Week 2 – Tapasyalam Ashram, Uttarkashi

Our second week started with a trek up the mountain near our ashram.
It was a 6km up and down hike, giving us breathtaking views of
Ganga flowing in the valley.
By now, we have quite settled with the the routine at the ashram.
We are living the vegan experience – this week, we explored interesting
snacks – oil free Batata Vada, Chappatti Ladoos, Apple Jam Rolls,
Chickpea Hummus, tea with cashew milk, fresh sandroasted Popcorn and
what not! It is very interesting to see how apples are used in
everyday cooking here including chutney, given the abundance in which
they are grown here
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Many of the participants have started losing
weight and feeling more energetic and no complains as such of tea
withdrawl symptoms from those who couldn’t start their day with a cup
of regular milk chai! Our taste buds seem to have adjusted to
oil-free, sugar-free food and we have started enjoying the actual
taste of veggies and fruits.
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Yoga Anatomy and Philosophy lectures have started on in full swing.
Participants have started practising to learn and instruct
Suryanamaskars and Vinyasa flow sequences. Philosophy sessions are as
usual open ended, we quickly seem to flow from one debate to another.

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TRATAKA – A quiet evening was spent on yogic visual concentration
practice of Trataka and gazing at a candle flame. Try it and be blown
away!

YIN YOGA – A Yin Yoga practice led with soft music playing in the
background was a perfect way to end our day – a perfect compliment to
the vinyasa session we usually have. A round of claps for the teacher
just proved how much we loved just sitting within ourselves, being
still and feeling the sense of calmness.

SHATKARMA DAY – It was a day of full detoxification with three-fold
cleansing as we practiced laghushankhaprakshalan (deep colon cleanse),
kunjal (forcefully vomitting out salt water to clean stomach and upper
digestive track) and jala neti (nasal cleansing with salt water)
practices. A light day (literally!) as we were feeling light within
and the constant banter of lighthearted jokes about how each ones’s
kunjal and toilet experience was!

MAHA MRITYUNJAY MANTRA CHANTING – Maha Mrityunjay Mantra is a life
giving mantra. We had an evening of chanting the mantra 108 times in a
constant fixed rhythm. Chanting it with sincerity and faith sure did
leave us with a positive and energised state of mind. It was also a
pranayama practice with the mantra being chanted in 2 parts with a
breath in between for ease of chanting. With the blessings of Lord
Shiva, may the mantra uplift our life and help us to overcome
difficulties that lie ahead in our journey of becoming good yoga
teachers!

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One of the evenings was an impromptu session of songs sung by the
local ashram boys. It was such a joy to hear their rustic voices
singing local Garhwali songs, Bhajans and Bollywood numbers as well.
We have many talented participants who sportingly came forward to sing
too. Adding charm to the whole musical evening was a Bharatnatyam
piece on Shiva performed by one of the participants who is a trained
dancer and of course, a few rounds of Antakshri to close it all!

Some of us not keeping well has been a slight bummer with energy
levels taking a dip. Walks up the hill slopes to explore the small
shops near our ashram at the end of our day is a welcome change. They
are no less than a mini supermarket considering how small this village
is! Walks along the stony banks of the river flowing next, star gazing
at the clear skies with the silvery moonlight on the flowing waters of
Ganga. Many jokes and light moments shared, with some of us constantly
locking in our room mates. With course midway, participants have
started putting in self study sessions late into the  night.

As the week draws to a close, thoughts of getting back to our homes
and usual lives are making us look forward to it, at the same time a
bit low that this programme and experience is shortly going to come to
an end. And as they say…life goes on, but memories last forever –
what we take back from this programme will last forever.

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