My plan was to stay in the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Neyyar Dam for two weeks. I ended up staying three weeks. Why hurry when there is no stress.
This is a huge topic and there are thousands of books about yoga so I am not even going to try to write something extensive here. I have only scratched the surface of knowledge while living in the ashram but I still learned a lot. While the yoga practice in the Western world is mainly focusing on getting flexible and strong in the gym, yoga has a completely different meaning and focus when you start digging a bit here in India. The postures are important but they are only one part of one of the four paths in yoga. Yoga is about life. Yoga is about both body and mind. Yoga is about compassion. I have definitely not reached the end of my yoga journey.
Experiences from the ashram
This was an interesting place for sure. I got to practice yoga postures almost four hours per day. I did meditation and chanting two times per day. I had lectures about yoga. I spoke to many interesting fellow yogis. I felt both energized and exhausted , happy and emotional, frustrated and grateful. And on the weekly days off I also had the time to take a break at the beach in Kovalam and to join a group trip to Kanyakumari (the southernmost tip of mainland India) and the amazing Thanumalayan Temple.
A few persons commented of that the dorms at the ashram was uncannily alike the prison in the TV-show “Orange is the new Black”. And yes, sometimes the ashram did feel as a combination of a prison (discipline and lots of rules), church camp (devotion and singing) and a training camp (all that yoga practice on the mat). This place cannot be described in a few sentences but need to be experienced. Maybe more than once. I might be back here someday.
“This world is your body. This world is a great school. This world is your silent teacher.”