It's a little overdue, but here’s a rundown of my one-month rigorous Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course in the land of curry and spices (India):
Being the only non-Indian on the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Chennai, the lone Chinese in Chennai airport and the only Malaysian in the ashram (monastery), life was certainly rough. We had to wake up at 530am, and it was all meditation, asanas, pranayama lectures and karma yoga until 930pm. Daily. Except for Fridays, which were our days off.
I'm so madly in love with Indian vegetarian food. I actually came to a stage where I couldn’t picture eating meat anymore. The mere thought of consuming animal protein made me want to puke
I'm very proud to say this: from the numerous beaches I have visited in Thailand, UK, Australia, Bali, Europe and India, Malaysia still has one of the finest and most swim-able beaches. But then... if only our beaches were better maintained and managed
More on our daily TTC schedule: we all had to wear yoga attires that were provided by Sivananda, and this meant no skimpy and tight spaghetti tops and butt-hugging yoga pants. It’s a monastery, bear this in mind. We had a fixed daily schedule, and performed the same things at the same hour EVERY SINGLE DAY - with attendance taken. This included cleaning toilets and 2 sessions (6am and 8pm) of worshiping Hindu Gods and gurus - not unlike a church service - and chanting and singing the same songs in Sanskrit
I don't know if it's the detoxification effects of my vegetarian diet and the 4 hours of yoga per day. I have NEVER had so many facial breakouts in my entire life and it freaked me out!
I think it was my good karma to have met a few really lovely fellow students to help me pull through the tough regimen in Sivananda
The grossest thing about cleaning toilets is NOT the toilet bowl itself. You see, in India, toilet papers are NOT to be disposed into the toilet bowl but into bins provided. And I had to clean the bins daily. Other people's bins. Imagine what I had to see and smell and endure
The TTC course itself was not terribly tough. The unforgiving part was on one’s emotions - loneliness, closed community, no freedom, deprivation of everything including entertainment and social life, and not enough food (only 2 meals daily @ 10am and 6pm). I would have gone cuckoo if not for my faithful Ipod
The funny thing is despite all these, I think I found spiritual bliss. I woke up from my sleep laughing and smiling on a few nights while in the monastery. I didn’t remember any of the dreams though. This has never happened before. It's just so strange. And amazing.
And of course, I did learn a lot more about yoga. That was the ultimate objective.