During the first half of 2014, I decided to pack my bags, say goodbye to what I knew as ‘life’ and spend 3 months traveling around Northern India. These blog posts are to share my journey with you.
Before arriving in India, I had made a mental check list of things that I wanted to do. On this mental list ‘Stay in an Ashram’ was inscribed.
After spending 6 weeks volunteering in THE MOST INTENSE CITY IN THE WORLD (a.k.a Varanasi), I needed nothing more than to spend 2 weeks in peace, so decided to stay in the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh.
Firstly, for those who don’t know what an ashram is, allow me to briefly summarize. An ashram is (as far as my brief stay informed me) a place of Hindu practice, where its residents stay to develop spiritual exercises (such as meditation and yoga). They are often located away from human habitation and in natural surroundings.
I’d decided that I wanted to stay in an Ashram for the experience, as for me, the main reason I love to travel is to experience new things. I have always been interested in meditation and had also recently started yoga classes, so figured now was the best time to explore both of these practices. Plus, as Rishikesh is labeled ‘the yoga capital of the world’ staying in an Ashram there became a no-brainer.
Life in the ashram followed a strict schedule, involving waking up at 5am for an hours meditation, followed by a 1hr 45 min yoga class, followed by breakfast, a fire puja (an ancient spiritual ritual) before you have some down time, then lunch, more down time, and eventually another 1hr 45min yoga class, finally followed by dinner.
Oh – and it’s also ‘silent time’ between 9pm – 9am, which was actually a very nice experience. As everybody eats together in the dinning room, it’s nice to spend mornings with friends (yoga class and breakfast) without any words being spoken.
As students of the ashram are encouraged to stay in the vicinity of the building as much as possible to help with the overall experience, there is a well stocked library full of various spiritual, and other non-spiritual books (I managed to catch up with Rumi, Eckhart Tolle and Oscar Wilde).
It took a bit of discipline to get used to the schedule (mostly the 5am start), but it soon became easy, and the longer I stayed there, the more relaxed and in-tune with my body I felt. Besides the 3 hrs of daily yoga, I spent a lot of time reading, drawing, detoxing (all the food is freshly prepared Sattvic vegetarian food) and conversing with the ‘yoga family’. There was an incredible loving atmosphere at the ashram, and I was lucky enough to meet some really great people.
After two weeks, my body and mind felt great, and I was ready to continue my journey North.
All photos taken with a Fuji X100s.