Ten Things I Love About Rishikesh

Rishikesh is a magical place. About 250 km north of Delhi (or a 4 to 10 hour drive, depending on traffic and the road conditions), in the state of Uttarakhand, a cluster of small towns line the Ganges river at the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s a holy city, the cradle of yoga — yoga studios, ashrams, and meditation centres abound. It’s where the Beatles came in 1968, to explore their spirituality at the Maharishi Mahesh ashram. It smells of incense and cow shit. Children fly kites from the rooftops, men with carts full of vegetables push their wares through the streets, yelling at the top of their lungs. People dunk themselves in the icy river, giving Mother Ganga their troubles. The streets here are more like rivers: you never step in quite the same place twice…

the road to laxman jhula

the road to laxman jhula

 

Mother Ganga

Mother Ganga

yogis at the beatles' ashram

yogis at the beatles’ ashram

 

I’ve been here for five weeks now, doing a six-week yoga teacher training course. This post is dedicated to my fellow students: a truly inspiring, talented and incredible group of people. And especially to Amber, who co-wrote this poem with me.

I love starting each day with a Surya Namaskar/Salutation to the Sun (or forty).

I love that I’ve perfected the exact amount of time it takes to eat breakfast at school, go get a sneaky chai at the nearby cafe, and still be on time for morning lectures.

I love looking out of the window of the yoga studio while I’m in Warrior Two at the beautiful Himalaya mountains.

I love that the only traffic snarl I encounter on my morning commute to class is when the cows decide to plant themselves firmly in the way.

traffic jam

traffic jam

 

I love walking down the street and letting my senses be overwhelmed by all the colours and sounds and smells, especially the women in their gorgeous saris.

I love seeing the shopkeepers at their sewing machines each night. They remind me of spiders, taking apart their webs and building new ones.

spider spinning a new web

spider spinning a new web

 

I love vegetarian meatball night at school.

I love that when one of the girls had a mouse in her room, the staff went and got a feral cat.

I love that no asana class is complete without monkeys racing across the rooftop and peeking into the windows.

I love that fifty people came from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and histories, to walk the path of yoga together, and that we’ve all become like family.

I honour the light within you, because it is also within me

¬ Namaste

all you need is love

all you need is love

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