Travel Memory: It’s 5am and…

View from Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram

It’s been an intense summer.

And despite living just a few blocks from Lake Ontario, I have barely had the time to visit it. This evening I went.

I went to regroup. And I found myself tracing my morning routine at the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, India where I stayed almost 8 months ago. At times of stress we are told to take ourselves mentally to a favorite spot. A beach is often suggested. Go some place soothing. This evening, I went to the ashram.

Escape and relax with a travel memory

It’s 5:10 a.m. and I am awake before my alarm. I lie quietly for a few minutes then reach over for my phone and turn it off completely. Total silence is observed until 8:30 at the ashram – even the vibration of a phone would be an intrusion.

It’s cold. I had no idea that India was so cold in January. I lift off the covers which I had doubled for warmth, take off my sweater coat which I slept in and strip down for a very fast shower. Dressing quickly, I leave my room closing the door after me, locking it with the padlock provided.

Entrance to the Ashram

Down one flight of stairs I pass through the lobby where the young man charged with watching over the inn is sleeping on the couch. Out the gate I look up the street – three, maybe four wild dogs. I cross the street and lift the iron latch to another gate, this one protecting the side entrance of the ashram.

I go in the building. I see no one. I walk down the long hall listening to the sound of my feet on the stone floor. At the stairs I turn left and go up two flights. I’m early. Class doesn’t start until 6 a.m. but I like to be there at least 15 minutes ahead to find a comfortable spot, settle in and meditate.

I leave my sandals outside the door, step into a sunroom and select a mat, then go into the beautiful yoga studio. It’s a large room with wooden floors and windows on four sides looking out over Rishikesh on some sides and with views of the Himalayan foothills on others.

Everyone leaves their Shoes outside of yoga studio.

With my mat under my arm, I select two flat pillows from the pile, a bolster and a strap. Looking around I see a few people already there, meditating. I find a spot towards the back of the room, lay out my mat, pile one pillow on top of the other and sit cross-legged, hands resting on my knees, index fingers to thumbs. I look into my third eye and meditate.

At least I try. It doesn’t come naturally as my mind flits very easily. But I do try and it feels good.

As time passes I hear movement around me. Others arriving. There will be at least 40 people in the class by the time it starts.

And then the voice of Yogi Vishvketu . First the breathing. Then waking the spine. Then stretches that strengthen.

One and three quarter hours of blissful yoga.

Thank you, thank you! Thank you for a travel memory so vivid I can go back there in my mind.