Yoga Teacher Training – Shri Kali Ashram, (Goa, India)

March 2016

It was day damn one, we had broken off into groups for a discussion and I was just aching for Ian (one of the instructors/teachers at Shri Kali Ashram) to call it for the morning and send us to lunch. When he did, I got up quietly and scurried to the bathroom…and had one of the biggest cries I’ve ever had in my life.Β 

Have you ever cried so hard you couldn’t make noise? The kind that hurt? Yeah…it was one of those cries. Rewinding to the actual group discussion, no one was ever forced to speak if they didn’t want to, some listened, some spoke, and some poured out everything they had built up for years. The topic of discussion that day: How do the things that happen/our experiences in our earlier years, shape us into who we are now? (I am paraphrasing) And that ultimately meant bringing up things that happened in your past, and whether you wanted to voice it or not, you were still contemplating things. That was the whole point. For a lot of us (and by ‘us’ I mean humanity), there are things that happen to us, in life, that we just don’t want to talk about, plain and simple. And that’s okay, we’re all different. Some wear their beautiful, big hearts on their sleeves, and some will just bottle it all up. So when you attempt to be vulnerable about it, of course there are many inevitable emotions that are going to come up, as they did for me. And I just really needed to cry it out. I was sitting there bawling and thinking to myself “Why am I even crying this hard? Where is this coming from?..” Within. It was almost like an out of body experience, in a way. I was practically watching myself just cry and release a bunch of frustration and anger that I had withheld for things that happened and really affected me. Pain is still pain, hurt is still hurt, no matter how much you try to suppress it. So don’t…ever. That’s what I learned that day. That it is 100% necessary to express in a wholesome way, whatever that means for you. Do so to channel that frustration out of your being, it does not serve you.Β 

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Although I was overwhelmed, I knew I was still just processing certain things, including the stories the other yogis shared about their past experiences. I laughed to myself and thought “Hm, this is the stuff they don’t tell you to expect in teacher training”.

I wanted to catch the sunset on the beach and just…be.Β So we went, and were joined by the pack of dogs that camped out and guarded the building we stayed in. We stayed in a shared house just a short walk from the Ashram itself, but the beach was just behind the house which was just…pure bliss. I suppose the dogs were technically strays, but were fed so that they were cared for and would want to guard the house from intruders…or worse leopards (that’s just the truth in India). The downside to being a dog lover in India was that unless a dog was actually taken care of (meaning bathed regularly), that dog had fleas, indefinitely. Being close to the dogs meant you got bitten by those fleas. Torture, right?! I sat in the sand surrounded by sweet little flea bags, and a gorgeously warm, Goan sunset…and allowed myself to just BE. I allowed myself to absorb all that happened during training, and was still coping with a little homesickness and just general culture shock. It’s very much a real thing. And so is reverse-culture shock, but that’s a discussion for another time. I had finally found the term to explain what I was feeling, because it was so unfamiliar…and I embraced it.

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Β Then it all became a question of being too comfortable and complacent in life. There it was…a thought that changed my perception on travel, because the way you travel should be the exact same way you are in life. Fearless. Exciting. Daring, even. There’s always more to see and do in life, and where ever you are in life, do more! Do something spectacular and of value, and I promise you, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. You are in charge of what happens, you create the possibilities. You have the power to do whatever you want to do in life. Another simple yet brilliant concept we learned in teacher training. My time at Shri Kali Ashram was some of the most testing yet wonderful, and insightful times I’ve ever had, and I miss it so much. I miss walking over to the small restaurant by the beach for lunch, it was called The Blue Whale. They caught fresh fish and crab, daily on their boat, and my favorite thing to eat was the Goan style fried fish and chips (french fries). You got to pick your own fish, they brought their catch out to show you what you had to choose from. Goan style fried fish meant that it was breaded in Rava, or semolina, mixed with all the wonderful, fragrant Indian spices we all know and love. The fish was crispy, yet juicy and light. It was heaven. I once got to choose a delicious, succulent crab that took up most of my plate and was then simmered with garlic, herbs and spices. Those were the meals I had before our 3 hour afternoon asana practice.Β 

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What saddens me, is that that area was under constant construction, as they were building a brand new highway through the Ashram location. Imagine trying to meditate into your postures with a dump truck rattling around, constantly! I will miss that location but luckily the new one is only a couple kilometers away, and is still by the beach, so who’s to complain? I cant wait to see it, hopefully within the next few years! How about you?! For yogis of all levels, would you stay at an Ashram in India?! Doesn’t have to be for teacher training, they do retreats also! And if you aren’t a yogi, would you ever try it out?? Send me your thoughts!

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