My Experience Working Out in India
No, my workouts here in India do not consist of popularized Bollywood dancing workouts, despite my love of the art. I don't have the luxury of fancy class studios or even hotel gyms. By Western standards my accommodations thus far have been meager. I've only stayed 2 nights in a hotel where air conditioning is available. Temperatures mind you, have soared above 90 degrees F, with the low dipping way down to about 78 degrees F at night. Anything “cold,” as in drinks or ice, doesn't really exist. Food has been a challenge for me as well, which is a whole other story for another time.
So without the modern conveniences of home, how did I fare? The jury is still out, but for the moment I'd say pretty awesome.
While we practiced asana almost every day during my first ten days at the Himalayan Institute ashram, I don't consider my practice a workout. Its purpose is something very different. My workouts offer fuel for my yoga fire, keeping me strong, stable and connected in my body at a deep and subtle level. My body knowledge informs my yoga so I can take advantage of all the practice has to offer at the energetic and mind layers.
During my ten days at the ashram I walked back and forth between buildings quite a bit. Room to early morning chai. Chai back to room on some days. Room to shrine. Shrine to room. Room to breakfast and back to room and back to dining to return dishes. You get the point. While the distance itself from place to place wasn't far. It added up to a nice bit. Then there were walks about town and around the mountain. A hike up the mountain to witness a spectacular sunrise. One day a jog around “campus” took place with pit stops for some lunges and plank variations. This was probably the most vigorous routine I created for myself all week.
Without a doubt my favorite days consisted of free movement on what I later found out was my teacher's outdoor deck patio! Apparently he did catch me in the act one time unbeknownst to me.
I forgot how much I loved to move. No longer is it the harsh punishment for eating too many carbs or indulging in cocktails the night before. My movement was fueled by my heart's desire to express emotions and explore shapes. I turned and twirled (the patio surface was perfect for some barefoot moves) and pushed and pulled in ways that felt organic and natural. I tuned in to see what needed to be strengthened or relaxed to ensure my practices as well as my daily life activities continued to be safe and injury free. For these reasons I turned to the few tools I was smart enough to tote along in my carry on - a special Pilates tool from GAIAM (my new favorite “prop”), a resistance band, a voodoo band (for fascia release), and a “squishy” ball. I also used my yoga towel for sliding lunges. Did I mention the perfect surface for sliding?
I did walking side squats with the band. I looped the resistance band around the deck railing. Voila! Perfect for upper back work and to enhance the Pilates 100 exercise. In general, I got creative using what I had and the tools and tricks I've amassed through the years from many teachers much smarter than I.
The point is there's no excuse. There's a force that inspires all of us to move in some way. It's why we have a body. To experience life as no other animal can. Keep it strong, treat it with kindness and take advantage of all life's experiences that await you.