I have been practicing yoga and meditation since childhood, however my first official yoga teacher was Renee Taylor. Renee had cancer in the 1960’s and went to Rishikesh India and was cured with yoga, meditation, vegetarian diet and ayurveda. She came back to the US and wrote books and made videos, When I met her I was in my early 20’s and she was in her 90’s teaching from on top ofa desk in Torrance Ca. Little did I know that over 15 years later, I would call Rishikesh my second home.
The first time I went to India was early in 2008, a part of me did not even want to go but somehow I knew I NEEDED to go. After all. how could I really be a yoga teacher without visiting the Motherland ? After a very uncomfortable 23 hour plane ride ( rides ) I arrived in Delhi to learn we had another 6 hour car ride to Rishikesh. SURRENDER quickly washed over me.
Our initial trip was 5 person, most of whom were YogaFit Trainers. We stayed in a very low key hotel on the banks of the Ganges,: meditating in caves, hiking in the Himalayas attending Puja ceremonies and visiting ashrams and temples. We laughed and sang our way through 10 hour train rides as we excursioned to Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and Varnasi.
One member of our group came with a host of expectations and judgements, I watched literally watched her trip disintergrate before my eyes.
The essence of YogaFit became even more meaningful to me on that trip- - Let go of judgement, expectation and competition, Listen your your body, breathe, feel and be present in the moment.
On subsequent trips we brought back large groups of YogaFit students and friends, many trainers brought their childrenWe had the blessing of watching people breakdown and breakthrough, experiencing transformation and life shifts as a result.
India, Rishikesh in particular is a place that feels like home to me.
This is my fourth trip to India and I wonder why I waited five years to return. As much as I love it, it pushes every one of my buttons. Testing my patience, my resolve and my practice.
I am a type A New Yorker with ADD and OCD- despite a yoga practice since childhood, along with a baseline oasis of peace and calm.
For me maintaining a spiritual practice means living in the real world and floating above the ethers simultaneoulsy. NYC and India in many ways are completely opposite, and yet the same.
They each pull out whatever is inside, assault your senses and leave one feeling connected to an energy that is so big, bright and bold that you cannot help but squint into the sun and shine it back.