The dense, intense heat of Kerala feels like it is getting thicker with each salutation we make to the sun. The lake stretches out in front of us to the hills on the other side. Tall trees overhang our dried earth floor on which we have spread our mats a hundred metres along the lake shore, protecting us in their shadows from the glare of the late afternoon sun.
Two hundred people move in perfect symmetry on multi-coloured mats, our teacher conducting our breathe, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Our bodies flow to the rhythm of our collective breath as we stretch up once more to the sky, the big blue open sky which stretches out above us, and we lower our hands to our sides as we exhale.
We relax down onto our mats as one, abdomen rising, abdomen falling as we inhale and exhale. Lying side by side on our mats, arms away from our bodies, hands almost touching our neighbours as we lie in corpse pose feeling our hearts beating against our ribs, our breathing steady, our bodies relaxed.
Eyes closed in this most idyllic setting, but it’s beauty is not lost, the gentle lapping of the water on the sand, the sound of mosquitoes in our ears, the rustle of the leaves in the trees high above all sing around us as we relax on our mats.
Our teacher moves his ensemble into headstand and we balance, legs in the air, shoulders relaxed but strong, focused on a single point on our mats. For me, a single piece of earth which has blown onto my purple mat becomes my focal point as I breathe into my abdomen and in the blurred background I can see ants filing along in line, marching across the edge of my mat.
As we come down into childs pose and then into savasana again I catch a glimpse of the blue water stretching across to the hills in the distance, the quiet cool of a slight breeze makes no ripple on it’s surface.
Hundreds of people just like me from around the world lie on multi-coloured mats, side by side, each with a different motivation for coming here, each with different lives but all with the same dream, of becoming a yoga teacher. We are living together, eating together and moving together through the daily practice which everyday becomes more familiar and everyday teaches me something more.
Maniji, our teacher walks through the students, conducting our breathe with his smooth calming voice, keeping us in tempo through the flow of postures, forward bends and backward bends, everything in balance, sitting followed by standing, balancing postures and inverted ones.
And the sequence is over. Two hours have passed and it feels like just a moment ago the orchestra were warming up. But the sun has moved below the hill behind us, the sun is setting, and the day is ending.
We are lying gently down on our backs once more for final relaxation. The hard floor beneath me, my body supported and relaxed. Tension dissolves into the ground, washed away by an invisible force into the lake. My body breathes.
A month has gone by. A month of 18 hour days full of intense learning and change. In a few days we take our exam and we will each take the next step on our journey towards our dreams. We will be able to share this with others.
As we sit after final relaxation, cross-legged at the top of our mats, I open my eyes and gaze out at the lake. It’s totally flat. The gentle breeze which rustles the palm leaves high above is causing just a gentle ripple on it’s surface. It is relaxed, flowing and breathing deeply, perfectly in tune with all that is happening around it.