Yoga has become global. At this point it’s hard to imagine a country where, at least in the bigger cities, there isn’t a Yoga studio or Sangha of some sort to be found. Still, Ma India, the birthplace of the practice, continues to draw practitioners to the source. That feeling of arriving, of coming home to a place that you’ve never been. That’s India, in all of its shimmery flood and flow of sensory impressions.
We’ve thought about what exactly this magic is and why India holds such a pull at the navel, such a primal draw for seekers, deep-divers and Yogis of all flavors. What makes practicing Yoga in India, at the source, so profound?
India refuses to let you push away the unpleasant, the ugly, the painful or the sad. All of this exists in breathless proximity with shocking beauty, brightness, fragrance and joy. It’s REAL. There’s no escaping the full spectrum of what the human experience has to offer, and so the practice also becomes more real. We are confronted with the ugly, complicated or painful facets within ourselves – on and off the mat – and begin to do the real work of looking, unflinching and with growing compassion, at our own junk and glory.
India has its own heartbeat. It exists like a living, breathing organism. A mashup of total chaos and perfect synchronicity. It may take a moment to acclimate, for your own heart to begin beating in time with Ma India, but when it does, magic happens. India presents moments of such perfect convergence, of uncanny serendipity – and that on a stage bursting with players that are hurtling through space with no discernible system or plan. It makes you believe.
Once you have synched up with the rhythm of this place, become part of that living and breathing and pulsing organism, a channel opens up—a channel that goes straight up, straight to the source of things. You might understand for tiny moments the connectedness that we are, what oneness is and that even without membranes to part us from each other, from the whole, we don’t have to be afraid. There is a benevolence in the chaos that is Indian street traffic, a benevolence that guides our journey across that busy street.
India is intense on the senses. The colors, smells, smiles, sounds and feel of the honey air cocoon you. And the food is amazing. Bright smells and tastes, richness, warmth and nourishment. The body begins to glow – burnished by the southern sun, salted by the sea and filled with spice and rice.
All of this makes for a stew that enchants, a love potion that keeps calling you back once you’ve tasted its goodness.
We’re feeling the calling again and can’t wait for a week under the golden Goan sun on the magical Love Yourself women’s retreat guided by Jo and Claudia, this February.
Photos: Sanjin Kastelan