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India - Elia's Blog

Elia’s India Blog
Posted on May 14, 2013

View of the Ganges
Greetings and Salutations!!

I hope this post finds all of you and your families healthy and happy!

Thank you for stopping in and accompanying me on this so-called journey. It is a pleasure to share what my senses are taking in and my heart is feeling.

I have had it in my mind and fantasized about coming back to India since my first trip here 2.5 years ago. As some of you already know, the two months I’ve spent here before were like reading the introduction to a book and then just placing it back on the shelf. What I mean by that is not just a reference to getting the introduction to the culture only but, really an introduction to a part of myself. To what one undergoes emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually when removed from a culture that has been the source of strong personal identification. Almost forcefully getting unraveled by the simple fact of being far away from everything and everyone that comprises ones “comfort zone”. Getting a glimpse of sorts into the matrix of what I have known about myself, by being in an environment where everything is so drastically different. If we can only know what hot is because we contrast that with cold, and sweet from bitter, then it stands to reason that we can only truly know and understand ourselves as individuals due to the contrast that the world around us presents. Having lived my whole life in the western culture and in 24 hours finding myself in a world where, everything from the everyday interpersonal gestures, to the very structures and object that surround the physical atmosphere are completely different, I find myself faced more clearly with myself, or who I think I am anyways. I never expected this opportunity to come again this soon! It was on the first trip that I had the spark of studentship come back, and is the reason I’ve craved to return.

Up until that first trip to India, I only had a chance to be a student for about a year-and-a-half before I was in the role of teaching Yoga. Yes, the hope of course is to always adopt and attitude of a student and a beginners mind no matter how long one engages in the process. Yet, I still had a strong draw to step completely out of the role of trying to teach anyone anything, and just learn as much as I can in the time I have. To absorb the essence of committed studentship is the hope that brings me back.

Of the various so-called styles and paths of this ancient knowledge that I have come across, it is the wisdom and insight of the great B.K.S. Iyengar that has been a magnet for me to come back to this land and immerse myself directly into the teaching that pours from his Yoga Institute in Pune. A man who is solely responsible for the spread of not just Hatha Yoga in the west but, a therapeutic application of the teaching that has shown remarkable results, was discovered by him through a lifetime of dedication, and did not exist before that time. This desire to learn the technicalities and nuances of the practice began in my first year of teaching. It was an uncomfortable surprise when students that would attended a class of mine would ask about how to care for certain injuries and conditions that they were dealing with, which are usually not addressed in any introductory teacher training course. I remember how humbling and sometimes even embarrassing it was when I was looked up to as someone that would or should know something about the very thing I was teaching, and I hadn’t much to offer back. All of a sudden, I felt responsible. I had an impulse to learn about why I was taught to teach certain things, and if they were indeed valuable for the situation at hand. As I saw it at the time, I had to know everything I could about everything, from anatomy and biomechanics to neurology and psychology. Over the years, and with the guidance of some very good teachers, my efforts to quench this thirst have definitely bared fruit.

This brings me to my second reason for coming to India. Being here to study, instead of studying the same subject back home made sense to me because, by devoting and immersing myself wholeheartedly, without any of life’s distractions, engaging all of my efforts and capacities, I would be able to absorb 2-3 or even 4 times the amount as I would be able to back home, in the same amount of time. There definitely are great teachers with whom one can study and not have to come half-way around the world, for sure! However, as I see it, Yoga is it for me, personally and professionally. I neither have a “plan B”, nor am I interested in one. If I am to do this for the rest of my life, it is necessary that I maximize every opportunity that comes my way to really get it. How does one define “passion”? However it may be, I would say all of the definitions apply in my case, when the vast topic of Yoga is concerned.

So, here I am. Out of my little comfortable bubble of North County for the next 6 and a half months to learn about practice, and of course, by default, about myself. I never thought of this time as vacation. I don’t expect it to be easy, nor always a joy ride. Im expecting the unexpected. As the old saying goes, expect the best but be prepared for the worst.

Accompanying me for the first 3 weeks of this experience is a good friend, Tim, who is familiar to some of you. A great friend with a huge heart and a contagious smile! His enthusiasm for Yoga began way before mine, which people usually feel in some shortly after meeting him. He’s had it inside himself to come here for quite some time. Since I’ve been here once before we decided to coordinate our travels and he is playing a big role in making this India fantasy of mine a reality.

Our first stop is an old Holy city/town of Rishikesh! I was in Rishikesh on my first trip and it stood out as the best of what India, or what I’ve experienced so far, has to offer. An Indian counterpart to our city of Encinitas.

Again, it means a lot to me that you are taking an interest in reading this blog and taking in India vicariously through me.

Stay tuned for more pictures and stories. Any and all questions and/or comments are always welcome!

Much Love to you All!!



Image: A view of the Ganges in Rishikesh! courtesy of Elia

ELIA NIKOLAEV grew up with the constant presence and Love for the ocean and surfing. He always had an affinity for spiritual and philosophical inquiries. Elia came to Yoga Tropics with an in depth knowledge of asana alignment and the passion to share the message of the yogic path with others. He was introduced to the philosophies of yoga when he was given the book The Autobiography of a Yogi. This materialized as the gift of a lifetime. In 2006, Elia received a 1000 hour certification with Synergy Yoga where he assisted in teacher trainings, workshops, and was a mentor teacher to other trainees. Three years later he became director of Teacher Training and Program Development at Yoga Tropics. Elia enjoys creating a learning environment that is both stimulating and challenging. His knowledge of fundamental alignment allows him to confidently offer modifications that accommodate injuries or other physical limitations. Elia has worked and shared his practice with people of all levels including children and seniors. In his teachings of yoga, he hopes to be able to share the same inspiration that was shared with him in his first class. “I want people to see that happiness is within and the practice of yoga simply allows us to see that more clearl”

You can check out more amazing photos and thought provoking essays AND post your feedback to him by going to ELIA’S India BLOG

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