Cat Easterbrook

The adventure of India: The Sunday Telegraph travel writing competition

Below is a very short piece (150 words) I wrote that won first prize in a Sunday Telegraph travel writing competition <happy dance>.

Although it was a small competition it was still pretty exciting to win. So exciting I will treat myself to an exclamation mark (!)

The prize was a Dial a Flight voucher. I spoke to a lovely Dial a Flight man called Marco on Monday and he said I could spend the money on pretty much anything I wanted. This was a relief. I had thought it might only be valid for car hire in New Zealand or an Orlando theme park pass or something ultra-specific and not on my radar but something I doubtless would have tried to shoe-horn in regardless.

He asked if I’d had any thoughts about where I might go.

Yes. All the time. With wonderlust pumping through my veins it is rather hard not to, competition or no competition. But currently Indonesia, Myanmar and, as always, India, are calling.

One flight, taxi, bus and a ricocheting rickshaw later I found myself travel weary and on a swaying footbridge over the Ganges. I was not alone. A swirl of saris, spiritual seekers and opportunistic entrepreneurs were coursing around me, as the river flowed below and monkeys pickpocketed from above. The crossing only took five minutes but those five minutes expanded as my senses filled with new impressions of wide-eyed wonder and head-shaking bamboozlement. Ahhh Rishikesh. ‘Land of the wise’. And land of everything else too if this bridge was anything to go by. Beeping motorcycles and impassive cows joined the pedestrians, unperturbed by the intentions of engineers. In this holy city the journey across the Ganges is a commute for some, a pilgrimage for many. The mysterious and the mundane rub shoulders, or collide head on, and even the travel weary are jolted awake to the adventure that is India.

Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part 3: the course


Deconstructing a downward dog – teacher training with Surinder Singh

Looking for Surinder’s contact details? Now he can be found at

Missed part 1 or 2? read them here:
Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part 1: Rishikesh
Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part 2: Opening ceremony

Morning practice

We began each day at 6am. Sleepily entering the yoga hall, unrolling our mats and slowly stretching awake – or stealing a few more moments sleep under a blanket in a pretend shavasana.

Surinder would enter, prepare and pray as we came to sit, ready to begin the class. The morning class was for our own practice. It was one of my favourite times of day, knowing you wouldn’t be called upon to demonstrate a pose or to have the magic of the silence broken with a lengthy discussion on the finer points of a pose. It was a time to go deeper into the practice and learn alignment from the inside out.

It was 2 hours of yoga and pranayama, challenging but not exhausting. We’d work through a few rounds of sun salutations, going quite slowly, holding poses long enough for Surinder to check our alignment and give individual adjustments. He’d achieve this task at miracle speed, his experience and sharp eye meaning he could quickly hone in on what we most needed.

[continue reading…]

Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part 2: Opening ceremony


Preparing for the fire ceremony

Missed part 1? read it here:

Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part 1: Rishikesh

We were sitting on our mats in the yoga hall, a little apprehensive, not knowing what was going to happen.

We needed to get used to this whole not knowing thing. The schedule was a mythical document for the first few days and we discovered what was going to be happening right before it happened. I think in part this was to help wean our Western minds off the obsessive need to know / schedule / plan / control what was going to be happening in every moment… but it was also probably partly because Surinder himself didn’t know yet.

I looked round the spartan room at the people I’d be spending the next month with. I was feeling a bit nervous, listening to conversations breaking out here and there, expectation in the air. [continue reading…]

Yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh – Part I: Rishikesh

Yoga by the Ganges, Rishikesh

Yoga by the Ganges, Rishikesh

Booking yoga teacher training with Surinder Singh was the first challenge.

I was aware that organisation and email communication were not his strong points. Although he is an ex-engineer, when it comes to planning and organisation, he is more cave yogi than yogipreneur.

Booking yoga teacher training is no small thing and I was anxious to make sure I had a place. Over the course of a couple of weeks I bombarded him to no avail.

It turned out he’d been away teaching in Russia and couldn’t respond until he was back in India. His response to my request to study with him was a simple: ‘You’re most welcome ji’.

[continue reading…]

Surinder Singh – Yoga in Rishikesh


Surinder Singh’s yoga class in peak season

I first found my way into Surinder Singh’s class in 2012 at the Rajdeep Hotel in Rishikesh, India. Somehow I had ended up at the front of the class and he was directly in front of me as we started the sun salutations.

Lifting my arms up over my head on the inhale, I was aware of him smiling at me. His eyes were kind with a cheeky twinkle of amusement. I wasn’t sure what was so funny at the time but I can guess that my eyes were wide with a ‘I probably shouldn’t be here’ expression.

It was a tough first class. Really tough. I still had CFS fatigue. I was weak. My arms shook in downward facing dog. My heart thumped throughout the sun salutations. I struggled to balance. I struggled to breathe. Sweat was on free flow and I was surrounded by sickeningly proficient yogis, victoriously flowing through their practice. [continue reading…]