My traveled to India in the fall of 2017 to continue my studies in Ayurveda as well as earn my 300 hr Yoga teacher training was a trip filled with a lot of travel. I decided to go back to the ashram that I attended in December of 2016 where I studied foundations in Ayurveda. Since that trip, I maintained in close contact with my teacher, Neel Vengupal, who agreed to take me in as a student to study with him for the next 10 years. My goal? To understand the preventative side of Ayurveda and offer consultations to help others live their best life. c
This part of the trip had 3 sections. Chennai; to visit with good friends, Mysore; to study yoga and Kerala; to study Ayurveda. There were small trips throughout this trip to explore ayurvedic plant specimens and take the beautiful countryside.
I arrived in India on November2nd. I was able to stay with my dear friends Rajeev and Rinku in Chennai. Seeing Rajeev and Rinku is like coming home. They go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and we always found time to catch up or do something fun. I would be in Chennai for a few days only to board a train to Kerala and continue my studies with Neel. At the end of the trip I would make my way back to Chennai to conclude my trip and spend more time with Rajeev and Rinku. The schedule had me with Neel for 10 days, but in that time was able to begin a panchakarma (detox) and take in the countryside. Neel’s homestay and clinic are amazing. It is located right on the Arabic Sea in the town of Chavakkad. The sunsets are amazing, the village is welcoming and the nature around you is peaceful.
It was about the 16th of November that I left for Mysore. Rajeev arranged a car to take me through the Nigrilli mountains also known as the Western Ghats Mountain Range. This has to be one of my most favorite areas of India. (When I lived in India back in 1996 I spent a lot of time in the Western Ghants) Being so high in the mountains around the tea plantations is just magical. (After my yoga training, I spent 4 days in Connor on a Tea Plantation. It was peaceful, relaxing and simply beautiful.) The trip took over 8 hours and our route took us through a forest preserve where it has been known to see elephants, tigers, deer and all other sorts of animals. On this trip, however, not so much. I arrived at the Ayur Yoga Echo Ashram about 9:00 PM. The month-long class started the next day. I have to say the training was an amazing experience. Intense at first but rewarding and life changing at the end. Yoga, 6 hours a day, Yoga Philosophy in the afternoon, practice teaching, wonderful food and evening entertainment. The ashram does a great job with all the training and workshops they do.
Our class consisted of 27 students with 5 teachers. We all became pretty close as with any immersion program this one was no exception. The group allowed you your private time when you needed it, something I truly enjoyed as with the breaks, I could take a walk, meditate or do some additional studies. One day a week we had an off day allowing us to go into the city, Mysore, to site see, learn, or shop. Mysore is known for its silk and I highly recommend picking up some sandalwood oil should you make it there. There are some great places to visit in Mysore form historical sites to modern shopping. It was a very nice option to have available to us.
Our training ended around the 14th of December. We had a lovely ending ceremony where we were given our certificate (which by the way are yoga alliance compliant) and a huge feast. I had planned to stay at the ashram to continue my studies and treatments and was there for another 3 weeks. Neel came to teach the Ayurvedic Foundations Course and we left together to go back to his homestay on January 2nd. Those final three weeks were wonderful. I was able to do all the yoga classes I wanted but without the strict schedule. I simply have to say that the ashram is a very healing place. It allows the mind to calm down, the stress to melt away and you can actually feel each breath.
The trip back was Kerala was a lot of fun. We went back through the forest and over the mountains. This time I had Neel in the car. It was like having a guide showing and pointing out a variety of sites. When we arrived back in the clinic, we began to wind down our studies as I was going to be leaving to head back to Chennai on the 7th. With a few more lessons, several more walks and a bunch of wonderful weather we brought my studies to a close with a great yoga teacher who worked with me privately for 4 day. Neel also introduced me to a wonderful artist who made me a beautiful picture of a standing buddha which I proudly display in my foyer.
Ending the trip where I started, in Chennai, I was able to catch up with Rajeev and Rinku. We connected with a few other friends and Rinku, bless her heart, steered me in the direction of final gift purchases and items for the wellness center. In general, the time seemed to fly, I arrived and felt I was turning around to head home. With that said, the time was precious and transformative. In the time I was in India I deepened my understanding of yoga, yoga philosophy, Ayurveda and realized I have yet a whole lot to learn but feel confident that we can share this knowledge and enrich others to live a better life.