May 10, 2012

Life in an Ashram (Hindu Monastery)

We returned back to Rishikesh to practice yoga and meditation and it felt like coming back home. However, not everybody recognized us

We stayed at Anand Prakash Ashram for five days. Ashram is kind of Hindu monastery where people do yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices. This particular Ashram is mainly for foreigners and all classes are in English. The price per person is 600 Rs ($12), which includes room, meals 3 times a day, yoga and meditation twice a day, access to other facilities (library, computers). The room is clean, simple and has everything spiritual seeker needs

However sometimes it lacks electricity

We both were given Ashram Handbook with instructions how to survive basic guidelines, mantras and

daily Schedule. We obeyed all schedule entirely, except Individual Meditation which always took place in our room. It was also quite hard to maintain Silence Times from 9PM to 8.30AM especially after morning Yoga, when Helen was FULL of energy

Just after breakfast fire puja (ritual) was performed. Wooden scobs and ghee butter were sacrificed to the fire while chanting mantras

Every morning yoga and meditation took place at the roof floor

Terrace (for counting stars)

Whereas evening classes continued at the basement floor to avoid the heat

Don't be scared. Toilet paper is for pranayama (special breathing technique through nose)

Everyone is expected to sing mantra before each meal, 3x a day

Eating hall. Everybody has his own little table and should sit in lotus pose or at least like Turkish

Little Japanese girls are volunteering by distributing food for Ashram members

Classical dinner consists of rice, chapati (Indian bread), legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas etc.), fresh vegetables and curry vegetables. Everything was mild spicy and tasty, especially after yoga classes. Oh, and you always can have additional serving

After each meal you are supposed to wash your dishes

Like that, and store them in your room. For each meal there is extremely loud bell, so that nobody misses a meal. Needless to say, we were occupying our tables before even bell rang

Yard for chillin'

Ashram from outside

There is also a very good library in the Ashram. Val was reading mostly traveling books

While Helen had chosen something more spiritual

One day we visited Garden Party at the nearby hotel, the main idea of which was to support local children paying for their work. Girl is making henna

Some face painting art is happening here

Henna is ready, Helen just needs to wait until it dries

And this is how henna looked like for 7 days

Local kid took a photo. It cost $1, unfortunately we forgot to take printed version we paid for, but it was quite similar to this one. Ashram was a perfect place to rest mentally after intense traveling, however, it was not less demanding physically. Om Shanti.


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