Earning my yoga teacher certification at Shrimath Yoga of Arjunabittahalli, India was a fulfilling experience. I thought it was fate and the power of Google that sent me on an adventure to improve my physique and yoga poses, and maybe calm me a bit too. I quickly learned that there was a greater power sending me to a site that seemed to be designed just for me. The 21 day teacher training piqued my attention with the allure of a forest on its property, an opportunity to connect to nature, daily gardening, visits to the village school, fresh fruit and chai tea breaks, and organic garden-fresh meals. These perks were not separate from the yoga philosophy classes, but rather an application of yogic living. Studying yoga in India was an authentic experience, as the whole country is a model of how to integrate yogic peaceful action and balance into daily living.
On day one I knew I was right where I needed to be when Krishna Prakash, Shrimath’s yoga philosophy teacher, gave us a tour of the property, highlighting the medicinal purposes and environmentally-friendly practices of over 100 trees on the beautiful grounds.
Granite benches, harvested right from the village’s ground, are placed under trees and within the gardens for resting and meditating in nature. Krishna has a profound and interesting delivery of yogic knowledge that he makes understandable for anyone, regardless of background and religion. We connected personally over our shared sense of responsibility and action to care for the environment.
Our yoga postures (asanas) teacher, Hema, radiated an example of beauty in all of her actions and words. She demonstrated a gentle patience in teaching us not only asanas and breathing, but also in encouraging living habits fit for good health and well-being. Hailing from an agricultural family, she even taught me some new gardening techniques. Hema connected asana sessions to appreciating the environment (especially with Surya Namaskaar), and ended sessions by saying, “bow to mother earth.”
Smithri took cooking to a new level. She poured her spirit into every delicious meal. Every single meal was made fresh from scratch with vegetables either directly from own her garden or from a neighbor’s yard. She reinforced the yogic duty we all have to care for ourselves, by nourishing us with the bounty of the earth. Forget processed junk food! Smithri proved how refreshed and strong we could feel as her cooking powered us through two daily classes of yoga postures.
Time at the village’s school was an application to reflect on what we each have to contribute to the world. Of course I was thrilled to share my knowledge of the environment with the young learners. This cultural exchange showed me that these kids already knew many yogic principles. No need for step-by-step directions on calming a room of 20 kids, they already knew how to sit in a meditative pose, close their eyes and peacefully chant “ohm.” We learned from each other.
I am eternally blessed for my unforgettable experience of studying yoga at Shrimath Yoga. It went above and beyond teaching yoga. Krishna, Smithri, and Hema dedicated their entire being to 21 days of giving all they could to the 6 of us teachers-in-training. In addition to the planned sessions, they even took us on outings to temples and the city to see first-hand how people in India apply yogic principles. I connected with the environment- and the light within myself and others- through the natural world in my yoga teacher training.
Thank you, Krishna, Smithri, and Hema for an experience that will stick with me forever. Namaste.