Beyond Asana in Nepal

By Brittany Policastro, Founder and Director of Beyond Asana

The tires spun vigorously like a hamster on a wheel who only thinks he’s getting somewhere. Mud splattered in every direction, making it official. The bus carrying Maura Manzo (my partner in this project), our volunteer yogis (all recent graduates of our 2012 Beyond Asana yoga teacher training), the buildOn staff and I was stuck. We were going nowhere fast, despite the fact that during the past four days we had been doing nothing but traveling to our destination via three flights, two bus rides and three hotel stays. Now we sat only half a mile from the village of Ganeshpur in Nepal, ready to embark on this life-changing trek, but we couldn’t get any further.

The momentum for the 2013 Beyond Asana service trip to Nepal started almost a year prior, when many from our group sat in a circle on the hardwood floor of our yoga space and committed to raising $5,000 as part of the training. In the span of eight months, our group raised over $55,000; and now we had arrived in village of Ganeshpur to help break ground on the school, and to perhaps open up a community to the possibility education holds. But, here we sat in the bus, eagerly waiting to GET STARTED!

Then the most beautiful thing happened. Drums filled the clean air as we all stepped off the bus, realizing it wouldn’t move any further. Eyes fixed on the parade of villagers, ranging from one to 90 years old, trekking towards us as the rain trickled down. They started taking our back packs and duffle bags, putting them on their shoulders as we all walked, together, to meet the others waiting to adorn us with tika and strings of marigolds.

This became a theme of the trip: togetherness. Whether it was walking through the village with a pack of smiling children at our side, teaching yoga to the group as some of the kids took the same shapes and breathed the same breath, or plunging the metal hoe into the dry earth over and over as we laughed and counted, we were in it together. Despite the fact that this amazing community had never met us before, they knew we came to support them and to give them some tools to empower themselves and their children through the building of the school. And so they welcomed us in, no questions asked.

Even on the last day, as we made our trek back to the bus, we did so together. But something had changed. Now not only did we share a passion for building the school, we also shared meals, dances, conversations (some translated, some practically mimed) and love. So when myself and my partner, the last ones to get on the bus, looked into the tear-filled eyes of many of the woman seeing us off, we know they felt it too. We knew we weren’t the only ones changed.