Going to an ashram is not a vacation, at least not in the typical sense of the word. Traditionally, an ashram is a place of spiritual retreat, and it’s a place that I visit when I need to renew, recreate and refresh my being, physically, mentally, morally and spiritually.
This week, I spent some time at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp in Val-Morin, Canada. Located on 350 acres in one of the most spectacular spots in Canada, near the small town of Val Morin in the Laurentian Mountains, the ashram is just 90 miles north of Montreal. So beautiful and peaceful, as soon as I arrived I felt the urge to exhale completely.
I was happy and comfortable with my room which consisted of a bunk, a small desk and a window. The bathroom down the hall was nice and clean and showers were hot. Thank goodness, as not all ashrams have hot water!
At 5:00 am the ashram bell rings announcing that it is time for meditation. My room is completely dark and sleeping with my window open, I can hear the sounds of the night greeting the early dawn. Usually engulfed in the lovely dream state, I’m never, quite ready, to get up at 5:00am but I have found that if I just move my feet before my mind starts to peer pressure my body, momentum will take over.
There is usually a pretty strict schedule of: 6am meditation, yoga class, breakfast, karma service (work), workshops, some free time in the afternoon, and then more yoga, dinner and meditation. Lights out at 10pm. Wait… what? Did I just say pay to work? Yep, exactly that. Each person at the ashram is expected to contribute karma service at least 1 hour a day.
The food is nourishing and not exciting, but always tastes wonderful as it is prepared with love, mantras and selfless service. Everyone is expected to wash their own dishes and chip in to clean up the kitchen.
I know, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, the energy of early morning satsang, basking in the collective energy of spiritual teachers, prayers, chants, and meditation is a soothing balm for the soul. A place where there is no tv, radio or other distractions, tucked away in some secluded spot, where you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature.
Perhaps you will join us this February as we create our own ashram type experience and immerse yourself in the Vastu 21 day Yoga Immersion here on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Experience traditional, classical, authentic, yoga as taught by the masters of Rishikesh India, located in the foothills of the Himalayas.