Prepare yourself for a very different experience when you unroll your mat in yoga’s motherland, Rina Jakubowicz says. Here’s what to expect.
In the West, yoga and meditation often translate to physical postures and sitting mindfully yet thoughtlessly. Conversely, in the East, the practice of yoga is much less physical and much more philosophical and spiritual. The emphasis is shifted from Hatha Yoga (physical practice) to the three yogas taught in the Bhagavad Gita: Jnana Yoga (path of knowledge), Karma Yoga (path of self-less action) and Bhakti Yoga (path of devotion.) Intuitively, I always knew that no matter how many yoga poses, contortions, and Handstands I did, I would never find enlightenment that way. There had to be something more. And, in India, I found that there is. Here, the three most powerful lessons I learned practicing in India.
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1. Trust and surrender.
Somehow among all the chaos, a country that seems to be completely out of order functions somehow. A lot of trust and surrender has to happen when you travel to India. Things don’t happen the way we are used to in the states. Nothing gets done the way we would expect it to—but somehow it gets done. You just have to stick with it and let go all at the same time. This alone is yoga practice.
2. Richness comes from within.
Seeing the grave poverty of all kinds around me made me look deeper into each person. What I found was a beauty inside those many deep brown eyes filled with so much joy, love, and hope. There’s a richness and a depth that is missed in the states. With so little, there was still so much happiness, connection, and generous service. Yet with so many comforts, possessions, and physical abundance in the states, there is so much depression and loneliness.
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3. Have gratitude—HUGE gratitude.
When I came back from India the first time, I remember driving back from the airport on our highways and streets in Miami and what did I see? NOTHING! No trash, no dogs, no cows, no scooters with women riding sideways, no people risking their lives, no little kids begging, no dirt, nothing! The city was clean. I said, “Thank you taxes and government for maintaining your end of the deal even if you can be corrupt sometimes. Thank you construction for starting and finishing in a fixed period of time in order to beautify our city. Thank you traffic for staying in your lanes. Thank you for not honking just because you feel like it—all the time. THANK YOU, AMERICA!”
While the West and the East both have their own beauties, it’s important for me to find a balance between both while living in Miami and Los Angeles. When I first started yoga, I needed the physical poses to help me see that there was something more to life than this. Yet, I had to have the courage to dive inward in order to find it. This is my challenge when sharing these ancient teachings in the states. Most students are looking for a physical practice, when I know that the deeper teachings are waiting to be discovered within. That brings me back to the first lesson India taught me: trust and surrender and eventually we will all find our way.