December greetings and warm blessings from India! I wish that this email finds each and every one of you in peace and joy!
On October 24, I left on my own to travel through India. Since then, I have traveled to Rishikesh, Varanasi, Pune, Goa, Varkala, Neyyar Dam and will end my trip in Kochi. Currently, I’m in the small village of Neyyar Dam in the state of Kerala spending fifteen nights in a Sivananda Ashram doing Panchakarma, a major Ayurvedic therapeutic procedure to purify the body.
The reason for this extensive time away is for me to live fully in true yoga, living in union with my body, mind and soul. I know yoga is what I teach and yet, I have felt quite off balance and needed to dive in deeper and truly live my practice of yoga. In addition, energetically, I felt an un-ease in parts of my body, and I know from past experience, that I needed to transform these energies before they turn into physical dis-ease. So, my intention was to focus my first two chakras; however, as usual, India had a different plan and decided all of my chakras were in need of a shake-up, and a tune-up!
India is a holy, sacred, magical, maddening and transforming land! I have had good times, hard times and some amazing times. Some of my friends, including my friend Shalini’s father, who is from India, were telling me to just come home. Traveling through India on my own has been my dream, and when you are in the midst of living your dream, you cannot give up, you have to see it through!
So far, each city that I have traveled through has been a journey through my chakras and I have many stories to share. In this newsletter, I will share one story from my visit to Pune which was the third city that I traveled to and it also strengthened my third chakra which is located in the solar plexus. This is the Manipura chakra. Manipura means “city of jewels” and this is our personal power center.
I left Varanasi at 5:30 a.m. to take a connecting flight into Mumbai and then a three hour taxi ride from Mumbai to Pune. Most of this time was spent lying down whenever and wherever possible as I was very ill with food poisoning and flu like symptoms including chills, coughing and a fever. A stranger on the airplane told me I should visit a doctor soon! Finally, at 1:00 a.m., I arrived at my home stay accommodations in Pune. Unfortunately, the energy felt horrible.
Having just left the chaotic city of Varanasi, traveling while ill and sleeping in this dreadful homestay, I felt that I could not take any more and was crying in bed asking God why I was placed here. At day break, I did my daily Japa meditation, chanting to Goddess Saraswati, and at that point something clicked inside of me and I sort of gave up on God and decided to give into me. I picked my very sick self up and walked a few blocks to a German Bakery and Restaurant that had WIFI and I decided to upgrade from my original plan on spending $10-$20 a night and made a reservation at an AIRBNB which had beautiful pictures. My new accommodations were perfect and it had a hot shower, which was my first since arriving in India two weeks ago.
The owner of this guest house turned out to be an angel from God! His name is Suntosh, and he is a sweet elderly, widowed man who did his morning Pujas, prayers and offerings, to Hindu Gods each day. As I still wasn’t well, I spent time doing yin yoga while Suntosh had the Gyantri Mantra playing in his home.
After a few more days of still being ill, Suntosh took me to his doctor. On the way, we drove past a hospital and he shared with me that he had avoided driving on this road for six years because his wife died of breast cancer in that hospital. The doctor sent me for X-rays, and later that evening after getting the results, I was told I had pneumonia and needed a C-scan to verify which antibiotics he would need to prescribe.
At this point, I packed my suitcase for the hospital and quite frankly, as one can imagine, I was pretty shaken up. I was concerned with being scared and lonely in a hospital for a long period of time. It all seemed very surreal to me. At times, I would ask myself, why am I here, why am I traveling in this country? Why am I so drawn to India which I feel is my Mother Country? The answer came that I am here to have FAITH in ME.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I made my way around from one desk to another to another. I was the only non-Indian there, so at times there was a cultural and language barrier. Eventually the lab work and the C-scan were done. The results came back and I was told that my chest was CLEAR! Clear??? At first I was in shock, but then my entire mindset changed. I felt I had a new lease on life physically and emotionally.
I left the hospital and walked thirty minutes to the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune. I spent the next five days visiting this center which is quite a unique place. There are meditations from 6:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night. Most of the meditations include dance and dynamic movements, so I really enjoyed those as opposed to sitting. However, I was pacing myself and moved slowly because I did NOT want to end up back in any hospitals!
Upon leaving Pune, my dear friend Suntosh, (who would always ask how my health was and made sure I ate three meals a day, plus serve me afternoon Tulsi Chai tea with biscuits) asked me if in our next lives if I would marry him. It was a very sweet moment. (I was thinking that he better take a ticket and wait in queue because there’s a long line of men in front him, and probably some women too. 😉 I asked him, if we were to marry in our next lives, where should we live? He replied that it doesn’t matter where we would live because all that really matters is the company we keep. Hmmm…so very true.
Looking back on this experience, I see how it corresponds with my Manipura/Solar Plexus chakra. This area is associated with the element of fire and it is here that our will power resides. The area that was hurting the most was my right lower rib cage. This was the place on the X-ray that appeared white in color. This area is in direct alignment with my Solar Plexus, the location of the Manipura chakra. When I was lying in bed in the awful homestay, it was the fire energy of this chakra that was activated and my personal will power took over and through that strength: I choose self-empowerment over self-doubt and illness.
Manipura means “city of jewels”. When we step into our power, we have access to this lustrous gem that is inside of each of us. The Manipura chakra is also said to conquer disease, according Shiva Samhita, a sacred Sanskrit text written in the 15th to 17th century. When I said that I gave up on God and gave in to me, what actually happened was I gave up on looking outside and surrendered to the God within me.
Anyone that is dealing with challenges in this busy holiday season, remember that all your answers are within each of us. Take that time to go within and continue with your practice of yoga!