31 March 2016

Rishikesh Again & A Kundalini Retreat

In January, I visited Rishikesh and liked it okay. Interesting, good yoga, cute town, gorgeous Ganga. I found a kundalini retreat, and said I'd do it. After much discussion of detail, I signed up.

After a long day of travel (1 hour in a bus, 45 minutes in a tuktuk, 2 hours in a plane, 1 hour waiting around for my awful taxi driver, 7.5 hours in a taxi with a maniac), I arrived in Rishikesh. Deepak met me, despite the super late time (after midnight) with a flower, a bottle of water, some biscuits, and some chocolate.

The next morning, we began our retreat at Braham Yoga. It was $300 for the week (with accommodations and food; you can do it $100 cheaper if you opt out of those), and structured in a way to give you a great focus to kundalini living, pranayama, meditation, and kundalini yoga - and it was def not recommended for the beginner.

Every day, we met in the morning for 2-3 hours, and from 4-6 or 7. Mornings were spent with in-depth discussions of the chakras, chanting, pranayama, and specific asanas. Afternoons were usually focused on pranayama, meditation, and strange meditation activities. One of the teachers had a background in Osho ashrams, so we did some cool activities. One day, we spent 15 minutes shaking, the next 15 minutes dancing, and then 30 minutes meditating. Another day, we spent 30 minutes laughing, 15 minutes crying, 15 minutes in silent meditation, and then 30 minutes in a guided savasana. Each day was different, illuminating, tough, wonderful, struggling...a lot of things. I'm grateful for every day.

I loved my teachers; Deepak was kind and compassionate and full of knowledge and patience. Our other teacher pushed our edges. Unfortunately, he really pushed people over their edges....one of my classmates stormed out. Another classmate cried. He was trying to break us open - to let the light in, I assume - but it was really, really tough. I liked the process a lot, even as it challenged me. Unfortunately, it led to some really weird energy in the class. The guy who left our class really only spoke German - and left because of language challenges, and feeling like the teacher ignored him. He was often angry at the class. The classmate who cried felt a little weird but got over it. Another classmate got upset when he felt he was left behind and skipped class for a day.

Yet despite the weird energy at times, I got a lot out of the class. I learned SO much about pranayama, further into the chakra study, and into my own meditative study. I got ideas for teaching, ideas for my own practice, and opened myself up. I loved it. Some days, I was on such an amazing high...it was unreal. It was like I was on drugs. I was so alive and free and happy! 

I was completely sober, eating good food, porridge for breakfast, fruit for lunch, veggies for dinner. I went to bed early, got up every day to run for an hour or two on some hills, feeling great. On our breaks, I wandered the streets of Rishikesh, buying jewelry, shawls, yoga books, yoga cds, talking to people. I hung out a lot at the Juice Bar, eating their bomb fruit salads, talking to whoever sat at my table, journaling, writing letters to my bestie. One day, when they were closed, I sat at The Office, eating a good-but-not-as-amazing-fruit salad, when I met an amazing kundalini yoga teacher and sponged a lot of knowledge from her.

Holi fell in the midst of our retreat. We had class early so we could throw color at others. It was insane. It was so fun, so alive, so much. We were all loving and covered in colors. The streets were nuts. People were dumping buckets of water out their windows. I didn't like the buckets of water and people shooting others with water....but it's all part of Holi. I tried to avoid it. We danced in the square and then went to the ashram for sweets, prayers, and paint. It was pretty amazing.

After, we hiked up to a waterfall. It was amazing to stand under the blast of pressure of water and have most of the colors come off. (But not quite....a week later and I still have some pink from Holi in my hair!!!)

Rishikesh is a special place. I spent it filling my heart, filling my mind, filling my life. Learning about nonattachment, the chakras, breathwork...it was a special week. Everywhere I went, I ran into friends I knew from Arambol, met new people, saw more cows...

I'll be back. I know I will. Maybe even next year. There's more time I need to spend in Rishikesh...so I should head there and study more yoga, eat more fruit salads, and OM just a little bit more....

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