JOYyogaSome say when India calls you, it is a whisper…a little voice that you hear.

That is how it seemed when deciding to go on my first trip, and yet the voice was constant.  In 2013, I traveled to India with a wonderful, large group. I felt safe and well cared for. My itinerary was planned and details of the travel were handled.  This first trip led me to feel brave- expanded- adventurous. I felt “called.” “Pulled” is another way to describe it.

After that first trip, it has never been a whisper or a little voice again. It is loud, clear, constant, and consistent voice.

India invited, beckoned, and called me to return.  So, in 2014 and February 2016, I traveled east, this time aloneDelhi Airport.

India welcomed me with open arms, beginning the moment I was greeted by the mudras on the wall of the terminal in the Delhi airport. This country fascinates me in every possible way, from the rich cultural heritage to a feeling of contentment with the extremes and opposites.   Whatever I thought about India, it is more.  Chaos. Controlled. Soothing. Melodic.

Lao Tzu writes: “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  Having no expectations, I am beckoned by the invitation to immerse into the experience and be it..instead of watching it.

There is a saying in India, especially when someone is trying to sell you something, “Same same, but different!” This would be a good way to sum up each of my 3 trips. They have been different and yet the same.

People from all over the world travel to India to seek knowledge. It is the country which made the world familiar with the philosophy of non-violence and truth.  Living in complete harmony with the cows, the Ganges, the guru, the chapatti, and the chai. It is all “Leila” ~ playing with the divine.

Ma Ganga  (Cropped)
My favorite cities, Rishikesh and Haridwar, along the banks of the Ganges, are rich with tradition and the lineage of the rishis and gurus. As my spirit starts to transform and become part of the flow of the river, I find myself falling in love with each moment.  I spend as much time as possible walking, meditating, and just sitting close to the sparkling blue-green ripples and swirls of Ma Ganga, right at the foothills of the Himalayas,  I close my eyes and smile, feeling more than lucky to be at this magical place. Both observing the river AND being in it takes my breath away and yet comforts me… for it is both my path and my teacher.

Santosha: Contentment – There is such comfort when my soul finds where it feels home, my inside matches my outside, and my outside matches my inside.

Each trip, I have told myself  ”This is a trip of a lifetime. I have had successful trips.  I never know.  This might be my last.”   Then, prior to departing this year, I glanced at my VISA. I noticed it is a “10 Year VISA.”

Thank you India.

Written by Joy Illikainen, who teaches and studies at Yoga North ISYI.

Are you feeling the call to India?  Join us in March of 2017 with Indu Arora, Ann Maxwell, and Molly McManus.  Learn more

Join us in study with Indu Arora in July.  Learn more