THE BLOG

Seven Days of Learning: Northern India

17/09/2015 15:48 BST | Updated 16/09/2016 10:12 BST

"Anything the brain tries to tell the heart is useless. This is what the song is trying to say."

At that moment I was in a similar predicament...if my heart was my feet, my arms, and my hands, trying to twirl oh so gracefully and failing oh so epically. At that moment, anything my brain tried to tell my body was useless.

I was taking my first Bollywood dance class, and the teacher was explaining the meaning behind the musical number that within a few short days, I would be dancing to with precision and that Bollywood charm.

The truth? I danced it with an air of enthusiasm paired with a somewhat confused face - comparative to someone taking Zumba for the first time (you know the one) - as my mind battled with the thoughts of what comes next? and next? while at the same time I tried to engage my innermost ferociously confident Bollywood starlet. Multi-tasking at its finest.

"Don't worry this dance is not classical, it's not technical. Bollywood is about feeeeeling it. Be happy, be free."

I'm in Bhagsu (offically Bhagsunag), northern India. It lies about two kilometres from the town of McLeod Ganj - the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Bhagsu is a haven for the curious, chilled out traveller. Or as a friend so perfectly put it a 'Hippy Training Camp.'

Dreamcatcher classes, dance classes, yoga, crystal healing, meditation, calligraphy courses, music courses, knitting, hula hoop classes, wood carving and jewellery making. Classes spreading across each mile from upper Bhagsu to the end of McLeod Ganj.

It's a place where the beginner of almost everything, can try almost anything.

Upon arrival I dedicated a week to undertaking six different courses in seven days. From Bollywood dancing, to Buddhist philosophy, from Acro-yoga, to regular yoga, it was to be a week of embracing the unique skill sharing so prominent here. Seven days of trying, failing, laughing, reflecting.

Seven days of learning.

And I did just that.

Through Acro-yoga - a combination of yoga, acrobatics and teamwork which, amongst other things, involves dynamic balancing poses of two or more people - I learnt that I'm not in fact very strong. After three hours I realised as a five-foot-two-er I had a great time being lifted in the air as the 'flyer' but sadly, my 'base' skills (the person in charge of lifting the other) were a little on the woeful side, and those who I was trying to hold would fall almost as soon as they would rise.

On a less obvious but more deeper-understanding-spiritual-level, I also learnt how little we interact with people - strangers - in such an open, sharing, welcoming manner and it was this experience which was, quite frankly, lovely. Rejuvenating.

In dreamcatcher class, I learnt the very simple satisfaction in making something. Not buying it but creating it.

In mediation class, despite all my best efforts, I learnt I really am a horrible meditator. But I tried, and each time, it got a little easier, and a little easier.

In Buddhist philosophy class, I learnt that happiness is also dependent on others, and that without depending on others we can't achieve our own ultimate happiness. I learnt a new way of looking at things.

In yoga I learnt the open-ended capacity - and present inflexibility - of my body, the enjoyment of yoga, and why millions worldwide practice it each day.

And, in my Bollywood class I learnt a dance routine, that I can *basically* do without stopping from start to finish. I also learnt a fantastic exercise thanks to my always patient teacher.

At the start of each class she would put on a rockin' Bollywood number and the only instruction was to dance. Spin, jump, twirl, stomp: it was about getting lost in the movement. Clearing your mind and leaving behind your inhibitions, worries, fears, and anxieties. And I did.

Therapy through Bollywood dance.

I came to wonder - how often do we actually allow ourselves this in our busy, everyday life? A couple of minutes to stop, release, dance like a madwoman?

I learnt the power of 'You Time'. Whatever that may be for you.

The power of feeling free.

It was a week of doing, becoming, seeing and persevering. A rare opportunity in adult life to revert back to the basic pleasure of giving something new a go, leaving behind the forever dreaded self-consciousness and instead taking hold of an inner childlike curiosity.

Seven days of the best kind of souvenir: experience.