Rishikesh. The "Yoga Capitol of the World". The city of ashrams & the holy Ganges River. A place where sadhus (the bearded, dreadlocked holy, & some not so holy men come to gather, chant, &...ask for money/food). The place the Beatles visited in the 60's to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Trancendental Meditation (T.M.). Wow. finally made it to this crazy place! Alot different than i imagined, but isn't it always like that? Expectations. Although...I'm not disappointed. I came straight to Laxman Jhula area, which is the furthest away from downtown Rishikesh & therefore the quietest. I landed at Hotel Divya & am very very happy there! I have a top floor 'penthouse' room at this nice, clean budget hotel for only $5 a night! The top floor has a new marble inlaid floor & a magnificent view of the Ganges River. I found this place from some random online searching & am thankful for having saved me a lot of searching around. This place has so many hotels..and ashrams! The choices a tourist has for studying yoga here are mind boggling. overwhelming. Luckily...my first day here I ran into a 3 friends from Vancouver (one i knew would be here, the other 2 a complete surprise), and one led me directly to MY yoga school.
"Agama is a unique international school offering its students the secret spiritual path of true Integral Yoga in a modern form. Based in the authentic, esoteric lineages of Indian and Tibetan Tantra, Agama provides an updated and upgraded self-development system whose theory includes comprehensive university-level teachings in Yoga, combined with those of other sacred traditions from East and West (such as Taoism, Gnostic Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism). At the core of our teachings is the practice of an exceptional system of Kundalini-based Hatha Yoga and Laya Yoga, two of the most powerful elements of this age-old tradition. This is an approach nearly lost today which relies on energy awareness during Yoga practice to produce a highly accurate self-understanding of body, mind, and spirit. We focus also on meditation, healing through cleanses and purification, exploration of special topics in-depth through immersion workshop courses, and retreats. "
This school is MORE than I expected to find! It is a complete path of Yoga. Embracing yoga not just as a physical aerobic exercise like so many schools wrongly do in the West (where Yoga had to compete with Jane Fonda & Richard Simmons & therefore evolved, or devolved into something else). This yoga system works on chakras while doing asanas, which is very different from any class i've ever attended. We have a class in the morning 8:30-11am (1st half hour is lecture), 4-6pm class, followed by 7-8:30pm lecture. That sounds like a very lot of yoga & you, like me, might think...woo...1 hour makes me tired, how could i do that? Well...this yoga is alot lighter than any i've been to. You hold the poses for 2-5 minutes each. I was sore the 1st day, but now am fine with their schedule. I look forward to classes & do not get that lazy feeling inside that i used to get. Most people in the West do not look further into the studies of Yoga. If they did they would find suuuuuchh a wealth of information. Trika school gives out papers of useful info each day that the evening lectures discuss, but the papers help clarify. Great teachings not even related to yoga, such as the Macrobiotic diet (more later), Tantra, music meditations & the basics such as:
• Form, method of instruction, benefits and cautions of asanas (postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques) kriyas (cleansing techniques)
•Anatomy and the physical/mental benefits of yoga
• Subtle yogic anatomy and the Chakras
•Introduction to Ayurveda, nutrition, and the yogic diet
•Ashtanga philosophy (the eight-fold path)
These things can & do cure illnesses, depression, etc...
Simply by doing daily poses, breathing exercises, & cleansing techniques you can improve your life.
This school is for me!
I intend to finally learn the Neti cleansing technique of using a special Neti pot & salt water to HEAL MY ALLERGIES. this is my big 'health problem' for the past 2 years. I believe it is an emotionally caused problem from my mother's tragic death, & a relationship that began to crumble around that same time. I will not get allergy shots for 3 years like an allergist specialist recommended , but will try this time proved technique instead. daily sinus cleansing, as well as a few yoga poses that can help.
I will be here in Rishikesh for 3 weeks, instead of the 2 i planned. Train tickets to Varanasi & Bodh Gaya were not available for my 1 week there, so i decided to stay here & study at Trika. Although I will regret missing those 2 places, I prefer to have longer meaningful stays in places i like as opposed to 2 days here, 2 days there & all that bussing around! Besides, now I have more reasons to fulfill a 2nd journey to India (trekking in the Himalayas, visiting Nepal, Tibet, Rajasthan, etc...).
Today...i am fasting. well, kind of. I am eating a few bananas & drinking a few glasses of fresh orange juice. I have been trying (quote...TRYING) to fast once a month for awhile, which ended up being once a season. Fasting is extremely good for us to do on a regular basis! It's not just a religious fanatical ritual performed by Hindus, Jews, & Muslims! No, this is for everyone! Really. It cleans out the toxins in our system & improves our health! There is much to say on fasting & one can find a wealth of info online, but just a reminder or suggestion if any of you are curious...it is GOOD GOOD GOOD. If you can't do no food (i can, once did 10 day Master Cleanse), you can do a fruit OR fruit juice cleanse. Remember to drink 2-4 litres of water after, & go back to regular diet very gradually beginning with light foods such as soups & raw food.
Luckily...the monkey that stole my bag of 5 bananas & zoomed back up a tree didn't perform this feat today, or might have fought back! But, what could i do that day, but laugh & consider it a modest offering to the monkey who happened to share it with his little ones. I went back to the stand & bought 5 more, hid them in my bag, & on my bike ride back gave one to the sweetest old Indian lady begging on the side of the road. In return I got the biggest brightest smile i've seen in ages, and a prayer for me as well. how nice, & only for a 5 cent banana! i might have to start giving out bananas more often! Oh yes. The beggars. Rishikesh has about the same amount of visible beggars on the streets as Dharamsala, but they are mostly quiet & not approaching people. They simply chant, "Hari Om", or "Rama, Rama. Hello! Hari Om." I like this approach better.
As for my journal title "Hairy Om's". If you've been to India, you know what i mean. Hari Om is a chant that many Hindu's say that basically blesses God as everything. Everything is God. Here in Rishikesh there are many hairy Sadhus with long dreadlocks & beards. They usually wear all orange robes & have certain rituals & practices that Sadhus are known for. Such as...smoking charas (aka marijuana) to reach a high state of consciousness that they feel is closer to God. A meditation. So many of them have offered to sell me "good hash, good smoke, good marijuana mr." But alas, I am not interested & just smile & walk by. That reminds me...in India & many other countries you definitely want to be extremely careful buying that little herb known as marijuana. The locals don't get hassled for smoking it & you'd think it was legal here, but if the police catch a tourist smoking any you are about to giving a bribe, known as "baksheesh" to keep you out of prison. I hear $25-50 usually works. Even worse is when a crooked policeman or his helper fraudulently put some in your bags & arrest you! Anything for a buck. Unfortunately this happens quite often here.
Finally, i wanted to expand on Macrobiotic diets. It is a system founded by Japanese health nut Georges Oshawa that:
"On the simplest level, it means that individuals eat foods that keep them in balance with their environment (i.e., in a hot (yang) climate, more cooling (yin) foods are eaten, and vice versa). Oshawa outlined a ten-stage "Zen" macrobiotic diet in which each stage gets more restrictive. The diet is alleged to overcome all forms of illness."
Apparently, he cured literally tens of thousands of people with various diseases, all by changing their diet! At Trika yoga school, they have recommended we try the Oshawa diet #7 that consists of only eating brown rice, oats, buckwheat, millet, and wheat (all Yang foods) for 10 days! That means only those & nothing else except a little salt. This diet alone can rid you of many toxins & has cured countless ilnesses. The 1st few days can be challenging apparently, but after day 4 or 5 it gets easy (like my master cleanse fast of no food....you get used to it & actually enjoy feeling lighter). I won't be trying it now becuase i need food energy to keep doing my yoga, but will most definitely do this diet very soon.
Lastly, somebody found my travel blogs on this website & has asked me to write for a new travel series of books. And i'll get a paycheck! Yeah for www.realtravel.com
as for other stuff to do in Rishikesh, i may go white water river rafting, hiking to some caves where holy men live, ...not sure yet.
Hairy Om's & much love,
p.s. I have completed to new songs i've written while abroad that you can hear. One hiphop track, another breakbeat/dubstep: