to understand the philosophy of yoga and thus decided to stay in an ashram for some time.
I won’t lie, the first days were pretty rough. Waking up at 5am, meditating and chanting an hour and a half every morning and night, having two meals a day sitting on the floor in silence, and practicing 4 hours of asanas was no joke – not to mention the coffee withdrawal. Also, you should have seen my face when I was told that Internet only worked a couple of hours a day, “usually”.
At the beginning, all I was doing was trying to remember why I had gotten myself into this and trying to find a way to get out. I was mentally complaining about everything. “What is the point of all these rules and restrictions ? Why do I have to do this?” I thought. In meditation all I could think was my back hurting from sitting cross-legged all the time.
Looking back I realize that none of it was that bad, but for some reason whatever is foreign to us, whatever is not in the scope of our habits make us feel uncomfortable. It’s funny how reluctant to change we are –and yet, it is the only way to grow. It is easy to judge practices foreign to us but much harder to go further and try understanding them. What I saw as “painful” and restrictive, real yogis saw as a way of bettering themselves and serving humanity.
However, things slowly shifted for me too. Meals started to taste better, the chanting became enjoyable – although I still didn’t understand what I was singing. I even loved the no-internet as it allowed me to connect with the persons who were here with me and make friends.
Nothing had changed on the outside, but my state of mind had. By quieting my inner, complaining chattering, I was now able to experience new things with openness; accepting them as they were, instead of trying to resist them. Yoga is about flexibility and strength both on the physical and mental level. It teaches you that wherever you are, you always have room to go further.