Given the privations that I had been led to expect on the 4-week Yoga Teacher Training Course, I decided to revert to type for my last 24 hours of freedom before re-entering the Ashram last Sunday – I sank a few Kingfisher Beers with friends in a restaurant by the beach on my last night, and soaked it up in the morning with coffee and a fry-up. Granted the Kingfishers came wrapped in newspaper and served in mugs (alcohol licenses are expensive in Kerala), the coffee had a (tasty) silt texture, and the fry-up was Indian and Vegetarian (Puri Masala), but the sentiment was there.
On the first evening, as the 175 course attendees assembled in the Shiva Hall, we were issued with uniforms (yes, uniforms) of bright yellow t-shirts and white yoga trousers, many of which were amusingly ill-fitting.
As part of the “initiation” ceremony, each attendee trooped up to the stage to say why they had come in the course. With the nature of this Ashram, I was aware that there would be some people here with a more spiritual intention than others, but I was slightly taken aback by the numbers that said they had some to “deepen their spiritual practice”, “find my spiritual path”, “learn to love myself and others”.
I was mightily relieved therefore to see that I was near the end of the line for taking to the stage, and even more relieved when the increasingly serious mood was broken when a Japanese man took to the stage. He spoke a few short words in Japanese, and before the translator (more on that later) could do her job, the 20-strong Japanese contingent were collapsed in laughter.
The translater enlightened us. “He says that he is please to be here, but right now he needs a bigger t-shirt!” Beautifully put. He looked like a 20-stone prop in a scrum-half’s jersey. (Rugby analogy for the international readers). When my turn came, I told them I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about, and curious about how long I could cross my legs for.
I am surviving. There are enough yoga experts to learn from as I try to hide the fact that the headstand is not my natural forte. I am also trying to avoid the mistake I made on the third morning, of sitting slap bang in the middle of the Japanese, Iranian, and Malayalam (from Kerala) groups and their respective translators. Combine that with the heavily accented English of our teacher from Delhi, and it gets seriously confusing. The towers of Babel have nothing on Sivananda ashram with those four in full flow.
The course is fascinating in a thousand different ways, but overall comments can wait till I’ve completed it and had time to reflect/recover at the end of this month. I get another day off next Sunday, and will post again then.