The above Q & A came from our KRIYA (yogic cleansing) class yesterday when the teacher demonstrated putting a thin rubber catheter up one nostril, down her sinus cavity, and out through her mouth. She then pulled it back and forth while the rest of us groaned and squealed!! I had no problem with the netty pot though as I have used it before and own a pot at home. But many other students have never used it before so there were loads of giggles and pictures being taken of the teapot up in the nostril!
Welcome to Sivanada Yoga Ashram!
So I am on my 4th day here and I am loving it. It is really challenging and we are kept extremely busy the whole time we are awake (5:20 am - 10:30 pm) but strangely I am not tired. It takes me a few minutes to get going in the when the gong goes off but once I get into the main hall (Siva Hall) with all of the other people and the sky is still dark I feel totally energized. The day is set up like this:
5:20 am: Wake up bell
6-7:30 am: Satsang (meditation, chanting, lecture)
7:30am: TEA TIME!!! (most awaited moment of the day!!)
8 - 10 am: Yoga Class
11am: Karma Yoga (Picked up leaves from the lawn yesterday...today toilets!!)
12:30pm: Coaching class (optional...but really necessary if you have any questions or need assitance with asanas)
1:30: Tea time with fruit
3:30 - 5:30pm: Yoga
I'm def. feeling all the activity and the yoga is quite intense. 4+ hours a day really works the body, and as much as I am feeling sore I am also getting stronger. The Ashram is a very interesting place, and is full of international men and women. There is a group from Iran of Muslin (fully in hijab!!) women who don't speak any English, loads of Indians, Japanese and Chinese studenst, a bunch of Christians from Europe and all the other usuals: Ozzies, Israelies, and other Westerners. There is a Teachers Training course happening right now, and man they are getting WORKED! They did a series of 108 Sun Salutations yesterday...we just did 6 and I was sweating! The first night I arrived I felt very strange and a bit lonely. I walked in to the dining hall to the Swami singing Hare Krishna and everyone sitting on the floor clapping their hands with MUCHO GUSTO and tried desperately not to think of my father's parting words to me: " Don't join a crazy cult in the ashram!!". LOL. It's not like that at all, and many of the chants and bhajans we sing include Buddha, Mohammad, Allah, and Jesus. It's non-deominational for the most part, but does have Hindu overtones. The Siva hall, where we take our satsang is a huge open air hall with a massive golden OM at the end above the statues of Swami Sivanada and Swami Vishnu-Devandaaya. Candles are placed around the statues of the swamis and also on the Dancing Shiva, Ganesh, (and another one that I can't tell). The walls have a massive painting of each main deity and goddess (Siva, Ganesh, Vishnu, Durga, Laksmi, Kali etc) and I often look at them during the Kirtan as they are so beautifully painted. I'm OM-ing and OM NAMAH SIVAYA-ing more than i ever have in my whole life- everything opens with a triple OM and closes with a OM. If you want to greet someone or excuse yourself, you do it with a quick OM. It took me a while to get into it...instead of saying "Hi" its "OM". I felt a bit silly at first but now its all part of the routine.
The ashram is located in a tiny area of Trivandrum called Neyyar Dam and sits above a lake, where there are crocodiles!! Across from us is a lion sanctuary and you can always hear them roaring...especially now as they are in heat and are really randy. The Swami explained that all the roaring is them "communicating" with each other...but we all know differently!
The people here are really nice and I've become close with 2 girls, one 19 year old beauty from Holland called Suze and another wonderful lassie from Scotland called Kim. I share a dorm with Suze (and 17 other girls...) and I met Kim on her first day in the afternoon yoga class. It's been really nice spending time and getting to know them.
The food is alright...the brunch is better than the dinner and there is usually more of it. There is no sugar, garlic, or onions on site though so the food tends to taste a bit bland. We all sit on the floor in rows and eat off tiffin trays with our right hand. Food is quite plentiful though so you can get really full. We only have 2 meals a day, and I'm really not that hungry (which is a surprise to you I'm sure as you know how much I can eat!!). There is a Health Hut on site but it is open funny hours. Kim, Suze, and I have escaped today to "town" for internet, chocolate, and crisps purposes! Have a lecture this afternoon on Aryuvedic Eating so I'm really excited about that.
We had an amazing walk this morning with the Ashram...a walking silent meditation. We got up at 5 and at 5:30am headed up this mountain (treacherous at parts...eeek) to sit and meditate as the sun came up over the surrounding mountains. I mainly just sat and took in the incredible view. I felt really happy and at peace. Got some photos of the sun coming up and will post them soon. हद अ ग्रेट निघत
Last night at Satsang we had a special performance from a local Kalaripayattu martial arts troupe. It has been said that Kalaripayattu is the first martial art ever and that all other forms performed when India was under British Rule. But since the Independence of India it has made a strong comeback. The warriors train from 5 - 7 am and 5:30 - 9 pm everyday and demonstrate amazing flexibility, precision, strength, mental control, and courage. I took some video footage and hope to upload it onto Youtube so stay tuned for the link. The guys were quite fit and handsome (a nice sight for our hungry eyes!!) but dangerous. Would not want to get into a fight with one of them!!!
I'm here till the 29th then I'm going back to Trivandrum to see Bigs and Aggie and hopefully meet up with my former mental health OT Migs and his wife Sarah. They were supposed to also be at the Sivanada Ashram right now but Migs had to stay for a bit longer in the Philipines. It'll be nice to see him and meet his wife Sarah. I'm going back up to Kochin on the 30th where will fly to Delhi and then to VARANASI!! Just got an email from Martin so it looks like he will be meeting me up there which will be great!!! I'll get a goood inside look at Varanasi and also get some good laughs in as well...he is wickedly witty.
Ahh I guess thats its for now...