An Offering to Saraswati. Opening Ceremony, Rishikesh Yog Peeth 200 hr YTT
I drafted some notes last Friday about what I thought the first update on my teacher training at Rishikesh Yog Peeth would look like…a few humorous anecdotes, an unexpected twist with my registration, lots of intense yoga, and that story about the time a monkey almost attacked one of our teachers. And then it got real, and none of that mattered anymore.
The night after I wrote those notes I climbed into bed and noticed a slight pull at the back of my left knee. I didn’t think much of it, especially since I’d been feeling really strong in my practice, despite being a little sick all week. And then I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever, and in excruciating pain.
I could barely move my arms or sit up, both knees were extremely swollen, and walking wasn’t happening anytime soon. At one point, I somehow managed to lean over far enough to drag my trash can to the side of the bed so I could half-squat and pee. (Easily one of the most humbling moments of my life.)
I felt utterly helpless and terrified. For hours I drifted in and out of sleep, each time waking up in more pain. There was no walking down three flights of stairs to get help, and I wasn’t at the point yet that I would either yell for help or call my mom and freak her out. So I decided to wait it out until morning.
I prayed. I obsessed over every tropical disease or infection I could possibly have. I found some comfort in the fact that our anatomy lecture the day before had covered psychosomatic pain, so maybe, just maybe, it was all in my head. And then I cried. And cried, and cried. Somewhere amidst those tears I dropped into brief, incredible places of surrender. I was a little delirious by then, and I apologized to people I loved. I forgave people. I forgave myself.
The sun eventually rose, as it does even after the longest nights. Everyone here is up super early for practice, so it wasn’t long before I was able to hobble to my door and croak for help.
I was immediately and wonderfully fed and supported. I got to meet with staff and one of my teachers, and that afternoon, I gratefully accepted an intense, no-helmet (I don’t think anyone in Rishikesh owns a helmet) scooter ride to the hospital to figure out what was wrong with me.
Side note: an ER visit, blood work, and 4 prescriptions cost me around $25, and I saw a doctor almost immediately after walking in. The flip side to that? Sanitary conditions that would make any westerner balk. Still, I was too sick and exhausted to be anything but happy that I didn’t break the bank.
The amazingly good news was that blood work ruled out major things like dengue and typhoid, and that it was likely some minor bacterial or viral infection combined with exhaustion. No one could figure out why all my joints locked up for hours, so that part still remains a mystery.
Something in me died over the course of that awful night. Something dark and heavy, some old, stagnant energy that had met its time to move on. I’d been having nightmares before, and I still am, but there’s less of a negative charge around them now. Unprompted by me, one of our teachers randomly announced during class this week: “If you’re having nightmares, it’s good, and it means that the yoga is clearing out old stuck energies.”
I fully recovered from the illness after a round of meds and limping around for a few more days, but it’s still been somewhat up and down. Some days, I feel weak and tired, and on others, astoundingly sharp, lighthearted, and present. Interestingly, the other students started dropping like flies right after I did…fevers, indigestion of all kinds, lethargy, emotional upheaval…you name it. We’re loving that it’s ok to opt out of asana classes and observe or take notes if it gets too intense, and we’re learning the true meaning of, “be gentle with yourself.”
I’ve realized that the gift of this experience isn’t the certification, but the fact that I’m learning more about my body and spirit than I ever thought possible. It’s also in the energetic transmission that comes with being initiated into an ancient tradition. Our philosophy teacher is absolutely phenomenal–younger than I am, yet a true master who lives the yogic path, and I consistently walk out of his lectures with my mind blown.
I love that we started this training on a new moon, and are ending on another new moon/solar eclipse, with a full moon/lunar eclipse right in the middle. It’s a potent window, as eclipses are known for heralding major endings and ushering in new beginnings.
I have no words for my endings or beginnings. But I can feel something within dying and being reborn. And this training…it’s like a searing hot knife cutting through the muck, so I can see the brightness that’s been here all along.