India holds such a special place in my heart, as it does for many yogis. Each journey I’ve had in India has been extremely pivotal and transformational. Staying in the tranquil anand prakash ashram, learning from vishva-ji and other masters of this holy land, and just from being surrounded in the devotion and living of yoga all around me, I could not help but have some massive shifts and awakenings.
Many Westerner’s are intimidated by India, as it is quite an intense place. The world we live in is a world of paradox and polarities, and in India these paradoxes and polarities are right in front of everyone. One minute you could be sitting with an enlightened saint in deep bliss, the next minute you could be in front of a leper while they beg for money and food. This was also very intense for me at first, but as I allowed myself to be with what is and to truly feel compassion, my heart just kept opening and opening into such incredible depths of love awareness I hadn’t quite felt previously. Here in the West, the darker aspects of life often get put behind curtains, enabling a kind of ignorance is bliss attitude to be very common, where as in India it’s all out in the open, which seems to make people go deeper into spiritual awareness.
There is a richness of presence, devotion, reverence, joy and gratitude that pulsates in such abundance. In just a couple of weeks of being in a place like Rishikesh it wouldn’t be unusual to be a part of several incredible celebrations and festivals.
Jo and I are so excited about our retreat in Rishikesh this May. It’s a retreat that feels like it’s going to be incredibly special and uniquely rich. Each morning and evening we’ll be having a yoga class either taught by myself, Jo, or a local Rishikesh teacher. We will be having guest musicians play for us at Anand Prakash. Some nights we’ll also be having an extra class, which may be sound healing, kirtan, silent meditation and other explorations. Keep reading. It just keeps getting richer and better!
Each morning there will be an agni hotra (fire puja) ceremony at anand prakash. The fire puja is an ancient ritual described in the Vedas and performed with Vedic mantras. Ghee and herbs (samagri) are offered into the fire. This is also a practice and metaphor for the release and transformation of that which no longer serves us. The vibrations of the mantras and fire purify the energy pathways and vibrate in the mind and heart to allow the neural and subtle pathways to open, therefore clearing space for the awakening process of yoga. As the herbs are turned in to fragrant essence, so we begin to peceive the witness consciousness as the unchanging essence of reality. Yoga is a process of removing that which prevents us from seeing things clearly. Fire puja is one of the many practices of yoga to allow for this transformation.
We’ll also participate in some beautiful ceremonies on the ganges (holy river) and embark on some incredible treks including a trek to a spectacular waterfall. Those of you wanting some more adrenaline pumping options for activities there is bunjy jumping and white water rafting not far from the ashram : ) Those of you wanting to do very little in between yoga classes you can also just hang out, read, meditate, sleep etc.
Three meals a day are provided in the dining hall overlooking the mountains to the north of the ashram.
Food is fresh cooked Sattvic vegetarian including a varied day to day menu of:
• Ayurvedic Herbal Tea,
• Porridge with Dates and Raisins or Coconut,
• Bananas or Papaya, or Chickpeas;
Lunch and Dinner
• Dal (pulses), Vegetables (pumpkin, carrot, cauliflower, peas, spinach etc.), Rice, Chapatti, and some raw vegetables.
The food is very nourishing, clean and tasty yogic food. They’re usually simple meals, but the simplicity of the meals really tends to add to the beauty of the inner experience of the retreat.
The ashram gets about 75% of its food (depending on the season) directly from the organic farm next door to the Helping Hands for India school project.
If you’re wanting more variety than what I just described next door there is an incredible organic ayurvedic restaurant, and all around the surrounding area is many great restaurants.
Why such an affordable price?
Jo and I wanted to make this retreat very affordable, to open up the opportunity for anyone and everyone to experience such a rich and transformational retreat. It won’t be 5 star boutique accommodation, but it will be clean, comfortable and safe. Again, this simplicity actually helps form a very deap experience that goes beyond the brief 5 star satisfaction many are after. That being said, if you’re wanting to join in the retreat but you want to treat yourself to more high end luxuries, there are some other beautiful hotels near by that I can recommend. Please feel free to enquire if this is more your style. Each room is a same gender share room (maximum of 3 beds), however for an extra $400 you can book the whole room to yourself.
Here’s a sneak peak at the ashram and the rooms: http://www.anandprakashashram.com/details.php?pgID=sb_12
Cost is $1100. This includes 3 meals per day at the ashram, 2 or more classes per day, and accommodation at anand prakash during the retreat dates. 5% of the funds will be donated to Helping Hands for India. Optional activities may cost just a little extra…
Getting to Rishikesh
I recommend flying into Delhi. If you book a place on this retreat you’ll send us your flight details, and we’ll have a driver pick you up to bring you to the ashram, unless you’re on a pilgrimage or adventure and you want to meet us at the ashram. The cost for the drive from Delhi to Rishikesh is approximately $60US.
We hope you can us on this exploration of sacred India.
Stu and Jo