Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram

Nancy- Rishikesh India
The days are pretty routine here at Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram and it's starting to feel a bit more homey now.

We have two yoga classes a day, one at 6am for sunrise and one at 4pm for sunset. Both classes are held in the upstairs studio that has windows facing out towards the mountains. At each practice we can see the sun rising and setting over the Himalayan foothills which is quite magical. The studio gets really cold in the mornings and evenings so most people are bundled up and wrapped in meditation shawls. I don't have a meditation shawl yet so I bring my woolly blanket from my bed to class.

Meals are served three times a day, 8am breakfast, 12pm Lunch and 6pm dinner. The bell rings and we all march down to the dining hall like a bunch of orphans with our stainless steel plates and bowls to be served whatever the cook decides to make that day. Usually meals consist of rice and/or Chapati (a bread like pancake) with some sort of bean concoction ie. Dahl, lentil soup or a stew mixture.  All the meals are freshly cooked, 100% organic, sattvic vegetarian meals. So far they have been pretty tasty but I am already getting tired of beans and rice (and it's only day three!)

In the dining hall we sit around the perimeter of the room cross-legged at little child size tables that can't be more than a foot high. I'm sure my hips will get used to all this cross-legged sitting soon. The servers come around and slop food on each place (which is why I made that orphan comment) and after the meal we rinse our plates in the outdoor sink and take them back to our rooms to dry.

We don't start teacher training classes until tomorrow so between meals the days have been open for exploration of the village. In town you will find an array of shops selling books, jewelery, scarfs, soaps, woolly socks and hats, meditation CDs, Ayurvedic doctors and massage salons. Street stalls line the streets with roasted peanuts, fresh juice and oil popped popcorn, sandalwood incense and other nick knacks all with a very yogi vibe to them.

Seeing as Rishikesh is the city where yoga began you'll find advertisements all over the city advertising yoga workshops, reiki training ad ayurvedic massage and treatments. However, you can also see that tourism has affected the overall spiritual vibe of the town and is slowly becoming more commercial.

Wandering the city I've quickly learned there are a few things to watch out for:
1. Cows and cow dung- the cows wander freely on the streets and if you are not paying attention you may find yourself in a squishy situation.
2. Monkeys - As yogi Vishva says, "there are two kinds of  monkeys in Rishikesh, happy monkeys and grumpy monkeys." The monkeys are everywhere, so it's important to hang on to your bags and cameras.
3. Scammers - I'm not sure what they are called here but there are guys who approach tourists and try to "bless" them with red bindi paint, beads and a prayer then ask for money. I have not yet been approached but apparently if you do not pay he may growl at you. Growl! Really?

Back at the Ashram we have had a chance to be instructed by each of the four instructors who will be teaching us. Yogi Vishva, his wife Chetana, Rashmi and Ila (from Vancouver). Each has their own unique style of teaching. I can't say I like one more than the other but I did particularly enjoy Yogi Vishva's sunrise class yesterday morning. The intent for the class was self respect and being happy with who you are. "Just be you" he said.

Other than  yesterday's class, yoga practice has been difficult for me so far. I can't seem to quite the "chatter" in my mind. Thoughts speed around in my head about all the stresses I endured before coming here, missing dean and the lack of communication and the stressful tasks that await me when I return home. Hopefully I can find peace soon and begin to take in all the spiritual energy and positiveness that is all around me. I hope to come home completely zen with new stills to take on stress and life.

What I have learned so far is that I'm not here to prove anything, I'm here to learn and the wisdom of yoga can only be achieved through continued practice and experience. So I strive to let go of the past, let go of fears of the future and just be in the moment. Which reminds me of a really good quote I once read by Oprah Winfrey "This moment is the only moment you know you have for sure."

And that brings me to the very first teaching of the Yoga Sutra.. "With humility (an open heart and mind), we embrace the sacred study of Yoga."

I would love to post some photos, but this computer does not have an SD slot. So I'll have to upload them when I get home.

That's all for now. I'll write again next weekend to describe how the teacher training is going.

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