2009-10-22

Mountains for Breakfast



This ain't breakfast at Tiffany's, but yoga and breakfast in the Himalayas (and it will be more than sufficient). In the Kangra valley within the state of HP (Himachal Pradesh) is Dharamsala; a refuge for Tibetians and the seat of the Dali Lama. We stayed in a suburb called McLeod Ganj, which is elevated about 2000 m (or 6000 feet).

The view was breathtaking of the white mountains or known as Dhauladhar. It ranges up to 5000 m (17, 000 fett). The state of HP has the advantage of having all the major Himalayan peaks represented within it. Imagine walking out of your little hut each morning to look at this view? I could not help but wonder what kind of person I might be had I grown up around the mountains rather than in the city. I have always had a romantic notion that being in the mountains brings you closer to God. And if there is a God, this is what God would look like.

In the mountains it is "easier" to comtemplate on what's important in life; how petty the thoughts can churn and how low the ideas can run in comparison to just how big life actually is. Questions of life arise such as what is love? What is the true nature of pain? What is life? Who am I? Why am I here? These are all the questions that spiritual seekers have sought to ask for thousands of years. And this is why 'sat' (true) seekers have generally headed to the mountains; the ego is less here and worldly concerns far away.


There are three regions here; the upper part called McLeod Ganj, the middle region of the Kotwali Bazar and the lower area of Kaccheri. After an extensive search for the 'right' place to stay, I decided upon Uduchee Huts in the upper region. All the travel guides and on-line advisors I had consulted said the same thing. That is, it was inconveniently located but had an awesome view of the mountain range. (And this was not a lie.) Being here made life in Mysore, travelling throughout Europe and life back in Canada
seem like a dream I had.

Within this region there are many good treks. We choose a 15 kilometer trek that took up most of the day. Some of it was very challenging as we moved up and around the mountain region. We were headed to Devi Guru Temple and when we arrived I had the distinct feeling that not many tourists find their way here. It was completley deserted. There was only one man there who crunched down near where we were resting. As he prepared to roll a smoke, he smiled grimly and puffed away.

On the way back down, we stopped at this River Cafe; a make-shift cafe that sold a few snacks, chai (tea) and drinks. It looked homely, run-down, dirty, old and limited. It reminded me of an apartment I once wanted to rent near the beaches in Toronto. It was advertised as having a "lake-view". What it had was a square foot window. My father told me, "I wouldn't shake a stick at it." I liked it. I am sure there are many who would turn their noses at this place too. We felt it was 'perfect'.


PS: We did not order the chow-mein

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The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


ME

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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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