|upon first seeing Gangakondacholapuram, 2008|
My first OM was in 1973 with Beat Poet and Buddhist, Allen Ginsberg, and I drifted in and out of yoga during the ‘70s. It was only when I returned to a serious yoga practice in the mid-‘90s that everything clicked.
I began yoga teacher training in 2002 at a traditional yoga studio in Chicago. I was a sponge soaking everything in, I could not get enough yoga knowledge. A yoga master named Srivatsa Ramaswami came to the studio to teach a weekend workshop. I had no idea who he was but learning classical yoga from an Indian teacher intrigued me. He set me on my path to India during the first night of his workshop.
That night he chanted and taught us mantras. His chanting cracked something open and I drove home crying all the way, not from sadness but from an inexplicable joy. There was something about the slow, careful yoga he taught that felt perfect. After that weekend something took hold and I knew I had to travel to the heart of yoga.
I researched yoga schools in India but nothing felt right until I read about the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, the school of T.K.V. Desikachar. It was no coincidence that the yoga of Ramaswami that had resonated with me so much was the basis of this school. I told my husband to his dismay that when it was time for me to go to India I would go and nothing would stop me.
Something more than yoga drew me to India. More than one emotion percolated at the same time — fear, nervousness, excitement, love, passion. All those emotions rolled up together like kittens in a basket, inseparable; sleeping, yet ready to explode at any moment.
It was like when you meet someone again whom you loved and never forgot. The initial emotions of seeing that person – fear, nervousness, love – suddenly come pouring out of your heart, and you are drawn for an inexplicable reason, never to be the same again. You feel that it is a culmination of something, but you don’t know what, and you don’t want to know, because it doesn’t matter. But it is also a beginning and you hold your nose, close your eyes, and jump. I had never been overseas but at the age of 51 I knew in my bones that going to India was something I must do. I went alone.
I had been told by an adept that I would melt into that world. I stood at the doorway of the airport sniffing the early morning air like an animal finally set free. The feeling was primal as soon as my foot touched Indian soil. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I stepped into Ma India’s arms. I was home.