A psychotherapist’s observations; living yoga in India

Awake. listening to chanting and singing coming from outside the house. Too indistinct for me to know if it was within the Christian, Muslim or Hindu housing.

Taken an earlier stroll to activate the systems of the body, along the port seashore, 6am. My norm to be there by 6.45 latest.

Surprise! Not the usual half dozen men power walking on the main road and then the sighting of men mobilising their joints on the scrap of beach. At least 100 males and the occasional female are active now. One man is exercising upside down hanging on a tree branch (over concrete and sand dust) by his feet. swinging sit ups.

All shapes, all ages, all motivated to be outside and connecting to their own body. A few do straight line walks from the corners of the bay where banks of shells collect. Two men vigorously scoop handfuls into an empty cement bag and heave their haul away to where?

A quintet of men are one handed batting a tennis ball without interruption in hand eye co ordination.

The promenade requires mindful attention. Still in construction, some angles and inclines and spaces to trap the sandal and toes or turn the ankle.

The sun is a hazy blur of pale orange and saluting in yoga asana are 6 men equally spaced on a large tarpaulin on the dew wet grass patches. Their ages , I speculate late 40’s add 40. I watch , enjoying the movement synchrony and the well rehearsed linkage of motion and stillness greeting the day.

One man facing me, beckons and invites me in to this group. They have their mats on the plastic . It rustles and scrunches as I lunge, transition to inversion and all the way down, chest to chin and a neck ruffle of sheeting to support my cobra. One newly arrived man in his sixties I’m guessing, kindly squares the corner again on my behalf.

I had the greatest exhilaration of acceptance. My white skin and gender embraced. These men had bodies of labourers and those with skinny legs and rounded bellies. They were strong and flexible. Their familiarity with being in yoga was an absolute gift in my stay here. Bare chests, vests, wraps on thighs or baggy shorts. No Lycra . Organic movement.

This is exactly what I had hoped for. Yoga being a fact of life. The breathing pranayama sensing flow of energy and vitality was subtle and then vigorous in ‘shining skull breath’. In alternate nostril breathing, the leading and guiding man directed in English that the breath could comfortably be equal inwards and outwards, “with a smiling face” he added for good measure . This was before work or after work in retirement. It was sensible, practical , earthy and real.

My heartfelt happiness in this hour was of their ordinary becoming special and memorable for me. I needed to leave before the actual conclusion and closure to the yoga gathering. I excused myself and was given a gentle look to the eyes by each man . The teacher said 6.15am always yoga!

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