I am currently on week 2 at Rishikesh Yog Peeth in India. My life is currently made up of wearing pajamas all day, talking to cows, daily masala chai, being asked to take selfies with locals, and sitting on the ground for a really long time. Our schedules are consistent, but life in India isn’t. Here is what our week looks like, including all of the crazy things that we didn’t see coming. #onlyinIndia
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
6am- The bell rings! Time to start our day.
7am sharp- Our first 2 hour yoga class of the day begins. We have 3 yoga rooms and 3 teachers that rotate every 2 days. Our practice includes meditation, breathing exercises, strengthening and stretching, yoga poses, learning variations and adjustments, and doing partner work. Every teacher is different, but we love them all.
9am- It’s finally time for breakfast! I was a little scared the first couple of days that I wasn’t going to make it through 2 hours of yoga without eating, but it’s not bad. I’m definitely ready to eat by 9 though! Breakfast consists of fruit, porridge, and some type of pasta, rice, grain, bean, or vegetable. It’s really good food, but it’s pretty much the same every day. We also get hot lemon water after breakfast. Fun fact: The whole town of Rishikesh is vegetarian (and alcohol free), so even if I really wanted meat, I couldn’t have any.
10am- Philosophy class. This is my favorite class. Some topics of discussion have been “perfection in action,” understanding, brain waves, existence, and how yoga affects all of it. We are continually confused, but it gets us thinking!
11:30am- Anatomy class. Another great teacher and it is a beneficial class. We discuss yoga in relationship to the five layers of existence, and how yoga physically affects the different systems of our bodies.
2pm- Library and homework. We aren’t supervised during this time so we can technically do whatever we want, but we do have homework assignments! I usually hang out in my room and do homework, or if it’s a good day and I have money that is valid, I head to a cafe for a masala chai. (More on the money situation later).
3:30pm- Teaching methods class. 75% of the class is doing homework or reading a book or on Facebook during this class… we’re good students, I swear.
5pm- 2 hour yoga class again! The asana classes are my favorite part of the day. I learn so much and it’s really a lot of fun. It’s not rare for a monkey to walk by the window, too. That’s something I would never see at home!
7pm- Dinner time! Dinner is bean soup, some type of chunky soft food (I seriously don’t know what I’m eating half the time) like potatoes, eggplant, or okra, sometimes rice, and naan. For dessert, we have banana pudding, or noodles in sweet milk, or some type of rice pudding. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m eating, but it’s good. Every meal is followed by hot lemon water.
A couple of times, I have taken a Bollywood dance class with a few girls at a local dance studio after dinner. The classes are so much fun. The teacher is amazing and hilarious!!
9:30pm- The school doors are locked and everyone has to be back! I am usually exhausted and go straight to sleep. Or there are other nights like tonight when I drank a caffeinated tea before bed and can’t sleep. Blogging time!
Our one free day a week is really exciting. We probably would love to spend the day relaxing, but that isn’t an option! We’re in India and have exploring to do! We’ve only had one Sunday so far, and I watched the sunrise and then went on a hike to a waterfall. There is so much to do around here. Over the next few weeks, I hope to take a dip in the holy Ganga River, visit temples, go rafting, watch the sunset, maybe see more waterfalls, and of course go shopping.
Rishikesh is such a hectic city (or it’s probably just India in general that is hectic). It’s a fun hectic though. There are people everywhere, even early in the morning and late at night. You don’t walk by many people without them asking you to buy something. There are also so many beggars it’s heartbreaking. The children and disabled people are the ones who really get to me.
The Not So Typical Week Events
So this is what a week looks like… or I guess what it’s “supposed” to look like. But things don’t always go as planned, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
- When we arrived at school on the first day, we were told that we would receive a 10% discount if we shared a room with someone else in the program. I looked at the girl next to me, Sandra, who I had met earlier that day and asked if she wanted to share a room. We later found out that we would also be sharing the same bed! Luckily as I’ve gotten to know Sandra over the past couple weeks, I have seen what a great person she is. We get along so well. I didn’t expect to share a bed all month with someone I just met, but it saved me money and turned out to be a great thing!
- The next day, some more friends showed up at school after taking a long bus ride from Delhi. The bus they took crashed on the way, and launched one of them in the aisle. He had some battle scars, but they eventually made it to Rishikesh safely. The roads here are crazy: Example A.
- After the first few days of school, everyone got sick. I think there are more people that are sick than those that aren’t. Luckily I’ve been okay (knock on wood) but it’s such a bummer to see everyone feeling so sick.
- On my one free Sunday that I’ve been here, I wanted to go watch the sunrise. My friend, Zelimir and I woke up early on our day off to go to the river and take photos. Once we went downstairs, we discovered that they lock us in the school grounds! After all of the commitment it took to get up early on our day off, we weren’t turning back now! He boosted me up and we hopped the fence. It felt like we were being rebellious teenagers. Worth it.
- American election day was a big day. I really hate getting political, but it was a big deal. Especially when you are surrounded by people from so many different countries who are kindly judging America so hard for having Trump even as a candidate. We were all keeping up with the election between classes. Everyone was asking the few Americans what they thought about it and how people could even like Trump. As much as I hate to say this, it was embarrassing to watch Trump win, and us Americans were the face of crazy America.
- On that same day, the Indian Government just sprung it upon the world that their 500 and 1,000 rupee notes wouldn’t be valid anymore. Their reasoning was smart, you can look into it. A lot of us had thousands and thousands of rupees that we now had to go exchange at the bank in multiple trips because you could only exchange 4,000 a day. The ATMs were closed for 2 days and almost a week later, the line is still hours long. Sometimes you stand for hours and then the ATM breaks anyways. The whole country of India needing to go to the bank this week isn’t a fun time.
- I saved this one for the end because I don’t even know what to say. One day during our second yoga lesson of the day, a new yoga teacher walked in. We asked where our regular teacher, Manish, was. It was hard for the substitute teacher to speak. He told us that Manish was riding his motorcycle back from a wedding and was in an accident, and was now unconscious in a hospital far away. He assured us that he would be okay, and as sad as it was, class continued. The next morning, we found out that Manish didn’t make it. We were in shock. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Everything we would have wanted to do on a day off seemed meaningless. The next day, our program continued with almost no impact. It was uncomfortable. It wasn’t that everyone just forgot, it was just such a difficult thing to deal with, no one wanted to bring it up. Classes continued as usual, our substitute teacher became our permanent teacher, and life went on. But the tragedy was such a wake up call to the fact that horrible things can happen so quickly. It brought us all together. As sad as it is, I don’t think this was a rare event. There is no rhyme or reason to driving in India, and no one riding a motorcycle wears a helmet. The roads here are crazy: Example B.
So even though it’s been not so typical, my experience as Rishikesh Yog Peeth has been amazing. I love the city, the people, and the yoga classes. I can’t wait to see what other unexpected events come my way.