Thursday, December 6, 2012


An administrator of Operation Smile India recently told me if you are living in India, you must do three things: 1. Learn a language (I am learning Hindi); 2. Take yoga classes (I just started); 3. Meditate (I think I will stick with the yoga right now).

There is a cultural community center down the street from my flat called Vivekananda Kendra. Inspired by a spiritual and active leader, the center has a library, yoga classes and other nice amenities. I heard that they have beginner yoga classes the first ten days of every month.

If you know me at all, I laugh a lot. So, the first class was a struggle as I had to hold in the laughter. I had no idea what to expect and before I knew it, I was saying "UUUUUUUUUUUmmmmmmm" and making other chants. Besides the chanting, we put ourselves in various yoga positions and inhale and exhale deeply.

The class lasts from 6:00-7:30 in the morning. Because it is a beginner class, the last 30 minutes we learn about yoga and what it has to offer. We also discuss how our “homework” went. Yes, we have homework to help guide us into creating yoga as a lifestyle. The first day, our assignment was to go around and say “Namaskar” to everyone instead of hello. The second day, we were supposed to say “yes” to any work that people asked us to do. The third day, we were asked to call a friend. And, the homework assignments continue in similar fashion.

At first, I was unsure about the class. I did not think it was physically challenging enough because the focus appeared to be more on yoga as a lifestyle then on a physical act like stretching. (However, this morning I woke up and my body was so sore I could barely get out of bed.) And although this is a problem for me, the lifestyle part is what most yoga-practicers focus on here. The teacher again and again has said, “Yoga is a lifestyle.” I am having a hard time believing that. I have completed my sixth class and have four more to go. After this, I can join the class upstairs, which I assume is a more intense yoga practice.

So far, I have learned that yoga is about leading a simple life. And I think living in Guwahati has taught me that. So maybe after more of yoga, I will learn about leading an even MORE simple life. My only challenge: to believe that there is more to it than just the physical.

At this point I certainly plan to continue going to the classes every morning. It is starting to get cold in Guwahati, so walking to the yoga with no one on the streets (which is weird) in the foggy, chilly atmosphere is nice. On top of that, you feel all limber and awake and relaxed after the hour of chanting and streching.

How about that downward dog? 

Sending smiles and "namastes" from India,

Below are some pictures and explanations from my week:

I went to the Northeast India model contest, which was held in Guwahati. The girl who won then goes to the all of India beauty contest. A girl working at the center was the MC and had some passes. Who would have thought that my first beauty pageant would be in Guwahati?
This little boy's name is Happy!  
Kisui Jeme (the twenty year old girl in the middle) was a volunteer/interpreter for the Silchar Medical Mission in September. After a bad burn ten years ago, her left hand became deformed and not usuable. She had no idea that Operation Smile treated such cases until she volunteered for us back in September. She came all the way to Guwahati for a surgery that will allow her to use her hand! What a great story. 
What a cutie. She is on the Cleft Care Center's nutrition program and has to gain 4 more kilograms until she can get surgery. Eat up!
Some of us went to guy buy Christmas decorations for the center. We were taken back to this tiny stores "warehouse." It was such a sight. The warehouse (which was a three minute walk up and down tiny alleys) was six times as big as the shop.  
It's Christmas time in Guwahati! Guwahati is so religiously diverse because it has a lot of immigrants from everywhere. Christianity is more common here than most other places, so Christmas decorations are easier to find. 
These workers sit back here all day making the shop's products, packaging them and taking inventory.

Christmas tree in my apartment... A beautiful Charlie Brown Christmas. 

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