Cultural Notes and Observations: India

  • People will often say “Slowly Slowly”
  • People stare at you (more than usual) and sometimes ask for photos
  • Red carrots
  • Cows have a large hump on their backs and are considered holy animals. They walk freely everywhere
  • New Delhi feels quite sketchy
  • Sometimes metal platters to serve food
  • vegetarian
  • eat with your right hand
  • Head bobble
  • Hindu
  • Women wear sarees
  • Everyone constantly honks their horn when driving

Food I’ve tried:

  • Samosa
  • Raita
  • Idli
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Indian chai Tea – a daily treat
  • Red carrots
  • Yak Cheese – tasted like a cross between Emmental and Gouda
  • Aloo gobi: Cauliflower with potatoes sautéed with garam masala, turmeric, sometimes kalonji and curry leaves.
  • Baati
  • Chapathi – bread made of whole wheat flour
  • Dal – lots of different types with lentils
  • Kofta – Gram flourballs fried with vegetables. Gram flour, veggies, rolled into balls with gram flour and fried in oil and then cooked with curry.
  • Makki di roti – had for breakfast mostly
  • Paratha- Wheat flour. Can be stuffed. Common stuffings: potato mixture, paneer, muli(white radish).
  • Puri – Bread made with wheat flour
  • Live Chennai – like sprouted chickpeas
  • Green Chutney
  • Peanut Chutney
  • Chilli paneer
  • Aloo Tikki
  • Bitter Melon
  • Paneer masala dosa
  • Vegan chocolate balls

Mar 27, 2017 – Graduation Ceremony for the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Rishikesh Vinyasa Yoga School

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Receiving our Teaching Certificates!

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskRQFdLG

Today could have been any more perfect. Our last class of Vinyasa yoga was held on the beach next to the Ganges River at 7:00am. It was the perfect temperature outside to do some downward dogs and stretch out our bodies. Funny enough, a heard of goats decided to stroll through our practice at one point which made everyone laugh.

Later that morning, I had an ayurvedic massage, complimentary of our yoga school. The masseuse was great and gave me a full body massage with hot oil.

Later that day, we all dressed up in saris (traditional Indian dresses) and proceeded to our yoga hall for our graduation ceremony. The priest performed the essential rituals which included offerings, drinking holy water, and more. Afterwards, we each passed the course and received our certificates in front of all the staff. It was lots of fun and felt extremely rewarding after all the hard work we had put into the program. Afterwards, we feasted and had a dance party.

I am excited to move on and start teaching in Cambodia! Rishikesh and all the staff at Rishikesh Vinyasa Yoga School have a special place in my heart and I will never forget them. I will also miss everyone who participated in the course and worked alongside me. One day I hope to return to Rishikesh for more yoga training.

 

Mar 13, 2017 – Happy Holi (The Festival of Colour)!

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Even the Police Officers Celebrate Holi!

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskWjzZGr

As I exited my room I was bombarded by coloured powder. Our instructors and the staff of Rishikesh Vinyasa Yoga School had initiated the Holi celebrations!

Everyone in our yoga course joined in and headed to the rooftop of our building where we had a colour fight and sprayed each other with water. It is absolutely necessary to wear clothes you don’t mind throwing away afterwards because the colour stains.

The streets depict a colourful warzone and if you don’t want to become a target: you must stay indoors. No mercy is given. Even motorcyclists and pedestrians are bombarded with colour or water from above or from street level. It is also popular to put colour on people’s cheeks. Leading up to March 13th coloured powder is sold in the streets. A small bag costs 10 rupees.

After breakfast, we took to the streets to join in the festivities. Everyone had smiles on their faces and was in a good mood. We stumbled upon a large colour-filled party in the centre of Tapovan with loud music and lots of dancing. Business and shops shut down for most of the day and open in the late afternoon. In the evening, I joined my instructors and friends at a local neighbourhood bonfire and dance party. It was an amazing surreal experience and I definitely want to celebrate Holi when I return to Canada.

Leading up to Holi, my classmates and I hiked to a small waterfall as well as a large temple in Tapovan overlooking the Ganges before joining a ceremony beside the river. It included speeches in Hindi in English as well as passing a torch around and moving the aroma of the fire over one’s body.

 

 

Mar 1-7, 2017 – My first week in Rishikesh, India!

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Sunrise at Kunjapuri Temple

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskQWMELh

My first week in India was one of wonderful smells, cows, chaos, and yoga. Outside of the 200 hour yoga program, I explored Tapovan (a suburb of Rishikesh where all the yoga schools and many ashrams are located). It is a beautiful area located in the mountains along the holy Ganges River. With my classmates, I sampled many coffee shops, window-shopped, and traversed the famous Laxman Jhula Bridge. It always has monkeys lazing around its entrance and exit. Unfortunately, they are accustomed to humans and will attack periodically if you are holding food. On the same footbridge, you will also find cows, scooters, and many people. The Ram Jhula Bridge a couple kilometers further is quite similar.

On the weekend, our instructors took us to Kunjapuri Temple to watch the sunrise. This Hindu temple is about a two hour drive from Rishikesh. The sunrise was spectacular and we could also see the Himilayan Mountains in the distance. After the sun rose and the other tourists had departed, we meditated together and enjoyed the morning.

Later that day, several of my classmates and I went white-water rafting down the Ganges for three hours. It was awesome and the water was frigid. It sparkled of turquoise blue and reminded me of Canadian glacier water. Additionally, it is considered to be some of the holiest water in the country. My favourite parts was jumping outside the boat and floating down some of the rapids on my own! Of course we held onto the boat and wore lifejackets so we didn’t float away. Overall, the excursion including transportation was only 500 Indian Rupee.

That same evening, I again joined my classmates in a cooking class led by our yoga school’s chefs! They are amazing and demonstrated how to cook several vegetarian Indian dishes.

Other than that, it has been an amazing experience completing my 200 hour yoga instructor course at Rishikesh Vinyasa Yoga School. Several times we have done yoga on the beach next to the Ganges River. Additionally, during one philosophy class, we heard a musicians outside and our teacher invited them into our class. The trio performed for the next half hour and were very entertaining! One of them played an instrument that sounded like a snake-charming flute, one played a drum, and the last seemed to be a manager or friend.

Mar 1-28, 2017 – A Day in the Life of a Yoga Teacher Trainee

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Today’s Alignment Class was on the Beach next to the Ganges River!

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskQSGP1g

Before heading to India, people often asked me whether I had practiced yoga before taking the 200 Hour Ashtanga Vinyasa and Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training Course at Rishikesh Vinyasa Yoga School. The answer is yes, and I definitely would not recommend taking the course without prior knowledge of yoga. The course is intense physically, mentally, and spiritually.

At this point in my life, it is exactly what I needed: simultaneously for personal development and for the credibility and knowledge of how to teach yoga. It is a skills I can take wherever I go and can use on a daily basis as it encompasses all aspects of life and not just physical asanas or poses. Below is a rough outline of how a typical day is structured. Generally, Sundays are off and on Saturdays we have group outings.

Time Activity Details
6:00 AM Wake up Get ready and join the class for a cup of tea in the kitchen.
6:30 AM Shatkarma (cleansing) & Pranayama (breathing) This involves using a neti pot to clean your nostrils daily. There are several other Shatkarmas that we performed as well. This is followed by a type of pranayama.
7:00 AM – 8:30 AM Vinyasa Flow Yoga This is type of yoga focuses on the connection and flow of poses or asanas.
8:30 AM – 9:30 AM Breakfast

 

A traditional and vegetarian Indian breakfast is served along with chai tea. Our chef was amazing and was always cooking something fresh and delicious.
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Anatomy

 

Learning anatomical terminology, connective tissue, joints, bones, muscles, nervous systems, and therapeutic concepts.
10:45 AM – 11:45 AM Philosophy

 

The study of yoga philosophies and traditional texts, yoga lifestyle, ethics, and understanding the value of teaching yoga.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch A traditional and vegetarian Indian lunch is served along with chai tea.
1:00 PM – 3:30 PM Break Free time to explore, shop, relax, or study.
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Body Alignment Learning the correct positioning of postures or asanas.
4:30 PM – 6:00 PM Astanga Vinyasa Yoga Learning and practicing Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B, the Primary Series, and Finishing Series.
6:15 PM – 7:15 PM Meditation and Mantra Chanting Learning various meditation techniques and mantras.
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM Dinner A traditional and vegetarian Indian meal is served along with chai tea.

Overall, my experience so far has been life-changing. Many of my physical and mental boundaries have been shattered. I never thought I would be able to do a backbend and touch my foot to my ponytail or twist my body into such complex positions. I also never though eating vegetarian food could be so delicious and filling. The chef at RVYS is outstanding. Moreover, all the staff are dedicated, fun, and professional. I could not have asked for more. Being at RVYS is life being a part of a family.