Om Namah Shivaya – “I bow to Shiva. Shiva whom is the consciousness that dwells in all, to the supreme reality, the inner true self.”
As the old saying goes; “All good things must come to an end”.
But as I wave good bye to the past alluring month of my life in Rishikesh, I can’t help but to feel already a little nostalgia for my time here.
They say it’s the journey not the destination, that it’s the people that make a place so special, not the actual place itself, though of course it works it’s magic too… And whilst the journey has been enjoyable, and the people, especially in this past month, have been equisite, I believe that what made my month here in Rishikesh so wonderfully wholesome, homely, and therapeutic, was the yoga.
It’s true that I’m a sucker for mountains, throw in a cafe with soy lattes (a most extravagant luxury in India), a couple of awesome Canadians, Americans and Frenchies, mixed with the mountain air, a gushing river, and satisfying yoga, and well… You have a very happy Natalie that will plant her bag firmly on the ground and state each coming Sunday, “Oh we’ll leave next week”.
“Next week” has finally come, and as the three month post in India trickles up slowly, we say goodbye for now not only to Rishikesh but to all of India, and hello to the Himalayan mountains in a neighbouring country.
My first day in Rishikesh I walked through Laxman Jula with wide eyes. To my left and right, stacked up, one after the other, were signs for yoga classes with doors leading to yoga studios. After searching in India for 2 months for the perfect class (and not succeeding), I was baffled by my choices.
How would I ever pick a class? At which studio would I find a teacher I resonated with? It would take me weeks to try out each and every single yoga class to find one I liked and then continued practicing with. I only had about a week, maybe 2 in Rishikesh (ha yeah right).
I walked straight through the, then bustling, somewhat overwhelming Laxman Jula, straight to the waters edge to immerse myself in water. I came across a small beach where backpackers were playing instruments and making macrame. I saw a familiar face, a guy I had met in Varkala, my first week in India. I screeched his name and he came running out of the water with a cheerful grin. He had been in Rishikesh almost two weeks and was leaving the next day. He asked me if I wanted to do any yoga whilst here, my eyes lit up and a huge “YES!” Escaped my mouth, followed by multiple questions of the studios in the town.
“Oh I know of the perfect place”, he said as if he knew of the overwhelming feeling of finding the right class. “Om Shanti Om.”
As he said the words it was as if the Yogi queen from up above reached down and placed a ray of light upon my head.
“Om Shanti Om?” I said. “I think I walked past that place on the way here… What’s so great about it?”
He told me of the teachers magnificent presence, of the vibrant energy performed by him and all of whom ever take the class.
“And the best part! If you buy 10 classes on the spot, you pay 150 Rupees for each.”
Trust me… THAT, is a very good deal.
I wasted no time at all. I found out his morning Hatha class was at 8am, his afternoon Hatha Vinyasa flow at 5pm. I looked at the time; I had an hour to get back to my guest house after a swim, get my yoga gear on, and head to Om Shanti Om.
Skip to 7pm that night, I have finished the class, jumped into the Ganga fully clothed, and come back to my guest house grinning from ear to ear. My boyfriend looks at me, he is sceptical… After 2 months in India of various classes that have mostly left me disappointed, he is unsure of what my reaction will be to the yoga class I have just partaken in.
As I start to babble on about how good it feels to jump in the river after a yoga class fully clothed, he slows me down and asks me about the actual class, awaiting an answer he knew all to well. Disappointment.
Of course, I loved the class, the teacher, the other people taking it and as I start to ramble on even more about how amazing it was, my boyfriends fears of dealing with me dis-liking another class fades away and my excitement becomes his.
Finally, nestled between the brisk water of the Ganga we had found a yoga class to enjoy.
Om Shanti Om is run by a man named Dinesh. Dinesh can always be found near his studio, with a smile and willing to answer any questions you may have.
Unlike a lot of other teachers I have found in India; Dinesh is patient, calm, and would never force his students to push themselves further from what their bodies can maintain.
I know all teachers mean well, but before finding Om Shanti Om, I had witnessed some pretty terrifying things in yoga classes in India from supposed “professionals”.
Dinesh knows his yoga. He also seems to know how to cater to all levels of yoga students, whilst letting them know that they don’t have to be a super star. A most important and neccesary quality of a yoga teacher is to speak out and let students know that if they are feeling any pain, or if perhaps they are doing a pose that may strain a certain part of their body, they should pull back and let their bodies relax. There is no need to strain your body to try and keep up with the rest of the class.
Dinesh holds this quality, he really does care about his students, and you can see the love he has for yoga through his compassion and humour during his classes. Whilst Dinesh still pushes each individual student to sink further into each pose with only a joyful discomfort, he also will never allow anyone to go beyond their bodies capacity.
Another quality Dinesh possesses is his ability to make his students laugh whilst in his class. Because really…. Since when did yoga become such a serious thing! I understand the silence we succumb too at the beginning and end of classes, but what about during the class? It was so nice to have a teacher who could make his students break out in giggles as they are trying to hold their balance and keep their abdomens squeezed tight. I can’t tell you how many times over the past month Dinesh has had me trying so hard to keep my balance whilst I giggle uncontrollably. It’s a thing of beauty.
Since being in India I have researched extensively for YTT’s (Yoga teacher trainings). All of the research I did online was so impersonal to what I was looking for. When finding a studio you love, if you are serious about doing a YTT, I advise you to take the leap and go with your gut.
I for instance, after researching and walking around Rishikesh looking at yoga centres that hold YTT’s, taking in friends advice of were they did their YTT, and almost pulling out my hair trying to decide which centre will benefit me the most, have decided that if I am to partake in the course, it will be with Om Shanti Om.
Don’t let friends or the Internet make up your mind of where and with whom you should do a YTT with, because it really is a super personal thing. It should cater to your individual preferences.
Another reason why Om Shanti Om’s YTT caught my eye and my own individual preferences, was the price range.
The 200hr YTT with this centre has been the cheapest I have come across. This makes me even happier as it adds to my belief that Dinesh, whilst still trying to make a living, is setting a reasonable price for those who share his passion. That is something you do not come across every day.
In our day and age, yoga has become a fad, a show, a way to gain status… I recently looked into a few YTT in Bali, and whilst I’m sure the teachers there are also incredible and of course, keeping in mind that YTT’s will always be cheaper in India than everywhere else, I just did not like the feel of their websites. Or the fact that if I chose to participate in a YTT in Bali, I would be saying goodbye to around 3 months of traveling due to the fact that, the money I could be using to survive off, would be going to a month long yoga course.
I understand we all need to earn money but when did we spike up the price to learn about our own bodies to 50 percent more?
But wait… I’m going off track. This post is about the love I found in Rishikesh. A love I knew I had, but perhaps had to be reminded off. My love for yoga, for life, and for myself.
The connection I have with yoga connects me to myself, and after 2 months of terrible classes I couldn’t help to feel maybe it was me. Maybe yoga wasn’t for me, despite my love for it, because I couldn’t find the right teachers or people to share it with.
I’m happy to say that Rishikesh gave me my love for yoga back, and maybe a bit for myself again, as well. Because at the point when I feel the most beautiful is after a yoga class, when my hair is messy and my palms are sweaty.
And Rishikesh has also let me share one of my great loves, with another great love, Zac. Who, whenever I would invite him to yoga in Australia, would wave it off and say “Next week darling”. Well… Next week is finally here, for the both of us. So we take a leap of faith and say goodbye to a place amongst the mountains that has helped us both grow, and await the next obstacle, the next yoga class that will make us feel as beautiful as we did the past month in Rishikesh.
- Single class-300 rupees
- 5 classes-1000 rupees (200 per class)
- 10 classes-1500 rupees (150 each class)