04 Feb Ashram Life: Sri Santosh Puri Ashram in Haridwar, India
Yoga has certainly taken off as a way of life and for some people it has become their ‘career’. However, I have always found yoga as the first step to try and exhaust the mind so as to be at peace with oneself through meditation.
Much of what I have learned and developed has been due to my experiences at my ashram, Sri Santosh Puri in Haridwar. Nestled on the banks of the Ganges it backs onto a National Park and fifty meters away is Ma Ganga.
The ashram when I visited in 2009 and have been going back was under the guidance of Narmada Puri, or as we all affectionately called her Mataji. She passed away three years ago but the ashram has continued to flourish under the guidance of her son and daughters.
The ashram is a beautiful place, small in comparison to other ashrams, only 20-25 people at most could stay there. The costs are minimal considering you get yoga, three meals a day, a comfortable bed and hot water. Furthermore, you develop a great camaraderie with your fellow yoga devotees, whether they be visiting for a few days or a few months.
I try and go every year, not as a holiday but rather as a purposeful visit to assess myself, whether my yoga is improving as is my meditation, and also to continue to remain healthy and maintain a sense of peace.
The routine can be daunting at first, but there is no pressure to do anything, it is up to you how much you want to put in and how much you want to get out. The mornings usually start around 4-430, with chants and prayers around an open fire, this usually lasts an hour. The treat afterwards is a cup of piping hot tea herbal or sweet chai, the choice is yours. Then you can meditate, self-reflect, or go to your room and have a nap or wander down to the river, swim and watch the sun rise over the foothills of the Himalayas. At 7.30 the bell rings to start your yoga practice which can last anywhere between 90 minutes to two hours. Then a solid breakfast, followed by a bit of karma yoga where you help around the ashram whether it be preparing lunch or dinner, cleaning various halls or rooms, or you may want to get your hands dirty in the garden, nonetheless, it’s a great way to feel your contributing to the up keep of the place. Lunch comes around at about 12.30-1pm. Then the day is yours. At 4pm you can either learn about the Bhagavad Gita, learn yantra painting or ayurvedic cooking, it just depends what time of year you are there. The evenings involve dinner at about 6-6.30, evening prayers at 7pm which run for about 45 mins, and then off to your room. Lights out by 9pm and the next day your routine starts again.