I usually try and visit Nepal twice a year to help my friend Devika teach Yoga to visiting Westerners during the high seasons at the Nepali Yoga Centre in Pokhara as well as check in with the Nepali Women's Yoga Project we support together. Unfortunately I have not been able to visit this season and I have missed it hugely, there is nothing quite like arriving into the chaos of Kathmandu with its sensory overload to bring you back to earth a little, nor the awe inspiring feeling I get when I arrive in Pokhara and see the peak of Fish tail mountain standing tall in the distance.
I miss my local friends too who are so comparatively poor in material terms and yet so incredibly rich in love, kindness and compassion. They teach me so much about the humility of life, about the things that really matter, about family and helping one another, about having enough food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over their heads, and taking each day as it comes with smiles, laughter and gratitude. My concerns and worries back here in Guernsey seem so utterly inconsequential in the greater scheme of things - they have so little and yet give so much more. It reminds me of something my cousin Yo has wisely taught me this year, "less is more".
For those who don't know, Nepal is landlocked in the Himalayas bordering China, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. With an estimated 35 - 45 percent of its population living below the poverty line, Nepal is classified as one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. Despite the obvious poverty (how can we have such a massive divide between rich and poor on this planet), Nepal is also one of the world’s greatest tourist sites for mountain climbing and hiking. Eight of the world’s ten highest peaks, including Mt. Everest, sit in Nepal and thankfully (or not, when you consider the ecological damage from tourism) this has been an attraction for westerners on a regular basis and helped to provide many Nepalis with an income (the positive bit).
"Namaste" is a form of greeting in Nepal, like saying hello, goodbye and thank you in one go, all the time people say "Namaste, Namaste" so that when I leave I still find myself saying it without even realising, it becomes second nature. We tend to say "Namaste" at the end of Yoga classes here in the West and I always wonder how many Yoga practitioners actually know what it means, not that it matters, the fact it is being said is good enough for me, a respectful way to end a class, but for those who don't know then here is a lovely translation:
"I honour the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honour the place in you which is of Love, of Light and of Peace, when you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, then we are one"......or quite simply...
"The love and light in me meets the same love and light in you".
A bit like the U2 song - "One".
On a final note the word Nepal is often defined as Never Ending Love And Peace (N.E.P.A.L.), how true, I believe there is something in the energy of the country that gets into your heart so that when you leave, a little of your heart stays there, waiting until you return again, and you take with you a little of the heart of the people instead. I hope it is not too long before I return, one day Devika and I intend to teach Yoga retreats out there together, perhaps with a spot of trekking to energise in the mountains, so maybe you can join us, Nepal should certainly be on everyone's travelling wish lists Yoga aside!