By Diana Fernandez de Cordoba
India and Ecuador have in common the fact that they are both located on the equator. “Ecuador” even gets its name from its location in the equatorial zone. But in addition to this coincidence, despite being thousands of kilometers away, its biodiversity, its colorful landscapes, and its people, are also elements of similar encounter.
In 2015 I was preparing to travel to Rishikesh, India after planning my second yoga teacher training. After three days of travel, passing through the United States, I arrived in Rishikesh at 10 p.m. It was a very dark night, and even more so because the street lights were only as bright as weak candles. In the shadows I tried to get around and find the address of the hotel, but either my English was not good enough, or I had been misled by those who I asked.
Overwhelmed, I tried to think about what I could do in the middle of that gloom. I had bought a chip for my cell phone when exiting the airport in New Delhi, but on the way to Rishikesh there was no signal. When I was finally able to contact the hotel it was already past 7 p.m. They told me they no longer had my reserved room because they did not hear from me in time, so they gave it to another guest. They only had one room left, next to the kitchen, which was used as a place to rest for the employees, that was all they could offer me. I originally thought that as soon as I arrived in Rishikesh, I would look for another hotel, but I did not expect to be so late. I had planned to leave at noon and arrive at my destination no later than 5 p.m. But, since India is such a densely populated country, full of festivities, getting trapped on the road without being able to move is unfortunately very common.
So I arrived five hours later than expected, in a country that I am not the most familiar with, and have nowhere to go. Everything felt like it was moving in slow motion. In an attempt not to despair, I made a few more calls to the hotel, during which I tried to communicate with Arun, the receptionist. In this coming and going of calls, there was a pause, a silence, which was interrupted by the sound of a motorcycle. Between the light and the shadows, a thin man, with a strong accent, told me, "I'm the one from the hotel and I came to pick you up"... For a few seconds I thought it was a joke, someone on a motorcycle was coming to pick me up. I am truly terrified of motorcycles! Nevertheless, it was my only option, unless I wanted to sleep on the streets. I glanced quickly at my luggage and shyly asked, “What about my suitcases?” To which Arun replied, “You will have to leave it, I don't have room for your suitcases and it's already too late!” At that moment I had to make a decision between going to a hotel or staying there alone with the suitcases on the street. I chose the hotel! I boarded the motorcycle and embraced my purse, the only thing that really mattered to me, because of the documents and the little money I carried.
When I traveled to India I was looking for spiritual lessons, and life-changing experiences. In addition to giving me better tools to work on what I was passionate about, teaching yoga classes.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, India and Ecuador are very similar in many ways. Although Ecuador, because it is located in the Western part of the planet, has not been directly influenced by yoga or its manifestations. It has only been exposed to it since the visit of the first gurus to the United States, such as Paramajansa Yogananda (1920), or Sri Patabi Jois (1978), among others. Yoga has been undergoing adaptations since its exposure to the Western world, but yoga in its purest form has been reserved for its country of origin. Being a devotee of the origins, where wisdom, knowledge, experience and science prevail, I firmly believe that this practice must be rescued and treated with all respect and devotion, sourced from which its true benefits emerge, not as fitness but as a therapy of conscious life in modern times.