Landing in India

The flight is due to land at Indira Gandhi airport of New Delhi and the plane is travelling across the large city, passing through the thick layer of clouds, smog and pollution. When the plane is close to landing, the whole large metal cylinder is filled with a familiar smell or scent of India, something that others might find repulsive. But to me it’s filled with memories, emotions and a touch of belonging. Tears are filled up in my eyes when the plane hits the ground. I’m home. Once again.

The hotel we stayed at isn’t worth mentioning due to the overall experience wasn’t all too well, but there were some highlights of the service level and staff that is worth mentioning. The two nights in Delhi were a good touch-down base before our onward departuring to Punjab. You get a moment of acclimatising to the Indian climate, food and the senses get hightened. 

I have been writing a lot through the years about belonging and identity since it has always been a struggle for me, being born in Sweden and having roots from such a colourful culture that is India. The clash between these two extreme worlds has been both a blessing and a curse, since it has opened me up to so much inner personal development I never would have been striving for if it weren’t for being torn in two directions. I have previously written about being a TCK in a world of being around people that have almost no other mixed background, which makes you feel different and strange from time to time. When I during the recent years found myself searching more inwards in my own identity crisis and started to accept that I am fine the way I am, both Swedish and Indian, I was able to grow strength to be able to tell my story. I felt for the first time that I was able to connect with other people that have a similar background, and my creativity became more heightened. 

The last day at the Delhi hotel, we ate dinner in the restaurant at the hotel to be a bit more convenient and also to not have to rush around in Delhi traffic at that hour. No matter if we choose to or not, we eventually adapt to eating at Indian times, which is quite different than dining times in Sweden. Back home in Sweden one would eat dinner at 6-7 pm and lunch at 11-12 am. When we’re in India the dinner times are around 8-9pm and lunch around 1-2pm. I think it might be due to the fact that people go to work a little later on and leave later, which makes the whole day shift a few hours.
When we were dining at 8 pm at the hotel, the waiter asked us if we were from Sweden since he could see it in our booking. Obviously he could tell we had some sort of Indian (desi) background so he asked if we were here for the first time. I responded, no we’ve been here many times before since our background is from Punjab. He asked if we were born here or in Sweden, and this is where things would have been confusing if I were to trust my past experiences of being put in a box. His response to us being born in Sweden, was the sweetest I have received in India in a long time. He said, then you’re just as much Indian as you are Swedish and he smiled and giggled a bit. I agreed and he went on to talk to other guests in the restaurant. He probably didn’t know what that sentence meant to me, how much it meant that someone would acknowledge us as being part of this society and still be able to keep the other identity. He truly saw our Indian soul. We didn’t have to feel torn and puzzled between the two cultures. Not being forced to choose when someone asks us which one we consider our home, or which one we like the most. There can never be a clear answer to that question, I am always searching, and the more I search, the more questions I get. 

The best part of being born in two cultures is the richness it gives to my life, to be able to live a life with both influences on a day to day basis. To be able to pick and choose (most of the times) what we like with each culture and keep those aspects in our life for the next generation. Coming to India annually means much more to me than can be put into words, it can never be explained, the emotions that run through my body when I land 7000 km away from Sweden. Despite being more restricted to do exactly what I want as a woman, to come and go at any hour, and having difficulties adapting to the lifestyle here; I still feel more alive and free. There’s a freedom and acceptance in the air in India one cannot find anywhere else. I might be biased, but that’s my truth. 

Sat Sri Akal, Namaste, Peace and Love,
Kimmi Madeline

Yoga for Mind, Body and Soul

It’s now become 10 years since I first went to my yoga and meditation class in Gothenburg. I remember how I used to love those 90 min classes late in the evening because it was a time that was only dedicated to myself and my practise. My teacher was from Norway but he lived and worked in Sweden. He had changed his name to an old Indian version of his own name, and he had practised yoga for over 30 years back then. I recently looked up if he’s still a teacher at the same place, and he is, isn’t that amazing. 40 years of yoga knowledge. He was the first teacher that inspired me to pursue yoga for my own mental health and spiritual evolvement. Years passed and I had some rocky years in my early twenties, but I still always came back to yoga, even if I had a longer break. I took classes of yoga at the gym, did some on my own in my student flat, whatever so that I didn’t totally lose the connection.

When I moved to Stockholm in 2014, I took some yoga classes at the gym and there were many different teachers there. Most are only into yoga as a fitness alternative and that isn’t the whole experience of yoga according to me and many other yogis, it’s a much more wholesome and spiritual and inward experience and development that is beyond anything physical. Out of all those average yoga gym teachers there was one that stood out in the crowd, he always used the right terms for all the asanas and always referred back to the ancient traditions of yoga; unlike many other yoga teachers in Sweden.
Although I didn’t stay for very long in that gym membership and for some reason got stuck in a 2 year membership at a place I didn’t enjoy as much.

I recently switched back and booked a yoga class and to my surprise the same teacher is still there and having classes. It seems that he’s been practising yoga for 30 years and is such a huge inspiration not only to me but everyone who comes to his classes. The class always begins with some 5 minutes of talking about the intentions, the planet movements and moon placement in different astrology signs and what it means to us. I love the feeling of being totally connected to the 25-30 people in the class and share the same experience as I do in the same time and space. That feeling is quite remarkable and powerful, it can truly change the world for the better.

I plan to attend a yoga retreat in the end of the year in India, although I haven’t decided on what or where to go for it. Would be nice with some place in south India, such as beautiful Kerala or similar. I will let that thought mature in my head through the year and decide on it until summer time.

Peace and Love,
Kimmi Madeline

Psoas muscle, Solar Plexus & “dharn” | Ayurveda + Western Medicine

I have experience of going to a physical therapist for what I would describe the condition as restless legs, although this was never diagnosed nor was it ever mentioned by anyone. While I’ve been having my sessions, I have tried to get to the bottom of the problem. It isn’t that big of a deal really, that’s why I haven’t prioritised it until now; it’s just been at the back of my head. We’re not meant to sit still all our day in front of a desk, and years of doing it has taken it’s toll I assume. I realised that I want my body to be as healthy as possible for my age, and sitting still is surely not going to help me nor is it going to fix the whole “restless legs” issue. I have now been able to connect three different areas of knowledge about the same isse; Ayurveda and the Chakra system and Western medicine.

It all started when I was coming back home from a trip to Paris, and we were sitting in a bus from the airport which was unfortunately located 80min outside of Stockholm. We were coming home late in the evening, which I didn’t think much of at the time of booking, but during the bus trip I cursed my former self for even thinking of booking such late tickets. I had this creeping sensation in my legs as if there were something crawling underneath my skin around my knees and thighs, I couldn’t even describe it properly. If I moved around my legs it became better, but only for 2 seconds, so I sat there forcefully trying to move around my legs for the entirety of the trip. If one doesn’t go mental then this might. I let this situation pass and didn’t think much of it until I found myself in a similar situation and I put two and two together. A cinema visit late in the evening, which was basically the same time, having to sit still in the same spot and not being able to get up (unless I wanted to be a pain and let the whole row know my pain).

Months passed and I started getting really frustrated, turning down friends’ offers to go to the cinema or anything that required late evening sitting still. The criteria for seeking professional help has always been, if it interferes in your daily routine, so I went to the doctor.
Said and done, tests were completed, results came back and nothing was wrong physically. Just to be on the safe side, CAT scans were done and some weeks later the results came back – nothing abnormal! The doctor suggested me to contact a physical therapist if my issues continued – I gave the issue a rest for almost a year.

During my first visit to the physical therapist she did a bunch of physical exams, looking at my spine, checking my legs when I’m lifting something, the flexibility etc. One of the tests involved massaging to the right and left of the navel while I was lying down. I am a very high pain tolerant person, but this pressure of her fingers in my stomach hurt like hell, more so on one side than the other. She said that it’s the hip muscle, more properly called Psoas muscle that seemed tense or short. I wanted to know more, so I have ever since read a lot about it, trying to massage myself, and doing the exercises that were given to me by her. Now to the interesting part.

Throughout my whole life, I have heard about the punjabi/hindi word dharn which is basically an imbalance in the solar plexus area, or what some call it a “navel displacement”. The Ayurveda and ancient Indian way to describe this has never really had a good equivalent in Western medicine and I believe that is why there isn’t a holistic view on this problem. I fully believe that the psoas muscle being strained and tense is only ONE way to describe the problem.  The other connections to the same problem are the 3rd chakra, solar plexus being imbalanced which causes physical symptoms in the body after going long enough with the imbalance. How do we resolve this problem?

The Chakras. Solar Plexus is the Yellow wheel in the core of the body

According to my physical therapist I only needed to do my exercises that she had given me, which I’ve done for a year and haven’t noticed a huge change in posture nor the core strength which is key here. Changing habits is the main key here. Being more active and not sit still for longer periods of time. Take breaks, walk in the nature, do yoga and stretch. Practicing mindfulness and meditate daily has started to create a shift in me lately. I can sense that when I incorporate both Western medicine and the old ancient Indian Ayurveda find solutions to dharn; it will work. It’s not an easy solution, I believe it’s more of a lifestyle change, back to how we used to be; hundreds of years ago. We’ve become too convenient and lazy lately, that’s only the truth. It’s harsh but if we don’t do anything about it now, the issues will just increase.

If you have an issue with restless legs syndrom or psoas muscle, try looking at your body as a whole. Listen to your body, what does it need that it so desperately wants you to notice? More movement, more healthy food and/or more calmness?

Namaste,
Peace and Love,
Kimmi Madeline