A look from above: Life in a (yoga) ashram in free spirited Goa

What comes to your mind when you hear the name Goa? That’s right, most likely you’re thinking  of an exotic holiday destination in India. Fair enough, because Goa is the place to be for backpackers, hippies, party people and… soul  seekers.

Travelers come to this area to enjoy the beach, water sports, yoga, festivals, (sea)food and of  course Goa trance and carnaval. You can enjoy a great ‘lay back’ atmosphere in Arambol, the  bustling heart of the area. Whether you come with friends, family or your spouse, this place will not let you down! But I wonder, isn’t Goa more than beaches and trance parties?

We  zoom  out  of  the  loving  madness  and  zoom  into  Mandrem, a little township in between Arambol and Ashwem on the northside of  Goa.  This  is  where  you  find   more  calm  and  solitude.  We  look  closer.  We  see  a  green  valley  and  hey,  do  I  see   yoga mats  there?  Let  me  take  you  to  a  place  that  allows  you  to  go  inward.  A  place   that  allows  you  to  learn  and  grow.          Green.  Peaceful.  Serene.  These  are  the  first  words  that  pop  up  in  my  mind  when  I   arrive  at  the  Preksha  Ashram  on  Tuesday  the  23th  of  January  2018.  Preksha Yoga staff   welcoming  me  as  I  pull  my  backpacks  onto  the  property.  The  saying  goes:  “The   less  you  have  the  less  you  worry”,  and  carrying  all  this  stuff  with  me  reminds  me   that,  that  is  certainly  true.  I  fill  out  the  arrival  form  and  a  couple  of  minutes  later   he  brings  me  to  my  home  for  the  next  week.  At  the  backside  of  the  property   there  is  a  little  ‘village’  of  mostly  wooden  cottages.  I  enter  the  door  of  my  cottage   and  a  smile  appears  on  my  face.  What  a  nice  room!  It  surely  depends  from  which   perspective  you  look  but  having  my  last  week  spend  in  a  bamboo  beach  hut   (while  having  a  food  poisoning!)  without  mirror,  closet  and  proper  shower,  this   cottage  is  luxurious.  As  I  am  making  myself  at  home  I  see  the  sadhaks  -­‐  residents  of  the  ashram  -­‐  doing   their  thing.  Just  watching  their  mindful  movements  and  peaceful  faces  tells  me   that  I  have  arrived  in  an  ashram  again.  Without  them  knowing  it  gives  me  a   welcoming  feeling.  People  from  all  over  the  world,  with  different  nationalities  and   various  backgrounds  come  here  to  deepen  their  spiritual  practice.  During  the  next   couple  of  days  I  want  to  find  out  how  the  sadhaks  experience  this  way  of  living.        An  ashram  allows  you  to  learn  AND  live,  with  your  teacher  or  ‘guru’  close  to  you.   An  ashram  isn’t  a  permanent  abode  for  anyone.  It  is  a  place  where  you  can  go  for   a  short  or  long  period  of  time  but  is  not  meant  to  escape  from  life.  The  sadhaks   came  to  stay  at  Preksha  yoga  for  different  reasons.  A  bunch  of  them  is  taking  the   intense  one  month  (yoga  alliance  registered)  hatha  yoga  teacher  training  while   others  came  to  learn  more  about  yin  yoga  (they  offer  a  30  –  50  hour  YIN  TTC)   specifically.  If  you  want  to  take  it  more  slow  paced  you  can  even  come  here  for  a   yoga  holiday  or  a  5  –  21  days  ayurvedic  detox  programme.  Even  though  there  are   several  trainings  and  schedules  going  on,  I  feel  that  the  sadhaks  easily  live   together  and  among  each  other.  The  energy  is  good.  The  food  is  basic  but  fresh   and  healthy,  the  teachers  are  highly  qualified  and  experienced.

During  a  morning  walk  on  Wednesday  we  climb  up  a  hill  nearby  to  watch  the   sunrise.  As  we  get  there  we  see  mountains  on  one  side  and  the  misty  beach  on   the  other  side  –  breathtaking  view!  I  talked  to  a  girl  from  Scotland.  She  has   chosen  this  ashram  specifically  because  the  rules  are  not  so  strict  compared  to   others.  I  can  definitely  resonate  with  that.  Phones  are  allowed,  there  can  be   spoken  during  the  meals  and  the  residents  are  allowed  to  leave  the  property   when  they  are  off.  This  laid  approach  gives  you  the  space  to  enjoy  the  beautiful   surroundings  while  staying  in  a  ashram.      The  sadhaks  seem  to  really  immerse  themselves  into  their  purpose  whether  that   is  yoga,  detox  or  relaxation.  From  my  own  experiences  teacher  trainings  are  very   intense  but  somehow  these  students  seem  so  relaxed  to  me!  Is  it  guru  Madhav’s   way  of  teaching,  the  ocean  smell  or  perhaps  the  food?  Can  I  please  extend  my   stay  to  become  ‘as  zen’    and  flexible  as  they  all  are?  Oops!  I  am  getting  carried   away.  I  should  stop  comparing  and  become  present.  Everyone  is  different  and   everyone  experiences  life  different.  How  beautiful  is  that?  This  is  what  I  can  tell   you  after  experiencing  Preksha  yoga:  this  place  will  give  you  unforgettable   lifetime  memories!      Love  and  light,

The  Yoga  Nomad    

~  Lotte  van  Graas     

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