Published in the Yoga Scotland Magazine, July 2018 by Kaivalyananda
It was my first ever yoga class in my early twenties and the lady next to me, Greta, was 96 years old. I was in pretty bad shape suffering from debilitating back pain amongst a long list of other pains and problems since the previous few years. In every posture, I looked over at the old lady and thought to myself there is no way I will ever be able to do what Greta can.
A few years went by taking classes with my wise teacher at the time, Elspeth, and practising daily on my own at home. The individualized attention which I received from this saint of a lady, who was obviously brought to this world to help as many people as possible, was heart-warming, and slowly but surely my body started to undergo a process of healing. It was in large part thanks to her classes that I finally started to feel well again despite the stress I was under at the time working in an investment bank. Little by little my body began to open and I no longer felt like the worst in the class amongst the madams.
And thus, I felt it was time to celebrate that with a change of direction in life. Discontented with my job in the investment bank, I decided to pursue a master degree in international relations in Barcelona. Studying hard, I found my relaxation and yogic development at a yoga school in Barcelona where I discovered more dynamic styles of yoga – ashtanga, vinyasa and rocket. Every day at that yoga school, my body developed more flexibility, stamina and strength and my interest in yoga grew and grew.
Coming towards the end of my master degree I was pondering what to do. For some divine reason I felt pulled to Jordan, a country where I had spent four months learning Arabic a few years prior. To this end, I sat under some pine trees in Barcelona, smelling their fragrance which reminded me of the University of Jordan all those years ago. I felt myself back in Jordan, visualized my daily interactions there; I made it all feel so real. A couple of weeks later I met an official from the European Union who told me he had a contact in the Jordan office. He promptly put us in contact and in very short time I had a job lined up starting in a few months’ time.
But what to do in the months before starting the job? I decided to go to India to pursue my 500 hour teaching certification in yoga. Goa changed my life forever. There was a certain magic in the air which awakened my spiritual longings. The complete pummelling which my physical body took ended up giving me a new-found strength and perseverance. The more esoteric practices opened up some new sensations and rather interesting (to say the least!) spiritual insights and experiences.
On my return to Scotland before my next adventure to Jordan I was a totally different human being, darkened by the hot Indian sun, filled with inner peace and oozing with energy. I did not like to talk much and could often be found just sitting with my eyes gazing up to the third eye, the point between the eyebrows. A scary sight I must have been!
I arrived to the European Union office in Jordan with a sense of excitement. However, from day one my boss turned out to be a rather negative individual which made work a little distasteful at times. Maybe she did not like the way I sat in meetings with my eyes up in my head gazing at my third eye! Nonetheless, I did not let it get to me and just got on with my duties with a sense of bliss inside of me.
On the weekends I was teaching yoga workshops in Jordan and one regular class during the week which I promptly increased due to a fast-growing demand. My yoga community was growing fast and I realized very quickly that what I really wanted to dedicate myself to was just yoga. So, after only five months, I left the office job to focus on the more important matter of transforming people’s lives through yoga.
Since then I have been mostly based in Jordan teaching a variety of yoga classes – hatha, ashtanga, vinyasa, yin and a whole host of workshops. Alongside teaching, my schedule has also become very busy with Reiki healing sessions and trainings. However, the most fun aspect of teaching in Jordan is the retreats I have given in the middle of the desert and in a paradisiacal location near the Dead Sea. Jordan boasts some very unique spots of natural beauty and the energy in those places has been conducive to deep spiritual work. It has been very humbling to watch the transformation of people over the course of just a weekend, to see how their perspectives on life can change in an instant. Throughout my years spent in Jordan, I also travelled frequently to India for trainings and also to teach on retreats, as well as teaching workshops in Palestine, Spain and Scotland.
It has been an adventure in Jordan to say the least, full of joy, transformations, special people, teaching princesses but also my fair share of challenges – cultural differences, religious intolerance, crazy landlords, jealousy, and more. But as one student said to me, if I have been able to create this much success in Jordan, then operating anywhere else will seem like a pleasant stroll in the park.
And thus, blessed with having created a large yoga community in Jordan, helping hundreds of people on their spiritual path, years of full classes, workshops and an admittedly overly-full schedule, I have decided it is time for my next adventure. I am in the process of re-basing myself in the south of Spain. Let’s see what this chapter holds in store for me…
On a final thought, I wish Greta was still around to see that I finally caught up with her.