Last year I was asked to teach yoga to a small class of students in the Casa de los Angeles in Jerez de la Frontera. A few people knew that I have been a student of Iyengar yoga for a long time – 32 years to be precise and thought that would qualify me to teach. Well it probably does on a number of counts. I did complete 2 years of teacher training 25 years ago and have spent a month in Pune at the Ramanani Memorial Iyengar Yoga Institute. It was quite an experience – but deepened my practise rather than qualifying me to teach. I didn’t take the exam for a number of reasons. One was pressure from my consultancy work – as the major bread winner I could not afford to take time out to get teaching practise. Second was a lack of confidence in my ability. I am very stiff and not very ‘good’ at the poses. Some of my teachers since have said that gives me an extra ability to understand pupils problems and that is quite likely true. I do not present the perfect postures when demonstrating in front of a class.
However it means that I am not insured since I have to have a recognised qualification to get professional indemity insurance. I have also been asked to take classes in a couple of flamenco studios but need the insurance to do this. So after experiencing yoga classes with Jane Nayar, a Vinyasa trained yoga teacher, at the Nutritional Healing Detox retreats (see previous posts) she suggested that I attended an intensive 200 hour one month yoga teacher training course. I looked at this and signed up to the Vinyasa School in Rishikesh – called the capital of yoga. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas about 7 hours drive from New Delhi and where the Beatles had their Ashram where they wrote the White Album.
So after a postponement here I am. Half way through the course and just about to face a Yoga Philosophy test tomorrow and an Anatomy and Physiology test on Saturday. I have had to grapple with the Sanskrit Yoga Sutras of Patanjili and 4 hours of yoga practise a day. To be frank I found the process totally overwhelming and considering that one of the things that happens in yoga is opening up and release of emotional blockages I have ended up in floods of tears in yoga classes a couple of times. I am taking the opportunity to have major massages to loosen up my shoulders and hips and am truly getting stronger and have more stamina day by day.
Yoga seems to go well with flamenco. Some of flamenco’s roots originate from Katak dancing brought from Northern India by the forefathers of the people who were to become the gypsies in Spain. Like flamenco they stamp their feet but unlike flamenco in bare feet. The arm movements are reminiscent of the intricate arms in flamenco. Other than that there is no resemblance. However the yoga movements really help to ‘unwind’ a lot of the knots and tension brought about in flamenco classes. My flamenco teacher in London is also very keen on yoga.
However this has been a very tough course so far and I hope I get through it and pass. It is not a foregone conclusion.
Oh yes and the food. I get a bit fed up of white rice, chapatti, a lentil sauce and vegetable curry of some sort for three meals a day. I missed Indian food whilst in Jerez and made my own sauces since I wasn’t able to buy any (I have since found a source in Carrefour, however I still prefer my own). My home made chutney is amazing with my homemade curry.
I have been struck at how rich India is in wonderful fruit and vegetables as well as the ubiquitous rice. The little stalls up the road will do fresh juices for you and they are delicious – no blitzing in a Bullet there, and there is a huge range of fruit and vegetables. For two weeks now I have had no alcohol and no meat. Rishikesh is a dry town and everyone is vegetarian or even Vegan – so different from Spain.
However one thing I have found or rather renewed is my interest in Ayurvedic medicine. A little store round the corner sells their own homemade nut butters – peanut butter, cashew nut butter and more. Also a wide range of health foods, protein bars and dried fruit. It is a health foodie’s heaven. Today I was introduced to a seed or rather fruit used in Ayurvedic Indian traditional medicine – Ajwain – which is used to treat stomach complaints, but can also help with migraines, and heart conditions. Yesterday I discovered Sea Buckthorn, a Himalayan berry which has extremely high Vitamin C content and can boost the immune system. I also found Date Cider Vinegar which helps with stamina and energy and I need some of that. I feel like a kid in a toy shop. Tomorrow and Saturday we have 2 lectures in Ayurveda which I am looking forward to.