Ashram? Yogic Lifestyle?
If you have read the book or seen the movie “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” you might have an idea of what an Ashram is. The place where Liz Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) stayed in when she arrived in India. If you haven’t then an ashram according to Uncle Google:
is a spiritual hermitage or a monastery. Today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction.
Basically, if you want to learn yoga, pranayama, meditation, yogic lifestyle, ayurveda, healing, philosophy and a real experience of Indian wisdom of living a simple life, then an Ashram is a good place to start.
When I went to India with Callie, we spent our first week in Mahatma Yoga Foundation/Ashram in Laxman Jhula (Jhula means bridge), Rishikesh, Northern India. As we went early January, we were welcomed by strong winter winds from the Himalayas but the staff at Mahatma Yoga Ashram kept us warm and took good care of us from our arrival until we left for Varanasi.
The place is wonderful as its perched on a hill overlooking the Ganges River. We hear the morning chants from the temples on the other side of the river when we wake up and be amazed at the starry night.
So how it is to live in an ashram?
Let me show you our daily schedule:
06.30 am Tea
07.00 am Yogic purification (Tuesdays and Thursdays only)
07.30 am Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)
09.00 am Hatha Yoga
11.00 am Breakfast
01.00 pm Philosophy Teaching
02:30 pm Lunch
04.00 pm Ashtanga Yoga
06.00 pm Meditation class
08.00 pm Dinner
Waking up on a new day, I wait for the sunrise outside our room although its really really cold. I would breath in fresh air while appreciating the green beauty of Mama Ganga. I would go down to the kitchen and get our morning ginger lemon and honey tea to help us warm before Pranayama. Pranayama is a yogic breathing that draws out life force (prana) to recharge and refresh the self.
After pranayama is Hatha Yoga which is led by our hospitable and humble host, Yogi Ji. Among all the styles of yoga available nowadays, I love Hatha yoga more because it’s the classical way is a good base for beginners like me because it teaches the basic yoga postures (asana) and you leave the room relaxed, open and loose.
After yoga we enjoy a good hearty ayurvedic breakfast prepared by the chillaxed cook named Lama. What I like about him is that he lets everyone peek into the kitchen and even helped in the food preparation and shares his knowledge. He cooks the food like a master chef in a relax way- always peppered with love. Because Lama is from the Himalayas, his food is of the Tibetan origin and of course authentic Indian cuisine- the best I have tasted in India.
After the hearty breakfast, we wait a few minutes for the Philosophy taught by Yogi Ji. The discussion during the week we were there was about Om/Aum, 2 energies (male/female, Shiva/Shakti, Sun/Moon), Tantranism, Religion and Spirituality. I wold never forget the lesson below:
“You are here because God has a purpose for you here. Nature has everything for you- food, shelter and love. You have a place here and everything is provided.”
Yogi Ji allows students to ask whatever question they have. Callie and I have learned so much from him. He has guided us in the spiritual journey while in Rishikesh and even taught us the basic of Reiki. And yes that is his real name “Yogi.”
Another hearty lunch is serve courtesy of Lama Yash. Because we are full we take an afternoon nap or maybe go to Mama Ganga for a quick dip.
We didn’t have the opportunity to attend the Ashtanga class because something will always come up or we will have too much sleep. And just attend the meditation class. I remember the two meditation class we attended were the dance meditation and meditation class for couples. Really intense class! The experience was supernatural.
At dinner, we gather around the fire for some chats and discussion with other guest in the Ashram. Here we get to know each other more and share anything under the sun.
I really learned a lot in just a week of stay in Mahatma Yoga Ashram and Beach House. I do recommend this place to everyone who wants to learn the Yogic Lifestyle or maybe do a Teacher’s Training Course. The staff are simply amazing, warm and generates good vibes.
If you are visiting Rishikesh soon, you can also read Callie’s 10 Recommendations in Rishikesh.