Last month I was very lucky to be able to visit and take a course at Yogapoint ashram near Mumbai in India. Staying at an ashram is a chance to submerge yourself in the yogic lifestyle. Students are able to deepen their yoga practice and gain a better understanding of themselves and life. People can stay in an ashram as volunteers helping with whatever is needed or you can do a course which may include learning more about yoga and yogic practices, teacher training or becoming a yoga therapist. The course I did was all about yoga psychology.
The Ashram Day
Everyone staying at the ashram follows the same routine. At 5.00 the alarm is sounded, in our case at Yogapoint this was in the form of a melodic chant – you can listen here –
A cup of herbal tea is available at 5.30. At 6.00 there is mantra chanting for half an hour to bring health and peace. From 6.30 – 8.00 there is a yoga asana practice, this includes several rounds of Sun Salutations as we watch the sunrise.
Between 8 and 9 everyone is given a job to do. This is Karma yoga – selfless service – where you do work (sweeping, chopping vegetables, cleaning etc) without attachment. It’s a time to reflect on how you feel and your attitude to work. Part of yoga is the acceptance that we all have a part to play in life and it’s not just about doing things for ourselves but helping others.
It feels like lunch time, but at 9.15 we have some breakfast! At Yogapoint there was fresh fruit and breakfast grains cooked in some delicious ways.
Lectures were from 10.30 – 12.30 and then lunch was served.
There was some free time until 2 when there was Yoga Nidra. Further lectures were from 2.30 – 4.30.
Yoga asana class was from 5 – 6.30 where we watched the sun set. Dinner was at 7.00. All of the food at the Ashram was delicious – vegetarian and wholesome. You can see some of the recipes on their website here
Finally, we had storytime, Q&A or singing from 8 – 9.
Lights out and silence at 10.00
The routine is simple and stringent. When the sun rises we rise and do some work, when the sun sets we go to be and have a good night’s sleep because we are tired – physically and mentally. There are no worries about what to cook, what to eat and what to watch on the TV. After a day or 2 you fall into a rhythm – and the worries of home life fall away so that you are only left to contemplate your own nature and what you want to give and get from each day. This rhythm gives rise to a peaceful soul and loving nature. All the students at the ashram were on their own journey but all were pleasant to talk to (when they are not in silence!).
If you are interested in visiting as Ashram you can look at the different courses at Yogapoint in India here or maybe consider something closer to home and look at the Mandala Ashram in Wales here. My Yoga Retreat days in Tinwell will embrace ashram culture with us all contributing to the ‘domestics’ throughout the day – but we won’t be starting at 5.00!