With a one-way ticket and a lot of trust, I traveled to India for the first time in 2007. I headed there alone, in pursuit of rock climbing and the mysterious world of Yoga. Before arriving, I had visions of Yoga in the Himalayas, spiritual enlightenment, delicious curries, and dancing Goddess Princesses. The life lessons and transformation that India offered (and continues to offer me) was beyond anything I could have dreamt of.
India is a country in which the distances between yin and yang are vast and colored with spice, infinite mystery, Bollywood hits, and pure potential. These wonderful and exciting extremes offer the possibility of deeply learning about one’s self and moving more fully into the center. As we learn to deeply meditate and flow in asana in India, this practice of meditation soon begins to move into all aspects of our daily life.
With presence, we seamlessly move through chaos and silence with the grace of a butterfly’s wings. With centered observation of India’s extreme opposites, we may expand our world and move to places within ourselves never thought possible. Mother India shakes us up and then ever so sweetly puts us back together brighter, expanded, and happier.
The lessons she offers are different for each one of us. I often feel like she gives me the exact medicine that I need…. even when I had no idea that was what I needed. She moves us with the magic of synchronicities and “chance” meetings at Chai stalls or shawl shops. Through the chaos, she directs us to moments of bliss, gratitude, compassion, surrender, peace, and trust.
As a woman traveling in India, I am always reminded of the importance of holding my own space, staying strong in myself, and the art of a firm no. This lesson comes in the form of many smiling faces attempting to lure you into their shop to buy some sort of sparkling trinket or to try their “very best chai.” Coming from a western culture, over politeness and expectations of others often rule our daily lives. This cultural influence of “smile and be nice” often takes us from what is truly important for us in that moment. When we go on a traveling Yoga retreat in India, we have the opportunity to practice staying in ourselves and more clearly realize the effects of others on our energy. With a kind, firm “no,” we create an important practice for boundaries and a deeper truth in all aspects of our lives.
India inspires us to revere the Goddess in her many forms. Women adorn themselves as a worshipping of their own bodies as a temple for the spirit. Bindis mark their forehead as a reminder of the internal spiritual eye. Henna blesses their skin as a sacred ritual. Bangles are worn around the wrist for good fortune and long life for their family. Offerings of flowers are made to the rivers and mountains in hopes of being blessed by their feminine spirit. Even cows are decorated with jewels and sparkles as the milk giving mother goddess. This reverence of the sacred feminine teaches us the importance of lovingly adorning our bodies with that which make us feel beautiful, and more connected to the sacred feminine that lives within us.
Spirituality fills every aspect of Indian life. It is the birthplace of Yoga and practicing in India is a truly incredible experience. When I retreat in India, I am renewed in practice as I go back to the roots of this ancient tradition. With this powerful energy, India acts as a “spiritual gas station.” It helps us fill up on connection to our heart, self, and spirituality as a whole. It takes us deeper into trust and surrender and leaves us with a profound feeling of renewal, connection, and gratitude.
Many years and trips have passed since my first “rock climbing and Yoga” trip to India. My visions of what “India is” have continuously evolved. The person who I believed myself to be has also transformed. Each year I place my feet upon her soil and stay open to the lessons she offers me. I see the beauty of this country and now offer Women’s Yoga retreats and Meditation Journeys in this incredible land. Like anything in life, the outside world is a reflection of the inner. Dancing within the yin and yang in India is one of the most profound and incredible experiences we can be blessed to live and learn through. Mother India shall offer magic to all who call upon her…. One should simply follow their heart, and stay in the center as she embraces you in her beautiful flow.