Keep Calm And Carry On Yoga Practice
I have been practicing yoga for several years now. Yoga has comforted me in difficult times and allowed me to find softness within my mind and body. From a very early age, I learned to be strong, keep calm, carry om, and find peaceful resolutions to conflict. Yoga seemed so natural to me and allowed me to find balance.
Transforming From Within: The Powerful Effects Of Yoga On Your Inner Self
I first traveled to Rishikesh in 2011. I had quit my job as a producer for an advertising agency and decided to retain as a yoga teacher; however, I felt ill-equipped to teach. I decided to take some time out and travel to India, the spiritual home of yoga. I had been planning my first trip for a while. I was to start in Rishikesh and travel around India. My friend Alpesh had helped me plan my journey and was excited for me to be taking my new lifestyle so seriously. I arrived in India in Autumn 2011 and was picked up by taxi and driven the 7 hours to Rishikesh. When I came and plugged my phone in, I was given the devastating news that my friend Alpesh had passed away due to complications with Sickle Cell Anemia. I had only seen him 48 hours before. I was floored, I was helpless, and I was alone. My visa didn’t allow me to exit India and re-enter for 28 days. I had to decide to stay in India and miss his funeral. I spoke to his wife, and she assured me that it was what he would have wanted. For the first three days, I didn’t leave my hotel room; I sat on the balcony and took in the sights and sounds of Rishikesh from a safe distance. I eventually left my room and searched for a yoga Ashtanga Full Primary Series class. As I said, yoga has always helped me in difficult times. I wandered the streets of Rishikesh and came across a small yoga shala on top of a hotel run by a teacher called Yogi Kamal Singh. Kamal was the teacher I needed in this challenging time. He was energetic, commanding, graceful, and most of all, he had a glimmer in his eye that reminded me of my playful friend Alpesh. I continued to do classes with Kamal night and day for five days. On the fifth day, I walked down to the Ganga, slipped into a pothole, and broke my foot. I could no longer continue practicing with him. I had always vowed to return to learn more from this enigmatic teacher. I am 42 now, and call it a mid-life crisis, a breakdown, or a spiritual calling, I find myself returning to Rishikesh once more. The last seven years have been the toughest of my life. I have been lost since returning to the UK. I had started a new career as a yoga teacher. I was working incredibly hard to pay for my house. I was sometimes working for 26 classes a week. My classes were full, and I was a respected yoga teacher in my hometown. Something was missing, and though I had lost yoga. I had become a victim of my success and had stopped practicing apart from a quick warm-up to keep my body supple.
Last year while trying to shortcut a practice, I injured myself, which meant that practicing became painful when my chest opened. I hated myself for it and was true to form, and I continued to keep going and work harder. I finally crashed at the end of 2016 and decided I needed to change my life. I was thinking about going to Thailand for some time to sit on a beach and get some perspective. In February of this year, a student asked me where to go in Rishikesh. Straight as I said, he should seek out Kamal at the TattvaaYoga Shala. Then it hit me, and I needed to return to finish what I started. Ashtanga yoga had always appealed to me because it wasn’t just Asana. It was a system, a system that made sense to me. I immediately booked the best 500-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh at Tattvaa Yoga Shala. My friends and family thought I was mad as I already had a 500-hour TTC, but to me, it made sense. Hopefully, I could put the past seven years behind me and use the ashtanga system to help heal the years of self-abuse and trauma. I arrived back in Rishikesh in the Spring of 2017. Rishikesh had changed; it felt more commercial. Kamal’s picture was on posters and banners all over Ram Jhula. The following day I attended the orientation meeting at the Gita ashram. From a class of around 15 in 2011, there were now over 50 in this class. I have to be honest and say that I was disappointed. India always has a way of throwing a curveball at you. This time around, I knew not to take anything for granted. I had learned not to expect anything and to go with the flow. I had signed up thinking I would spend eight weeks practicing and learning from Kamal. This is still the case, but this time I had to share him with 53 other people, most of whom were new to ashtanga. That meant starting again at the very bottom of the ladder. I am now in my second week of an 8-week course and struggling physically and mentally. My injury in my chest isn’t allowing me to backbend, and I find twisting difficult. In yoga, backbends are heart openers that enable you to release stored emotional wounds and connect deeply to the source of all life, the breath. I can’t breathe.
I am suffocating with the number of people in the class. We sit down, legs crossed, for at least half the day. I find it challenging to sit up straight. I am broken. I find it difficult to have absolute beginners making traditional Indian yoga adjustments on me. I find it too painful. I find it physically painful, but I also find it emotionally distressing. I have done this already and feel that I am going backward. I keep thinking of the very first limb of Yoga; Ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-harm. Am I harming myself by being here? Am I hurting myself by continually doubting myself? Rishikesh is also opening my emotional wounds, and I find it challenging to open up. My heart is heavy, and there is no room for compassion and no room for the pranic winds of change. Every day I wake up wanting to run. I revert to the source. Keep Calm and carry Om. I am tired of everything being so hard. I can not sit and meditate because I have to sit with anger and frustration, and I feel like I will explode. But I am finding a change in my thoughts and nature. Slowly I begin to follow my practice and learn the things that are necessary. I am bringing a change in my inner self with the help of yoga.