Courage to Change: India 2014

March 17, 2014
Katherine Austin Wooley


Before I knew, my long-awaited India yoga retreat was over. Thursday, March 13th came so quickly; it was already time to head back to the USA after our almost 3-week trip.  It was another warm, sunny morning as I taught our last yoga practice.

We meandered from the spa classroom downstairs to the beautiful dining room, surrounded by India's majestic Himalayas that seemed like a movie backdrop, to enjoy our last masala chai and Indian breakfast together.

And then there were five. Two of the seven students had departed a few days earlier due to demands from home. I felt the sadness of leaving Ma India yet all seemed ready to return home, too.  They had been through so many experiences beyond what they had ever expected, an incredible trip of a lifetime.

India is never what you think it might be.  She reveals many layers within us, like those that make up the seemingly endless layers of a sari elevating folded and hidden within.

I've taken groups before to this transformational land on the other side of the world.  Each time is dramatically

different.  India always calls to the souls that are ready to receive her polarities. She is spiritual, she is tough, she is beautiful, she is dirty, she is loving, she is harsh.  She is real.

It is always an honor and a joy to assist my students on this journey of a lifetime.  I hold the space for their transformation.  It is common to come to India with anxiety, fear, expectations, doubts, excitement and curiosity, among other emotions.  I remember my first visit.  I felt all of the above.

You plan for 8 months or more, you apply for your visa, get your shots (if you want), pack and pack, arrange all that needs to be arranged at home, say goodbye to loved ones and then the time comes to step on the first of 3 planes to begin your journey to the other side of the world.  No turning back.

I quickly learned as these students did too that you have to let go of control and immerse into this new land of the unknown or you will be quickly tested and asked to let go by her.  You're not in Kanasa anymore. Her name is India.

The travel, the environment, the culture, the EVERYTHING is the real yoga practice. India will bring up all your stuff just like yoga and meditation.  Whether you are ready to look at it or not is the asana.  I am so happy to allow everyone to flow through the sthira (hard) and sukkha (soft)  at their own pace and how they need to.  Allow them to feel it all, process and take care of themselves as needed.  I am the space holder.

Jet lag is challenging, navigating foreign food is tricky , and traveling in India is tiring.  I get it.  As Americans we are so set in our ways, we like our routines and being out of our comfort zones, well, is not easy.  But trust me, I see this everyday in the yoga room at home, too. We are masters at controlling and for sure, we don't like change.

So if your soul has a strong inner calling to travel to India, your soul is ready for a change.  Hold on.  It's going to be big, it's going to be fast and it's going to be amazing.

I sat back and watched as each student learned to flow with the energy, navigate the new culture and transform big time by the end.  Each in their own way, on their on time.  It was beautiful to witness. You never come home the same.

We traveled by planes, trains (oh the train!) and automobiles, walked with cows, played dodge the dung, ran from monkeys, walked the filthy streets and the sacred cool marble at the glistening Golden Temple, climbed magical waterfalls, studied yoga from master teachers, walked the same trails the Beatles did at Maharishi's ashram, fell in love with the locals, inhaled lots of garlic naan, visited an orphanage, sipped chai on the rooftop, whitewater-rafted the Ganges River, learned to ration toilet paper and also command the space (as Yogi Bhajan taught) when needed, remembered to switch on the hot water 15 min before you want to shower, meditated in a cave, shopped 'til we dropped and so much more.  We experienced it all.

Just like yoga, we came to India to reveal, heal, resolve and evolve and in the end, we wouldn't have had it any other way.  This is India.  This is the real yoga.



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