Skip to content

20/08 – 24/08 – Rishikesh – Yoga and birthdays

June 10, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rishikesh has been earmarked on my map with a big DOWNTIME arrow since I inadvertently cashed in on not going to Kathmandu. I had almost a week to spare, and with my birthday coming up, it came at a good time to have a bit of a stretch off the saddle (although the last break I had was two days ago, I hadn’t really felt exerted enough to deserve it, but never mind).
Rishikesh is the home of Yoga, and the heaving number of thai-dye donned tourists confirmed it.I was in the land of the Yogi’s, of spine wrenching yoga, chillum smoking, orange togas, free-range cattle and alcoholic abstinence. Fresh juice and potato curry flowed through the streets like the cow pats after a monsoon downpour. I felt ready to embrace it though, as contrived and cliched as it might have felt at the time. But after one year of time on the saddle, you cant help but indulge in a bit of soul searching, and the inner hippy in me was yearning to relight the incense with its rightful backdrop.
I spent a bit of time on the first day searching for a good ashram, partly out of hesitation, partly because I had no idea what I was looking for. I ended up going for Anand Praksh Ashram, a little up the hill and out of town, away from the ‘omm’ ing throng of the riverside and a little more peaceful. Peaceful it was, but it had its fair share of omm’s. By the first day though, I had fully embraced the atmosphere that it had created around me.
I arrived at perfect time – just before lunch – and was greeted by bows and blessings as the ayuverdic food was served out by other guests. a prayer and a song was recited before tucking in to the rather fantastic food, and i got to know the other guests – most of whom were yoga practitioners of sorts on holiday to enrich their yoga lives. I envied the way they were able to translate this mode of living back to their daily lives – something that I knew at the time I could never achieve – and sitting here writing this now at my desk one year later – something I can confirm I didn’t.
Either way, I had a great time being introduced to the power of yoga by them and by the Ashram. Two yoga sessions a day (the first at 5 am and the second just before dinner) gave me more of a workout that I typically felt in a day on the saddle. By the end of the first session I felt like my legs had grown three inches and I had lost about 5 litres in sweat. I can see how it can become addictive, although i cant quite imagine doing it at home, as the setting for me felt such an intrinsic part of the experience. The yogi was soothing and in control, and pushed you without burning you out. It was relaxing at the same time as demanding. I would highly recommend it, and if I had time in my life now I would have kept it up. I bought several yoga books which I regret stay fairly unopened now on my shelf, but was quite absorbed by when I was there – something I put down to the absorbance of atmosphere as an intrinsic quality to really embracing new experience.

It was my birthday while I was there, and that fell in line conveniently with Vishnu. Chrissy, Corin (who bizarrely enough I remember from Nottingham) and the other guests in the ashram made me a surprise cake which was brilliant, and we all headed down to check out the Vishnu party in a temple by the river. It was a fitting end to a great and relaxing experience, one that I shall cherish as a valuable memory that I had away from the road.

When it came the time to leave, my burdened bicycle drew quite a bit of attention from the staff. I cant imagine they get many guests arriving on bikes, and before long they had told me the local press was on their way to give me an interview. I felt honoured to be interviewed, and it was quite a bizarre experience, seeing as the interviewer didn’t really speak much English and recorded pretty much everything I said to him incorrectly, including where I was from and where I had been. They took my picture and gave me a cheery farewell, before I pushed off with my newly balanced set of leg muscles, pendants and panniers full of incense into the Himalayan foothills.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: