Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Incredible INDIA - Part Two

Magical Rishikesh - Week Three and Four :)

Life in Rishikesh continues every day, and every day I am smiling :) I love this place just as much as the first week, perhaps even more so actually. With every day that passes I discover something new and captivating which holds my interest in this crazy little town even more.  

It's been an insanely action packed two weeks so sit tight and I will try not to bore you too much with the details….. ;)

Each time I walk along town or into Laxman Jhula I am finding new places to eat and chill out.  Freedom Bar and Paradise Cafe are a couple of examples of places along the river which fantastic views, I can walk there and just sit alone and absorb the positive energy and view and people watch for hours. Such a happy place. Little Buddha is the same, though normally a little busier.  Each time I try a new smoothie, or shake. I even managed to get the guy in Paradise to make me a smoothie like I would make at home with milk, peanut butter, banana and a shot of coffee.

Yesterday I found an amazing juice bar. If you had blinked you would have walked straight past it and not known that it was there. A tiny little shack on the main street hidden outside by plants and people standing around. When you looked closely you realized that inside there was a man with a huge blender and an even bigger selection of fresh fruits. His fridge and freezer were stocked to the brim with ice, fresh and frozen fruit and veg and the blender went non stop.  So many different combinations for less than $1 a glass.  I tried the power green monster first, and have since tried the apple, mint and pineapple, then beets, apple, carrot and ginger.  Too many choices for someone as indecisive as me lol!! 

There were road trips which took me to new places within Rishikesh and beyond. I rode on the back of a scooter with the wind in my hair, all day long with awesome people to better explore the area! Special times. There were waterfalls, new adventures, adopting of a dog called Jacob (Rupert), fun yoga poses on rocks, and a beautiful beach hidden away from the world above us. There was even a rescue mission as a white water raft tipped people out into the rapids. I joined friends to explore Pauri for the day, a small town about 3 hours east of Rishikesh. The town itself was reminiscent of Cinque Terra in Italy from a distance, with THE MOST incredible view of 7 snow topped Himalayan peaks. We explored some nearby temples and took lots of photos. The search for food was amusing, the fact that we were only 4 of 6 foreigners in the town even more so, and the women's interest in my anklet kind of puzzling… The scenery during our drive was stunning and once again India made me smile happily to myself and the World. The drive itself was slightly insane - dodging cows, pigs, monkeys, donkeys, people, dogs, and landslides. One road sign read - "No race, no rally, enjoy the beauty of the valley". India never ceases to amaze me with it's beauty, and how quickly these crazy things feel comfortingly like the norm :)

I also started and completed my Reiki Level One course with friends last weekend. That was a fantastic experience, one that I went into unsure what to expect or whether I would feel anything. I did, and it felt amazing and I loved sharing it on my friends also as I learnt more and more. Now I just need to keep practicing to keep it fresh!!

As with all wonderful adventures, there are always goodbyes along the way. Charley and Cat left Rishikesh.  It has been so awesome having those girls around and sharing the Rishikesh experience with them. I have learnt so much about myself through my experiences here and in Rishikesh. I guess since I started traveling really.  I know instantly who I am going to get along with, and build strong, fast, wonderful friendships. During this week something happened that made me want to scream, and instead of actually screaming I turned and spoke to the girl who I have been sitting next to in class all this time. Instant smiles, what a wonderful coincidence how well we clicked, amazing times to be had and firm friends made. I found myself with two new friends as a result, who I got along with just brilliantly and who I know will be in my world forever.  The wonderful Lauren appeared also, and I found our frequent breakfast catch ups so much fun and so nice to click with someone so easily and comfortably.  I am totally coming to visit her in Saipon during my travels! She rocks. I feel as though I have known these girls for many lifetimes, as crazy as that may sound. They are such easy friendships, and so familiar to me. Love <3 

The course continues to amaze me, test me and teach me new things every single day. I can't remember the last time I learnt so many things all at once, I am terrified that if I stop paying attention for just one second something valuable will slip away and I won't hold onto it forever like I want to.  I can't wait to get back into the big bad world and teach yoga again, share everything that I am learning with everyone!! So much information, so much to share :) Love, love, love Rishikesh and this course. My body is exhausted but my mind has never been happier. Each day I am practicing yoga for at least 3-4 hours.  I have my standard classes as part of the course - gentle hatha in the morning, personal practice in the afternoon and evening asana or meditation.  

In addition to this I have been introduced to the wonderful Jeet :) Awesome, awesome guy.  I see him once a day for an additional personal practice of either assist in hatha yoga or ashtanga.  I am in love with the practice and the dedication to perfection of each pose. I have never hurt so much or felt my strength building so quickly before. It's inspiring beyond belief. Such a great teacher.  I also have started to go to some external classes as well. So many amazing teachers in this town, not enough hours to absorb all of the experiences that I would like to have here. The only thing for it - is that I must come back to Rishikesh ;) I am so excited to be learning so many new things in India!! Our yoga philosophy classes continue to drive me crazy with an intense enthusiasm to constantly learn more, clear more space in my mind to retain everything that Roshan says to us.  So inspiring. Who knew I would be so excited about things beyond the physical side of yoga when I arrived here. 

Faraaz taught us a very cool tai chi with yoga combo this week, which I will definitely be incorporating into my practice. My thighs were on fire the whole time, and I literally couldn't move the next morning as a result of gentle swaying movements which trick your body into thinking there isn't that much muscular work involved at all ;) They are called Warrior, Flying Dragon and Golden Seed if you want to google them :)

I tried acro yoga for the first time last week with Rima and Ali, on the beach beside the Ganga. I loved it, so much fun! I really want to try and find time to become a regular while I am in Rishikesh. So many things I would like to do, so little spare time. 

Our first two weeks of the course was ridiculously intense and because of Holi celebrations we didn't get a day off in 14 days which was killer.  But after 14 days straight of 5:30am alarm calls, I celebrated my first day off well with breakfast with friends in a super chilled cafe, walk through town and silver jewellery shopping, fresh fruit, mint tea, mango juice, orange juice, lemon and mint juice, freshly roasted peanuts, dumplings, watching people swim in the Ganges River, walking through the chaos of town on a Sunday, stroking a cow to get head butted in return, avoiding the touch of a nasty group of boys who found it insanely funny to dare each other to touch my arm, then hiding out in another super chilled cafe with tea and writing postcards, my journal and reading Shantaram. Love this book :) Followed by a welcome ceremony at the ashram for the YTT 200 hour new joiners, dinner with friends, playtime with the puppies, easter chocolate and sleep. I fell gratefully into bed that evening!

In between the busy schedule I started to find time to run a little bit. Today we ran through the Beatles Ashram which was very cool! I am not sure on the distance or how fast it was but it felt great to stretch my legs and get a cardio workout in. Yoga practice and meditation are totally awesome but man have I missed my adrenaline fix. Yep, this girl is incapable of sitting still lol!

That said, I tricked myself into thinking that after 3 weeks of not getting sick while everyone else dropped around me, that I was invincible. It wasn't the case…. for whatever reason, exactly 3 weeks into the YTT 300 course it was my turn to be sick. When I say sick, read sicker than I have ever, ever, ever in my life been.  I wasn't sure I would ever recover. It was insanely horrible, and if I had had the energy to cry I would have cried for the duration.  It was like life before sickness and life after sickness for us all - and we all lived in fear of it coming back, which it invariably did with all of us at some point.  It became totally normal to discuss poo and vomit like we were discussing our favorite foods every time you saw someone. It was hilarious really! My least favorite time of my whole trip so far. Never felt so mentally and emotionally drained.  

I am so, so grateful to everyone on the YTT 300 program for taking such wonderful care of me! Clare and Rebecca for pushing me back into bed at 6am and making me sweat it out, Rebecca dancing and singing for me, Nichole for bringing me breakfast, lunch and dinner, water, snacks, big hugs and back rub when I felt such discomfort, Rima and Ali for your love, and hourly check ins, the probiotics and electrolytes, and party in my room when I was missing the real one, Ash for bringing the party to me, keeping me company, and the sunset, Ashley for offering to find me a Dr, Kayla for your concern and regular check ins and yummy tea, Kelly, Danielle and Amanda for your lovely emails. Feeling so grateful for that love. A horrible 24 hours, but made so much more bearable by everyone's awesomeness! My rishikesh family :)

Oh I nearly forgot! As soon as I got better I got my nose pierced!! Amanda and Danielle told me it wouldn't hurt so I didn't have a care in the World when I walked into the shop. Amanda turned to me and said "ok so do you want me to hold your hand?". I was like "why, it's going to hurt isn't it?" She gave me a guilty smile and said "yes, I cried the whole time". Jesus! So I sat there like a total baby and held her hand while the lady forced a piece of silver through my nose. She then instructed Danielle to feed me the fresh coconut that she had in her hand asap!! Memories of being force fed biscuits straight after having my ears pierced as a child came flooding back haha! Clearly I went as white as could be ;) 

Ahh smiles :):) I have to keep pinching myself. I'm in India, with cool, cool people doing yoga, learning every day, exploring new places and feelings, getting chai, drinking and eating fresh fruit and juices, chilling in cafes with mint tea, smiling every day! Life is good :) And my friend just told me that Nepal is even more chilled out than Rishikesh! Trying to stay in the moment but briefly so excited that life gets even better than this moment right now. I am SO lucky. Truly believe every change in life happens for a reason. Love how the craziness of India just blends into part of my normal routine here. How will I ever leave Rishikesh?!? 

I've not been this relaxed or happy in forever! Caroline heaven!!x

My favorite quote of all time right now:

"Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience"

-Paulo Coelho

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Happy Holi :)

Happy Holi - Rishikesh, India

What an amazing 48 hours Holi was!!! The colors, the trekking, the camping, the river - wonderful experiences!! 

Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring's abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hinduism.

Hindus across India observe Holi. In celebration, Hindu devotees spend the day smearing colored powder on each other’s faces and throwing colored water at friends and family, leading to Holi’s status as India’s “Festival of Colors.”

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Kacy Dahan or Little Holi, after which Kacy dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlada accomplished when Demoness Kacy, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Kacy was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his devotion. 

We were so lucky to be in India over this celebration. Rishikesh Yog Peeth organized for us to be out of Rishikesh town itself as it tends to be a little wild and crazy, and to have our own celebration at a camp site a few hours drive from Rishikesh. They chose a totally secluded setting in the the middle of the hills, and alongside the River Ganges. So lucky :) Everyone on the YTT 300 course came along, and people who were doing the beginners course also which meant that Charley and Cat were able to join as well :) 

The celebrations started a day early as everyone was so excited about this celebration of colors. The staff at Shiva Resort where the YTT 300 people stayed were hilarious and within moments of us opening our bedroom doors we were ridiculously covered in paint powder and being held in position while they sprayed paint over our faces and clothes!! Too funny.  Then we made the short walk over to Krishna Resort to collect the others joining us and got bombarded again! The bus ride to the camp site was LONG and stupidly hot, but an excited one for everyone. The bus dropped us as close to the camp site as possible, and we walked the rest of the journey ourselves.  It was a short trek but enough to get me worried about how I will handle the Annapurna Circuit next month! 

The setting was stunning, totally secluded and amazingly wild and free as you can see from the photos. We had shared tents set up along the beach, each with two basic beds inside and blankets. Once settled we all ran down to the River Ganges in the hope of swimming but were told that the current was too strong :( We managed to convince them to let us bathe in the shallows, and we quickly broke all the rules of non bikini wearing and jumped into our swim suits and into the water and splashed about to cool down. It was FREEZING but so, so good at the same time.  It took some scrubbing to remove the initial paint that had been thrown, and a few girls had to scrub properly their hair and skin to remove the bright red haha!! Faraaz was quick to tell us that if we dunked our full body and head underwater in the River three times, our sins would be cleansed.  Not wanting to miss out, we all psyched ourselves up to face the cold and as quickly as possible dunked underwater to start the adventure off sin free!! Then we took fun photos along the water edge, some doing yoga poses, some jumping for the sky and basically the camping adventure began! People chilled on the sand, some played volleyball, some played football, some played with henna, and others just chatted and shared life stories. A totally chilled out event.  

The fresh air and relaxed tone after 14 days straight of 5:30am alarm calls and 8 hours straight of YTT 300 hour yoga teacher training totally relaxed me into a state of total sleepiness!! While others enjoyed the bonfire and indian music and dancing I took myself off to the tent for the earliest nights sleep I had managed since arriving in India, and had the most amazing sleep ever!! Totally grateful to the dog who took it upon himself to guard our tent the whole night ;)

The next morning we peeked out of the tent - the official day to celebrate Holi - to see who had paint to hand, and raced out before we could get covered all over again!! So much fun, within minutes of breakfast finishing there was all out war with paint and powder and spray paints flying across the beach and each other.  The vivid colors shown against the perfectly calm white of the sand and made for awesome photos! So much fun. There was a mini dance party with Indian music (including gingham style lol)! 

The fun didn't end there, from camping we drove to a site along the River Ganges to begin our rafting trip back to Rishikesh. I had never done white water rafting before so was a little anxious as a friend told me about her experience of falling off the raft in India previously and feeling like she might drown. I might be a dive master but feeling as though I might drown is not my idea of fun!! However the whole experience was so, so, totally cool that I am so happy I tried it!! No joke, we had 4 hours straight of white water rafting from the camp site all the way back to Rishikesh.  The rapids ranged in scariness from good fun to seriously holding on for your life!! So much fun!! Only one raft toppled over and dropped people into the water, and luckily wasn't mine… The rapids were such an adrenaline rush, and the perfect end to an awesome couple of days away from the Ashram. 

Big smiles to find chili and rice waiting for us when we got back to the ashram, and the hot water turned on early for showers :) On my way back to my room I got head butted by a down, but I decided to forgive it because it was Holi after all. 

Great times in India :):) <3 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Incredible INDIA :)

7th installment along this wonderful journey that is so easily becoming my new way of life :) 


I am so excited to be in India, it's going to be wonderful and I am going to have such an adventure I can just tell! 

Within the first two hours of being in Delhi I already had enough material to fill my first blog! What a crazy place. I was one of only 6 females on the entire plane, it was….an experience! Fully grown men sneezed into their pillows, belched openly, farted, and generally made life as tricky as possible for the air hostess as possible. One man clicked his fingers at me to move out of his way - as in out of my own seat to take one of the free seats next to me. Then when I wasn't fast enough for him he proceeded to climb over me until I said NO really loudly and moved out of his way. Insane. He was young too which surprised me. The air hostess smiled at me. I braved a local meal on the plane, no ideas what it was just that it was from southern india and I said a prayer for no delhi belly with each bite.  

There were two ladies in the passport queue who asked me if I was traveling alone in India and said "wow, well done, how brave, BE SAFE". They asked if I was Australian and I said no British and they said oh we guessed ozzie or kiwi, you look super relaxed (proud me). I told them that I had lived in Bermuda for the last 4 and half years and they smiled and said ahh she has island in her. Yep I will ozzie and an island girl over english most days ;) I felt so alive and so excited as I sat in Delhi airport waiting for Helen (another girl on the YTT 300 hour course) to arrive from Chicago. I wanted to go and explore and see what all the excitement is all about. It felt as though I was kind of cheating not taking public transport to Rishikesh, but honestly after everyone stopping me to say be safe I was kind of cool with my decision to sit tight In the airport. The yoga school had been very specific in telling me not to leave the airport until the final moment the car arrives.  Instead I found Costa coffee and bought a dark chocolate kit kat and ordered a strong coffee…enjoying what I imagined to be my final piece of junk food and coffee during my stay in India. Little did I know India has the highest addiction to candy!! In that moment I was very excited <3

I very quickly knew that I was going to love India. OK, the bubble that is Rishikesh.  My first 24 hours in India looked something like this:

I survived what was an 'interesting' 8 hour minibus ride from Delhi to Rishikesh last night. We alternated between driving like complete lunatics at super high speed (5 plane traffic on a 3 lane road...) and slowing down at final second to dodge super size potholes, or randoms crossing the road. The driver lived on the horn the entire way?!? I shared the journey with the other girl from my course, and we gossiped most of the way. We passed monkeys, cows, pigs, peacocks...all sorts of craziness and poverty followed by fancy hotels. We got to the bridge in Rishikesh (Rum Jhula) at 1am and Vishal asked me to get on motorbike with him the final stretch - with me - AND my 20kg backpack, day pack, yoga mat and duty free bag. I had lost my sense of adventure by then and said no. He didn't look too impressed at my lack of adventure but honestly I think he sensed he was fighting a losing battle.  So we took it in two trips - good call on my part as cows jumped out at us in the dark, manholes, sharp bends and no helmets. In the dark light my room looked super basic, and there were certainly no luxuries, and in that moment I seriously wondered if I could survive 6 weeks.  

At breakfast the next day I quickly made new friends, I met Cat who was doing the beginners course and discovered Charley already arrived - Charley is the daughter of one of yoga students in Bermuda. Susan had told me after I broke my news of leaving the island that Charley would be in India when I was, I thought it was a long shot back then swapping details but luckily for me the universe worked it all out so that we got on brilliantly and both got to be in Rishikesh together for two weeks. That girl is awesome and I know much of my trip will be with her in the future :) I quickly discovered that Cat was a very cool chick as well, from Melbourne and the three of us clicked so easily it was a fantastic grouping! That first day together we set off to explore Rishikesh - we dipped our toes in the Ganges River (since discovered in order to have good luck you actually should put your palms in first not your feet - oops), bought scarves, had bindis drawn on us, bought lots of yoga and reading books ($2-4 a book max and LOVED the lady who ran the book store), swapped stories, made fast friends, tried random street drinks like sugar cane candy, dodged cows in the street (more on this later…), avoided a monkey attack when I tried to take its photo, and bought local offerings. It was a busy morning and one which firmly cemented our friendship. We were inseparable. I know I will see those girls again on this amazing adventure.

I immediately fell in fast, hard, crazy ♥ with Rishikesh. It is such a calming place and just knew that this adventure would be the making of me. I still question how I knew this place would 

You would not believe how cold those first weeks were in India….luckily it warmed up day by day and after days of panic buying scarves these quickly became bed spreads as the temperatures picked up rapidly! 

On the first evening Rishikesh Yog Peeth organized a welcoming ceremony for us which was an opportunity to meet the other YTT 300 students, and ask questions to the teachers. They also did a small prayer and chanting service for us which involved us watching them chant, them paint red bindis onto our foreheads, us hold the candles and make offerings, and be given a piece of red string to wear around our wrists as a sign of our commitment to our studies.  The course outline was slightly different to what we expected from the website, but hey it is India. I was a little concerned as there only seemed to be gentle yoga practice scattered throughout the class and no studies of the more advanced poses which I had hoped to spend some time learning better how to teach to my students. I don't think I had realized just how much this course would be about breath work (pranayama) and reaching the mind as well as the body.  I tried to stay open minded about it (haha) and see what happened.
I survived my first day at yoga school and thoroughly enjoyed it :) It looked a little something like this: 

6:00am - herbal tea 
6:15am - nasal cleansing - weirdest experience ever but felt awesome afterwards! 
6:30am - chanting mantras - gonna take some getting used to...
7:30am - gentle yoga practice 
9:00am - breakfast 
10:30am - yoga therapy 
11:30am - personal practice 
1:00pm - lunch 
2-4:00pm - chicks about Rishikesh exploring and being chased by cows
4:00pm - yoga philosophy 
5:15pm - yoga pranayama (breathing) and meditation.

During these first two weeks yoga philosophy and the evening asana class were my favorite classes.  Yoga Philosophy was taught by the founder of Rishikesh Yog Peeth, the incredible Roshan.  His words form the content of so many future Facebook posts that I am just itching to share. I learnt so much from this man. His calmness, his manner, his words - all are so very inspiring. His first question to us was "what is yoga?" - we had a zillion answers. His reply was "Yoga is Everything". I was surprised then when he rationalized it - oh my god, he made so much sense. Yoga is Everything. He would speak to us for hours and you could feel as though everything he said was specifically related to some aspect of his life. The thing I loved the most was his energy, he exuded positivity and a sense of loving the life he lives which as you know is key to me on this travel adventure. I had found my teacher and was a very happy girl indeed :) One hour in his classroom could wash away a whole week of doubts about what we were doing, or self doubts or questions about life.

The 5:15pm class was taught by our teacher Faraaz, who I respected and liked very much.  In the first week he taught us Yoga Nidra which is something that I have never even heard of yet alone tried. It was an amazing experience.  We lay still for between 45 and 60 minutes in a deep state of conscious rest. During this time Faraaz was reading us key guidelines on how to focus our mind and body, and how to get the most out of the experience.  My first class was the best of the week and I actually lay still the whole way and was the calmest experience I have had in a long time, except when I got a weird shock sensation down my left side and kicked the air randomly which was kinda odd. The second night I fell into a deep sleep and Helen had to wake me up. The third night I could not get past the notion that there were ants or some kind of creepy crawly moving all over me. This is apparently normal, and is the nerve endings starting to relax, however at the time I could only concentrate on not freaking out and screaming like I really wanted to and making a total ass of myself in front of a room full of people I hardly know…. I found it difficult to clear my mind entirely for the one minute meditations that were scattered throughout the day though, all of the India noises in the background awakened my senses too much to concentrate on the silence inside (that was my excuse and I stuck to it……). 

The second week Faraaz taught us Yin Yoga - my new favorite thing to do and teach. I can't wait to get to Lembeh and show this to Dani and teach it to my customers. Easily the most relaxed style of yoga ever, particularly after a taxing day or when you are long overdue a massage or have done a hard workout and need to stretch and unwind. Yin Yoga works on stretching and releasing the fascia tissue between the muscles and ligaments, and is something that has been around in India for a long time and is starting to reach the western world slowly but surely. It is amazing. After class I literally felt so calm and zenned out that I didn't want to speak to a single person, I wanted to keep the cocoon of warmness and safeness around me for as long as I could. I think I might just love Yin Yoga :) Such subtle movements and makes you so bendy, think I may have grown 5 inches every evening! 

A quote that I learnt on my yoga course which is so true and has stuck in my memory and I hope will forever ♥ 

"A belief is nothing more than a chronic pattern of thought, and you have the ability to begin a new pattern, to tell a new story, to achieve a different vibration, to change your point of attraction."

- Esther Hicks

This encompasses everything that Roshan taught us in the yoga philosophy classes. We have the ability from day to day to decide if we choose happiness or misery. We choose the state of mind, the beliefs that we have. We also have the ability to change our beliefs, and create new ways of thinking, new ways of focusing our mind on positive energies or people, to change the path of that moment. We attract what we are. If you unhappy you will attract this, if you are happy then you receive happiness back. It really is that simple. Since arriving in Rishikesh I have adopted this way of thinking and have never felt happier. I smile literally every single morning here, and people smile back at me. I receive so much positive energy in this crazy little town, to exudes happiness.

My all time favorite time of day is personal practice time - only 4 of us seem to want to do it, so we go to the yoga hall, turn on the fans, and get to do our own silent practice. All working through our own poses that we want to conquer, and helping each other where we can. It has been a great way for me to stay focused on my goals of improving both my personal practice but also finding the time to have some quiet time amidst the business of the course, and being surrounded by 18 fellow yogis for 8-10 hours a day. 

Then our lunch time wanders around town, and absorbing all the craziness around us. I love this part of my day too :) I just love it all really! Shopping is insanely good here!! I have bought so many pairs of awesome pants and scarves for like $3 a pair. There is also an amazing stationary shop which I have become addicted to, and the owner waves at me each day when I walk past. He has so many beautiful designs, I find myself wanting something new each day. I have always been a stationary geek ;) We also found a bakery which is fatal as they do amazing coconut cookies, and chocolate balls. They ARE AMAZING and I am doing my best to forget they even exist (doing it badly I might add).

We discovered a place called Laxman Jhula which is a 30 minute walk away down to the next bridge, but has more diverse shopping, not to mention places to eat and watch the water which is just amazing to me. The scenery is out of this World as you sit and watch the Ganges River right in front of you, and the rafters going by in their colorful raft boats on the rapids. The bridge set against the backdrop is fascinating to me, yet another thing I absolutely love about Rishikesh. I can sit for hours in places like Little Buddha and Paradise Cafe just watching the world go by. It is an amazing place for people watching and juices.

Charley, Cat and I went to the Beatles Ashram at the end of Rishikesh to explore one day. We found a fabulous and huge deserted ashram with the most amazing graffiti ever spread across the music hall, where apparently the Beatles wrote most of the music for The White Album. We also spent some time hanging out on the roof of the building in which they slept - the view was to die for, what an amazing place to hide from the World. We met a zillion monkeys along the way. We tried to break in as it was all locked up but a helpful guide popped up and offered to show us around for RS 100 each so we took him up on his offer and he told us the history as he showed us around. Fantastic place, I will definitely be going back there :) 

As we left the ashram, we got accosted by an Indian family who were obsessed with us. They literally couldn't stop touching our faces, our heads, taking photos of us etc! They all gathered together and made me take a photo of them all before they would let us go :)

We walk past so many different animals every day which have quickly formed a normal part of my daily routine - cows, puppies, donkeys, horses, monkeys - the list goes on and on! It is incredible to feel so normal walking past them in the street and have cows beg from you as you walk past in the same way dogs would at home! And so many cute little puppies everywhere, I feel like I want to adopt one nearly every single day!!

At a time when I was getting a little frustrated earlier this week, I saw this quote and thought how amazingly funny and accurate this is! All about switching the way we look at the World and keeping our smile in place :) This quote amuses me a lot and I can apply this to so many situations it makes me smile even more to think about it. 

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

-Oscar Wilde

Two weeks of following the strict regime outlined above is however beginning to take it's toll. I need a massage. My back and shoulders hurt from sitting up straight for 3 hours pranayama, meditation and mantras, an hour of gentle practice, an hour of personal practice and 2 hours of lectures each day. I am so tired it it untrue. At least all of the sitting still for breathing is getting much easier for me and finally my mind is starting to slow down a little. My body is however craving a long stretch of road to go for a hard and fast run. I miss running terribly. It doesn't seem to be advised to run alone here, so I am desperately seeking running partners of any speed, sex or ability!

Holi Day - see the next journal entry as it deserves it's own special page in the "Live the Life You Love" blog - not to mention all the colorful photos :)

I could write for hours on my first two weeks alone.  Yet really all I need to say is "I <3 Rishikesh and yoga".  There is a tremendous calmness in Rishikesh, amongst the people in the Ashram. Everyone smiles and is genuinely happy and content with life. We are all there for a lesson in life, we are all on some kind of journey and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this experience. The noises that have so easily become an easy part of my daily life amaze me. My first attempt at lying still for one minute of meditation was impossible with the cows, the bikes, the horses, the children screaming, the flies.....now I acknowledge the noises and carry on as if those noises had always been a part of my life. In the very same way we stopped noticing the noise the tree frogs made in Bermuda each summer so easily! Rishikesh is a very, very special place.  I am also really enjoying realising there is so much more to yoga than just the crazy poses I love to play with. As my teacher says - Yoga is Everything! 

Happy Rishikesh days ♥