When I visualise my time in India, I see it all in terms of a few different categories: places, people, and moments. I feel an urge to start my story by describing a place, one of the most important aspects of my memories from this period. A place that became my home.
It took me months to share my first blog post on my time in Rishikesh, where I spent an unforgettable few weeks at the yoga school—ashram— in the foothills of Himalaya. The number of impressions is endless, and the longer I contemplate on all that I experienced, the more intense my memories become.
Many people ask me: "How did you know that, among hundreds of yoga schools, you should pick this one?" I had no idea. It was not only my first trip to India, my first time in Rishikesh, but also my very first teacher training in hatha yoga. My first yoga teacher training, in vinyasa flow, was an extremely significant element of my yoga path. I knew that each would be a completely different experience, incomparable to the other. So I had no expectations regarding the educational part of my experience. I needed a place where I could focus on my studies, on my journey inwards (myself), and a place where I could feel comfortable.
What worked for me was the recommendation of a friend. I called her one day and told her my plans, where I would be heading in February, knowing that she has already had a similar experience. And she shared a few links with me and said: "I won't tell you which ashram you should go to. It is your personal journey, go to the websites, write to all schools, and see what comes. Follow your intuition". So I did. And it didn't disappoint me. I had an amazing opportunity to deeply dive into hatha yoga accompanied by amazing people, in an amazing place.
On day one, I arrived in Rishikesh from Dehradun airport, and went straight to the ashram, Jeevmoksha Gurukul. The first person I met was Guruji, who was waiting for all of us. I had my first meal, saw my room and, as the others hadn’t arrived yet, I was taking my time in peace; taking my time to get familiar with this new space, this new landscape. The warm welcome and the hospitality of the family running this ashram was extremely helpful. Especially given the fact that, for all of us students, the whole idea of being there for the next few weeks was an "out of the comfort zone" experience.
From then on, every single day was different, even though the schedule was fixed. Each morning started with an opening practice, when we had an opportunity to build up strength and improve flexibility, but also to share the yoga shala from the first minutes after waking up. We created our rituals, like having a warm water with ginger and lemon before walking up the stairs to the first class (thank you, Agata!). We would all meet in the canteen, sometimes not even saying much, as we would leave each other space to wake up and deal with the dreams of the night before. Morning classes with Prateek were challenging, in a good way. He would always light the incense, the same scent each day. That was our signal to find a space and tune into the practice. Every other class would begin with this little ceremony.
But the bell! Oh, that was the sound of joy. When the meals were ready, we would hear the bell and gather our things within seconds to run down and see what the caring kitchen guys had prepared for us. Food was always nourishing, vegetarian, following the rules of Ayurvedic principles. And that was another occasion to spend time together.
I loved every single class: singing mantras with Divya, diving into yoga philosophy with Guruji, teaching workshops with Prateek, anatomy classes with Praful and an empowering evening practice with Sandeep. The knowledge and experience all the teachers shared with us is something I will always be grateful for. The struggle was real, it was not all easy to perceive. Not only were our bodies tired, but we also went through a lot emotionally. But that is the meaning of yoga to me: when you give yourself space to learn, to grow and contemplate that, to digest and observe how it settles within you. And this here is my big and honest THANK YOU to all the teachers I had a chance to learn from.
Ashram became my home, a place where I had a chance to study, to share everything with our amazing group, the teachers, and with the Jeevmoksha family. We all respected this space, kept it clean, followed the rules. What happened in ashram stays in ashram, and in all of us. Each of us came there from a different background, but for each other we were blank pages. Whatever each and every single one learned and processed there was treated with an enormous respect. And whatever our day might have looked like, we always knew that we could knock on each other’s doors and talk. No words can describe the connection I have to this building, to this space that witnessed so much. And as heartbreaking as it was to leave it after our graduation, it was also uplifting to know that we can always come back with our memories to all those cherished moments and learnings.
I am so happy that my first meeting with India happened through my stay at the Jeevmoksha Gurukul school. And a big part of this amazing time in Rishikesh were the people who I came across. This is a factor that requires a separate page in this digital diary. So I will undoubtedly dedicate the next piece to you, my Jeevmoksha family: to both teachers and students. To be continued...Namaste.
P.S. Here is the official website of the school, in case you are looking for a unique ashram in Rishikesh: https://jeevmokshayoga.com