I have been in Rishikesh for 11 days now. For someone who is used to the buzz of backpacking and exploring a new place every few days, 11 days is a long time to stay somewhere, and I still have another 5 days before I plan on leaving.
Rishikesh is on the banks of the Ganges, which snakes its way through the town and dominates every view-point. It is peaceful and calm. Being a Cancerian, I enjoy being near the water, and have missed its calming influence as I have been landlocked since I came to India.
There are also a multitude of yoga and meditation ashrams here. I came with the intention of trying out the “Ashram experience” for a week or so, but found most ashrams that I was interested in were either booked or too rigid for my liking (ie. 4.30am starts). So instead I have created my own personal yoga ashram experience.
My hotel is located on High Bank, a little enclave on a hill on the opposite of the river from the bazaars of Luxhman Jhula. It is quiet, calm and beautiful. This is the view from my balcony:
Just downstairs from my room is a yoga hall, where two classes of Hatha Yoga are held a day. One in the morning from 8.30-10.30 and one in the evening from 5-7. For 10 days now, I have attended both classes, that’s four hours of yoga a day.
I am not a flexible person, but each day I notice a part of me that is moving a little bit more freely than it was the before. On the flip-side, there is always some part of me that is a bit stiff each day. Today it’s my arms, my right shoulder in particular. Yesterday it was my left gluteal muscles. Tomorrow, who knows what will ail me.
My yoga instructor Upendra, looks thrilled when he sees me, I am his most disciplined student he says. Disciplined at least for now. When I leave Rishikesh in a few days, I know I won’t have the freedom to practise yoga every day, but for now I am enjoying the relaxation and peace that comes from doing my Asana and Pranayama practise regularly.
Some days there are up to 7 of us in the yoga class, sometimes I am the only student. On those days, the class is more relaxed, I laugh a lot when I can’t do a pose properly, and Upendra laughs with me. Thankfully Yoga is a competition against only yourself, because I wouldn’t be winning any prizes with some of my poses.
In between my yoga practise, I have also developed a routine. I sit down and have my breakfast, just a cup of tea and fruit salad. I then either go for a walk and wander through the town, or I sit on my balcony and write. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I am doing right now.
After the evening practise, I have dinner with some fellow travelers and hear the tales of adventure from such a diverse range of people from Israel, Switzerland, New Zealand, America, Mexico, Sweden, Portugal… the list goes on and on. Then I retire to my room and write a little more, before reading a book and sleeping.
This is how my days are in Rishikesh and it is relaxing and my body feels happy. I haven’t had to wake at the crack of dawn, or cram into a room with hundreds of people. This is my own personal yoga ashram.
I have energy and I am calm. I can’t remember how long it has been since I treated my body well, but at least for now it is thanking me.