I’ve been in Rishikesh for almost two weeks now, and having attended just one yoga class in the whole time I’ve been here, I feel a reflective blog post is due. Rishikesh is without doubt a very special place. It welcomes in yoga practitioners and soul seekers from all corners of the world, hosting more teacher training courses than you could begin to imagine within these hills that rise above the sacred River Ganges. Magnificent temples line the banks around the areas of Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, and another array of ashrams are scattered in the appropriately named Swarg Ashram.
In it’s raw beauty, the spiritual essence of this place is powerful. I’ve had a daily yoga practice for the past four years, but my meditation is only just starting to develop, which has been greatly supported by the whole atmosphere here. Though the streets are loud and crowded with tourists from India and beyond, slip away down a quiet side alley and you’ll find yourself on the water’s edge with the mountains rising above you and the noise dropping off behind. It’s here where I find myself resting peacefully in silence and alive with divine inspiration.
I haven’t been actively searching out yoga classes in Rishikesh, partly because finding the few that work for me would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Undoubtedly, there are many great yoga teachers here, but I’m only around for a short time and what I’ve come to realise is that actually finding a teacher in India probably isn’t going to serve my practice all that well in the long run. When I came out here, I thought I might find someone who I would continue to practice with for years to come, but after two months of intensive study with a handful of inspiring teachers, what I feel I need now is to digest everything I have learned so far as I continue my own practice in pursuit of an ever more intimate awareness and connection with my own being.
Initially, finding a teacher who can truly guide your enquiry in yoga might prove difficult, but there is one person who you can always learn from, and that’s yourself. The yogic lifestyle is important because it cultivates a healthy body and mind through which we can work towards a higher state of positive being, but no one call tell you exactly what you need to do to realise it. You see, no one knows you better than you know yourself, and yoga is but a journey of self discovery. Every individual and their journey is unique and we all have different paths to take, but if we create space in our lives to sit silently for a while, we create space to observe where we are on the road, from where it began and to where it leads.
The clues to guide us on our journey are always there, suspended in the mind and body oceans which encompass our existence. A yoga teacher can provide a ship for your adventure and teach you how to sail, but it is the wisdom of the soul within that will reveal these lessons to us at the right point along the way. We must simply be present and still where we are to see them as the ship passes through.