This story is all about how Lauren got used to living with ants in her bed, dirt under her finger nails, a lack of easily accessible internet, fresh produce, or contact solution, and was forced to drink instant coffee. She was required to stop thinking, going, and doing, and just “be”. You can imagine especially how hard that last bit must be for this young padawan.

I’m currently chilling out on my bed, covered in Tiger Balm. My eyes are stinging from the mosquito-repelling coconut incense burning across the room. I’m sipping on a bottle of hibiscus tea while the sounds of blasting fireworks and techno music blare in the distance past the slow, creaking rotations of the fan above my head. Crickets are chirping outside, completely out of sync with the blaring electronic drum beats. On Saturday I went to sleep and woke up to techno beats. At 4pm on Sunday, they finally stopped. This is supposed to happen twice a week, every week. It must be my new meditation music.

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My new porch pet. I named her Shiva. We chill out while I eat fruit.

It’s not even halfway through the first week of my yoga course, but it has been quite the experience so far. My “school” days start at 7:30am and typically end around 7:30pm.

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To give an idea of what the course has been like so far:

The first day was full of disappointment, shock, and mental struggle. I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I had chosen a yoga school – after months of research and preparation – that was hounding on the fact that anatomy was completely irrelevant and asanas [yoga poses] were not going to be our focus. Instead, I’d be focusing on my energy. Over the past few months, “exchanging energy” is something I’ve joked with my friends about, while asanas and anatomy are things I’ve put an extreme amount of focus on. You can imagine my disappointment at this news. Oh, and aliens from another galaxy had passed their knowledge of yoga onto Hindus 10,000 years ago. This was going to be my life for the next month. What had I gotten myself into?

Since this particular day was a certain celebration in the Hindu calendar in which “vibrations were high,” the class performed a special ritual. We placed personal prayers in Hibiscus flowers which were then collected, laid in front of a statue of Shiva, then lit on fire. One of the teachers, Ramananda, put bracelets on each of our wrists, uniting us for the month. We then chanted several mantras together as a group.

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The biggest spider I have ever seen in my life. He lives in my bathroom.

The next day’s curriculum was more promising. Each day starts with meditation and pranayama [breathing] practice. Ramanananananadada was instructing, so I felt a bit at ease. I knew I would like this skirt wearing, beard-toting yogi the moment he gave me a new bracelet to put around my wrist (I frickin’ love bracelets, if you didn’t know). I knew I liked Ramanadadadadabababa even more when, during a lecture on deities and symbology, he mentioned how much he loved ice cream, then joked, “Canadians love to hug trees! They love them like a God!”

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We practiced Breath of Fire – something the other teacher, Lily, said we would not be learning for “safety reasons” the day before. During asana class, our poses were corrected – also something Lily had told us she would not be doing the previous day. We were focusing on the spine on this particular day, and had a workshop with demonstrations, lots of corrections, and lo and behold – an anatomy discussion (because oh hey – go figure – anatomy is actually very important when teaching a class using the body).

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Today’s class was much the same, but with a focus on balancing postures (some of my favorites). I’ve been learning the Sanskrit names for each pose and how to both perform and cue them correctly while teaching. We focused on more anatomy today with Lily harping on the fact that the “subtle body” and “energy” is what is important, not “anatomy.”

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There’s a lot to say about the course and quite a lot I can nitpick about. Many of my own mental blockages are things I simply need to work through during the month in order to “just be,” as the entire focus of the course promotes. I’ve gone through my entire life so far working against simply being and trying to always be busy. I’m finding it quite difficult on my breaks from class to simply go to the beach, color mandalas and meditate, or even learn how to play my ukulele. I use the time instead to read, write, and be busy. While the whole reason I came here was to improve my asanas and gain teaching credentials, I am aware that my challenge lies mentally and “spiritually”. I know it will be difficult, but I am willing (albeit begrudgingly) to try by not trying. Although, y’know, I’m not quite sure if that whole alien theory will ever mesh well with me.

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