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Trek View on Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester with Where There Be Dragons

The Way of the Yog(a)

It was difficult choosing an independent study project (ISP). There were so many things that I wanted to learn; Nepali cooking, sewing, traditional folk music, pottery… The list goes on and on. However, in the end, I chose yoga. In the back of my mind, I knew I would do yoga for my ISP. I started practicing yoga on-and-off during college and always marveled at how I felt during and after a good session of yoga. I did it for health, mainly. When my body was sore from a hard workout or even too much sitting, nothing was better than a good stretch on my mat.

I chose yoga because I craved that familiar feeling. Also, how cool would it be to say I practiced yoga from a Nepali yoga guru? My yoga instructor’s name was Rupesh. He was everything you would expect a Nepali yoga guru to be; slender with dark hair and a soft voice.  Before teaching  yoga, Rupesh was a massage therapist, but he had found something more in yoga. He brought a sense of calm when he entered the room and would take long pauses when he spoke. You could almost see the wheels in his mind turning.

Our class was divided into an hour of discussion followed by an hour of physical practice, or asana. We met on the fourth floor of the Dragon’s Program house, a large, open room filled with pillows and bordered with windows. Discussions were filled with ideas bigger than the room could contain. We talked about awareness of the thoughts that lead to feelings that lead to actions. We explored yoga beyond the physical practice that is recognized in the Western World. Rajesh told us that yoga was both a journey and a destination. Religions were yoga. Every moment of life was and could be yoga. This blew my mind.

After an hour of wisdom from Rupesh, we eased into asana. We would lie on our backs for a few moments and Rupesh would guide us through a meditation. Once we were in the right mindset, the chanting began. Ohmmm. Saha navavatu… The first time we did the mantra, I felt a bit self-conscious, but by the end of our four weeks, the chanting became comforting. We would move through poses and sun salutations before closing our practice with another mantra. It only seems appropriate that I also end this post with that mantra.

Sarvesam svastirbhavatu,
Sarvesam santirbhavatu,
Sarvesam purnam bhavatu,
Sarvesam mangalam bhavatu.

Ausiciousness to all,
Perfect peace to all,
Fullness to all,
Prosperity to all.

Namaste.