I spent a week enjoying ashram life in Rishikesh. What is an ashram, you ask? It is a place where people live and partake in an Indian cultural activity – usually yoga or religious study. After doing research on the internet, I chose to spend my week at Anand Prakash Ashram. Anand Prakash is located in the outskirts of Rishikesh in the Tapovan neighborhood.
It had a great reputation for a more rigorous and faster-paced yoga style than the traditional Hatha yoga found in most Indian ashrams. Many people visit Rishikesh for a spiritual experience, however my main goal was a week of intense fitness and healthy eating. One of the benefits of staying in an ashram is that meals are usually included. There is a fixed menu that is usually hearty and healthy. The food at Anand Prakash was great – loaded with veggies and second helpings always available.
Dinners were all communal, and we all pitched in to serve each other:
Every meal started with a blessing in Sanskrit:
My schedule at the ashram was as follows:
4:45 am – Wake up
5:15 am – 30-45 minute run
6:00 am – 2 hour yoga and meditation session
8:00 am – breakfast
12:30 pm – lunch
2:30 pm – private sessions with Anand, the yoga teacher (two days only)
4:00 pm – 2 hour yoga and meditation session
6:00 pm – dinner
9:30 pm – bedtime
The ashram was a great place, with a revolving family of residents. It was very easy to meet people and to form bonds very quickly. The ashram had everyone from a 2 year old boy and his family to solo female travelers to couples doing yoga teacher training. Some people were spending more than a month at the ashram!
Our fearless leader, Anand:
Anand runs a yoga studio in New York City, but is doing a six month sabattical in India as the guru of the Ashram spends the hot months of March to September in Canada. This was pretty much the luckiest thing that could have happened for me, because he was an amazing yoga teacher!
When I wasn’t working out or eating, I had a little time to explore Rishikesh and relax. Luckily – or unluckily – there isn’t much to do in Rishikesh, so I had lots of time to read and catch up on my blogging!
Thanks to the help of my amazing yoga teacher, Anand Saurabh, my yoga practice improved tremendously throughout the week. He had a very rigorous teaching style and wasn’t afraid to contort my body into advanced versions of the yoga poses! I also did a private pilates session with him, which left my ab muscles burning for days.
The cost of staying at the Ashram is relatively affordable, costing $13 per day for three meals, two yoga classes and accommodations! It’s good to note that this is considered midrange for Rishikesh – some places are half that price, or even donation-based.
After just one week in the ashram, I can notice huge changes in my body. Everything is more toned and slim – it’s amazing! I just wish I could keep up the five hours of workouts per day when I get home….
Visiting Rishikesh and looking for an ashram? I highly recommend Anand Prakash, especially if you are looking for more rigorous yoga practice and a little lighter on the meditation.