As my first blog post on my official website, I wanted to share something I had written about India, but had not yet published. This is really just a high-level overview of the logistics about the month I spent in India
The physical travel to Sattva was very long and draining. I had 3 flight legs: Chicago --> Frankfurt --> Delhi --> Dehradun (20 km distance from Rishikesh). The first two legs of the flight went very smoothly, no issues, and I highly recommend Lufthansa Airlines. Amazing planes, staff, food….everything was really great. Landing in Delhi is where things started to get hairy, and this is after about 28 hours of physical travel, plus a 10.5 hour time jump forward. My flight arrived at 2am and it took about 90 minutes to get off the plane, retrieve my bag from baggage claim, and get through customs (the majority of the time was spent waiting for my bag in a sea of people). Then, I realized that I had to switch terminals, after asking not one, but three security guards where I needed to go for my next flight. The domestic terminal is 5 km from the international terminal, so I either had to take a shuttle or a grab a taxi. I was told to go to a specific shuttle lane outside, and when I did and the shuttle arrived, it was a mass of people attempting to get on. Once I was on, I was asked for my ticket, but no one had told me to get a ticket. Then he asked me for 20 rupees, but all the ATM had given me were huge bills (lots of 200/500 rupee bills. 70 rupees is one American dollar). While the attendant looked annoyed, he let it slide. Domestic terminal in Delhi was lit at 4am. The line for my domestic check in was long, and my bag had to be weighed and I had to get in a different line to pay for my excess baggage. I paid about 2000 rupees the first round, and about 6000 (ouch) the second round. Lots of excess fees and transfers and check-ins, I’m not quite sure if I would fly domestically again. It would have been cheaper to take a taxi, a 6-7 hour drive, (if I could have split it, even better) or even a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh, but my first time there, I was looking for the easiest way to get from point A to point B, and cost wasn’t really an issue. Once I got my boarding pass, I connected with Kelsey, a Canadian who had been in Delhi a few days and was also heading to Sattva. I was so exhausted but at this point, so excited to speak to someone who was going to be sharing the same experience. We were seated next to each other on the flight, so we were able to really start getting to know each other. Once we arrived in Dehradun, we shared a cab ride to Rishikesh which took about 90 minutes. My first impressions were what I expected: flashes of culture, poverty, run-down buildings, and gorgeous landscapes.
Once I arrived at Sattva, I checked in and then promptly slept for 4 hours. When I awoke, I explored the property and was really awestruck.
Sattva sits at the base of the Himalayas, about a 35 minute drive from city center of Laxman Jhula. There is a river behind the property which feeds into the main Ganga. The water was clear and clean and beautifully crisp in the morning, and then tepid towards mid-day when the temperature was at its highest. The property is full of lush plant life, flowers, and beautiful areas for sitting. Once I realized where I was, I felt as though I was arriving .
Kundalini Kriya Yoga
Sattva teaches the Himalayan Yog Vedantic lineage of yoga. I honestly had never even done a Kundalini class prior to attending my training. I chose Sattva purely for the transformational aspect of the teachings, and I wanted to go with a fresh mind, with no preconceived notions of Kundalini, so I didn’t even really do much research on that specific style. Sattva yoga classes are actually referred to as a “Journey” provided the make-up of the class meets a few key components. Journey is quite fitting, as this is exactly what happens. You experience peaks and valleys of energy rising, falling, heating, cooling, and even moving into a cosmic level. The experiences I had during journeys were deeply personal, transformative and healing. They involved clearing energy blockages, releasing past trauma, clearing self-limiting beliefs, and forming new pathways within the brain. Explaining my experiences in written form would completely take away from the magical healing that happened while I was there. There are no words. Transcendent, if I had to pick one word.
The immersion training was 21 days long, with 1 day off per week. An example of a daily schedule was as follows, however schedule was subject to change at any moment, including times/locations/class so we were instructed to keep a close eye on the white board at reception to make sure we knew where we were going next:
5-5:25am: Puja (morning ritual to cultivate a receptive state)
5:30-6am: Meditation (sat in a group, but meditation was not guided)
6am-7am: coffee/tea/reflection time. **Silent hours were 5am-10:30am**
7am-9am: morning Journey with Anandji
10:30a-1:30pm: Session 1 (ie: asana breakdown, kriya breakdown, pranayama breakdown, practice teach)
1:30-3:30pm: Lunch and afternoon break
3:30-5: Session 2 (ie: Wisdom talk with Anandji, Mantra/Mudra/Deity breakdown)
5-5:30p: evening break
5:30-7:30: Session 3 (ie: Evening journey or another type of class. Session 1/2/3 were not the same each time/day)
8:30-9:30pm: a possible session 4
The days were long, but the time went by extremely fast, really altering our perception of time, keeping us in sort of a ‘timeless’ state of mind.
The first half of the training for me personally was very physical, with the few first days being really full of asana – Morning journey, asana breakdown, and usually an evening journey. While being physically demanding, the morning journeys were also quite emotionally demanding, and everyone processes something at one point or another. The amazing thing about Sattva, is it’s just a very safe place to release and be as you are. No judgment.
The group was made up of 28 people (if I remember correctly) coming from all walks of life, and all ages. All unique individuals from all over the world, but forever connected. You become so close to these people, sharing intimate details of your life, your experiences, your desires…They become part of your dharmic family – people who are interested in supporting each other in their own personal evolutions. Not a day passes now, where I don’t speak to SOMEONE from Sattva. The sangha (community) is unlike anything I have ever had in my life. I am eternally grateful for each individual I encountered there and am thankful for the lessons I learned through the members of my training.
If I had to sum up what I ‘learned’ in 5 statements, this is what they would be:
Yoga is a way of life. It is a practice of self-realization and unification. There are guidelines, but it cannot be studied by an external party. Yoga can only be experienced.
Strong will, strong life. Strengthen your will, and you will see changes in your life.
We are not our stories, and we do not have to identify with them.
The only constant is change.
Everything in your life, is there because you are allowing it.
In summary, Sattva was absolutely everything I needed, whether I was conscious of those specific needs or not. I shed so many toxic thought patterns, and even shed physical weight right along with it. Once the mind begins to let go, the body follows suit. My goal is to return in 2020, to continue training and learning and healing. Until then, I’ve got my daily sadhana (practice), laser like focus, and finally, a sense of joy and love in my heart.