In the last lecture of my MA last year the lecturer asked: "How important is it to you to go to India? Is it an integral part of your yoga practice?" My one-dimensional mind said no. Yet on my return to India after 7 years every cell of my being answered with a resounding yes.
I have been going to India since I was 5 years old. When you are a child the barriers that separate us as adults are yet to appear, to be constructed by the wood, hammer and nails of our conditioning. Communication was open, I drifted into temples barefoot, played with local kids attracting nothing but an initial giggle, delighted at the tinkle of bells at dusk, the manic drum beats marking puja time. Now as a grown up that memory still lives strong and I was determined to take my own children before the skin grew leathery.
The funny thing for me is that I haven't done any yoga training per se in India. The sadhana I undertake on the mat is homegrown, I practice in isolation. As an introvert I am not one to elbow into a culture's intimate spiritual life, neither do I feel the need to worship particular deities. And yet in so many instances of daily life in India what I observe is yoga in action. The village mothers caring for their babies, expressing love without words. Traffic swerving the cattle that have equal right to the highway, words exchanged as though the conversation had no beginning or end, the impeccable care taken to wrap basic groceries.
There is a feeling of livity that, granted this is a generalisation, I feel is lacking in most of the western world. The divine is pulsating in the everyday, tragedy and comedy are the best of friends and I would like to return as often as possible, as often as Mother India will have me.
It has always made me cringe to express how I feel when I arrive in India, because there is so much desperation, suffering and visible strife how could I heave a romantic sigh letting the obvious inequalities dissolve into oblivion? It is the immediacy of it all that soothes my soul. The visibility of death, un-suppressed.