How I came to India

January 6, 2018 Yoga Mandala

One night I came home from our law firm´s Christmas party. I knew I will be leaving the job in a few months. It was never meant for me. I didn´t feel I quite fit into this environment. You work a lot, from 9am till late at night, sometimes till the next morning, sometimes weekends. You can have everything that money can buy. Even though I was still a fresh graduate from a university, I had a secretary, delivery boy that would bring us food to the office, so that we don´t have to stop working, a taxi driver to take us home late at night… I have never been impressed by the large international transactions involving more money than I could ever imagine, or by highly confidential information that the journalist would go crazy about. I found no interest in how much money the client saved or gained thanks to the firm.  

When I was finishing university, I got two offers which I liked very much: one in a small boutique law firm representing local artists with an advocate who was simply a nice inspirational person, or second in the biggest international law firm in the country… I had no money when I finished university and everyone around me was so mesmerised by the big law firm, and kept convincing me to take it, so I decided to try. It was meant to be, I think. Had I chosen the small law firm, maybe I would have been married, have kids (like majority of my friends at home) and worked as a lawyer. But that was not meant to be.

Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

That night, my friend called me on Skype. She told me she is fed up with her job and wants to leave it. We complained about our jobs to each other, then we thought – we are both going to be free, we have some savings, so let´s go on a nice holiday somewhere where it´s sunny (imagine we were talking at a cold night in winter). My friend suggested: “Let´s go to Bali!” I asked her: “And where is Bali?” She replied: “ I don´t know, but I have heard it´s very beautiful there.” So we agreed that we will go to Bali together, not knowing anything about it.

Bali (photo by Tobias Winkelmannn on Unsplash)

Later, when I found out where Bali was, I thought that since it´s this far away and I would have to fly across the whole Asia, why not to stop by for a month in Mysore, south India, for an ashtanga yoga practice at the world famous KPJAYI, the school from where ashtanga spread to the whole world. I would meet my friend in Bali. At that time, I was doing ashtanga yoga practice only for about three months. I did not know much about it, but I all I knew was that I loved it and that it came from Mysore. That was enough for me to know 🙂 So I started preparing for the journey.

This is Kino Mac Gregor, a world-famous very advanced yogaasana practicioner. She is demonstrating some asanas from the ashtanga yoga intermediate and advanced series. I found it fascinating and beautiful. When I saw her practising, I thought, I want to do this too 🙂 But don´t get scared, you don´t have to do this of course 🙂 Keep in mind that she has been doing this six days a week for about twenty years. 

In March 2014, I flew to India. I came right from the airport to the Nizamudin train station with the largest suitcase I could find. I waited there nearly the whole day for a train that would take me to Bangalore. The journey took about 35 hours (i.e. two nights and one full day) and crossed around 2,500 km. From Bangalore, I took the Shatabdi Express to Mysore. There my future good friend picked me up and took care of me the first weekend.

Train in India (photo by Jayakumar Ananthan on Unsplash)

Then I stayed in a rented room for a month while I practiced ashtanga with R. Saraswathi Jois, the daughter of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, then 73 years old. She first corrected all the mistakes I learnt when I was trying to teach myself from a cheat-sheet at home. I also discovered that there were mistakes in the cheat-sheet. Then she focused on me remembering the sequence properly together with some basic alignment, and then to be able to catch my hands in all marichyasanas. At the beginning, I couldn´t catch anything. At the end of the month, I was catching in all four of them. Painful experience, still remember that.

As I was already in Mysore, my friend told me that due to her personal reasons, she couldn´t come to Bali. However, I had already booked all my tickets. In the end, I decided to stay in India. I kept postponing the date of my departure that I ended up staying in India for four months (as per my flight ticket bookings). After Saraswathi, I went to learn from Pratima Giridhar at IndeaYoga.

In the meantime, I would travel the south of India with my Indian friend. Later, we would go to the north of India (Delhi-Jaipur-Amritsar-Shimla-Manali-Delhi). So instead of a tropical island, I ended up in the Himalayas. But that is another story 🙂

Rohtang Pass (on the way from Manali to Leh), the Himalayas

Since then I have been travelling to India every year, mainly to learn from my teacher Vinay Kumar. It kind of gets addictive 🙂 People say that once you come to India, you either love it or hate it. And if you fall in love with it, you just keep returning. Next journey was in 2015 for six months. Two and half months with Vinay Kumar and then Yoga Alliance teacher training both RYT 250 and 500 hours in two months with Bharat Shetty from IndeaYoga. Then some more travelling and back home. In 2016, I stopped by in Mysore only for a month with Vinay. It felt way too short, but better than nothing. And in 2017, I came first to travel the north (Rishikesh-Agra-Varanasi) and then came down to Mysore again. And that will be the topic of the next post 🙂

Our class in 2015 with Vinay Kumar, in front of the yoga shala