We are here. In the cold, bright hillside town of Rajpur. A perfect place to begin. We are signed up for a three week yoga course — right at the beginning of our extended retreat. “An asana is not a shape. It’s a state within a shape,” says Rajiv on our first day of class. Words that keep coming back to me over the next several days. There are Tibetan prayer flags stretched across the sky. Down the street in the hollow of a dead tree, a stray dog guards two newborn puppies, monks in their deep red robes finger their beads in open doorways, a band of long-limbed monkeys tears back and forth across the roof of the breathtaking cafe, run by local women, where Viral and I sit after class. Writing, reading, brainstorming. The days are full. Classes are rich with teachings, the mind and body have so much to learn from each other, have so much to learn about learning from each other. And everything is presented in such an interesting, unexpected way. I’ve never spent so much time upside down before. Literally. It feels so right to be here. The book is coming alive, like a bear waking after long hibernation. Slowly at first, but then the langor drops away, and the work comes into such swift, sharp focus it’s hard to fall asleep some days. There is a simplicity to being here. We aren’t carrying cell-phones and don’t have easy access to email. There is the rare freedom of recognizing what you are connected to when you are ‘disconnected’. There is no electricity in this town between 2 and 5 in the afternoon (they pay-forward the power to Haridwar where the Kumbh Mela is underway). In the beginning it’s hard to stay warm. For a couple of days there is no water at our home, but there is always laughter, something to talk over, look forward to. In the evenings after dinner we sometimes gather with our housemates from around the world, to drink green tea, or ginger chai. The shape of the day is always unpredictable. But as the days pass, I feel myself slowly becoming more aware — of the state within the shape.
From The Foothills of the Himalayas