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Travels to India

The YogaLifeNH programs are based on the work of The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, India, the first Yoga Center in the world to open their doors to the general public in 1917. (more about The Yoga Institute)

On Wednesday, December 29,2010, Brian Serven began his journey to the Yoga Institute in Mumbai where he will be studying and observing for the month of January. We received his first blog just the other day and will continue to share these posts with you as we receive them.

Brian's thoughts while waiting to board his flight out of New York:

brian_serven_portraitIt is fitting, sitting here as the sun is rising with the whole world buried in snow. Nearly a year ago this trip was like a snowflake resting dutifully on top of a mountain. At any moment it could have been wisped away with the wind or buried by other dreams. Instead of falling prey to all those obstacles, the idea began to collect and absorb everything around it until everything seemed to be connected, in one way or another, to this one idea. This dream wasn't meant to be idle long and eventually gravity made its presence, causing this dream to begin to tumble down this mountain that relentlessly reaches upward. An avalanche was soon to follow, and I ve been swept with it.

Little teapots filled to the brim! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Serven   

Monday morning 10am, sitting in the classroom, everyone was pretty quiet, looking down into their notes, seeking at least a minimum of short term memory. We had a very clear idea of what would be on the test, but teachers can throw curve balls, so we weren't ignoring the other topics. We were told to relax, "what good has this course in yoga been if you haven't learned how to relax?" asked one of the teachers. We put down our notes and played a conceptual game, everyone participated, calmness overcame us for a few moments, we spoke of the concept and sat quietly, aware of our breath, the tests were handed out.

You could sense that all of us were like little teapots filled to the brim with answers. Once we were allowed to start you could see everyone tipping over, spilling all the answers out onto the page, with any luck they weren't a jumbled mess. The test lasted about an hour, it was time for lunch. The teachers divided the test among them and began to score them.

The Caves on Elephanta Island PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Seren   

Sunday mornings  at The Institute begin with satsung, which means "to be in good company", essentially to collect as a community of yogis and share a performance depicting a particular topic. Seven month Teacher Training students prepare all week and go to great lengths to entertain a crowd of nearly 125 spectators. Dr. Jayadeva and Hansaji contribute philosophical views as well. The sidewalk leading to the Madhavadasaji Hall is adorned with chalk drawings, elaborate color arrangements of flowers, props are prepared and everyone is rested and dressed well. The floor is covered with a blanket of yoga mats and people crowd forward to witness the event. There is a lot of positive energy and everyone leaves cheerful.

The first Sunday after classes started, after satsung, I met with Melissa Malloy, Dr. Butera's student from PA. She is one of three American Students in the program. We decided to take a trip to see the caves on Elephanta Island.

The first adventure for me on this trip was buying a train ticket. In the fashion that I have been witnessing to be typical here in India, it was quite frantic and chaotic, at least from a western perspective. The station at Santacruz is a single room with three walls, feels more like a structure at a campground than a place to buy rail fare.

Siteseeing in Mumbai PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Serven   

mumbai_swamiAnother weekend had arrived and one of my roommates, Levi, invited me along to to see the Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Health Center, Kaivalyadhama, Mumbai. The founder of this Health Center, Swami Kuvalayananda was also a student of Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji (teacher of Shri Yogendra, the Yogic Institutes founder). The Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Center is located on Marine Drive, across from the vast expanse of the sea.

Our trip started at the Santacruz East train station. Levi and I boarded the train with ease, heading toward Churchgate. As expected the train was packed, so we stood hands over head clinging to handles hanging from the ceiling. We arrived in the station at Churchgate and proceeded to walk toward Marine Drive. Thankfully Levi knew where he was going, I was clueless.

Along the coast where we walked, there was no beach. Rather stood a retaining wall suitable for leisure. And between the retaining wall and the sea were wave breakers. In the North East USA you will find giant quarried boulders stacked on top of one another serving this purpose. Here though, they didn't use boulders, instead they had fabricated 3 pointed shapes, similar to 'jacks', made likely from concrete. It was futuristic.

Time, as we know it . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Serven   

All the days have begun to blend together. I rarely ever know what time it is or what day of the week it is. Most days are like those that have proceeded it and those to come. I have surrendered to the process. In the States I found myself filling in each fraction of a second with some task.

I often thought that I was aiming to make good use of my time. Time, as we know it, is fleeting and I never wanted to find myself lying immobile with my breath escaping, wishing I had done so much more with my life, so I plan and plan.

Here, however, I have begun to really get to know space. Space regarding time taken to be, versus to do. I have intellectualized this concept my whole life and have met much resistance internally when attempting to practice it. In a country where everything feels congested and confined, it's interesting perhaps by contrast, to begin to feel a sense of space.

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