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In an ashram in Rishikesh

Start the day with meditation

It’s pitch black when I sneak out of my room at 5:20 am and walk into the yoga hall on the higher floor. The hall is already well filled. But there is only silence. I find an empty space in the back corner and roll out my yoga mat on the wooden floor. Then I find a comfortable seat on my yoga block, close my eyes and start breathing. After a few minutes, a pleasant female voice leads us through the next twenty-minute meditation. We chant the mantra “Soham” with our mala.

Yoga class with Guru ji

After the meditation, I linger a little bit on the mat with my eyes closed and then make minor stretching  movements. When I open my eyes, the guru with his beaming smile enters through the door of the yoga hall and places himself in front of us on a small pedestal so that we can all see him well. In the meantime, the yoga hall has become even fuller. Guru ji is not always in Rishikesh and it is special to have him as a teacher.

The next two hours are a flow of asanas, mudras, pranayama and mantras. Everything becomes one and I feel as I permeate through all five layers, from the physical Kosha to my true self, my soul. I feel complete.

After the yoga class I feel like I’m born new, cleansed and pure.

Indian rituals

With a positive feeling, go down to the open prayer hall to participate in the fire puja.

The first students already sit with Guru around the fireplace and chant the Gaytri mantra. More and more of us join in and together we sing through various prayers and mantras, which include different ceremonies. It’s already my third day in the ashram and I’m happy about how well I’m getting through the Sanskrit lyrics and melodies by now.

Yogic diet

Now I’m really hungry and looking forward to breakfast. After all, it is now already 8:30 amand I have an intensive yoga practice behind me.

Breakfast is simple but good. Karma yogis distribute fresh fruits, a delicious cereal porridge, dried dates and flat bread. There is also herbal tea. All sing a mantra toegther, then we eat in silence. Until after breakfast is still “silence time”, called maun.

The Holy Ganges

After breakfast I go down to the river Ganges. First I cross over the Laxman Jula, a shaky suspension bridge populated by many pilgrims and some monkeys. Again and again, brave motorcyclist squeeze through the crowd. Down here at the Ganges, everything is no longer quiet and much more alive. From the countless ashrams, sacred mantra chants sound, Indian pilgrims rush to the various temples and backpackers sit comfortably together in one of the many nice cafés for breakfast.

I stroll a little along the shops and think about whether I should book a massage for the next day. Then I continue towards the Ganges and very quickly everything becomes very quiet again. I find a small rock and let my feet dangle in the freezing and clear ganges water while a sadhu goes through his morning bathing routine.

A regular daily routine

Finally, I leave and walk back to the ashram for a light lunch consisting of rice, lentils and flatbread, as well as some salad.

I use the afternoon for my own yoga studies and read through a book That I borrowed from the Ashrams Library.

At 4 pm the afternoon yoga class starts. Today on the roof terrace, as the weather is nice and not too hot.

The class is taught by a student of the guru and is relaxed and beautiful, not quite as intense as the morning class with the guru and I am very grateful for it.

Cheerful and in a good mood we now go to the hall for dinner. Every one takes a place on a linen cloth on the floor in front of a small wooden table.

Dinner is always a bit more elaborate and we get rice, bread and yellow lentils, as well as a delicious pumpkin vegetable. There is also optional ghee, olive oil or coconut oil.

Today is Thursday and every Thursday evening Khirtan (spiritual songs) are sung. It will be a beautiful evening with lots of light, warmth and beautiful sounds.

At 10 pm it’s time for light ogg and I go into a restful, dreamless sleep and look forward to the next day.