|'Yoga Family' Practicing yoga on our guest house roof in Bangalore, India|
Before my first journey to India 4 years ago I had dipped my toe into the yoga pool many times; on the living room floor with my yoga video after school, classes at friend's gyms and hot yoga lessons later when I moved out to East London.
I was never the sporty or athletic type but after practicing asanas (yoga poses) my body always spoke to me and thanked me for the balance, correction and mind connection I was giving it. It enjoyed the ritual and discipline of the exercise.
Fast forward to my airplane landing in Goa: I was a girl enchanted. It was my first solo travel, I bore my load on my back like a galapagos turtle and it appeared I had just arrived at the Arabian Sea's tropical back garden. I threw myself into the bohemian atmosphere...sunbathing next to cows on the beach without a care, drinking from coconuts bigger than my hands could hold, magical night market wanderings and technicolor sunsets proceeded for the next month...all to the soundtrack of Bob Marley and birdsong.
I met many beautiful, insanely wonderful, cuckoo bananas people during that first month in Goa who I still speak to occasionally today...and one of those people twirled me around and sent me spinning like a top down a path that left a deep fingerprint on my soul that will be there for always.
He was a Creole spiritualist from Switzerland, I was younger and quite apathetic, used to my street smart peers from London. We were worlds apart with nothing in common but when he learned of my affinity with yoga he made it his mission to see that I join a Yoga University in Bangalore that he had been to.
The course was a month long, cost a bolder-sized chunk of my travel budget and you were not allowed to leave the compound for the full month while you were there.
This was definitely not part of my 4 month travel plan... but something, an inner intuition, a whisper from the universe, told me to step on to this new and unexpected path that was opened up to me. We parted and he sent me regular emails giving me all the information that helped me apply and find my way to the Ashram....
My month at the Vivekenanda Yoga University in Bangalore shines like a glittering mosaic of splintered images in my memory....
4am wake up calls and dragging our yoga mats for the first class of the day, bare toes to the dirt, while the moon still shone like a silver marble in the indian ink sky/ the rotund and stern faced Padma Shri, our Hindi Yoga tutor, who, despite her size and age could contort herself into the most impossible looking postures for our demonstration/ hours spent on meditation and learning the power of breathe and how to inhale with love and exhale every drop of bad energy from your body/ the powerful seminars on Hinduism and Spiritualism from some of India's most revered Swamis whose words touched me in a place so deep I would sit listening with silent tears rolling down my cheeks.
It was the best experience of my life.
I continued my asana and meditation routine for months after my return home from India but, of course, life gets in the way, routines and priorities change and my focus on yoga waned as I set off on a new adventure to South korea.
Last month my lovely friend Whit joined a yoga and pilates class here in my hometown of Beomgye and invited me to join too. For the first time in 2 and a half years I am treating my body to it's favorite exercise...and it hasn't forgotten.
Every time I get in that class I feel my muscles smile and submit completely to every stretch, letting me move deeper into each pose with every breathe.
Most importantly, in this stressful time in my life, it's a reminder of my power to breathe in deep, and just let it all go.