Life begins...

...with the gentle chiming of the bells at four in the morning. By the time I gain full consciousness half an hour drifts by. The Room Mate's already up at half past three bending over his ass in weird positions I haven't seen in any yoga book before. Ah, always depressing to have an over enthusiastic room mate !  The weather's dry and so is my skin and hence after applying a generous amount of oil on my slightly shivering body I head for my cold bath. The bathroom is thankfully empty and by the time I head out 5 minutes later, the wind has picked up speed and started blowing relentlessly down the mountains. I slip into my white kurta pyjama 'uniform', the supposed hallmark of a Brahmachari, someone who practises purity in thought, word and deed. Ha Ha! Nevertheless I think the colour of the apparel does affect me. For the past 3 weeks dressed in what some may consider to be prison overalls I feel a strange calm. Next I do pranayam (breathing exercise) to quieten the mind (tough luck!) and also for my hayfever.

When the bells toll at five we are assembled in the hall sitting crosslegged on the floor and chanting mantras from the Vedas. Despite my initial indifference Sanskrit's a powerful language and its hard not to be moved by the surging voices of 40 sleep deprived souls !  We sit quietly for an hour trying to tame the wild monkey inside, the mind. Before breakfast i do neti( pouring water through one nostril and out through the other) and try to master shirshasan [the king of all asans(postures), where you basically stand on your head and try to look cool and relaxed while youre contemplating how not to break your neck while coming down]

The 'morning' session proper consisits of a series of lectures on various topics like Patanjali Yoga Sutras, The Upanishads, Religious Consciuosness, Western Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Bhagwat Geeta, Narada Bhakti Sutras, etc. The teachers vary in age from 25-85, most are sanyasins of some stature spiritually. Evenings are spent doing half an hour of Karma yoga ( doing a job to perfection but without attachment to the result ). Hatha Yoga (  The Yoga of postures and breathing) follows at 5 in the evening. Dinner's at seven and its lights out at 10 pm.

Breakfast's a simple affair with a small katori( bowl) of upma/rice. There's a smile on everyone's face when idlis(steamed south indian rice cakes) are dished out, which happens once a week.
                                                             Image courtsey: Wikipedia

Ok it doesnt look as esthetically tempting as above, but for a South Indian idlis in any arrangement is welcome! Now lunch is interesting. As in breakfast we all sit on the floor crosslegged with empty plates and katoris. The sanyasins are served first. Rice roti , sabji( vegetable curry mix) ,dal, buttermilk or curd and on lucky days when a rich dude happens to drop by and donate, we are spoiled with absolutely ravishing gulab jamuns and custard ! Ok imagine all  this stuff on your plate. The sight and smell's killing you but you can't touch it unless the mantra chanting is finished, which takes an agonising 10 minutes. But soon the go ahead is given and this is when the real meditation happens. Everyone single mindedly concentrates on stuffing the food down within the alloted time of 20 minutes. There's no restriction on the amount of food but wasting any is frowned down upon. Another short prayer and everyone's up to wash their plates and burp away contentedly.

Next: Love comes univited...

18 comments:

  1. I am sooooooo jealous!

    For all my years of yoga I've never attempted shirsasan. I'm way too scared that I'll break my neck. Kudos to you for going for it.

    Jai

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  2. Nice, sounds like you can reallyyy slow down there, but ..then what are you doing logged on to the net? :D arent you supposed to be devoid of all distractions? :))

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  3. Nice posting. Do you know about these yoga books?

    http://www.yogavidya.com/freepdfs.html

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  4. Amazing yaar.. felt like I was there watching you :)
    Eagerly awaiting next post which has already been titled I see..!

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  5. Idlis..i cant stand them.. :(

    Yoga really seems to have made you so yogi-ish !
    You know what i mean..or maybe you dont..either ways,my head is fuzzy and you better post soon.

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  6. Omg you know, I really enjoyed your whole post!So interesting and novel(at least for me)!But you know what? I'm even more impatient for the next post now. LOL. 'Love' always gets every one to perk up.

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  7. Jai, If you've got years of yoga asans under your belt, shirshasan shouldn't be too difficult. It just looks scary. Its more of an ego thing as well. Most of the benefits you get from sarvangasan (shoulder stand). Originally it was used by yogis to intensify their meditation and to aid brahmacharya !

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  8. Gal, very very good question. But im slowly getting disconnected off the net as well, as you can see from the decreasing frequency of my posting ! well the net is not really that distracting if you log in once a week just out of love for your readers ! ;) and believe me there are more than enough distractions in the ashram ;)

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  9. elmo, thanks for the compliment and the good wishes. :)

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  10. Sneha, since i had idlis this morning and had 6 of them, i guess i can agree with your statement !! :)

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  11. Raji, sorry to say this but you don't qualify as a south indian if you hate idlis. It's just such an unacceptable sin ! :D

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  12. Jeeves, thank you so much for the praise. here iam in an ashram cleaning toilets and taking out garbage, supposedly to destroy the ego and you come up with this ! might have to voluntarily double my toilet duties now... :D

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  13. haha,no problem pan! i still hate idlis heartily!
    i could eat upma instead..which is equally awful.

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  14. Been a while..

    Neti sounds a little scary to tell you the truth.

    My Mum's been after me to do Art of Living course, she thinks mediation might calm down my mind which is
    like you say "a wild monkey".

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  15. Raji, your taste buds need an overhaul !

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  16. Neti's cool BB, its one of the reasons im not on steroids, but thats another story !

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  17. Actually, I think I'll revise what I've said earlier. I like Idlis and Upma now, but that wonderful Bangalorean dish, Bisi Bele Bath, is quite bleh.

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Thanks for taking the time to write :)