Day 4 of my trip. I’m riding a bus back from my uncle’s new house in a small town in the western ghats. Back to Mumbai, where a colossal cacophony of challenges await me.
Let me explain. I have embarked on this 2 month journey with two basic purposes in mind: 1) career growth and 2) personal growth. Career growth involves networking with IP professionals and other techy movers and shakers in an effort to develop potential clients and future business opportunities. Personal growth involves attending a month-long yoga teacher training course at The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, which starts on February 1. If there is a goal 2.5, it is to relax and connect with my parents in Dubai for the last 10 days of my trip.
So, what of these challenges? The first, and most apparent, is getting my money’s (and time’s) worth in the business arena. I’ve already been presented with an opportunity to speak at a conference, on a topic I know very little about, in exchange for a free entrance ticket providing me with a week-long opportunity for schmoozing (read: networking). I’m hoping to keep my eyes and ears open for more openings to present themselves.
The more subtle challenge lies in how to approach my yoga training. From my multi-cultural perspective (being an Easterner who moved to the West for my higher education) the yoga I have studied in America appears to be intended to cure first-world ailments. How can I calm my overstimulated mind? How can I restore my body from sitting in an office and staring at a screen all day? How can I sweat and twist away my hangover? To me, such yoga is necessarily stripped of its original spiritual intent, its deep connection with everyday aspects of diet and mental discipline, and its simple message of less is more. The proliferation of yoga pants and magazines only deepen this divide.
Surely, training under the uber traditional institute in the east with a beginner’s mind would set me straight and provide me with a solid foundation for what could be a long and enriching teaching journey!
Yet, several persistent reminders about my “western” yoga journey remain in my mind. After all, was it not after several stressful hours at my New York law firm gig that I found solace in the slow mindful Hatha practice in the dark room at the back of the gym? Didn’t my 1+ year diligently practicing hot Baptiste vinyasa yoga teach me about cultivating my inner fire? Wasn’t my vast collection of yoga literature (purchased on Amazon.com, no less) inspired by shopping around for multi-thousand $ yoga teacher trainings before deciding that I could self-learn, at least for a while? Isn’t my long collegiate study of the hard sciences instrumental in my understanding of the body, brain, and the science of spirit?
For what little knowledge I have about this esoteric art, I owe immense gratitude to the Western institutions of education and commerce. Paradoxically, what led me to the west was the dedication and blessings of my parents who were raised with the basic Hindu and yogic principles of humility, simplicity, and unconditional devotion to the divine. And now, I am propelled back east with new intentions for peace and pocketbook! What a wonderful circle of life! Clearly, the only “challenge” is one invented by my mind, a mind that sometimes fails to recognize the divinity and grace inherent in every facet of life. Thus, I must approach any future endeavor having faith that what is behind me is propelling me forward with all the tools I need to hit the floor running.
In the business realm, this is simply an awareness that my western-acquired skills and experience will be welcomed by eastern entrepreneurs with welcoming smiles and handshakes. And in the yogic realm, rather than to discard my western yogic teaching in favor of what I am about to undergo here in Mumbai, I must synthesize my present practice with the new teachings I am about to receive. At present, my practice incorporates as many of the 8 limbs of yoga as I can squeeze onto my mat and into my life.
How and why I came to practice these 8 aspects is worthy of another blog. However, I do intend to synthesize what I learn into Patanjali’s powerful framework, and continue to write blogs, so stay tuned. Namaste!