Thursday, November 27th, 2014 - (Thanksgiving!)
Last night I went to bed extra, extra late, because every morning of iRYLA (so far) I had spend 60-90 minutes writing this Blog and had missed the morning Yoga session. Yesterday one of the other faculty members had very pointedly mentioned that this had been noticed! (Oops!). So I wanted to put in an appearance today. Which meant finishing yesterday's Blog BEFORE going to sleep, which meant staying up until after Midnight.
But at 2:30am I woke up! And could NOT get back to sleep! (I hate it when that happens, don't you?) I tossed and turned for an hour of so but was not getting any closer to sleep, so I finally gave up and got up and did some intense preparation for a surprise I wanted to give everyone tonight.
I went to the morning Yoga session and attempted to do the Asanas, but I'm not as flexible as I used to be, so it was a struggle.
The morning session with my Track went fine and I gave them lots of time to work on the MANY different projects they were required to finish before dinner:
Individual Goals (SMARTER Goals, about the Environment) for EACH Participant,
12 Group Goals,
a Group Presentation about each of those Goals,
a group Song,
a Group Skit,
a Group Public Service Announcement, and, uhhh.....
Oh YEAH! Write todays edition of the iRYLA Newspaper on the SAME DAY!
But they were given 1 hour of Free Time to do that....AFTER the deadline for the Presentations.
I was the Guest Master Trainer in Luke's Track (Health) and because they were the last group I visited, I got to give them ALL the fun activities I had tried out on the other groups before them. So they got the Physiology Exercise, AND Heart 2 Heart, in the same hour! A pretty great hour, by any RYLA's standards.
In the afternoon I gave my Track some public speaking and presentation lessons ("NO!!! NO!!! NO!!! WAY too many words on that PowerPoint slide!!! BULLET Points, BULLET Points!!!!") and let them all practice their presentations.
One of the Environmental Track teams practicing their presentation
Some of them were really good and we'll see in a few hours how they compare to the other Tracks.
Then it was time for the Gala Dinner! It was out under the stars and beautifully decorated. There were many special lighting effects, and Fireworks! Each track presented their skits and songs, and I performed an authentic Sanskrit Puja which went over pretty great. My hosts had bought me an authentic Indian Kurta and Pajamas to wear. It was really tight!
Uhhh...its a LITTLE snug around the middle.
I think I take a triple-XL...ephant!
And Saji loaned me an authentic pair of size 8 Indian Sandals, which made my size 10 1/2 feet look quite dainty!
(Oh yeah: Saji got here today at lunch time!!!)
Anyway, a Puja
is a Hindu ceremony done for Gods, teachers or special guests and involves a lot of chanting and making offerings of various kinds, like rice, water, incense, candle light, flowers and even Camphor Light.
I learned the Puja from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and it is dedicated to HIS teacher: Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath. It calls the names of a long series of spiritual teachers down through the ages, ending with Maharishi's teacher.
Here's a picture showing Maharishi (just after he passed away a few years ago) being reunited with his Guru.
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath
And his Devotee, His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, my Guru
Between being the craziest teacher at iRYLA, being the only American teacher, having a vast tool chest full of fun games and activities, and being in full Indian Dress and performing a ceremony in Ancient Sanskrit, I was a pretty popular guy for a few hours and felt a little bit like one of the Beatles, for a while. Don't worry Baby, you can drive my car! ;-)
Everyone wanted to take pictures with me that night and my mouth ached from smiling so much. But it was one of the best nights of my life.