Last November, I began a thirty-six hour travel extravaganza to end up in my beloved city of Rishikesh. This holy city resides on the banks of The Ganges River and is only forty miles from the headwaters. The first ten days of the journey were spent at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. This was my third visit to this divine compound that operates as “An Abode Dedicated to the Welfare of All.”
The next thirty days of the trip were spent living at the Swasti Yoga Shala. My modest room had barely enough space for a double bed and a small desk. My closet had two hangers and was three feet wide and four feet tall. The building, almost impossible to find, has five floors. The first has a reception area, a kitchen, guest bathroom, and a dining hall. Floors 2-4 each have four guest rooms. The top floor is the yoga studio with duct tape binding large sheets of thin brown carpet that almost cover a concrete floor.
I was enrolled in a 200-hour yoga/meditation teacher training. Three men and twelve women were my classmates and only two countries were duplicated. We were from Poland, Australia, Italy, Iran, The Ukraine, Holland, Spain, Canada, France, Germany, England, and Portugal. At fifty-three I was twelve years older than the oldest and thirty years older than the youngest. We began as strangers and ended up as a loving yoga family.
Surinder is truly an international yoga legend. His personal practice began over thirty years ago along with his promising career as a mechanical engineer for a large Indian car company. Sixteen years ago, he showed up to a class and his guru told him that it was time for him to lead the practice that very night. He did not want to let his guru down, so totally stricken with fear, he did about fifteen minutes of various poses. He prematurely aided the students into the shavasana pose (rest), guided them to close their eyes, then grabbed his own clothes and ran out of the room. He did not go back to class for a week!
He eventually began the transition out of the engineering business and into the world of full-time yoga. He told us a great story about how his ego became completely inflamed as word began to spread of this amazing teacher. His classes were packed and he would tell himself, “Oh Surinder, you are so good.” The donation bowl was overflowing with Rupees and he would again pat his own back. Some international press became interested in his story and you guessed right, his inner voice said, “Oh Surinder you are so good.”
In a moment of self evaluation during a meditation, he had a crystal clear moment that changed his life. He realized that he did not invent a single yoga pose. He did not have anything to do with creating the pranayama breathing techniques. He had nothing to do the ancient techniques used in meditation. He realized that the universe gave him a gift. Instead of using this talent to feed his personal ego, he changed his view of teaching class to “a duty to share yoga.” For the last sixteen years, he spends six days a week sharing with all those that are lucky enough to cross his path. Always smiling with the inner-glow of being in service to others.
Imagine how great the world would be if we all took our innate gifts and shared in a similar manner.