“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energies are contagious” ~ Rachel Wolchin.
Never have there been truer words spoken. And never have I felt more connected to this sentence as I do in this moment, having spent the past weeks sharing space and practicing alongside some of the most sparkly humans on the planet.
It was by a greater, unseen force in which each of us were guided on our yoga journey to Rishikesh, India; the birthplace of all things spiritual. Rishikul Yogashala was to celebrate International Yoga Day in June by graciously offering thirty 300-hour YTT scholarships to past students, myself being one of the fortunate recipients. But in all honestly, it was not just the gift of bursary that led me to finally take the plunge and book the ticket to a country I have always dreamt about visiting; it stemmed from something deeper. A seed that had been planted almost a year before on my 200-hour course with Rishikul in Pokhara, Nepal when I felt the all-encompassing power of what a ‘yoga family’ truly means and how impactful these relationships could be in the shaping of my future.
I suppose that, in part, the sheer quantity of time spent together (fifteen hour training days, six days a week) lends itself to the development of such strong bonds. But then again, I spent years working full day shifts at a dental office back in Canada and never felt ties of this magnitude with my coworkers. This yoga family is something more than small talk and light-hearted staff room jokes; it’s a group that has collectively endured and triumphed together. Lead by our Gurus on a never ending journey.
There is no denying that a yoga teacher training is intense. It’s a full on immersion in yoga and something that no matter how hard one tries, just cannot be prepared for. Over the course of a month I sweated more than I have in my entire life, got so sick I thought I might die, pushed my physical body to the absolute limit and purged a whole host of nasty emotions in public. The only thing that was both easier and more difficult than going through all this, was enduring it alongside 26 strangers who were each fighting personal battles of their own.
In the first days we were merely superficial strangers, woven together by the common thread of yoga. But by the end of week one, an environment filled with so much authenticity and rawness had been created that individual veils of protection quickly dropped. As we processed the vast array of ‘stuff’ that crept up, space was created for others to do the same; and relationships began to sprout. It became so obvious as we lived together and shared our stories that, on this crazy journey called life, we are all one. That the beautiful, bright light we admire so much within another, also resides within ourself. Soon even I began to see the awe in myself as mirrored through the eyes of the special souls surrounding me. This was enhanced by our ‘parents’ the teaches who imparted their wisdom and the school staff who ensured our wellbeing in this extended family.
Throughout the course of the month-long training there were moments of both mental and physical exhaustion; we endured all the weariness together. There were a whole host of tummy adventures; which we laughed about afterwards; part of the package when coming to India. There were times of defeat; in which we festered the strength to encourage one another. There were intense body aches; in which we shared our essential oils and massage skills. And of course there was the inevitable heart pain; in which no words were spoken and silent hugs provided for as long as they were needed. As a collection of spirits, we defied everything we thought was impossible; proving that we are so much stronger than we thought we were.
So in the end, the 27 of us graduated from Rishikul with certificates to teach yoga. Now all having completed the ultimate 500 hours, to lead into our new careers with our new network of support around us. However, what we were so lovingly granted was the life-long membership to an authentic extended family; the priceless gift of love, support and inspiration.
“Every person who has ever come to you has come to receive a gift from you. In doing so, [he/she] gives you a gift. The gift of you experiencing and fulfilling Who You Are. When you see this simple truth, when you understand it, you see the greatest truth of all. . .
YOU HAVE BEEN SENT NOTHING BUT ANGELS” ~Neale Donald Walsch