I am loving India.
Yes, there have been challenging moments, and a point at which I wanted to leave for an escape retreat high in the mountains and not see the hard parts of travel in India.
But I’m past that. So past it.
Yesterday began with an incredible, ecstatic Kundalini Yoga class taught by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, a revered Los Angeles teacher who learned directly from Yogi Bhajan. She sat on the stage under the Ghat beside the Ganges, in her signature cascading white turban, and instructed us to shake for 24 minutes at the beginning of class.
Shake like you did when you were 3 years old and your mother told you to sit still, she said.
“Shake it all off. When you lose your way, lay down on the grass and look up at the sky. It has all the answers. When was the last time you did that?”
It may sound strange, and perhaps it is, but I have to tell you that when I finished that two-hour class yesterday, the sounds of the holy river rushing past and the cool mountain air swirling around me, I was over the moon happy. I was happy like I’ve never been happy. No worries. No concerns. No anxieties. No anger. Just bliss.
And that, my friends, is the effect of yoga.
If you don’t get there, it’s because you haven’t immersed completely. It’s because you’re still clinging to the familiar, which is often the harder path. It’s because we get led astray by the trappings of modern life – our comforts and our belongings and all the illusions that we think make us happy.
But think how happy a new purchase or a new relationship or a new job really makes us.
It’s all fleeting. It doesn’t last because it doesn’t penetrate the heart. Because we aren’t leading with the heart.
When the heart leads the way, truth prevails. And that’s where you get truly happy.
So I danced around this open-air room with a bunch of strangers and I felt the freedom of childhood. I felt liberated from all the worries and woes of adult contemporary life. I felt on top of the world.
Of course, I sort of am, literally, on the top of the world. In the foothills of the verdant Himalayas. Away from have-tos and to-dos. The wifi doesn’t even work half the time – so what!
“Go back to your heart, to your true calling, to your destiny,” Gurmukh said.
Do you know what we did at the end of the yoga class? We played patty-cake. She didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. Clapping our own hands and then clapping the open palms of three people sitting in a circle of four around us. For like seven minutes.
We sang Hallelujah for perhaps 22 minutes. And she said, “Really sing!”
What I heard: “Releasing.”
Because that’s what yoga does for us. Releases us from the bonds that keep us from reaching our souls.
Go ahead. Let go. Do what you always wanted to. Give it a try. Let loose from the chains of expectation. Be who you were meant to be.
I am. And it feels pretty damn great.