February 2019 had many astrologically auspicious dates to dip in the holy river Ganges. In fact millions of people from different spiritual paths joined together for Ardh Kumbh Mela a great display of collective consciousness to bathe in the sacred river. Maa Ganga is the essence of ancient wisdom and she offers more than just a glimpse beyond theory and plunges us into pure awareness. Some friends back home said, oh no it’s so dirty and maybe there are bodies in it, but to the faithful, the Ganges is a wellspring of life energy. The epitome of mind over matter.
On this my fourth pilgrimage to India, I finally dipped in the Ganges River – again and again and again. This act of devotion and faith helped peel away the vestiges of doubt and hesitation that had me half living the path of yoga. One foot in and one foot out is no longer an option.
The art of living yoga did not come from more hours of study or time on the yoga mat, it was the interaction with others that guided me to experience true living yoga. Yoga is a noun and a verb. The practice of Yoga is doing what it takes for your particular nervous system and nature, to remember and live knowing that you are pure consciousness, pure awareness, Divine light; connected to all beings everywhere always. Yoga is a way of being, a way of living.
Living yoga comes again and again through experience. In India people pay more attention to the feeling or energy that you are emitting rather than the words your mind is expressing. Classroom time in India is not what a westerner would call organized or even remotely logical. Think of the students back in the time of the Vedas who would live with their teachers for years before the teaching began. Once the wavelength between teacher and student matches, then the teachings are given.
The way things work in India is beyond comprehension. The magic of connection presents itself in ways you could never imagine yet it does indeed present itself because it is always already here, waiting for us to take off our blinders, filters and preconceived notions. Physical eyes may be WIDE open taking in all the mind-blowing sights, yet until the layers of our learned behaviors drop away and our heart softens, one sweet Indian smile after another, it is then that the soul connection is revealed. It is then that we can relax into the flow of life to which we are intimately connected.
Beyond (and then including) the litter and pollution, the honking horns and the dirt, the cow shi# and the slums – the beauty of India is indescribable. The heart and soul of India welcomes you home to your true nature. Living from the spiritual viewpoint that God/Cosmic Consciousness is in everyone, the people of India share more than you can imagine they will ever have to share. They smile when we might typically decide to give up or at least stay in bed. They face the day with kindness and caring. Maybe it’s karma yoga, maybe it’s Bhakti yoga. Either way, it is the strongest experience of yoga, union, that I can recommend.
How do we yoke ourselves to that Universal energy/cosmic consciousness?
Travel! To be immersed in a culture that sees God/Cosmic Consciousness in everyone and everything, invites you to soften, play your part and to follow your heart. The 8 Limbs of Yoga give us an outline as to how to live in alignment and with cosmic consciousness and Ayurveda provides the science of balancing universal elements.
With the help of Ayurveda, I was able to return to my natural state and utilize the tools of Yoga and Ayurveda to remain balanced and offer neutrality to others as a space of healing and love.
My initial plan was to spend two months on the beaches of Goa enjoying Ecstatic dance, the sun on my skin and the salty love of mamma ocean. Yet the behind the scenes notion was also to let India guide me, to bring me back to life…and she did. At PDI Goa, I launched into two weeks of Panchakarma, an intensive Ayurveda cleansing and rejuvenation method for body, mind, emotions and all layers (koshas) of yourself. One thing led to the next and I found myself with a suitcase full of beach clothes in the foothills of the Himalayas.
At the PDI Ayurveda Health Center near Rishikesh, my new home away from home, I was welcomed as student, patient, family, friend and colleague. Eating three garden fresh, warm cooked meals at the same time every day along with continued Ayurveda studies first with a group from Argentina and then a second group from Holland allowed me to see the mirror of life while sharing my love of yoga through teaching daily asana sessions saturated with dharma talks. Here I discovered what life can feel like, how it’s possible to live in rhythm with nature, connected to our bodies and the land. I got to experience being in union with cosmic consciousness.
My intention for coming to India was to feel alive again. Mission accomplished.
There is no word for privacy in any Indian language. In India, unlike in America, there is no notion of boundaries. Noise and horns assault our overloaded ears and dogs and cows line the streets disarming us, uplifting us, making our ordered lives seem absurd. Yet for this small town farm girl, I found a peaceful community with a garden and a discovered a new way to love. It is an honor to be part of this human family and my aim is to be a positive ripple of this connection as I travel out into the world.
This quest to experience cosmic consciousness outside of filters, karma and impressions is the theme of my True Nature Greece Retreat in September, Isvara Pranidhana. If we can dedicate our lives to serving the God/Cosmic consciousness that dwells within ourselves and all other beings, human and non-human alike, we will move beyond all feelings of separateness. We can experience heaven on earth.
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” -John Lennon
Dharma & Grace Yoga
As a yogini and an artist, Heidi inspires us to explore yoga as an applied lifestyle, making art with our lives and relaxing into our Divine Self. Through the dance of balancing the body, mind, and spirit she guides us toward harmonizing our inner truth with our actions and experiences.
Heidi’s gentle and restorative approach to the yoga practice incorporates energy work, flower essences, mantra, yantra painting, gemology and astrology as well as Yoga Nidra.
Heidi received her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification from the Marianne Wells Yoga School in Costa Rica in 2009. She also has 108 hours of training in the heart-oriented method of Anusara. In 2013, she completed her 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Brenna Geehan and Jean Mazzei of SriYoga in San Francisco.