Back in February I made a short trip to India to practice with George Dovas, my Iyengar Yoga teacher from Hong Kong at a retreat he was hosting that coincided with the Sannyas Jayanti of the head monk of the Shri Jagadguru Sanyas Ashram with whom he regularly studies Vedanta. I am amazed by how impactful this short span of time was, particularly since this journey happen just before the world became temporary closed to travel due because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the structure of our days I was able to touch parts of my practice that often remain hidden by the obligations of everyday life. What a privilege to have five hours a day to dive deep into one’s asana practice as well as pranayama to explore the subtleties of the mind, body, and breath through the skilled guidance of my teacher’s exquisite teaching. I particularly appreciated the way George weaved Swamiji’s Vedic teachings from the morning Satsang into the asana practice. As a yoga teacher, I was inspired by the way in which George managed to unify a diverse group of practitioners and gave the students tools for curiously exploring their own practice. Swamiji and the others at the ashram were so very warm and welcoming. The meals provided by the ashram were delicious vegetarian meals which kept us well-nourished and in their simplicity allowed for our studies to remain at the forefront of our focus.
Rishikesh itself is colorful and vibrant. The Ganges shines a bright aqua blue against the sloping foothills of the Himalayas in the North of India. There was so much to experience walking distance from the ashram or a short 10 rupee rickshaw ride away. I enjoyed the fact that the ashram grounds were an oasis of study and retreat amidst this bustling town and having a few free hours in the afternoon to do what we wished. I completed the program feeling as though my cup was filled; my own practice was refreshed by the experience.