Mother India-part 1

After a few weeks by the river Ganga in Rishikesh (photo above) and then a few days in Mc Leod Ganj, Dharamsala, I am back to London with renewed energy and inspiration.
My first time in India has definitely put me outside of my comfort zone many times, and it may sound contradictory but it has also given me a sense of deep peace in equal measure. 

My friend Chloe and I met at Delhi airport from where we were supposed to get picked up. As a first taste of Indian life, our driver didn't show up so we decided to organise our own taxi. What we didn't realise was that the taxi driver was soon going to take us to his office first, make us change cars, and driver, added a friend to be dropped off somewhere in New Delhi on the way, and added that the journey would take 6h instead of the 3h he had previously told us... no need to say that our anxiety levels suddenly hit the roof! 
So we started to pray that the driver would actually take us to our destination, safely. Which he did, after driving like a maniac on bumpy roads, doing strange detours "to go faster" and overtaking cars and trucks from the right, then the left, breaking about 2 cm from the car in front every 3 min... 
We drove through leafy streets in Delhi, polluted motorways, very poor villages, and lively street markets. We felt very far from home, and that was exciting. 
Our first glimpses of India had already given us food for thought. 
As many first timers in India, we went many times from wanting to go straight back home to trusting and enjoying the adventures, asking for more! 

We made it to Rishikesh at nighttime and were relieved to find our Hill top hotel rooms...
This first week was rhythmed by our daily Yoga classes taught by a wonderful Indian teacher at our hotel. Upendra's  daily 2h classes left us totally relaxed and centred (which was much needed before going into town!), his immense devotion and faith to the practice inspired everyone who came. There were no complicated postures and a slow but steady pace. Sun salutations were executed while he would chant mantras, which gave the practice a real sense of moving meditation. Classical hatha yoga in its most beautiful form. 
Upendra deeply inspired me in my teaching and practice and brought us right back to what's essential. I loved the non competitive atmosphere (which should of course always be there in all classes but isn't always unfortunately...), and the sense of deep deep relaxation at the end. We worked hard in a soft way... 

The river Ganga flows through Rishikesh and pilgrims from all parts of India come to bathe and pray in the Holly river. Aarti  ceremonies are held every evening, where light is offered to one or more deities. Mantras are chanted in praise of the deities. 
The spiritual atmosphere is palpable and rather beautiful.
Words don't always seem to manage to express my feelings and impressions so I will finish this first post about India with some photos that perhaps talk by themselves...

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