Ever wonder what a yoga ashram is like? I did.
Apr 16, 2011
On a recent trip to the Bahamas, I decided to include a five-day beginner yoga course at the Sivananda Yoga Centre to my stay. Like a lot of people, I had taken yoga classes for years, but never stayed at an ashram where you’re required to participate in the full yoga experience. That meant a vegetarian diet and a lot of quiet time.
My roommate at the event, who was from Ireland and had been coming to this ashram for years, was great at reminding me about the half-hour silent meditations at 6am and 7pm every day. That was followed by 15 minutes of Mantra chanting (sacred formula) which was pleasantly accompanied by a harmonium, a type of keyboard instrument.
Once this finished, there was often a 45-minute presentation by a guest speaker which I found really enlightening. Most of the topics gave me a greater understanding of how to apply yoga into my daily life. Because yoga is not just a practice of postures as we in the western world often use it. Instead, yoga is considered a way of life. It’s an integrated system of educating the body, mind and inner spirit.
I also learned that yoga is made up of four main paths : KARMA YOGA which denotes self service (my daily karma yoga for all us beginner students was doing the diner dishes every night...) Then there’s JNANA YOGA, which is the intellectual approach to yoga and was addressed through our daily speakers. There is also BHAKTI YOGA, which refers to the devotional. And the last one (and usually the one we mostly identify with) was RAJA YOGA, which emphasizes asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath control).
Since attending Sivananda, I have embraced much more of a yogic lifestyle. I benefit greatly from the peace and clarity my morning meditation brings, and enjoy the connection that half an hour of asanas and breath control achieve. It’s something I plan to explore as I travel to India in the Fall of 2011. I’m excited to learn more.