Last Piece of Chocolate

by Joanna D.

There is a thing among ashtangis about chocolate and coffee. Many of us anyway. No coffee no prana. Dark chocolate for desert. Our love of it usually leaves us traveling with varying amounts of our favorite kind. Of course India has chocolate. Yes of course, but I brought two bars of the “super yum” stuff anyway.

India is amazing. The colors, variety of smells, the food, chai, the history, the grit, the kindness of the local people. Kovalam, Kerala holds a special place in me. It IS a special place. It has a special flavor. Festivals. It’s heart shines beautifully across the Arabian Sea. Sunsets over an intimate Boardwalk. The city on the sea, fishermen’s lights. Rickshaws. Restaurants bustle making parrotas, curries and veg biriani. Juice. Oh the goodness of fresh juice. Puppies cafe for coffee and lemon sorbet. Coconut cake at German bakery. Bananas tropical. The guy selling cashews. My beach guy. My tailor at work with his son trying to get me to buy “at least two more”. Jewelry, pashminas, miniature elephants. Beach dogs. The beach. The Arabian Sea, beautiful, warm and mesmerizing, serving as a backdrop to a four week investigation into Ashtanga yoga.

Practitioners from all over the world travel to Kovalam, India to study yoga. Those of us who come to study with David Garrigues get a little something extra special… A taste of his enthusiasm for practice. In these four weeks David pours his entire self into working with each individual as much as possible to help them grow and deepen their understanding of what this yoga can reveal. He works to show us ways of practicing with devotion, with fire and intelligence no matter our circumstances. He pushes us to our edge, brings us to face our fears, lights the fire of tapas and at the same time teaches us to soften, to nourish and enrich these experiences we encounter on the mat through compassion and empathy. An enormous offering.

After packing my things and organizing myself for the next round of happenings, I sat waiting for my friend to take me to the airport. Somehow I still had one piece of delicious dark chocolate left from my little stash from Scotland. While waiting, enjoying this last little bit, looking around the now empty house I had occupied for the last month, practiced in, chanted in, enjoyed tea with friends in, rested in… I contemplated the enormity of the last four weeks. The people, the experiences… this years intensive will occupy my thoughts for some time to come. A sensory overload; an amazing in-depth teachers intensive, assisting my teacher, practicing with and meeting students from around the world, reconnecting with old friends. Another year of adventure in yoga and connections — my love India — has come to a close. Now to integrate what I’ve learned and continue forward.