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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.
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.
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
An ashram is a place designated for a spiritual practice, a “school” where traditional masters have shared the knowledge since thousands of years ago.
There are four ways to experience the ashram:
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.
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.
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.
A short time to socialise and to enjoy a wonderful Chai.
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.
There are three yoga classes going on in the same time, one for beginners, one for intermediates and one for the TTC students.
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:)
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.
Until the philosophy class is starting, people usually are enjoying a lemonade or a healthy snack at the Health Hut.
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.
Before dinner, I usually went on the roof of one of the buildings, and I was enjoying a magical sunset.
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:)
But the day is not over . . .
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.
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 🙂
“The real spiritual progress of the aspirant is measured by the extent to which he achieves inner tranquility – Swami Sivananda “
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:)
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.
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.
“Complete peace equally reigns between two mental waves.” – Swami Sivananda