Yoga and Spirituality In Rishikesh : Part 1

What is Yoga ?

FullSizeRender (65)Sky is the limit. (Image credits : Vigil’s A World Less Traveled )

“Yoga is not just about Asanas or postures. In short, Yoga is not what we people in the West assume it to be”, tells Carolina who is here volunteering in the Ashram for the last few months. She found new love in Yoga while meditating for the first time when she was in Goa. “While meditating I felt something near my third eye (the space between eye brows) and from then on it has been a journey for me. I continued to meditate ever since then, but just like most things in life, my first experience of meditation was the best one.”

“But then, even the people who practice just Asanas (not necessarily meditation) in West are remarkably fit”, replies the Israeli guy.

“Hang in there. You will get to understand everything what Yoga is all about in the days to come”, replies Carol with a teasing smile.

And now meet Manu, a guy who once owned a pub somewhere in Germany but presently he is taking great care of all the people in Ashram. These two Germans : Carol and Manu are our volunteers for the season in Phool Chhatti Ashram.

Beyond Countries :

FullSizeRender (67)Offering flower to the Goddess Ganga.

There were close to 30 participants for the week long Yogic life program. People from countries including United States, Japan, Australia, Israel, Slovakia, Spain to name a few. And yes there were Indians too. 4 of us to be precise! (Less than 13 percent despite the fact that the program was held here in Rishikesh)

What compelled me to go out there and try learning Yoga?

FullSizeRender (68)Yoga Classes @Zostel Rishikesh.

Ever since I quit my job to understand my own nation, whenever I read something about the history of BharatVarsha (India) it someway or the other came down to all the Vedas (scriptures). And all the scriptures pointed towards Yoga! . As I read more and interacted with people who practiced Yoga, I found the world of Yoga so intriguing. But as they say, When it comes to Yoga , 99 % of reading is equivalent to 1% of practice. I had to start somewhere. You can’t just open Youtube videos and start practicing Asanas, you need a Guru to begin with. This concept of Guru-shishya has always been a part of our culture.

The place where it all begun :

12909450_524544551066236_7153654880674190519_oWelcome to Rishikesh.

With auspicious Goddess Ganga flowing through the Himalayas, there could not have been a better place for the origin of Yoga. Not Varanasi, not Kerala. It had to be Rishikesh!
Rishikesh is the place where all the Rishis (saints) used to attain their Samadhis. Now what’s a Sam
adhi. Hang on my friend, we will get there. One thing at a time 🙂

Choosing the right Ashram :

IMG_7732Phool Chhatti Ashram, Our home for the next 7 days!!

Rishikesh being the Yoga capital of the world is flooded with Ashrams and Yoga schools leaving us confused to decide which one to choose. Some of the prominent ones are near the Laxman Jhula area. Here’s a list which helped me in choosing an Ashram. Out of the many Ashrams listed here, I chose to go ahead with the Phool Chhatti Ashram. And there were two reasons for it :

  • Location : Away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist circuit, this Ashram is located on the outskirts of Rishikesh. In the backdrop of mountains and mother Ganga flowing next to it, it just could not have been any better.
  • Their 7 day program which runs throughout the year is designed for beginners and intermediaries and I wanted to learn everything from scratch. Just what the doctor ordered.

What’s a normal day in Ashram like?

FullSizeRender (66)

Yogic Lifestyle In Ashram :

5:30 AM : Morning Wake up bell. Brace yourselves fellas for the eventful day ahead!!!

6:00 AM : Namaste everyone. Prepare yourselves for morning meditation. In order to not feel sleepy, hope you have had some hot shower, I mean the elephant bucket shower :p

6:30 AM : Time for some Mantra chanting. Join your hands and bring them close to your chest as we chant Om three times followed by Om shanti Om three times.

Ooooooooooooooooooooommmmm, Ooooooooooooooooooooommmmm, Ooooooooooooooooooooommmmm!!!

Ooooooooommmm Shanti, Shaaaaaantii, Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantiiieeee
Ooooooooommmm Shanti, Shaaaaaantii, Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantiiieeee
Ooooooooommmm Shanti, Shaaaaaantii, Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantiiieeee!!

Now take the mantra papers and let’s chant the first Mantra which is the Maha-Mrityanjaya mantra.

(Everyone starts singing in Chorus)

6:45 AM : Everyone bring your Neti pots. Today we will show you how to clean up your lungs.

Step 1: Neti pot is a small jug in which you put some hot water and salt.
Step 2: Bring the Neti pot close to your nose.
Step 3 : Tilt your body towards left. Start breathing through your mouth and gently start pouring water into your right nostril. Wait for a second or two for the magic to begin. And voila! The water starts coming out of your left nostril. Repeat the above procedure with the other nostril.

Tip : On day 1 you will probably make the mistake of breathing through your nose and end up in an uncomfortable state, feeling the task is too tough. But the next day onwards make sure to breathe through only your mouth. And the whole process happens effortlessly.

7:00-8:45 AM : Welcome back to the Yoga hall as we begin some Pranayama exercises before we practice some Hatha Yoga.

8:45 AM : Day 1 : Dude where the fuck are my snickers. I’m starving!!!!!

FullSizeRender (71)Days like this…!!!

9:00 AM : There is an amazing rooftop setup where we meet for all our meals. The sound of flowing Ganga in the back ground adds a mesmerizing touch to meals.

The Pasta looked heavenly on my plate. I took a spoonful of it. It was midway in the air and almost about to enter my mouth, when a voice comes :

“Please wait. All of us eat together!!!”

What timing man. Yes it was one of our volunteers Caroline :p

“Oh! Okay”, I spoke out of embarrassment.

There was a board which read “All our meals are to be taken in silence.”
And everyone out there took it so seriously.

 

Stay tuned for the next part guys. This one is a long story!!

FullSizeRender (70)And here comes the next part guys. Happy reading 🙂

Yoga and Spirituality In Rishikesh : Part 2