I made a promise to myself the first time I went to India, that I would go back each year to the same spot to enliven my passion that is yoga. I won’t lie, it took 25 hours to finally make it to Rishikesh and on my way I found myself asking ”Is all this travel really worth it for just 2 weeks?” The answer was yes. As soon as I got out of the old, dirty taxi and set foot into Anand prakash ashram I felt home.
The ashram itself is set in the foothills of the Himalayas in a place called Rishikesh. You can feel the spiritual energy straight away. It is powerful and it ripples through every aspect of life here. But beyond the overload of incense, fire puja, chanting, mantras and prayers, there is something more. Rishikesh has been a place of devotion and spiritual pilgrimage and the thousands of years of traditions are evident on the holy Ganga as its surroundings are saturated with vibrations generated by the practices and meditations of spiritual folk that all share something special; a drive for some sort of spiritual embodiment.
The first five days of my trip were spent participating in an intenstive workshop for assisting and sequencing in akhanda yoga; a style of yoga my guru Vishveketu founded. Each day we rose with the sun at 4:45am and for some reason it was so easy to do. Although I get up at similar time back home, I often find myself unwillingly forcing myself out of bed but I was able to jump up, and practice saucha (cleasning) before 2.5 hours of yoga and meditation…. whether or not it was the thin mattress and non existent pillow I was sleeping on or just the fact that I was excited to spend every waking moment in India, I’m not sure.
My cleansing rituals each morning include oil pulling, jal neti (nasal cleansing), showering and dousing myself with dotterra essentials for which me and my roommate were obsessed with to treat everything while we were over there.
The yoga classes in Rishikesh are something I endeavour to deliver my students back here; they are well rounded. Each practice includes asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra and prayer. Morning classes are followed by fire puja and breakfast; usually porridge or lentils and fruit. After the 5 day intensive was up I took the next 10 days to detox and take time to review what I had learnt. If you ever visit Rishikesh, an ayurvedic panchakarma intensive by Dr. Harsh Agarwal is a must. I was also lucky enough to experience a few morning satsangs with Sri Prem Baba; a Portuguese Baba. He didn’t speak a word of English and yet the translation of his words about our purpose as humans on this earth moved me to tears. In between panchakarma sessions, satsang and asana practice, my roommate and I would sit on the Ganga, journal and explore the delightful (and mostly vegan) food and chai on offer. After two weeks we had a perfect little routine and began to feel comfortable in our little hub in Rishikesh. Though it was unfortunate that we had to leave so quick, my short stay was an important reminder to take time for myself. My short stay was also another reminder that nothing can be permanent no matter how good it may be.
For anyone that has a feeling they may want to go to India, follow it. I barely touched the surface of this beautiful country and can only begin to relay the depth of spiritual vibrancy that fills every moment of life there. I can only suggest that if the opportunity does in fact present itself, you must find the time to experience it.