Yoga, they say is a good practice which helps to boost creativity and here’s just the contest to put that to test. (more…)
By Yarang Michi
The International Yoga Festival (IYF) represents that yoga is for everyone, irrespective of background, culture or religion. The need for yoga is everywhere, and this festival helps in bringing change and progressing towards a more healthy and peaceful life. The Yoga Festival is an annual event and this year it was scheduled between 1- 7th of March, 2016. (more…)
Article by Hazem Abu-Ghazaleh
On Saturday 7th March, the 16th International Yoga Festival at Parmath Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh came to a close. It was a truly magical and successful 7-day event with nearly 1000 participants from 60 different countries. (more…)
Phool Chatti Ashram is located on the banks of the Ganges River near Rishikesh but far enough away to be secluded in nature. In the past, this was a place for weary travelers on their pilgrimage. Today, they still maintain their traditional character while also providing minor comforts for the western traveler. The ashram has a Guru, but you will be guided by the kind and knowledgeable Lalitaji who will also guide you through our new video!
Sivananda Yoga is well-known worldwide and follows the teachings of Swami Sivananda. There are five Sivananda Ashrams in India, the largest one being Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram, which you can also find in our book. Clare Hudson, a yogini from the UK, shares with us her experience at the Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram in southern India.
– by Clare Hudson
Earlier this year, I spent two weeks practicing yoga, meditation and having interesting conversations at the Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram in Tamil Nadu in southern India. I’d now like to share some of my experiences with you.
Before I arrived at the ashram, I had no expectations; I just wanted to learn, observe and totally immerse myself in the experience. I was drawn to the Meenakshi Ashram because people from all walks of life were welcome and although each day had been carefully planned out with 5:30am starts, the ashram didn’t seem elitist or overly strict.
I always think that it’s important to have space to question what is being taught and practiced in order to fully understand. So, despite my daily schedule being full of yoga, meditation and chanting, there were also daily lectures about the philosophy and history of yoga which I found incredibly rewarding.
In the lectures, we discussed everything from God to the importance of a yogic diet. Some of us enjoyed the discussions so much we created our own ‘Question Time’ in the free time after the lectures. Questions included: Is it important to follow rules when you meditate? What is the purpose of meditation? And, is it really necessary to get rid of desire?
Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘but you were at an ashram, you’re not supposed to be thinking, you’re supposed to be clearing your mind.’ However, it was the discussions, laughter and union I felt with other people in the ashram that really made the experience worthwhile. It was the conversations that helped me to become more mindful when I meditated – to simply observe my thoughts rather than trying to get rid of them.
As for the yoga, I practiced for three hours each day and was amazed by how quickly I improved. By the end of the two weeks, my body felt stronger, my head clearer and overall, I felt more balanced. The classes were small and the ashram catered for all abilities, so it didn’t matter if you were new to yoga or you’d been practicing all of your life.
If I were to sum up my Meenakshi Ashram experience, this is what springs to mind – silent meditative walks up mountains as the sun rises, giggling over yoga nose cleaning rituals (it’s another story), pesky monkeys in the bamboo dorm, the fun of karma yoga cleaning and food containing every colour of the rainbow.
Being in the ashram taught me to appreciate the little things, be compassionate and not take life too seriously.
If you’ve spent time in an ashram, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Did you find it rewarding, hard to adjust, life changing…? Alternatively, if you’re thinking about staying in an ashram and have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
By Clare Hudson
“If I was to choose just one thing that makes me excited about yoga, it would be the sense of connectedness and the reminder to always be present!” – Clare Hudson
Clare is a copywriter with a passion for yoga. Visit her website for more information and for some fun reading!
The opinion in the article is the opinion of Clare Hudson and does not necessarily represent the view of yoga.in.
In 1924, Kaivalyadhama Ashram in Lonavla near Mumbai started the first scientific yoga research centre in the world.
In keeping in the tradition, the focus is on education, research and treatments while offering short and long-term yoga courses with diplomas certified by the Indian government.
The lush village-like ashram sits on 180 acres and has single-sex accommodation. Sri O.P. Tiwari will tell you more about Kaivalyadhama in our new video:
For the last two weeks we have shared with you a little about Otto’s experience in the ICYER Ashram. This week Otto summarizes his three-week experience and what to expect in a traditional ashram.
ICYER goes back to the really traditional style of learning yoga in India, and this means a Gurukula style:
Life in the ashram – no surprise, it starts very early:
At 4:30 AM you get up with the wake up bell, and the daily Aarti (fire ceremony) is at 5 AM. While night is still upon us, the stars are shining like diamonds in the sky, we go to the Hatha deck and do a silent sitting (Amma does not call it meditation), followed by Hatha Yoga until 8 AM. The coolness of the night and seeing the sun rising is a wonderful way to begin the day in this quite hot climate. This first block ends with relaxation (15-20 minutes).
At 8 AM the wonderful Shanti serves for sure the best dosa in all Tamil Nadu. Then, there is not too much time before the one-hour Karma Yoga starts at 9 AM, one hour of selfless service for the ashram. It can be cleaning the toilets, working in the garden, or as in my case cleaning the kitchen.
At 11 AM Pranayama starts and lasts until 1 PM. ICYER is endlessly rich in Pranayama techniques. The techniques are often shown in a supine (lying on your back) position, and all students, including me, often fall asleep (which is obviously not the goal).
After the lunch break, Dr. Ananda teaches all aspects of yoga, especially philosophy. After dinner, we sing some bhajans (devotional songs) and normally Amma gives satsang (spiritual teachings or readings) until nearly 9 PM, which is also bedtime, as the next day once again starts early.
Every daily activity is signaled by a bell, and be sure to take note of one of the most important points of ashram living: always be on time! Most students of the 6-month course have never been late, not to one single event of the day. On top of this, you have to attend every single class, even if you are damn ill! One day per week is a day off (theoretically, at least half day – sometimes).
What does ashram life give you?
Everyone has stories to tell, for me the observations were:
The warm climate in South India at this time makes it a wonderful experience too, and in front of the ashram is a surf beach, yeah!
To start your own ashram experience, you can find a list of yoga centres in India on our website, including ICYER.
You may also consider reading our book on the top yoga centres in India to find the right centre for your needs!