I am strong. I am brave. I cannot be vanquished. 

I am sitting in my harem pants of beautiful design I bought yesterday in Mcgleod ganj. A week from today I was unbelievably nervous for the life changing trip I was about to take. That was a long grueling day. My first flight was over 16 hours followed by an 8 hour layover in Singapore. The next flight was about 5 hours with a quick stop in Delhi and my final flight to Dharamsala. The first two flights weren’t bad. The economy seats actually reclined to a comfortable sleeping position and you had room for your legs. The meals were hot and yummy and there was a vegan option for me. The intense stress didn’t begin until I was in Delhi. 

People talk about the culture shock and the pollution but it is indescribable (a word I’m using a lot for this trip). I could’ve asked a hundred people about India and I still would have been in awe. The pollution covers the sky in a thick brown, fog-like haze. Also the amount of people is insane, and I was only in the airport for 2 hours. Dharamsala on the other hand is much less populated and you can take a deep breath. 

I stayed at a hotel my first night in to get used to the time difference and the change in altitude. During my whole journey I was incredibly anxious and the second I got into my hotel room I burst into tears. But while I was crying I kept reminding myself that I was ok and nothing had gone wrong. I also remembered a passage from Wild by Cheryl Strayed I read on my first layover. 

This mantra could not have come into my life at a better time. For the next two days I repeated this to myself every time I got nervous or scared: I am strong, I am brave, I cannot be vanquished. 

On Thursday we had our opening ceremony for the yoga teacher training. It was moving and beautiful. The instructors and the administrators did a prayer for us and cleansed us to prepare for our journey. Then the man leading the prayer wrapped a red string around our wrists, which we later learned was to protect us. After the ceremony we shared our first meal together and got to know each other. 

Friday and Saturday we had classes and I believe I will be eternally sore this month with how our asana and hatha vinyasa classes have gone so far. Both of the instructors are from India and they both have led interesting lives that have given them the experience to teach us. 

Every Sunday is a free day so on our first one yesterday, most of us went to Mcgleod ganj to see the Dalai Lama temple and do a little shopping. 

The town was bustling but nowhere near as hectic as Delhi. As my first trip abroad and alone at that. It’s not surprising that I became afraid. On the first few days of the trip. But now that I’ve settled in, I think I’ve fallen in love with India. Dharamsala is beautiful and I cannot get over the breathtaking views of the colorful towns and the Himalayas. (The pictures never seem to do it justice.)

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