“Disenchanted” by the travelers in Dharamsala a few weeks ago, I now find myself totally thrilled by their existence! The juxtaposition between the locals and travelers is what makes Dharamsala so unique. People visit here from all over the world – and every cafe is bustling with a medley of languages and exotic faces.
The travelers are the reason for the many bohemian cafes that come alive in the evening with secret entrances and low tables – smoky and myrrh scented – and musicians playing sitars and flutes and drums. The mysterious nightlife of Dharamsala, hidden within the hills of the Himalayas, creates an inspiring distraction from the intensity of the month-long yoga teacher training course where my attention is predominantly focused.
The second week of training ended yesterday. It’s our day off and I find myself in lotus position on a colorful veranda in Dharamkot, a tiny village a mile away from the yoga shala where I stay in Bagsu. Sipping on momo soup, I’m reflecting on the past two weeks.
There are eleven of us taking the Samyak Yoga course – from France, Greece, Italy, Taiwan and India. It takes me back to my school days with a regimented schedule, shared lunchtime, and different personalities trying to absorb the same information. While some students are cramming in their rooms after a long day of asanas and yoga philosophy, others (guilty) are sleeping or exploring the village. As I try to retain the Sanskrit names of yoga asanas ‘parivrtta trikonasana, garbhpindasana’ … I find my mind wandering outside, following the scent of woodsmoke and the sound of the harmonica and guitar from Welcome Cafe.
Our teachers are inspiring, humble and very funny. They break, flex and push us in yoga poses for four hours a day and inspire us with mantras and ancient wisdom. My heart chakra has been cracked open from the relentless back-bending asanas and the first two weeks I found myself uncontrollably weeping over anything remotely cute, sad or romantic. I saw every being radiating divinity.
Memories from the past surfaced and gave me a second chance to release old pain and sadness. Along with tears, toxins were released resulting in skin breakouts and inappropriate bursts of laughter! Experiencing this totally vulnerable and emotional state, beyond any reason or control, it is more clear to me than ever that yoga is a powerful gateway to living in a supremely conscious and awake state of mind.