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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pilgrimage to India By Kim Stanley

When people find out I went to India, the next question I am most often asked is, “Why?” For a long time, the only answer I had was “I don’t know”.  I mean, I talk a good game when teaching about letting ‘our decisions come from love and not from fear’ but off my mat, fear usually keeps me far away from foreign lands supposedly fraught femicide, rampant malaria and squat toilets. Yet something about this trip seemed right. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he had traveled to other countries as a tourist but when he came to India, it was as a pilgrim. Something about this journey just felt right; almost familiar.  There was no goal, no agenda, no group, no tour. It just unfolded perfectly.
If I try to find words to convey this to people I fall short of describing how absolutely incredible it is that I went to a place where most women still wear sari’s. Tens of thousands of years have passed and the traditional dress is still thriving. Think about it, in the United States our clothing barely resembles anything worn a mere 200 years ago.  
How do you describe to someone the shade of weathered teal that brightens humble cinder block homes making them seem almost lush against the dusty orange earth?
How does someone explain the vibrant cloths used to make Rajasthani women’s head coverings or the look of genuine welcome in their rugged deeply tanned grins and toothy smiles?  
Can I ever find the adjectives to describe the festooned pilgrims that filled Rishikesh after walking hundreds of miles on foot to gather water from the grey brown Ganges and return it to their village shrine?
There is no way I could I possibly do verbal justice to the experience of practicing laughing yoga and becoming  utterly  hysterically with one good friend and 20 complete strangers all  laying on the cool marble floor of an Ashram basement while monsoon rains pounded away at the jungle outside.
 Will I ever communicate what an honor it was to be able to practice yoga with the most lovely 82 year old man who honed his gift directly through his guru BKS Iyengar? 
And how can I make clear the simple joy of kirtan surrounded by the luxe of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and what it was like to receive the humble langar served to me on a dented thali that had fed and comforted millions before me.

Fortunately, I get to revisit all of these little scenes over and over in my mind. When I have a moment to reflect, maybe a brief second in savasana or when a word or smell fires up a memory,  I get to experience it all over again.  I do not have enough of a command of written language to tell you everything that I saw and felt and smelled and heard. All I can do is to encourage you to see it yourself.  India may not be the place where you become a pilgrim, but I believe that place does exist somewhere for everyone. Don’t let fear create the border of your pilgrimage. If you are questioning travel, trust your gut and go!  If you feel you need a reason, an answer to “why”, look to Mr. Twain who said it most eloquently; “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”   

After 11 years as a student, Kim finds the most beautiful thing about yoga is its adaptability to everyone.  No matter your age, physical ability or state of mind, you can take a class and find peace every single time; it is the only sure thing in this life.  Kim completed her 200 hour teaching certification from Pranayoga School of Yoga and Holistic health in 2013, and looks forward to continuing to learn about this amazing 5,000 year-old practice.  She has a B.S. in Organizational Leadership and lives in Fort Wayne with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kim HereTeaching: Yin Yoga, Hot Yoga, All Levels Yoga

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