June 24 - July 8, 2018
Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India
Location: Pema Thang Guest House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala (city), Himachal Pradesh (state), India
Moving from Upper Bhagsu to McLeod Ganj
I would have stayed up in Upper Bhagsu if not for Manu's heads-up about a possible yoga teaching opportunity at Pema Thang Guest House in McLeod Ganj. I met with the soft spoken manager, Jigme, and we came to terms about me staying at the hotel and teaching yoga in exchange for web promotion and a split of the proceeds. This is wonderful. Not only do I get a roof over my head but I also get to deepen my practice, meet people who attend my class and also put loose change in my pocket. I also welcomed the change in scenery from the tranquility of Upper Bhagsu to the hustle-and-bustle of McLeod Ganj. I took it as my tapas to walk from Upper Bhagsu all the way down to McLeod Ganj with all my 25-kilo luggage!
Pema Thang Guest House
I was given a spacious ensuite room with a view of the Kangra Valley. There was wifi within the hotel surrounding. Filtered water was provided for at reception. With a water kettle, I could make my hot tea in the morning...something I welcome. The hotel was in the heart of the McLeod Ganj, but in the quiet area, just a short walking distance from the residence of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. I was close to the main temple and market. It was a perfect setting. I couldn't be more grateful.
The yoga place was more of a multi-purpose hall with lots of chairs to accommodate a small convention. Yoga mats were available but needed to be cleaned. The floor was wooden and windows were ample for cross ventilation and sunshine. There is however, a 91-year old lady living at the lower level so jumping or excessive noise was not allowed (she passed on during my stay there).
Starting from Scratch
Yoga used to be offered at Pema Thang but the former teacher passed-on. It would have been a lot easier if I simply replaced a teacher with a regular following. I had to start from scratch - putting the word out to let people know yoga is offered. Posters for printing were made and I put up a banner on all my websites. Most of my friends who were interested were too far out into Upper Bhagsu. The first day, no one showed up.
My 2nd day class was attended to by an Indian couple in their late 30s who have never done yoga before. They were stiff and a little out of shape. But I was glad to see them try something new while on holidays. It was a good validation to see them back the following day with their teenage daughter with them. I could feel their enthusiasm as they recorded the entire class.
Most of the participants were in-house guests of the hotel except for 2 Italians who saw the poster and dropped-in. They wanted to attend more classes, but expectedly as travelers, they were there only for a few days.
Theoreticals and Foundation
As first timers,beginners and even those with experience, I found it more important to get them grounded on the theoreticals first - because studios don't usually touch on them. What is yoga? Why do yoga? What are the benefits? This was followed by basic foundations into the practice - taking the asanas all the way to their safety edge, synchronizing breath with motion, mindfulness in the poses, observing body sensation with a calm and equanimous mind, and putting the intention. I took them to basic asanas while applying all the elements at the same time. In short, I take the trouble to debunk the myth for newbies that yoga is not what they see in Instagram poses.
Ideally, I would like to have a morning class for beginners/first timers and an afternoon class for intermediate/advanced practioners. This should make everybody happy - including me.
On top of all the theoreticals and foundational elements, I had to inspire them to make them want to continue the practice even after leaving Dharamshala and back to their normal lives. At the risk of showing-off, I gave them my age and the unusual things I can do. I demonstrated a 2-knuckle one hand handstand underscoring strength and vitality. I stressed upon them that continued practice of yoga, pranayama and meditation, replaces medication, replaces visits to the doctor and replaces hospital bills. They won't get sick and they won't get old - my body was my own compelling example.
I found it odd and interesting for a Filipino like me to go to India and teach yoga to Indian nationals. It felt like teaching an Italian how to cook pasta. But as a yoga teacher at Pema Thang Guest House where guests are mostly Indians, that's how it happened.
I do hope that the yoga classes I conducted served as seed for their continuing practice. Health is wealth. With yoga, sickness is a thing of the past, ageing slows down to an turtle's pace and vitality is restored. As my yogini idol, Andrea Paige says, "the new paradigm is not about being healthy because you are not sick but being healthy because you have vitality and energy back into your life."
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ps - If you want me to participate and write about your yoga studio or your yoga practice, email me. For my complete yoga profile, you can visit this page: YOGA by Gigit
Next stop: In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher
Dharamshala (city), India
- short power outages frequently happen during the day
How to get to Dharamshala from Rishikesh by bus
- Bus - Rishikesh to Dharamshala is 449 kms. The usual route is to go to Haridwar and take the State transport buses to Lower Dharamshala, but it's less hassle to get a bus from Rishikesh that go all the way up to McLeod Ganj - a little more money (INR 1150) but worth it specially if you a carry bulky pack. You will leave Rishikesh 4pm and arrive in Dharamshala the following day (you save one night lodging) at 7am.
How to get to New Delhi Airport from McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala by bus
- Bus From McLeod Ganj bus station, take a semi-sleeper a/c overnight bus, INR 1000, 11.5 hours (7pm to 6:30am) straight to Kashmiri Gate Train Station in New Delhi.
- walk to Kashmiri Gate (no need to ride a tuktuk)
- take the Yellow Line towards Huda City but get off at New Delhi Station (INR 16)
- From New Delhi Station, take the Airport Metro Train (INR 60) and get off at the airport
Travel Tips for India
- e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
- US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
- nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
- other travel destinations in India
- always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
- 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
- Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
- Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
- In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
- Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
- Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
- Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
- Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
- A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018
- 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
- Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
- A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018
- A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
- White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
- Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
- Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
- Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
- Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018
- India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018
»» next story: In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher
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