My days are pretty busy here .I've got into a routine for the last 3 weeks of being in India. I'm doing the proper 3 week long Panchakarma detox- its really good and not too restrictive. I suddenly thought I'd throw myself into study and being very clean. So.... I tend to get up around 7am eat some fruit and nuts and walk down to Yoga with Louise. It's a beautiful walk and takes about 20 minutes. Then I do the Ashtanga primary series (self practice) for a couple of hours. Louise has a great approach to teaching the series and it feels much better than it did in Mysore. She's very nurturing of peoples practice and kind, but stretches you at the same time. And she has this great energy- in fact she's like the kind of woman Jim Morrison would have hung around with. She has long dark hair and striking jewellery and theres something of the sorceress about her.. The door kept banging the other day and she looked up from her incredible forward bend to murmur "Ohhh- that door is such a trip....."! And having the most amazing views to gaze at whilst you're doing Surya Namaskar really adds something to the practise. It makes it a lot easier to be full of peace and gratitude. My hamstrings are pretty stiff at the moment which worries me as it makes the knees less mobile and knees you must be so careful with. I talked to Louise about it and she says its common when practising Ashtanga as there are so many forward bends/Vinyasas etc. The trick is to keep going but work around the stiffness. So this week I'm skipping standing half lotus and utkatasana. However I can feel that in some ways I'm a lot more mobile now. When you practice a lot you find that stiffness or blockages in your body mind and energy tend to move around and change which is interesting. As long as they don't linger in the same place you're safe. My backbends are feeling good too. Also to maintain mental focus throughout the practice if I find my mind wandering I stop and take a deep breath to visualize whatever thought I'm having whether its pleasant or painful as being outside of myself and leaving. I try not to think beyond what I'm doing and the breath. And I can feel its improving though I've got a long long way to go my mind isn't quite as jumpy. And I feel less edgy generally.
Afterwards I go to the Arora Clinic for an oil massage followed by a dose of ghee and some khichri with a lot of spinach for iron. Every other day theres shirodhara too which is bliss and steam baths which are great for the joints. Afterwards I chill out and read for a while. Some evenings I go to the Sivananda Yoga class with Sandra. Its a beautiful class and challenging- straight from Sun Salutations into headstand for starters. The pranayama parts amazing though and today when I closed my eyes there was a big purple eye gazing into mine. Then we go into town for dinner- as Rihikesh is such a Yoga centre its easy to get detox food so I have a load of veg and lentils with chapatis or idli or something.
This evening we went to Laxmanjhula for food and got talking to a really nice bunch of Germans. Which was good because the one issue I have with Rishikesh is that theres no 'centre' in a way. People on the whole are quite insular and you see a lot of people eating alone. Maybe they're on deliberate solitary pilgrimages but still...Its a bit like that at Swiss Cottage too. And I would like to meet more people before I go so I may take a room closer to the river where its a bit more lively. Maybe its partly to do with the fact that its a holy city and alcohol is banned and -like in Mysore all the good little Yoga students are tucked up in bed by 9... Anyway I'm a mite bored and need some entertainment apart from Yoga and reading about Yoga and detoxing. Its Holi on Saturday so I'm going to head to Haridwar with Sandra and witness drunken debauchery!!! I want to dance a bit.
Still haven't been to Soma's ashram but hope to manage it soon. Its funny to have so much to do as I thought I'd be more lazy here.
I got a rickshaw down into Rishikesh the other day. Apart from Ramjhula and Laxmanjhula its a pretty grim town and very dirty. Although I love it here so much I'm actually looking forward to returning to the UK as it takes a lot of energy being here on your own and having to negotiate everything. And I was in a bad mood the other day and made a list of things I don't like in India;
1) The toilets. What is the problem with using disinfectant? People are so fastidious about personal hygiene here I don't understand why toilets get neglected. And sometimes you have to pay for a trip to a vile hole in the ground. Urgh.
2) The way hardly any restaurants have toilets
3) The way every rickshaw driver tries to overcharge insultingly. And they repeat where you want to go to you a couple of times so you think they know the way, then drive off in the wrong direction, ignoring you, until they can flag down a passer by who speaks good English to act as interpreter. Then more often than not will try and double the price for THEIR inconvenience. Once in Trimbak I had to resort to pointing to the big white Om carved in the hillside and shouting "OM!!! Just head for the Om! The Om!"
4) The bureaucracy- it seems like you have to give your age, occupation, educational qualifications, passport number, inside leg measurement and fine details of your astrology chart etc etc just to use an internet cafe
5) No one ever has change. I swear people eat 10 rupee notes. So much time is spent waiting for change.
6) The flies. They can be relentless.
7) The rubbish. You go out to a temple, a waterfall or beautiful hillside and theres crap, plastic bottles etc, dumped everywhere.
Yes, I was in a bit of a bad mood. Theres more things I love about India obviously- the way people dress, the spiritual dimension in the everyday, the food obviously, cheikku fruit which are divine, Ayurveda, the respect for education, the lack of airhead chavvy footballers wives types. Celebrities here seem to have their heads screwed on.
Also, a speciality of Rishikesh is the amount of amazing Ayurvedic pharmacies- you can buy a box of organic spirulina for a quarter of the price of at home. And I've got into this orange face massage cream thats amazing, completely natural ingredients and about 150 rupees. I got talking to one of the men who owns a big shop in Ramjhula and he was saying that vata overbalances are the most common in Westerners. He's visited the UK and reckons its because of 2 main things. He said people treat their relationships like toys, getting bored and walking away if they're not pretty and perfect and thus end up with an 'emptiness'. And the other thing was lack of fresh food, eating things like plastic wrapped sandwiches and not getting real nutrition. Sandra and I spent a happy hour talking with him and getting all these herbs explained to us. I got a supplement for vata overbalances, and maybe its psychosomatic, but I'm feeling pretty good and relaxed, as I said before, more focussed. As I'm quite achey now, I think I'm going to take the next two days off asana practice and give the body a break... Just some reading, meditation and Holi celebrations, should be good for photos...