First of all, ashrams are not for everyone. When considering whether it’s for you or not, there are things you need to ask yourself:
- Like, am I into spiritual stuff – or at least open to it?
- Will I be able to go vegetarian for the time being?
- And no talking whatsoever, if required?
- And if there are no bath rooms, will I survive peeing and ** in a hole in the ground?
If you can cross this off your list, consider yourself eligible, and keep on reading.
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YOU’LL MAKE NEW FRIENDS IN NO TIME
An ashram in India is a great place for meeting new people and getting friends. The crowd there is generally very open, outgoing and easy to talk to. Prepare to get lots of hugs and smiles!
We stayed at the Yatharth yog ashram at the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad. Normally, the ashram resides in Raipur, but they made a camp at the festival, and this is where we met them. Our guru, Radhe Baba (we call him Baba), is the man in the picture above. He’s such an amazing person; always happy, mindful of others and caring – and he’s a great cook, too!
When we were there, free meals were given to poor or homeless Indians, and a boy was taken in from the streets to come live with them. These people are truly good-hearted.
BYE BYE, IPHONE. AND TOILET.
So, you need to lose your phone and live without a toilet, but I bet you won’t miss it as much as you might think.
India is not like Europe. Sanitation and hygiene is not a priority, and you have to live with the fact that a tent and a hole is the closest you’ll get to a decent toilet (just pray, you won’t get food poisoning. Pray hard!). On the bright side, you’ll learn to be a lot more relaxed about material stuff and your appearance & looks. I believe it’s a good lesson learned.
HELLO, VEGETARIAN DIET
I was concerned when I first learned that I had to become a vegetarian at the ashram. Seriously concerned. However, I found out it’s really not that bad. Actually, it tasted quite wonderful!
This vegetarian, organic food is called prasad. Prasad is holy food, supposed to be better for the mind & body, and it’s served on a banana leaf. The meal consists of naan bread, carrots, rice and a kind of salsa mix of vegetables and spices.
IT’S A GREAT PLACE TO GAIN PERSONAL INSIGHT
An ashram in India is a really great way to challenge yourself and to get a new perspective on life. Since most ashrams are free, it’s a cheap way of getting a different and more personal adventure. You can find pricy ones, too, and they offer more extensive training of yoga, meditation & mindfulness, where you’re not allowed to speak. These types of retreats are also offered in the West, at least here in Denmark.