A Look from Above: Life in a (Yoga) Ashram in Free Spirited Goa

I wrote this blog about 'ashram life' for Preksha Yoga where I have spend nearly four weeks to learn about and teach yoga in February 2018

What comes to your mind when you hear the name Goa? That’s right, most likely you’re thinking of an exotic holiday destination in India. Fair enough, because Goa is the place to be for backpackers, hippies, party people and... soul seekers. Travelers come to this area to enjoy the beach, water sports, yoga, festivals, (sea)food and of course Goa trance and carnaval. You can enjoy a great ‘lay back’ atmosphere in Arambol, the bustling heart of the area. Whether you come with friends, family or your spouse, this place will not let you down! But I wonder, isn’t Goa more than beaches and trance parties?

We zoom out of the loving madness and zoom into Madrem, a little township in between Arambol and Ashwem on the north side of Goa. This is where you find more calm and solitude. We look closer. We see a green valley and hey, do I see yogamats there? Let me take you to a place that allows you to go inward. A place that allows you to learn and grow.

Green. Peaceful. Serene. These are the first words that pop up in my mind when I arrive at the Preksha Ashram on Tuesday the 23th of January 2018. Sir Nitesh is welcoming me as I pull my backpacks onto the property. The saying goes: “The less you have the less you worry”, and carrying all this stuff with me reminds me that, that is certainly true. I fill out the arrival form and a couple of minutes later he brings me to my home for the next week. At the backside of the property there is a little ‘village’ of mostly wooden cottages. I enter the door of my cottage and a smile appears on my face. What a nice room! It surely depends from which perspective you look but having my last week spend in a bamboo beach hut (while having a food poisoning!) without mirror, closet and proper shower, this cottage is luxurious.

As I am making myself at home I see the sadhaks - residents of the ashram - doing their thing. Just watching their mindful movements and peaceful faces tells me that I have arrived in an ashram again. Without them knowing it gives me a welcoming feeling. People from all over the world, with different nationalities and various backgrounds come here to deepen their spiritual practice. During the next couple of days I want to find out how the sadhaks experience this way of living.

An ashram allows you to learn AND live, with your teacher or ‘guru’ close to you. An ashram isn’t a permanent abode for anyone. It is a place where you can go for a short or long period of time but is not meant to escape from life. The sadhaks came to stay at Preksha yoga for different reasons. A bunch of them is taking the intense one month (yoga alliance registered) hatha yoga teacher training while others came to learn more about yin yoga (they offer a 30 – 50 hour YIN TTC) specifically. If you want to take it more slow paced you can even come here for a yoga holiday or a 5 – 21 days ayurvedic detox programme. Even though there are several trainings and schedules going on, I feel that the sadhaks easily live together and among each other. The energy is good. The food is basic but fresh and healthy, the teachers are highly qualified and experienced.

During a morning walk on Wednesday we climb up a hill nearby to watch the sunrise. As we get there we see mountains on one side and the misty beach on the other side – breath taking view! I talked to a girl from Scotland. She has chosen this ashram specifically because the rules are not so strict compared to others. I can definitely resonate with that. Phones are allowed, there can be spoken during the meals and the residents are allowed to leave the property when they are off. This laid approach gives you the space to enjoy the beautiful surroundings while staying in a ashram.

The sadhaks seem to really immerse themselves into their purpose whether that is yoga, detox or relaxation. From my own experiences teacher trainings are very intense but somehow these students seem so relaxed to me! Is it guru Madhav’s way of teaching, the ocean smell or perhaps the food? Can I please extend my stay to become ‘as zen’ and flexible as they all are? Oops! I am getting carried away. I should stop comparing and become present. Everyone is different and everyone experiences life different. How beautiful is that? This is what I can tell you after experiencing Preksha yoga: this place will give you unforgettable lifetime memories!

yoga ashram arm balance

Namasté, Lotte 

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