You’re the fellow who is spiving.
Excuse me? What do you mean?
Spiving. You’ve never heard of the term? Not doing what you are supposed to be doing.
True. Sort of.
We came to India because Olga wanted to complete an international yoga retreat. We had never been to India, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to plan a vacation. Twenty-two days in total, with sightseeing wrapped around eight days at the retreat. On those days, participants would be involved with yoga early in the morning and then later again in the afternoon. I would read and relax, have coffee in the morning, maybe a drink in the afternoon. My notion of rest. I had never participated in yoga, (except for a couple times when Olga needed to practice teaching – someone had to be the guinea pig to help with timing), had no plans of starting and would be perfectly content with the down time. That was the plan.
A band of disparate individuals with interest in yoga as the common thread, half from Canada, half from the UK, our group bonded quickly at the first stop in Amritsar: visiting sites, crammed together for tuktuk rides in the rain; sharing meals at Mrs. Banduri’s guest house with the cows and intermittent hydro; experiencing the Golden Temple during the day and night; fretting guiltily over accidentally leaving one member behind in the city (we turned sheepishly back to get her). By the time we arrived at Basunti Lodge, everyone was looking forward to the yoga sessions, hoping there would be a session that afternoon. Except me.
You’re not going to yoga?
No, I had never done yoga before. Don’t worry about me, I am going to read.
And off they went for two hours. On that warm evening, I sat outside, under the veranda, alone. Supper began shortly afterward and naturally the place was abuzz, talking about the session, asking questions of each other, and eventually venturing into other topics. People were kind, made sure I was not left out of the conversation, but suddenly I did not feel wholly part of the group.
There was never any pressure from anyone, but I decided that evening, before I went to bed, to try my hand at yoga, to be with the rest of the team. The next morning, I was dressed in appropriate attire, went downstairs at the ringing of the bell at 7:00 am, downed a few small cups of coffee and followed the group to the outdoor pavilion. Determined not to be a bother, I staked my territory at the back (admit it Henry, you always sit at the back!) with enough room around me so as not to disturb the other, experienced practitioners.
The first session was familiar because many of the moves and poses I had learned from those teaching practice sessions with Olga. I felt proud of myself.
How was it? Did you enjoy the yoga? Are you going again this afternoon?
Yes I did, thank you, jokingly saying I was a little sore. People were encouraging. Don’t worry, everyone is sore the first few times. You need to persevere and soon you will come to enjoy it more and more. I attended the afternoon session, again understanding the moves and the direction, stretching this way and that, breathing in and extending the exhalation, grounding the various parts of the anatomy, feeling how the poses affect my body, understanding which ones feel good. I was even able to comment how the exercises around the heal were beneficial for our hike over the undulating, rocky terrain.
By the end of the second day’s afternoon session, the impact had worn off. The weather had turned and the air was damp and cold especially after the sun went down. The moves and the poses were increasingly unfamiliar. Lying down, I couldn’t see what is happening and was too proud to ask for clarification. My knees were sore from the stretching. I just wanted to sit by the end. I did not want to continue.
And I didn’t. For the next three days.
Members of the group continued to encourage, suggesting small doses, maybe only do the morning, others suggested the afternoon; most importantly, they did not make me feel guilty. I did that to myself.
Okay. I will give yoga another shot and attend the morning sessions. After all, that is the time I would exercise (should I ever get back into that habit) and I can see how the stretching of yoga would be of tremendous benefit. Just do it.
And I did. For less than an hour.
I quietly extricated myself, feeling ill, headed back to my room to recover before breakfast. I have not dressed for the yoga times since.
I do have an increased admiration for my fellow travelers on this trip. They are a dedicated, hearty lot of practicing yogites, rolling out their mats on the cold marble floor of the outdoor pavilion, through the unexpected damp and sometimes cold weather, every day, twice a day, to engage in the craft and the philosophy of their brand of yoga. They are very kind and gentle group, devoted, passing no judgement, continually encouraging, believing there will be a time when yoga will find a place in my life. With Olga’s guidance, and patience, how could it not?
Maybe there is still hope for me.