On September 7th I celebrated my 51st birthday, and since for the past year I decided that there is no better time to make dreams come true than the present moment, I went, by myself, to Rishikesh, India, to an ashram called Parmarth Niketan, to participate in a 2 week intensive yoga+meditation course.
I returned a week ago, and I am more than ready to share the details with you- just in case you decide this is something that might suit you as well.
India has been a dream of mine for many years, but stories and some movies I saw, that emphasized the poverty and harsh conditions kept me away from going. I was afraid of not being able to withstand the extreme situations I heard of and decided this was probably not for me.
But after my trip to Guatemala, something changed.
I understood that I could take more than I thought I could, and maybe if I planned right- this could be an interesting experience.
Here are links to my Guatemala trip:
So I booked a flight to India on Air India, a connecting flight on Indigo, and booked my 2-week yoga course at Parmarth.
Parmarth is a Hindi ashram that holds world-known meditation sessions and ceremonies.
the most known ceremony takes place every evening on the Ganga banks at sunset and is a ceremony dedicated to praising and thanking the gods and the sun for warming, lighting, and nourishing us. the ceremony is called Aarti, and people from all around the world come to participate.
India in September is hot, quite humid, with occasional showers storms, and the streets, at least in Rishikesh are loud and dirty. and magnificent.
yes these are monkeys wandering about in the street. in packs. and cows, wandering about as well.
The monkeys are very fond of bananas by the way so when you go get some from the carts in the street, quickly hide them in your backpack or the monkeys will have a go at your snack…
sanitation, at least in Rishikesh Is something to be cautious of- meaning bring your personal water bottle and fill it only with clean water -that includes the water you brush your teeth in, and the water you wash your toothbrush with as well…
This is my water bottle- aka -best friend in those 2 weeks- I drank cold water from it and used it to store boiled water they gave me in the ashram kitchen to make my coffee at 04 am in the morning when I woke up to go to listen to the chanting.(kirtan).
This is the ashram, truly a magical place, and I do believe it has a kind of a spiritual vibe in it- I can tell you that as soon as I sat to meditate- I would get into it- maybe it was due to the fact that I had no day to day issues to deal with and was surrounded by spiritual talk- all I know is that it was really easy to relax and get into a meditative mode there.
The place is by no means fancy- or even a 3 stars hotel.
The beds were hard as rocks, the rooms plain and simple- and we cleaned it ourselves -my assigned British roommate and me, and the food was simple too.
No air conditions by the way.
This was breakfast- most days it was couscous or noodles with potatoes.
And this was lunch. rice with vegetables and chapati. very tasty.
This is the yoga hall, and the course was by all means intensive.
In the morning, at 06:30 to 08 am- morning yoga class, including pranayama- breathing techniques, and some asanas, then breakfast and rest – and we adjourned at 10:30 to 13:00 for another yoga class- this time asanas- in hatha yoga.
I feel that I truly progressed in my yoga practice, though it wasn’t easy for me to keep up with the rest of the group.
one was a qualified yoga teacher and the rest have been doing yoga for many years- while I embarked on my yoga journey only about 2 years ago.
But I didn’t let that- or the fact that I was the oldest in the group- by far – keep me from progressing and learning, and since I am an introvert and aware of my body’s need to rest well after working out, I didn’t wander about in the streets of Rishikesh like the rest of the group and when everybody else got sick -I kept going to all the classes and getting my practice .
The yoga practice was demanding; I believe in a level between intermediate and advanced- but adjustments were given all throughout the practice so that both levels could enjoy the class.
*just saying -I paid full price and got no discount- this is my honest review and not to worry- there were some things that bothered me there- like the noise people made until late hours at night, the state of the room when I first came in, the fact that I had to practically beg for hot water for my coffee in the morning- but these are small things, that didn’t prevent me from having a wonderful time- though this was by no means a vacation or a retreat.
If you want to try a taste of India in a relatively safe environment and get your yoga practice to the next level- check this place online- maybe you will find this to be as interesting as I did.
Namaste -the cooliflower.