Settling into Arambol

I’ve been here over a week already and slowly I am getting to know what’s what in Arambol. I’ve barely scratched the surface I’m sure but I at least feel like I’m getting settled. Do I love Arambol? No.. But I do recognise you take what you need from somewhere like this and leave the rest. It’s easy to find fault but it’s more rewarding to find the good. It’s a very busy place and the volume of motorbikes and scooters is by far the biggest hazard, given the roads are only very small. So you have to have your wits about you! Moped dodging yoga – it’s a way if life.. The place itself offers an easy way of life with more yoga and various activities than anywhere I’ve experienced. I have also discovered an amazing restaurant that does incredible salads.. My oh my… There are also so many places to get juices, one place here has such an extensive menu that it includes radish juice??!

Being in Arambol also gives me a solid base for my remaining time so I can focus on utilising the last couple of weeks studying and practising. I can settle into a simple routine, which makes this much more realistic. Vallee and I have started a daily practice together, which has proved inspiring and given us both a bit of spark. We were falling into the “we’ll do it tomorrow” trap, which of course never comes. So we made a resolve to get on with it and just do. Today we had a lovely session just playing really. We were lucky to be able to use Vallee’s teachers Shala a short distance away that has a few props, including handing ropes, so for the first 15mins or so we hung upside down! That then evolved into shavasana and then an impromptu meditation. Then on to some play… A couple of my ‘fear’ inducing poses. The crow and headstand.. Vallee had some valuable learning to pass on and it really helped. There was a significant difference, the relaxed atmosphere and new blood and energy surging around my body from the invigorating inversion where a winning combo!

Since I’ve been here I’ve met 8 people I know! Vallee of course, the silent Baba from Rishikesh, two Aussie girls from the ashram in Gokarna, three people from my Vipassana course (including the couple I also met in Fort Kochi!) and then a couple of days  ago I met an Italian woman called Parvati from Sivananda. It’s kind of weird seeing everyone out of context to how I met them but nice to catch up with them all.

The first course at the Himalayan Iyengar Centre went really well and totally broke down the asanas that we learnt, which has been insightful. It’s caused me to really consider my approach and realise how important it is to really feel what I’m doing from within. Using instructions to make minor movements or adjustments that make a dramatic effect on the alignment of your body. Tadasana being a prime example. The act of engaging different parts of how the foot is placed on the ground makes such a huge difference to the position of the rest of the body, without any other ‘local’ movement. I’ve learnt elements of this before but learning it and more extensively at this point is perfect timing.

I’ve signed up to the next course, which starts tomorrow at the earlier time of 7am, so I’ll have to forgo the early morning run but I’ll get over it!

So what else has Arambol revealed.. That sunset time on the beach definitely creates the most smiles, it’s by far my favourite time of day. All everyone’s woes seems to disappear with the setting sun and people come alive, there seems to be no end to all the different activities taking place! Some examples: acro yoga, various people meditating, groups of drummers, small groups singing and playing instruments, dancing, flying huge kites, some people kite surfing (if that’s the actual name..) There was a man on stilts walking into the sea the other day! So quite an eclectic mix…

I practiced with Vallee’s teacher Bittu for a couple of days that she has been working with. As always is great to experience a new teachers technique and knowledge.

I’ve also started some yoga therapy with Bittu, I was interested as there are still a few areas of my body, where I’m holding tensions that as I’ve learnt are common to many. My shoulders are one that continue to be a trouble spot and he described them as concrete. He works on blocked energy points called nadi’s that restrict the flow of prana (vital energy) around the body, creating tension and discomfort in certain places. It sounds a bit out there granted but the work he does, combining applying pressure on specific points around the body and contorting you into various shapes certainly feels invigorating afterwards. I couldn’t sleep after the first session because there was so much energy buzzing around my body!

As I approach my final couple of weeks the biggest challenge is trying to stay present and not look to my plans when I return home, a tricky balance of staying present and experiencing every last drop of India and being mindful of the next step. Although that is clearly a contradictory statement and I just need to be here. The rest will work itself out…right?


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