I hope you enjoy another sample chapter from Practice.
One day on the yoga mat during my second trip to India, I noticed a mountain of hair piled high in a bun atop a husky man. At the end of the practice, he rearranged his locks into a ponytail that hung well past his midback. After the class wrapped up, he patiently waited for a lady who was busy sketching in an oversized notebook. On the way out of the room, I followed them down the five sets of stairs to the lobby. I introduced myself and was then in the company of Nathanael and Eva.
A few days later, I saw them in one of the endless ATM lines at the State Bank of India during the currency crisis; like I had, they were doing their time in the four-hour line in hopes of getting 20 survival dollars out of the electronic cash dispenser. Noting the copious sweat on Nathanael’s forehead, I surmised they were not enjoying their wait.
I stopped by a street vendor and bought some snacks and two bottles of water. Eva and Nathanael were pleased with their gifts, and I had a great excuse to eat a midday samosa. While we ate, I stood in line with them for a bit, which gave us some time to become friends.
The lovely couple from London was on an extended journey around the world. Eva was enrolled in Surinder’s teacher training, and Nathanael would join her for the drop-in class afterward. When I asked Eva about her drawings, she explained, “I am a very visual person. It helps me retain the information.”
About a week later, I was walking past The Office (another great eatery) and saw the U.K. couple waiting for their food. I ordered a vegetable pancake and some chai and sat with them. I asked Eva if she would share her drawings. With a big smile, she pulled a sketchbook from her backpack and placed it in my hands.
I flipped to a random page and was drawn to a sketch of Surinder’s oversized bearded face. He was illustrated in the lotus position with the words “breathe innnnnn” floating above his head. Carefully placed words, large and small, bold and plain, filled out the frame. They read: “The best thing that happened today. The day already started off lovely with a little chai on the way to yoga. Then a fantastic yoga class with Surinder, who is a lovely, calm, gentle person, who gives great subtle correction and oozes calm positivity.” She had also sketched the entire class from that day. Each pose was illustrated with a two-inch body and arrows visually explaining where each body part was meant to be and how the muscles should be stretched, contracted, or rotated.
Several months later and back in Boise, I was preparing for my annual trip to Palm Springs with my mom. I was hoping to practice some yoga and thought about buying a book of poses. Instead, I sent a Facebook message to Eva asking if she would be willing to share some of her sketches. My email inbox was soon filled with seven pages of her work. Eva also mentioned that she was making a “sketchnote” book named Notes from Yoga Teacher Training.
A year later, the beautiful published book accompanied me into my own yoga teacher training with Surinder.
During a scheduled break several days into the training, I joined three of my yoga classmates for a short walk to Lakshman Jhula for lattes and peanut butter chocolate balls. We found the goods at The Pumpernickel German Bakery. We were lucky to get a table overlooking the Freedom Café and the mighty Mother Ganga. A sign above our table read, “No Smoking Weed Ji.” A very polite prohibition, given the “ji,” a common term of respect.
We began telling our individual stories of how we chose Surinder’s training. Sophie gave a long statement about being super diligent with research by reading blogs, interviewing past participants, and almost ordering a book with drawings from a previous student.
I laughed and asked, “Oh, you mean Eva’s book?”
“Get out,” she answered. “This cannot be. Are you sure it’s the same author?”
“Not only am I sure, but she will be here in a week,” I confirmed. “Would you like me to have her bring a book for you?”
I did a quick Google search on my phone and suspended Sophie’s disbelief by showing her an image of the book cover. Eva was pleased to hear from me and agreed to bring a few copies for her upcoming trip to Rishikesh.
Several weeks later, while on a walkabout, I was enjoying refreshments at The Juice House when Eva and Nathanael, who had recently returned to Rishikesh, passed on the street. They joined me on a bench, Eva on my right and Nathanael on my left. When Vishvas arrived for his daily shift of juice-making, I introduced him to my friends. Although he was anxious to get to work, he quickly said, “Kurt, I have a favor to ask of you. Some of your fellow students were here yesterday, and they had a little book with drawings of yoga poses.” I glanced at Eva and reveled in her beaming grin. He continued, “Do you think you could find a way for me to buy that book?”
“Well,” I said, “I know the author. She sold her last book to one of my yoga classmates earlier today, but I bet you could make arrangements to get one from her.”
Much to his surprise, Eva piped in then and said, “I have one copy left, and it’s the one I use to show people my work. But, I feel that it needs to be yours, so I will bring it for you tomorrow.”
Visibly moved, Vishvas responded, “Oh what a great honor.” Then he asked, “How much would that cost me?”
Eva looked toward the sky, squinting her eyes in thought before replying, “One juice would be a good trade. The price is one juice.”