4 years back, after spending considerable time learning Yoga…I decided to take the plunge on travelling for Yoga! Bali, Cambodia, Mysore etc etc I thought, And then like an epiphany…I decided that if it’s Yoga – then why not Rishikesh???
The yoga Capital of India!
So here I was – on a solo travel to Rishikesh! To do what – Just Yoga!!! For how many days – 15! And why, again – just Yoga!
- It was one of a kind adventure – I set out for a journey of which I had no pre-conceived notions! Booked an ashram through a friend. Aim was to learn more yoga, work on postures and immerse myself completely into the practice.
- Rishikesh is mind-blowing. The number of ashrams, yoga institutes, the yoga acharyas – are nothing short of worth making trips every weekend! At one point I was convinced that I should buy a small house in Rishikesh. The food offered at various restaurants even outside the ashrams is for health lovers. Inlike Haridwar, the crowd belongs to a different world here...there are yoga punks, serious yogis, wannabe yogis, you name it!
- You meet beautiful strangers and learn endlessly – Yoga Niketan (the ashram where I stayed) is a favorite with the Japanese. My Iyengar yoga classes with Usha devi were like entering a kaleidoscope! Amongst her 40 students, I was the only Indian! There were yoga instructors from around the world who had come to grill themselves under the guidance of a great Iyengar teacher. Meeting some of them, a lunch with some, a chai with another few – to me they were all Monks who sold their Ferraris - but these were Yoga Monks! Consultants – who left stressful jobs to teach yoga around the world, fluid like chinese women who came to become even more fluid…and I met an old lady who was travelling India on her Bullet and was in Rishikesh to learn Yoga for a month! My practice had found a new meaning. I learnt to hold and breathe and let go....the meaning of which you can only know when you see people around you practice so passionately.
- There is magic beyond the comfort zone – So far I travelled far and wide to explore cities, mountains, beaches! And here I was sitting in the yoga-land! I took the challenge. I DIDN'T HOLD MYSELF BACK! Doing 6-7 hours of Yoga Only! Sleeping on a wooden bench, in a small room of a 100 year old ashram, meeting strangers from all over the world, learning from them, admiring their passion towards something that came from India! BOOM – I am new! Vivacious! New surroundings, new food, new people, and new opportunities for self - discovery! I woke up at 4 am everyday, went for a class on mediation in the pitch dark, ate with the ashram members and headed out to various other ashrams to learn more Yoga. It was a disciplined living every minute of the day. I talked much lesser, walked a lot through the streets of Rishikesh sometimes 9-10 kms a day, and for most part after yoga, spent afternoons in my room surrounded with mango trees....living a tale that I can recount to my kids many times.
- I look back to some of the happiest moments with immense satisfaction: Because life has many many ways to entangle us in its maddening rush and affairs, just taking time away from everyone and everything to do what you love doing the most is making of a miracle. You come back home to your family as a happier person, ready to take life head on, you become a better person and more contended too.
I plan to take such a trip again, to another yoga destination somewhere in India which has many hidden gems, amazing teachers and a crowd full of learners from around the world!