Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ashram Living

I believe i left you at the end of our lovely stay at the Haveli Hari Ganga, which still leaves me with a blissful memory. The day before we left as i said we finally got the directions to Sri Santosh Puri Ashram which my friend Adrian told me about (thanks Adrian) and we went to find it. It turned out to pure peace, a small place away from the madness and right on the Ganga. So we packed up our stuff and said goodbye to the Haveli and set off to experience Ashram life.

Santosh Puri Ashram is run by a beautiful family with an interesting tale. Mataji was born in Germany some 65 yrs ago and at the age of 23 she set off to see India. She fell in love and wondered the country finally finding babaji, a saddhu who had spent the last twelve yrs wondering covered in holy ash. She decided to stay with him and left all her possessions behind receiving only one piece of cloth and became his disciple, Narvada. For 10 yrs they sat under a tree on a small island near Haridwar and there they meditated, did cow service and lived a basic life. On the tenth year she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Ganga and they moved and got some land on the side of the ganga and began their ashram. Over the years she had two girls, Gangotri and Mandakini and there they lived peacefully for many years. What a fascinating life these kids have lived, now fully grown teaching at the ashram, they constantly tell us stories of their childhood. Haveing a holy man as a father who never was a father but always a teacher. Never being told what to do, but being shown what to do by example. When Babaji died the children built a beautiful temple for him and they opened up the ashram to people in 2001.

As luck would have it we entered the ashram 12 days into a month long course on Clinical yoga and Ayurveda, so we have thrown out our plans until the end of the month and are staying to complete the course. It is a really interesting course covering so much information. Our days typically run from 4am to 9 or 10pm and look something like this.

4am- wake up, drink 1 ltr of water to clean out our digestive tracts
5am- aarti/puja, devotional chants and rituals at the temple
6am- Kriya/cleansing class, this is lead by Ganga and every second day we learn a new cleansing technique, cleaning the bowels, stomach, ears, eyes, nose, gums, teeth, tongue and third eye.
8am- Asanas class, which what most people in the west consider yoga. This is taught by Mandakini who has her master in yoga and stress management
10:30am- morning meal, we sit in silence and eat amazing food served to us in unlimited quantities
11:30am- Karma yoga, selfless service, cleaning, gardening,...
1pm- Clinical yoga theory and ayurveda class, lead by Gangotri who has here masters in Ayurveda and is preparing to go to Kerala to become a complete doctor on the 27th
4:30pm- Pranayama class/breathing, this is by far the hardest class, perhaps it is the afternoon heat or perhaps sitting cross legged for so long. THis class is lead by Ganga who has his masters in Human Consciousness and sort of looks like he is from south america.
6:30pm- evening meal
7pm- aarti/puja
8pm- meditation or chanting

I know these are long and full days and it feels amazing. At first it was really hard, trying to fit into this small community, having recurring feelings from high school; will they like me? Also just spending time with oneself, being quiet, connecting with our bodies. I will tell more when the time is right.

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