There are few things that are as powerful as full immersion into the spiritual way of life. If you want to learn about yourself and deepen your understanding of Yoga, ashrams provide a genuine, authentic and holistic setting in which one can study and grow.
Many great Indian Yoga masters will mention the food as the first and most important step into Yoga. Once you change the food, you will also change. All ashrams serve balanced and nutritious vegetarian or sometimes vegan food. You might feel the difference in mind-body energy once you eat ashram food. Do not bring along extra food, not even the extra bar of chocolate.
Immersion starts once you are removed from the distractions of everyday life – your smartphone, social media, and friends. It will initially seem strange to experience regular and long periods of ‘mauna’ (silence). And when you experience something, you cannot talk about it!
Ashrams are established on a communal way of life. You’ll get to be a part of the ashram’s working systems and contribute by cooking, cleaning and other aspects of involved in the daily functioning of the organisation. The challenge is to do those tasks with concentration and the same dedication, as if you would do them for yourself. This is also known as karma Yoga or selfless service.
Chanting is another aspect which is part of most ashram routines. You might initially think, I cannot sing; but do try it out, you’ll be moved by the beauty of chanting.
You learn about every aspect of ashram life, different techniques and ways of Yoga that are integrated will be offered to you. The number of different meditation techniques are endless and differ from ashram to ashram. The main reason to go to an ashram lies in experiencing ashram life. Rarely do ashram visitors write about advancing in their Hatha yoga postures, as that is not given too much importance in Indian ashrams with a deeper history. While you are inside the ashram you will probably be convinced of the positive effects of food, silence, daily routine, meditation, satsang and community work. The real challenge is to take this experience home with you and make it to a part of your life.