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Travelling for the Soul – Sivananda Ashram in India

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Travelling for the Soul – Sivananda Ashram in India

India has always been the ultimate destination for the spiritual seeker, and for one month and a half, is has been the place that helped me heal my broken heart. Yoga India

Since I started practicing yoga, five years ago, a seed of desire has been planted in my heart, to experience an Ashram in India. I became a yoga instructor in a Sivananda Ashram, but in the Bahamas, so after almost one year, my path has brought me to South India, in the beautiful Kerala state, where I had a healing journey, guided by my soul.

For one month and a half, I explored the beauty of the nature and of the people here in South India, I had a relaxing week in a beautiful ayurveda centre, and I lived in two different ashrams.

The first one was Amritapuri, the famous ashram of the female Guru Amma. The second one was the Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam, the place where I felt the magic of India and of an authentic Yoga practice. I may be subjective, because I have been trained by a Sivananda School, but in the same time nothing happens by chance, so I am grateful that I was guided from the beginning, and I ended up taking my certification from the oldest TTC School opened for the West.

sivananda ashram

The Sivananda Centres are located all over the world, and the philosophy behind, is the gift that Swami Sivananda has offered to the world and to his disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda, who has opened this spiritual path of yoga and Vedanta for the westerners.

Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise – Swami Sivananda

Since I started being aware of my spiritual path, I encountered numerous beliefs, schools of thought, practices, even sects, but from the moment I arrived in that ashram in the Bahamas, I knew that that was a good path for me, an authentic practice of yoga, authentic philosophy from Vedanta, and also a western point of view in order to keep one’s freedom of choice.

So when I found myself in South India, I choose to visit the Sivananda Ashram here, in the beautiful Neyyar Dam district.

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Whatever happened, happened for the good;

Whatever is happening, is happening for the good;

Whatever will happen, will happen for the good only.

You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future.

The present is happening. Live in the present – Lord Krishna

I will tell you here what this ashram in India can offer you, but each person will experience what they need to experience, in order to grow and to transform deeply.

An ashram is a place designated for a spiritual practice, a “school” where  traditional masters have shared the knowledge since thousands of years ago.

Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, is a heavenly place where people all over the world come to try a yogic lifestyle, to deepen their practice or to become yoga instructors.

ashram in india

There are four ways to experience the ashram:

  1. As a yoga vacationer: You can book a minimum of 3 nights here, you have everything included, and you are following the daily schedule that includes meditation, chanting, two yoga classes, karma yoga ( selfless service), two meals, and a lecture.
  2. As a Karma Yogi: You can be a volunteer for a minimum of one month.
  3. Attendee for one of the special courses like Ayurveda or Detox Programme. See the special courses here.
  4. As a TTC student. The Teacher Training Course is one of the most famous ones, every month about 150 people, indians and westerners, are going through an intensive process of becoming a yoga instructor. This course is one month long and for me has been the most amazing and transformative experience so far.

The daily schedule :

Wakeup at 5:30 am

Everyone makes their way to the bathroom, to take a shower and to refresh before the morning meditation. It is said that it is good to shower after a night’s sleep in order to elevate a lower type of energy that we get during the night.

Morning Satsang at 6:00 am

Satsang is translated as ” being in the company of the truth” and it’s a common event in the spiritual indian tradition. It starts with a 30 minuted silent meditation, continues with chanting of mantras and bhajans and it ends with a short lecture on different subjects.

sivananda ashram

Once a week, instead of the usual Satsang, there is a silent walking meditation to the nearby dam, where all the ashram guests are sitting, meditating, chanting and enjoying one of the most beautiful sunrises. This was one of my favourite activities here in this ashram in India._MG_3359

india ashram

india

india ashram

ashram in india

 Tea/ Chai time 07:30

A short time to socialise and to enjoy a wonderful Chai.

ashram in india

Morning Yoga Class 08:00 am – 10:00 am

Sivananda yoga is combining the benefits of hatha yoga, paranayama ( breathing exercises) and relaxation in order to create a complex class that is a main pillar in one’s spiritual practice. This style of yoga is not very physically challenging, but it is teaching the body and the mind to create a bond in order to achieve a relaxed state.

 

ashram in indiaThere are three yoga classes going on in the same time, one for beginners, one for intermediates and one for the TTC students.

Brunch at 10:30 am

The moment that everyone is waiting 🙂

I was struck by the beauty of this moment. An action that we take for granted, here it’s transformed into something sacred, a conscious sacred action. Everyone is sitting in silence on the floor, on  grass mats, and metal plates full of vegetarian traditional food are placed in front of every person. All of the 300 or 400 people are in a crosslegged position, with eyes closed and  a beautiful hindu prayer is sang. After this, everyone starts eating with their bare hands, focusing their attention inside, without being distracted by the others. Some karma yogis are refilling the plates and tea cups. I miss that as I am trying to describe that feeling:)

ashram life

11:30 am Karma Yoga

Karma yoga means selfless service or volunteering. This is one of the most important spiritual practices in an ashram, serving the others without expecting anything in return. It is said that this way, we are eliminating the ego and calming the mind. In this ashram, everyone gets a karma yoga depending on the length of stay, you can get anything from cleaning toilets ( what I did for a few days) to selling in the boutique, gardening or cooking.

This ashram in India is so beautiful and well taken care of, only through volunteering and selfless service of beautiful people, that are achieving in exchange peace of mind.

ashram in india

Until the philosophy class is starting, people usually are enjoying a lemonade or a healthy snack at the Health Hut.

sivananda ashram

ashram

From 2:00 pm, Yoga Philosophy Class

The karma yogis and the yoga vacationeers can study yoga philosophy, a class that is taking place each day, explaining in depth certain subjects like: karma, meditation, the types of yoga, scriptures and many others.

ashram in india

The second yoga class of the day starts at 3:30 pm

ashram in india

Before dinner, I usually went on the roof of one of the buildings, and I was enjoying a magical sunset.

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Dinner is served at 6:30 PMashram

After dinner, people are usually using the free Wi-Fi in one of the halls, or they meet at the Health Hut for a snack and some social time:)

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But the day is not over . . .

At 8 PM, the evening Satsang starts

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Only after 21:30, everyone goes in the dorms to get some sleep, before the 5:30 bell. It’s intense, it’s not easy, but it’s changing our old habits and thought patterns. And in my opinion, this is a wonderful thing to achieve in this type of journey.

The TTC students, have an even more intense schedule, about 11 hours of yoga, lectures, philosophy, scriptures, teaching classes, etc.

yoga ttc

yoga ttc

The good new is that everyone has a free day once a week. In this free time, a lot of people are choosing to go on a trip or they are exploring the nearby wonders.

One of the most beautiful landscapes is just outside the ashram, a place where special celebrations also happen. Some of the students are even bathing into the lake but this is nor recommended 🙂

india yoga

yoga in india

ashram in india

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“The real spiritual progress of the aspirant is measured by the extent to which he achieves inner tranquility – Swami Sivananda “

This ashram in India is like a paradise garden, once you are stepping inside, everything is different from the outside world, everything is more peaceful and avery act is more meaningful.

india ashram

ashram

india ashram

Now let’s take a walk around . . .

sivananda ashram

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hindu

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Practical information:

The accommodation in the ashram for a yoga vacationer costs between 650 and 1000 Rp/ day, depending on the season and on the room type. The meals and all the classes are included.

I stayed in a dorm, and it was different from any other accommodation I have experienced, but I got used to it very quickly and everything was ok:)

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sivananda ashram neyyar dam accommodation

If you want to attend a TTC or any other Program, you can contact the ashram and ask about the following courses.

The ashram is located near Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. Here is also the main airport of South India. From the airport, it’s a 50 minutes ride by car or auto rickshaw. The cost is between 650 and 1200 Rp.

sivananda ashram india

For me, the 10 days that I have spent there helped me deepen my practice, helped me become more balanced and to follow a discipline that is very good for my body, mind and emotions. I feel this ashram like a home for my soul, a place where my True Self is a priority, not my thoughts or physical needs.

yoga india

There are thousands of ashrams in India, but somehow everyone finds the best place for their journey. And as I am always saying, travel can be much more through a destination like this, even for a short period of time. And this amazing country is the perfect place to experience a beautiful, subtle and pure energy. ashram in india

 

“Complete peace equally reigns between two mental waves.” – Swami Sivananda

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Om Namah Shivaya

Travel the world outside, to discover the world inside

www.sivananda.org

 

Padmakshi

Padmakshi

I believe in a perfect life, a magical life, searching and finding beauty and energy in everything around

11 Comments

  • Katy

    What an amazing experience. It sounds so calming but also thought provoking. The photos of you and your fellow ashram guests looking over the lake is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing

    April 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm
  • Jessica

    Wow, this looks like such an incredible soul searching experience. Your pictures are awesome, and really help paint the picture for what an ashram would be like. I’ve always wanted to do something like this, thanks for sharing!

    April 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm
  • Ulli

    Great photos! Well, I’m not sure if I want to visit India more than I did but you surely inspired me to maybe try yoga one day 😀

    April 27, 2016 at 8:58 pm
  • Stephanie

    I’ve only recently started practicing yoga. It has brought a new calm and peace to my life with just one hour a week. I can’t imagine how transforming it would be to practice so much in a spiritual place like this. So glad you shared this wonderful experience with us.

    April 28, 2016 at 2:48 am
  • Tamar

    I’ve always been fascinated by stays in ashrams. I love yoga and the self-awareness both the practice and lifestyle promote so this is pretty high on my list of things to experience. Your pics are beautiful and the experience sounds like a once in a lifetime thing!

    April 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm
  • Yilin Wang

    What a unique experience! Thanks for sharing. It was nice to see your day.

    April 28, 2016 at 3:44 pm
  • Monica is The Wanderlusteur

    Love your detailed account of soul searching at Sivanandra Ashram through studying yoga. It does sound like a challenging schedule, but nothing worth having was ever easy they say. 🙂

    TheWanderlusteur.com

    April 28, 2016 at 5:38 pm
  • Aimee

    Looks so peaceful, I think one would definitely leave here feeling transformed. I used to practice yoga briefly and thoroughly enjoyed, maybe I’ll take it up again as this type of yoga retreat looks really unique and interesting.

    April 28, 2016 at 5:42 pm
  • The Bonfire Dream

    India is for me almost an ultimate aim in life. Although, I know it will take quite a bit to catch up on 🙂

    April 28, 2016 at 7:40 pm
  • Stella @ Travelerette

    That sounds like a fascinating experience and your photos make me feel like I was really there. I have never been to an ashram, but I have been to a convent and the daily routines sound similar. You are very lucky to be able to have such a spiritual experience in such a beautiful surrounding.

    May 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm
  • Tracey Rohan Irwin

    You blog is truly great. It has developed another feeling of motivation in me to begin my very own setup. I simply cherish the way you portrayed everything. In the wake of understanding this website I think anybody can accomplish what they need.

    August 5, 2016 at 5:08 am

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