The first two-week session ended at Purple Valley yesterday, which meant it was time for my dad to return home. I can’t believe how fast our time together went by. It seemed we were looking forward to the trip and planning this adventure for ages, anticipating what it might be like and imagining what it would mean to both of us. Without a doubt, our time together in Goa has been beyond memorable. Perhaps what was most fun about being here with Dad was spending time with him in the company of others who were getting to know both of us for the first time. How often do you get to make new friends, with your dad by your side?
In coming with me to Goa, Dad not only became the coolest dad anyone here had ever heard of, he also became a major inspiration to those we met. Our friend Alistair perhaps summed it up best when it told me yesterday, “There are very, very few parents who would do this – travel to a place they’ve never been, halfway around the world, to do something they’ve never done before, just to spend time with their daughter.” How true.
So when it came time to say our goodbyes yesterday, you can bet our hug lasted a little longer than normal, and I could feel the void he’d left behind almost immediately. Thankfully, I had a great group of friends to head out with for dinner last night, and then awoke this morning to see that new faces were already arriving at Purple Valley and beginning their own Indian Adventure. It feels good to be on the ‘veteran’ side now as someone who has already been here for two weeks. What a difference 14 days makes; when I see all the jet-lagged, disoriented new-comers, I have to remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago I was in their shoes.
Everyone I’ve met today asks how the course with Petri has been so far and I have nothing but positive things to say. His perspective on the practice is layered with experience, and I feel he has a great deal to offer. During the final afternoon session last week, he discussed how dedicating oneself to Ashtanga yoga can precipitate a complete lifestyle change. If you decide to practice six days a week, your priorities shift. No longer are late nights out an option. You start to notice how certain things get in the way of your practice – alcohol, crappy food, and when it comes down to it, crappy relationships.
Through yoga we become so much more aware of the impact other things have on our bodies and our minds. If we drink too much, eat junk or hang out with people who stress us out or cause pain, the practice suffers. Essentially, we become conscious of everything toxic in our lives, and then (hopefully) set out to rid ourselves of whatever is bringing us down.
As someone who’s gone through that transformation, it’s always nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one to have made changes to my life because of yoga. It seems that once we decide to make the switch – which in my case happened pretty early, when most people my age were still enjoying the bar scene and rarely getting to bed before 3am – there’s no turning back. And I think the reason for that has to do with something else Petri mentioned the other day: that there is no community quite as positive as the yoga community. It isn’t difficult to find a group of people brought together by a common interest – be it a sport, religion, art form, or what have you. The thing about yoga, however, and in my case Ashtanga, is that there is total inclusivity. Anyone can do yoga in some way shape or form, because it’s not just about the physical practice. There are people here of all ages, with all different body types, from all corners of the world. You don’t need a special degree or particular level of talent to throw down a yoga mat, practice, and feel better afterward. No one is here to compete with each other. We all have our challenges, our good days and not so good days, and our reasons for being here in the first place – which for most of us is self-improvement. All of this seems obvious now that I’m putting it on paper, but I’d never really thought about the positive nature of the yoga community to this extent until Petri spoke it out loud. When it comes to how yoga makes me feel, both as a practitioner and a teacher, I think this inclusivity has everything to do with yoga’s transformational impact. At the end of day, we all just want to feel good, and as far as I’m concerned, yoga’s a pretty good means of achieving that end.