Friday, October 29, 2010

Yoga - first day at the Ashram

29 October 2010 Friday

This was the yoga or ashram first day.  We had a 2.5 hour session introducing us to the basics of yoga and then an evening 20-minute video about Sri Rama followed by a discussion of his life and yoga in general.

See photo album India 2010 #8 Ashram

Here's a trip itinerary of the whole India trip [a Word document] in October and November 2010

But the day started out with a plan to meet at 7 for an hour walk.  I woke up as usual at 4:25 am knowing I would not be able to get to sleep, and when I next looked at my watch it was 6:52 am – wow, a really full, good night’s sleep for the first time on the trip to India.  Rushed and put on my clothes just in time to hear Alice knock on my door.  One of the Ashram ladies, Joan Ann (originally from Minneapolis and raised Jewish) led us to the archeological dig of Virbadra.  (us meaning Alice, Llyn, Joan Ann and me). We walked along back lanes from the main road south and then toward the river Ganga. People were just getting up – cattle were being fed, a woman was taking a cat back into her courtyard, school-dressed brother and sister were rushing to school. We saw both the new Sri Virbadra temple as well as the fenced in digs.  Joan Ann told the story of Shiva’s assistant, Virbadra as we walked along.  -Then the loop back – past papaya trees, old gates, fancy new 2-storied buildings, and the Seema Dental College.  Our hour trip getting back in time so Joan Ann could join the last ½ hour of the pre-breakfast meditation.

Went back to my room #14 and showered and got ready to join Robert to go for breakfast late, around 8:40 am. Others were still chanting and we joined the others in the group on the benches outside the main eating hall (where people sat and ate in long rows).  We were served breakfast of toast spread with butter, two types of curries or dal, and chai.

I went back and got my computer and then to the office and a little bit of emailing with Deej and on Facebook.  Robert’s group was up with their passports getting registered, which I had done when I arrived at 3:45 pm yesterday (Thurs).  I also rushed to the Gift Shop and bought a white shirt with their insignia on it and white pants – and wore that to the yoga introductory session starting at 10 and lasting until about 12:30 pm
Our group's schedule at the ashram
Our instructor for the session was from Denmark, all dressed in white, Tele, and all of 19 years old.  He was very good, giving us an informal session as we all gathered round him with our yoga matts and folded blankets.  He explained a little history and background – to control our breathing to make our bodies healthy to improve our minds so as to work our way toward samadi and release the self or atman.  We laid belly down to start teaching our lungs to breathe through our diaphragms; we spent a lot of time figuring out how to position ourselves so we will sit with our curved spine freeing our diaphragm, Tele going around and individually helping to position us correction.  He selected me and 4 others as better to sit on a chair or stool rather than on the floor and blanket.  Then we need to focus our minds in meditation – by focus on 1) Shiva or such, or 2) by counting, or 3) by a mantra which he gave to us So ‘ Hom – I am That. Then we went through about 40 minutes of breathing and meditation.

It was just about 1 pm lunch time by then, and we all got up and loosened and stretched our bodies and went to lunch.  Again we were served after washing our hands, and after more chanting.  Similar fare of curries, dals, rice, chapatis, water.  Some went off and did digestive yoga, while I went back to the room and copied off photos from my cameras.

At 3 we had a session for the group, led by Robert back in the meditation room – he saw this as a banquet, as a time for us to share our stories, and as part of the Hero’s tale with challenges along the way – like the Ramayana, deciding options – to come, to go through challenges along the journey, and to share them with each other.  Robert told the first stories of the Ramayana, as we sat in a circle for about an hour.

Alice and I wanted to go to town, so after we went down and had chai, we headed out to the bazaar – Abe, Anne, and Kathy joined us – we were told it was Rs. 7 to the bazaar, and sure enough that is what the auto-rickshaw driver wanted –  the 5 of us crowded into a rickshaw with an Indian couple joining us.  Getting out of the rickshaw after the 20 minute ride, we asked where Arora and Sons was, which we had been told was a good place to buy kurta and payjamas.  But first (at 5:15 pm) we decided if we got separated to meet at Neelam Hotel at 6:15 to go back. We headed down the 300 yards further down the road, which was not easy since the busy traffic continually whizzed past us barely missing us.  We ducked into a shoe shop so I could buy some sandals – and I bought a pair, not the best, but the black plastic chapals would have to do. At Arora I tried on a white shirt, and both Kathy and Alice finally agreed it fit me.  But they thought a tan kurta was even better – I went ahead and bought both – the white set and the tan kurta (Rs 450 for the set and Rs 250 for the kurta).  Alice also bought a scarf, and Anne tried on an outfit in the back room but didn’t like how big it was.  We walked further north on the road which soon turned into hardware shops so we headed back.  Kathy lead the way, and we headed down one side road a little ways and backed out, and then down another that turned around and back to the main road.  There were lots of colorful paper flower garlands in the shops in preparation for Diwali – and many other interesting things along the street.  We got back to the main road and I tried to get a passport pouch in 3 bag shops next to each other – nothing to be had. C But I did find a simple gray shoulder bag – and I bought 2 more cokes (and Alice bought bottled sodas) at Rs 20 each, and then about 8 bananas for Rs 15. And we got another rickshaw and headed back.
I wanted to get a photo as we arrived 20 minutes later, so stepped out before everyone else and took the flash photo, just as I realized my right foot was in a cow pie!   

Back to our rooms at 6:30 pm to get ready for supper at 7.  I unloaded my loot and took a photo, by which time Robert said he had heard the supper bell.

Normal supper, chanting, hands washing, sitting on benches out back – dal, veg curry, chapatis, rice, salt, 2 cayanne peppers, hot milk with sugar, and an apple.  We back to the room and then on to the 8 pm video session – almost walking into the sacred video room with my new chapals on.

The video session turned out quite boring to me, at least.  A 20 minute video of Sri Rama followed by some random comments, no really answering Llyn’s pointed question, so why do people come here for what reason? Nor even Kathy’s question about, so why and what did Sri Rama die of and what lessons did he leave his followers.  Claudia got up and left soon after the video, and then Gail left after the 45 minutes of the session, and I just about fell asleep before they ended the session at about 9:10 pm – Robert, however, was totally enthralled by all of it – having read some of the suggested books, etc.

I came back ‘home’ after agreeing to meet Alice again at 7 for an hour walk tomorrow morning.  I tried to write some of this before I got too tired.

1 comment:

lizzytish said...

Thanks, Phil. That is just the sort of detail that I wanted. More, more.