I write a regular ‘column’ for the TravelWireAsia website about India, yoga and travel in Asia (my favourite continent for travel!). Recently, I published a three-part series on How to “do” a yoga ashram in India. Here’s a synopsis of each post — to read the full article click on the link provided.
Part 1: How to find an ashram in India
HAVE you considered going to an ashram in India? This is a 3-part series on where to go, what you need to know and what to expect.
Holy men have been congregating in ashrams in India to meditate and chant since the dawn of time. But they’ve only become popular as a traveller’s destination since The Beatles went to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh in the late 1960s and yoga became a worldwide phenomenon.
The best way to find an ashram is to ask people you know, especially your yoga teacher. Some of the questions you should ask include: Does the ashram or school take foreign students; do they have a program for foreigners? Is instruction in English? Where, exactly, is the ashram or school; is it accessible and in a place that has access to trains, the Internet, etc. Click here to read the full article How to find an ashram.
Once you’ve decided to stay at an ashram in India, and you know where you’re going, it’s time to start getting ready. Find out everything you can about the ashram – including the amenities, daily routine, accommodations and what you need to bring. Talk to people who’ve been there to find out what it’s really like.
Ashrams are not hotels, they do not come equipped with mod cons and supplies. They tend to be very simple, and you have to bring almost everything you need with you – but remind yourself that you are not going to indulge in luxury. Bring what you need, but bring the bare minimum, such as: all the toiletries you need, including soap, shampoo and medications, a flashlight, a towel, a shawl or sweater (it can be chilly at night in winter and in the mountains), loose cotton clothes, preferably Indian-style (Lululemon spandex just doesn’t cut it), flipflops and/or sandals, etc. Click here to read the full article What to pack and how to get ready for your ashram adventure in India.
Part 3: What to expect at an ashram and the daily routine
Preparations can only take you so far when you’re travelling or experiencing something new — you have to expect the unexpected. And this is doubly, triply true of travel in India! It’s also especially true of doing something that is off-the-radar for most people from the west, where spirituality, and even just the concept of looking within, is nowadays considered a radical notion.
Looking within is exactly what you do at an ashram, and if you’re new to it, you may not know where to start — or where to look. That’s what the daily routine is for. The daily routine grounds you in the life of the ashram and provides you with a map. The “destination” is your unique experience and epiphanies. When in doubt, follow the routine and have faith that something will happen! And if that something turns out to be a catharsis, the routine will support you as you go through it.
I always go through a few very uncomfortable days of unwinding when I first get to the ashram. I usually feel like I have the flu, but I know it’s the symptoms of a natural detoxification. Click here to read the full article What to expect at an ashram and the daily routine.
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