namaste friends! we are Katya & Rob!

… thanks for stopping by to share our journey of documenting love! we are a rocking team, crazy about each other and what we do… learn a bit about us HERE
… below is our approximate travel schedule for the next while – we might be closer than you think, so drop us a line and follow us on INSTAGRAM @katyanovaphoto

we’ve also recently started our new ‘nurturing nova’ blog, which is a tribute to our passion for wholesome living & saving our pennies towards our Dream of building a boutique Yoga & Ayurveda wellness sanctuary retreat in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. hope you’ll get to visit us there one day!

TRAVEL SCHEDULE: 2014

March  2014   |   Indonesia   (Bali Spirit Fest March 19-23) 

March 25 – April 2014   |   PUNTA CANA, DR

* April 18 – May 4 2014   |  Abruzzo, Italy  Destination Wedding 

May 5 – July 26 2014 +   |   DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Punta Cana & Cabarete)

July 27 – mid-October 2014    |   CANADA

* August 25 – 31   |    Burning Man, Nevada Desert Destination Wedding

* September 4 – 9 2014    |    Halifax, Canada Destination Wedding

November 2014 – July 2015   |   DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (we’re moving to the charming town of Cabarete, but will be shooting in Punta Cana on a regular basis)

******************************************************************

P.S. Here are some quick links to gem blog posts that you might enjoy:

CONFESSIONS OF A PUNTA CANA BRIDE

CONFESSIONS OF AN INTIMATE PORTRAITS PHOTOGRAPHER

10 THINGS I LEARNED AT BURNING MAN 2013

INDIA VIRGINS, OR HOW TO SURVIVE ASHRAM LIVING

 

 

October 20, 2013 - 11:43

Shauna Prokopchuk - Thank you Katya and Rob for everything at my sister Megan and her new husband Jordons wedding! I can’t wait to see all the amazing pictures. The engagement pictures were unbelievable and I’m sure the wedding ones will be even better! You were both so wonderful to work with. Enjoy your upcoming travels :)

December 8, 2012 - 23:40

Shyloh - Katya and Rob!!! Every one of your pictures makes me fall deeper in love with both of you! I have never been one consumed with thoughts o marriage… But your pictures certainly capture true uncontrolable love. You both cause me to miss love that I have had, and yearn for the love that is coming. Thank you for spreading your talent and joy with every picture. I love you both! And I wait for the day when I will spend time with you, talk about our love for the universe, and share our passionate energy.

Love you both unconditionally…. Shyloh

diamonds & dudu: day after shenanigans. {vanessa + cam}

We’d been away from our loved ones for more than 6 months. Rob & I traveled back to Dominican Republic from Bali and straight to Vanessa & Cam’s Cabarete wedding (Vanessa is Rob’s sister, which makes her my sister… which makes Cam by new brother!)

I don’t know how your family likes to party, but ours REALLY knows how to share the love and (quite literally) make a splash!!!!!!!

We’re still pouring our love into the wedding photos and I’m not quite ready to blog them yet…

but here’s a confession: last night after we shot a wedding, I opened a bottle of wine, listened to Alt-J & Electric Guest late into the night and created this post. I just couldn’t help it – this is food for my soul.

The day after Vanessa & Cam’s wedding, a bunch of us went out to the Dudu Lake & Blue Lagoons & Playa Diamante (between Cabarete & Cabrera) for a day of quality time and ridiculous fun.

Hope you feel the love – because I laughed & cried while putting this one together.

Sexy salsa with ripe local mangos… 

There’s never too much cilantro. 

Mandy & a very tiny harmonica. 

El Dudu Lake & Blue Lagoon – a secret gem of Cabrera, Dominican Republic. Here’s the second time you get to see Vanessa & Cam in their wedding best (since Burning Man)! 

Cam, shredding it on the drums with his incredibly talented musician friends, Reuben, Trent & Ryan.

Our beautiful sister Angie, defying gravity.

Playa Diamante, a paradise beach we had all to ourselves. Can you think of a better way to enjoy champagne with your immediate family?:)

Sam & his precious family. They came for the wedding all the way from San Pancho, Mexico (I’ve been there!)

Yep, that’s my dad & I. Come hug a tree! 

I’ve never seen you guys so happy. This is so right. 

Nesse & Cam – thanks for making our lives better just by being yourselves. {I have the coolest family I could ever dream of being a part of!}

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koh samui, thailand wedding photographer. {vanessa + erik}

Our first wedding blog post of 2014 – and it’s a very special one. We came halfway around the world to document Vanessa & Erik’s wedding on the beautiful island of Koh Samui, Thailand!

As many of you know, Rob & just got back to Dominican Republic from almost 6 months of journeying through India, Thailand, Laos, and Bali. (It’s been a remarkable trip and we have so much to share with you!) I received Vanessa’s inquiry just as we were mapping out our trip, so adding their Koh Samui destination wedding to our itinerary was perfect.

Thailand was quite a change for us, after 3 months in India! Before arriving to the wedding villa, we had a chance to ‘play’ in Bangkok and around Koh Samui…

Vanessa & Erik, along with most of their closest family & friends, traveled from British Columbia, Canada. Hanging out with this lovely, laid back bunch was a great pleasure! Our home base for the 3 days of wedding festivities were the Dhevatara Cove villas… I need a minute to explain how magical this place is. (It’s a good thing there was no one around when we first arrived to the property, because our jaws dropped and we were giddy with excitement, silly happy dance and all.) 

The beachfront Dhevatara Cove villas are impeccably designed in great taste, combining modern comfort and luxury with traditional thai decor. An ‘open concept’ allows you to stay cozy in the space while enjoying the pool, outdoor dining room, magnificent sunsets, star-gazing, and of course, hearing the soft murmur of the waves pretty much wherever you are. We photograph destination weddings in a lot of beautiful places – but this one definitely stands out!

‘We met at a very sketchy bar in our hometown,’ Vanessa recalls. ‘Really, the seediest bar possible! I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday, and I saw him across the bar playing pool. I couldn’t believe how hot he was and how I had never met him before. I had to go say hi (and I never approach boys!)’ Erik says he fell in love with Vanessa right away. ‘I said ‘I love you’ by accident the first time,  I was trying to wait a while but it just slipped out,’ he confesses.

‘I love Vanessa for so many reasons but I really love how she communicates with me and makes me want to be better.  Her OCD organization and responsibility is the perfect balance for my overly relaxed attitude that evens out to be an incredible carefree lifestyle while still achieving goals.  I love her taste and style,  all of the things we have in common from music to food and especially our love of travel.’

‘I love that Erik is so laid back, calm and patient, sexy and adventurous.’

Ideal day together, according to Erik:  ‘bit of a day drunk on a hot day, floating down a cool river with with some fun snacks and tasty drinks and a great playlist on our private island.  Followed by partying with friends and ending up back for alone time on our private mosquito free island.’

Ideal day together, according to Vanessa: ‘spending time in the sun, swimming, venturing, playing pool and making dinner together.’

The proposal was completely perfect and unexpected. ‘We were in our pyjamas, cuddling on the couch. Erik had always told me how much he wanted to marry me, and I was so shocked when I saw the ring!’

All the while, Erik had big plans to get a room in the city, have a great dinner and find the right time to ask… but ‘upon arriving I found the ring that I had put aside had been sold less than an hour before. I ended up getting the ring in the mail and waited a few days until I was really feeling the love.  We were just cuddling watching a movie and I asked casually,  she said yes thinking I was kidding until I knelt down and pulled out the ring.’

When they were little: Vanessa wanted to be a ballerina, a nurse, or a teacher; and Erik – a pilot. Now Erik is a carpenter and Vanessa is a registered nurse in psychiatry. They love what they do, love life, and adore each other to pieces. It shows!!

After an amazing First Look, we kidnapped Vanessa & Erik and took them to a stunning waterfall on the way to their ceremony at Le Meridien. 

We arrive at Le Meridien before all the guests, to savour a few quiet moments and take it all in! 

‘With Erik by my side, I’m still living my life and following my passions, but now everything is SO much better. The big things and the little things. Everyday with him around is the best day.’

‘I love laying my head on Erik’s chest while he rubs my hair. It makes everything better.’

Finally, it’s time for a walk down the aisle. One of the most unique ones we’ve seen: it’s a long beautiful pier down to their intimate sunset ceremony. 

Magnificent sunset. And SO. MUCH. LOVE.

Next, we make our way to The Patio restaurant for the perfect beach reception dinner. BEST Thai food we had all week! 

Taking it up a notch with party time at Beach Republic – Vanessa & Erik had so many surprises for their loved ones!! 

First dance song: ‘At Home’ by The Crystal Figthers. ‘Kinda funky and so romantic,’ Vanessa says. ‘We saw them in Vancouver last summer and it was one of our favourite concerts.’

Incredible fireworks – caught us by surprise! 

We’re no strangers to wedding fireshows – but this guy was OFF THE HOOK! I’ve never seen anything like this! He, quite literally, made stars. 

I so wanted to get THE shot… I really thought I was in the perfect (and safe) position to capture this… But then came the smell of burnt hair and clothes – it was coming from me:)So worth it, right?!

Back at the villa, the glorious stillness at sunrise. You know how much I love those! For me, it’s the time of integration, introspection, recharging, and inspiration. Thank You, Universe. 

The next day, Vanessa is back in her wedding gown for more magic. 

Rob & I are up to our chest in water for this shot, praying not to drop the camera. I’m so happy to capture this, I cry.

PHEW! So happy.

Vanessa & Erik – lots and LOTS of love to you guys! We just missed you in Bali… please have a blast for us! 

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March 27, 2014 - 08:43

Pennie Young - Absolutly beautiful! I am crying tears of joy as I savour each frame. Your pictures brought me back to the magical day our daughter got married. Thank you so much for the opportunity to visit again and again one of the most special times of our lives.

March 27, 2014 - 08:12

Jackie Jacob - Fantastic

March 27, 2014 - 07:48

Jenn – Open Image Photography - Great photos! Congratulations.

March 27, 2014 - 01:13

jacob - nailed it. great work you two, captured the greatness perfectly. stoked to catch you along the travels and adventures of life.

March 26, 2014 - 13:53

Tamara - Absolutely beautiful and stunning!

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india virgins, or, how to survive ashram living. {anand prakash, rishikesh}

HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear Ones!!

Finally, a personal post! Rob & I have been looking forward to this trip for SO long… Our wedding bookings rarely allow us the luxury of getting away for too long, so 2 years ago we decided to book 6 months off to travel to India, Thailand, Laos, and Bali – to 1) take our advanced yoga teacher training; 2) research all we can about various yoga / ayurveda / wellness retreats and resorts and get inspiration for building our very own in Dominican Republic in the next few years; and 3) expand our horizons and consciousness as artists and good planetary citizens. I’ve been diligently sharing our adventures with you on Instagram (@katyanovaphoto) – but here are never-before-seen images to give you insight into what it is like to spend nearly 7 weeks studying, living & breathing the art of Yoga in a traditional Ashram in Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga & the ancient Vedas. ‘Surving ashram living’ is perhaps a bit overdramatic for the title – admittedly, I just wanted it to sound more badass so that you click on the link! At times, it did get really, really tough – but only disguised as a tricky mental battle with our own selves – because ‘the mind is slippery,’ as one dear teacher of ours says.

To quote a movie I love (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), India is ‘an assault on the senses.’ It is a place where to ask ‘why‘ is unwise, silly, and utterly useless, because things simply are as they are, existing and functioning in karmic harmony, according to an unseen, beautiful cosmic law. Life and death, manifest and unmanifest, tender growth and merciless decay – all dance unpretentiously right if front of your eyes. India demands that you are present and humble at all times, a Witness (Saksi) to its brilliant ‘lila’ (Sanskrit for ‘Divine play’).

I felt such a deep, palpable love, longing, and reverence for India even before the plane landed. Every cell of my being vibrated, as if something really big and important was about to happen in my life. I had this vision that I would come out of the airport, surrounded by colourful saris, playing children, smells of spices and incense – and that I would get down on my knees, touch my forehead to the earth… Bhaha! It didn’t quite happen that way. Our guru Vishva-ji met us at the airport in Delhi and together with with 24 other eager and wide-eyed yoga teachers from all over the world, we traveled to Rishikesh from Delhi, by bus. How do people in Delhi survive the smog? It’s insane. The further North we got, the clearer it became… but the haziness never really dissipated. I gotta admit, I used to think other people’s pictures from their travels in India were hazy because they had crappy cameras. Nope – there’s just an opaque layer of smokiness on everything. Just the way it is. I kinda like it -  the vibrant hues appear ancient, mysterious. Oh wait … Mother India swiftly teaches you to drop your ‘likes and dislikes’… otherwise, there’s a chance you’re gonna be pretty miserable at times and just might miss the essence of it all.

Our first of many tuktuk rides in Rishikesh – off to visit Dayananda Saraswati Ashram. The drivers ask for about 50-150 rupees ($1.5) from Westerners while locals ride for 5-10 rupees. 

During the Dipawali festival: Bandara offering is when sadhus and babas (‘holy men / Hindu ascetics) come down from their caves to be fed. It’s WILD how much they can put away in one sitting!

The dining hall at Anand Prakash, our ‘home away from home.’ I often shared images of plates on Instagram, but let me tell you how it really is! For starters, you have to FIT into the designated seat / spot. In fact, one of the major issues most of us struggled with was the SITTING. I mean, when do we ever, in the West, sit on the floor? Seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not. ‘Asana‘ (or the physical practice of yoga postures) actually means ‘seat‘ and traditionally, its sole purpose is to allow the practitioner to sit in meditation comfortably for a prolonged period of time, in Lotus. No more, no less. It is pretty humbling (and transformative in itself) to come back to basics… as in: 1) SIT 2) PRAY / THANK YOUR FOOD 3) EAT 4) CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF.

After the 30 minute meditation and a 2 hour yoga class, we would work up quite an appetite. We were in SILENCE 9 pm – 9 am daily, so that’s how we ate our breakfasts. So good – no filler chit-chat of ‘how did you sleep / me too / oh good / oh no, i also had a shitty dream / can i have some of your soaked almonds? / oh yeah, we also didn’t have hot water last night / when is samosa day again?’:) Not that there’s anything wrong with friendly chit chat, but there’s something very powerful and healing in simply keeping to yourself and nourishing your vital tissues.

One of our dear friends once made this comment on Instagram ‘Katya, I love you, but this looks like prison food!’ Haha. Is it the metal plates?!

It was a safe bet that for every lunch & dinner we’d be served: sabji (a saucy veggie medley), rice, daal (soupy lentils or beans), and chapati. Sometimes ‘pickle‘ (very spicy & salty marinated peppers, radishes, and carrots) and on rare glorious days, plain yogurt (the excitement would be through the roof!) Not sure if this sounds enticing to you right now – but let me tell you, the ashram food was always soooooo good. There are plenty of amazing places to eat out in Rishikesh, but we tried not to leave the ashram, for fear of getting sick. About 2 weeks in, we couldn’t handle it and went out for fries & ice cream – it was so good and felt a little bit like committing a petty crime.

You quickly fall into the rhythm of the ashram and find many creative ways to stay ‘sane’ – for us, one such guilty pleasure became SNACKING. Just before the halfway point it got really ‘bad’ and we found ourselves annihilating 1-2 big chocolate bars a day (you know the really heavenly and super expensive Lindt kind?) My mouth is watering as I type this and I really wish I had some right now!!!! Mmmmmm, the decadent rich dark chocolate kind with surprises of real dried strawberry pieces inside… and MMMMMMMMMM, the silky smooth milk chocolate kind with embedded bursts of crunchy caramel… ‘Okay, last piece… at least until after dinner!’ and we’d be rushing up the stairs to class.

There were also bags of salted cashews, jars of nut butters (+ banana + honey = staple ashram snack), fruit (we’d keep guava in the room so that it smelled nice), cookies galore, and lastly (I can’t believe I’m coming clean about this) even a couple of mega stacks of Pringles. The latter we kept underneath the bed for emergency cases. :) 

Yogi Yum Yums deserve the last word (and their own paragraph). I don’t have any pictures – by the time I’d remember that it would be a good idea to get a shot, I would already be licking my fingers clean. Around the ashram (and other Western tourists in the area), these handmade delicious treats, which are made without white sugar, flour, or processed ingredients and as many organic components as possible, are jokingly referred to as ‘yogi crack.’A Canadian-born yogi and entrepreneur, Yogi Udei, has these for sale for about 3 hours every day and his stock gets cleaned out fast. It also helps that the proceeds, in entirety, go to support a local orphanage, Ramana’s Garden. To give you an idea of the divine and irresistible nature of these treats, here are some of the ingredients: raw almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, figs, goji berries, amla (Indian gooseberry), honey, ghee, tumeric, cumin, cardamom, cacao beans, coconut, jaggery, spirulina, copper water, etc. I am so inspired that I’m publicly announcing that I’m bringing this concept to our Cabarete, Dominican Republic home – these will for sure be a part of the offering at our future Retreat Center, if not sooner!

We didn’t have much free time. At all, ever. But it was really amazing how the Anand Prakash team lovingly put together the program to expose us to many incredible events! One of these was an evening concert of world renowned musicians (tabla & sitar) and a classical Indian dancer.  

On Saturdays, we were taken on cultural day trips. 

Helping Hands For India is an organization established by the dedicated Anand Prakash team. They are building a school in a small village about 2 hours from Rishikesh. ‘Educating a young girl essentially means educating 3 generations,’ Vishva-ji says. The kids were SO excited to see us. As we arrived, they threw flower petals on us… (in anticipation of our modest presents).

Guru = the one who dispels darkness and removes ignorance; a spiritual teacher. Here’s our Beloved Vishva-ji. Together with his wife Chetana, he founded Akhanda Yoga – a holistic yoga system which includes the most integral aspects of practice like asana, pranayama (breath control) and mantra (which Vishva-ji calls ‘the best antivirus’ for our system). ‘Akhand‘ means ‘whole, indivisible’ and is a balanced, rich, all-encompassing Hatha yoga practice and tradition.

Later that day we visited Sri Santosh Puri Ashram (also known as Yoganga Retreat) for a satsang with Mataji (Narvada Puri). The timeless sanctuary is situated in Haridwar (about an hour from Rishikesh) where the Ganges river flows. It is a place like no other. The vibrations here, along with the story of how they had come into being, are incredible.

Mataji came to Haridwar in her early 20′s from Germany and never left. She found her destiny and dharma at the feet of her guru, Baba Santosh Puri. Mataji joined him in the life of extremely severe tapas (ascetism) on an island in the Ganga, renouncing food and sleep, ever in service to cows and all other sentient beings. She describes their other-worldly spiritual relationship in her poetic and compelling book ‘Tears of Bliss‘… sitting in her presence is like sitting with Pure Consciousness itself. 

Baba Santosh Puri left his body in Mahasamadhi – the conscious state of mind when the realized, liberated soul of a saint or yogi reunites with the supreme soul. It was in the full moon night of early 2001; his body remained in the Lotus pose for the following 24 hours until he was bathed an clothed by Vedic monks so that he may be placed to rest in the cave-like ‘samadhi’ ground. A few years later, this majestic structure was built by devotees.

For the full moon meditation, we gather on the rooftop to take it the glorious prana of Rishikesh.

This is Fire Puja, a beautiful daily ritual of offering ghee (clarified butter) and fragrant herbs to the fire. It’s about 30 minutes and is so beautiful and peaceful. Here are the kinds of things we chant, so that you get an idea of what it’s all about:

First, many joyous rounds of the revered Gayatri mantra: ‘Evoking earth, sky, and the heavens | Let us bring our minds to dwell | in the radiance of the Divine Truth | May Truth inspire our reflections.’ (Om bhoor bhuvah svah Tat savitur varaynyam Bhargo dayvasya dheemahi Dhiyo yo nah prachoda-yat.)

Then, a series of beautiful and powerful mantras like this one: Om. Om is the Giver of spiritual knowledge and physical strength. Anyone can meditate on Om. Happiness and immortality are achieved under Divine protection and blessings, through spiritual knowledge. We should meditate with faith and devotion upon the universal Divine. Om. O Divine Creator of the universe and the Giver of all happiness! Keep us far from habits and deeds that obstruct Truth. May we attain everything that is auspicious.’ (Om ya atmada balada yasya vishva upasatay prashisham yasya day-vah. Yasya chchha-ya amrtam yasya mrtyuh kasmai dayva-ya havisha vidhayma.) Isn’t that beautiful?! Your entire day takes on the glow.

Minutes away from the ashram, the glorious Mother Ganga. 

Perhaps my favourite portrait so far. They are super cute and are everywhere – but you better hold on to your own balls (and especially purses, bags, cell phones, and sunglasses), because Rishikesh monkeys are quick, sly, and lack morale! How they’ve come to possess such a sense of entitlement, I don’t know :)Apparently, Vishva-ji’s wife Chetana once had her handbag snatched from her hands this way… the monkey, from a safe distance, proceeded to throw ‘useless’ items into the river one by one, including her wallet and passport. 

One of our favourite buys so far, an antique Tibetan conch. The workmanship in silver is so intricate and the sound it’s capable of producing is bound to awaken all your charkas at once. :) Here, we bathe it in the Ganga before watching an ‘aarti‘ ceremony at a nearby ashram. 

We turned one of the shelves in our room into a colourful altar to liven up the living space.

The following three portraits are from a Saturday outing to a magical temple of Anandamayi Ma. You all know how much I LOVE to take portraits, but I must confess that I’ve been putting my camera away quite a lot on this trip. There are some great photojournalists who get right in there and snap away, but I’ve found it extremely difficult to do in India. For one, most eyes are on us because we’re tall and white and totally a novelty. So everyone STARES. For every time we take a picture, groups of Indians want to take ours. (We even had one taxi driver stop at a tourist place and pay a dude to take a picture of the 3 of us, which he then immediately had printed and placed in a plastic sleeve.) Another reason is… It often just doesn’t feel right. Rob & I have been immersing ourselves in the flow of life here and taking out my giant Markiii with an equally giant lens immediately interrupts and separates the ‘oneness‘ and the ‘flow.’ There have been so many moments I WISH I could capture the image with my eyelids – as I know that by the time I get the camera out and fumble with my settings, the moment is gone. In India of all places, I’ve most appreciated being a witness to such moments. It’s such a privilege. Anyway, here they are.

We talk a lot about ‘sadhana‘ in yoga and Ayurveda. It basically means ‘spiritual practice’ or path that awakens our consciousness and enhances our ‘inner medicine’ potential for healing ourselves and others. ‘Sadhana‘ practice cultivates inner awareness by reclaiming our connection to Nature’s ways. I contemplated these definitions when I noticed this man: day in, day out, he sits at the ashram gates and patiently, methodically strings together garlands of flowers to be sold as the offering. His face, free of worry lines, is illuminated by the saffron buds. This is sadhana.

Inside, a young sadhu ‘sneakily’ takes a picture of our group, as we break out in song. Sri Anandamayi Ma was an Indian saint from Bengal. Swami Sivananda described her as ‘the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced.’Precognition, healing and other miracles were attributed to her by her devotees. She is believed to be the incarnation of Pure Consciousness itself.

Ha!

This is the orphanage supported by Yogi Yum Yums, Ramana’s Garden. German-owned, this place is an absolute treasure and a fantastic place for long-term volunteering. They have a great restaurant where we had the best chai ever (well, most places have the best chai ever, but still) and the view is gorgeous.

Also: have you ever held a tiny baby goat in your arms?! If you haven’t, please add it to the list of things to do before you die!!! 

The view from Red Chili internet cafe, where Rob & I spent many lunch hours and most Sundays (our only free days)… It is here that we worked on the six Weddings we shot  just before coming to India.

Swami Yogananda was nicknamed ‘Yogi 101‘ about 4 years ago. He’s now on his 106th year and says that he plans to live to 250! He has outlived all his 10 children and at the question ‘who has made the biggest difference in your life?’ without hesitation replies, ‘meditation.’ Below, he demonstrates his use of a neti pot before doing his pranayama. Oh, and swami-ji is also learning English.

One morning he came in to teach our class, it was quite something! Swami Yogananda’s favourite way to amuse us seems to be ‘lion’s breath‘ – sticking his tongue out at us and very loudly roaring like a lion. :)

At last, on the last Saturday before the course was finished, it was time for the Naming Ceremony. Most of us were looking forward to this moment even more than the graduation. Our main yoga hall was beautifully decorated and a pundit (priest) was brought in for the occasion, to perform a very special fire puja and bestow blessings on us. I wore a sari for the very first time, my very own! (So underneath, you’re supposed to wear a special skirt that’s called a ‘petty coat,’ which keeps all the folds in place. Mine was missing and we were in a rush, so the lady dressing me simply tucked the folds into my leggings. Good enough – I felt so pretty and ready for my new Name. Of course, durning the ceremony, I was moving around a lot taking pictures for everyone, so by the time it was my turn to go up to Vishva-ji, I nearly lost my entire sari) :) 

The magnificent light streaming in to expose our vibrations. 

Vishva-ji dresses up one of my dreads. 

Talent show & wild dancing to the beat of Indian drummers & ‘This Head I Hold‘ by Electric Guest.

Niranjana & Niranjan Nath = ‘purity of well-being.’ The Sanskrit names are said to come to Vishva-ji as ‘downloads’ in meditation. We trust what our Teacher sees in us and are to devote our lives to living up to and into these names as well as what they represent. 

The last week was all about transformational experiences, self-expression, yoga therapy, integration, love, healing, and a LOT of hugging. Vishva-ji’s very first student, Prem (which means ‘love’ in Sanskrit), flew in from Canada to present a brilliant program to us. On the very last day, an activity that would become our favourite was revealed to us: the ‘carwash‘… it’s when everybody makes a ‘tunnel’ with their bodies by standing shoulder to shoulder, facing each other. Then one person at a time slowly walks through this ‘tunnel’ with their eyes closed, as people s/he passes by whisper something really sweet and nice about them, to them. It was so much fun to come up with something heartfelt and thoughtful to say to each and every person – 6 weeks seemed like a mini-lifetime and we’d all gotten to know each other so well. I didn’t think I would cry when my turn came. But somewhere down the line, among the super sweet and kind things I heard was ‘I wish you were my daughter‘ and I burst into gratitude-filled tears.

GRADUATION!!!! 

Gratitude overwhelms me.

Huge thank you to my parents for making me and being the Light; to my Beloved, Niranjan Nath, for loving me and accepting me; to my Teachers (and their Teachers) for gently and patiently moulding & guiding the way; to our Family, Friends & the yoga Sangha for holding the space and supporting us along the way.

HAPPY NEW  YEAR!!

P.S. if you have any questions about this experience (or anything else), feel free to email me. This post was such a labour of love and took me forever – comments are most welcome!!:)