Spiritual Trails

Hrishikesh – On a Journey Inwards!

“It was the night of the full moon and the Ganga was peaceful amidst a thousand trees of the Rajaji National Park. As the cool mist touched my bare feet, I looked below towards the tranquil waters. A glowing firefly rose quietly towards me… and after it, followed many…”

As the pandemic brings us a bouquet of uncertainties, it is challenging to find solace in travel plans or holidays which bring opportunities for recreation and entertainment to break away from the monotonous work routine. In the current times, any form of irresponsible travel is more likely to come with disastrous effects for us as well as the destination we travel to. 

Continuing the work from home routine, one recent weekend I happened to check the news of the Uttarakhand Government easing travel restrictions for tourists, a subtle measure to support the livelihood of locals by boosting tourism. I decided to utilize a couple of unused leaves at work to go for a Health-Cation in the hilly state. 

Hrishikesh, known as the Yoga Capital of the world was a motivation and I signed up for a four-week-long Teacher Training Course with a renowned Yoga School in Tapovan. 

Why Choose Hrishikesh?

  • A destination that blends Eco- tourism and Spiritual Tourism and offers enchanting experiences.
  • A plethora of adventure activities for those looking for adrenaline rush.
  • Highly ranked destination by tourists in terms of hospitality.
  • Budget to luxury service options to suit every traveler’s taste. 
  • Availability of tourist facilities on all places of sight-seeing.
  • Authentic courses for those who seek Yoga and Spirituality.
  • Easily Accessible with various transport options.

Arriving at the Yoga School was easy. Flight connectivity to Dehradun from major Indian Cities made it accessible. Upon arrival, I was screened for fever symptoms and a negative RT-PCR Report gave me access to the city. A forty-minute drive from Dehradun and I reached Rishikesh. The school was located on a serene uphill tract of land.

I was introduced to the rest of the participants in the course from different Indian cities and handed over the keys to our rooms. The room I was allotted was next to the main edifice, having a beautiful view of the hills. It had an attached terrace and I rejoiced at the thought of continuing my practice of classical dance. A simple accommodation, neatly kept, and one that came with a great view. 

All participants excitedly greeted one another bonding over cups of tea. We didn’t know what we had signed up for until we were told to rise by 5 a. m the next day and gear up for the classes.

The following morning, we gathered in the Yoga Hall. The first session was Hatha Yoga. The instructor came from a tradition of Authentic Hatha Yoga Practitioners and within thirty minutes of the class, he got us stretching and straightened out every twisted muscle in the body. By the time we were able to recover from the experiential shock and take a sip of water, the next in line Pranayama Teacher instructed us to close our eyes and focus on breathing as he taught different techniques to master the breath. (We were expected to close our eyes, relax as we breathe gently, and not fall asleep after intense physical movements. Really.)

 A light breakfast of oats and fruits helped us last till noon. Post breakfast the classes were a bit relaxed physically but one had to be attentive and alert mentally as we studied Asana alignments and Indian Philosophy. One would truly enjoy the philosophy class as the teacher’s gentle yet lucid tone introduced the group to various schools of thought. We were enthralled by his knowledge about the subject and the way he enlightened us with the essence of Yoga Philosophy. 

After a three-hour lunch and rest break, the evening Ashtanga Yoga Session got us on our toes as we followed a sequence of Sun salutations and Asanas in a flow. The teacher trained systematically on nuances of this form of Yoga. Another intense session of Yoga on the same day made sure we were drained of every bit of energy left. we could barely walk to the dining area post the Ashtanga and Meditation but managed to enjoy few morsels of tasteful Satvik food before we retired to rest.  

The first week had all of us groaning with muscle aches as we dragged ourselves out of the bed with sleep-deprived eyes to follow a day full of routine. We were still adjusting to the Yoga Conditioning our bodies were going through. By now, most of us had realised that Taking up a teacher training course in Yoga was a commitment and one cannot have any other travel plans during this course.

As the first Sunday Arrived, we all peeped out of our rooms as rabbits would out of a burrow hole. This weekend’s rest day was the only time we could explore the city. The clear weather was a treat and the batch was soon fragmented into groups with similar travel tastes that set out to explore. 

Things to do in Hrishikesh:

  • Explore famous bridges over the Ganges like the Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula. Watch them light up beautifully at night.
  • Half-Day visit to the Chaurasi Kutiya or the Beatles Ashram followed by an evening hike to a nearby waterfall.
  • Evening Ganga Aarti on Triveni Ghat, the confluence of three rivers followed by a walk on the Aastha Path.
  • Go Rafting and indulge in other water sports and adventure activities.
  • Take up a day excursion to Haridwar and do indulge in a glassful of lassi at Chotiwala’s – A local restaurant Chain.
  • Enjoy forest trails, trekking, and camping in the forest covers with prior permissions. 
  • A drive through dense forests and lesser-seen places of Hrishikesh with your choice of company to make this trip unforgettable.

By the second and third week, some of us were reluctant to continue but our group began pushing each other to stick to the routine and not give up. And soon, we began to see the actual results of a yogic routine. While some experienced heightened energy levels, some found themselves glowing amazingly. While some rejoiced at their weight-loss results, some felt calm within as the practice of Asanas, Pranayama and Meditation started acting upon us. The Yogic Cleansing Techniques had begun to give great health results. I could feel an increase in energy levels and flexibility of the limbs. I was able to refine my dance postures and my focus and concentration levels improved. 

The fourth week came to an end and our batch proved proficient in all requirements to become a Yoga Teacher. We had been trained by the best Yogis in Hrishikesh who imparted all the skills and necessary knowledge to make Yoga – our way of life. We were expected to encourage a hundred others to inculcate Yoga In their lifestyle by being Exemplary Practitioners. 

The wisdom of Yoga, preserved from centuries in our country needs furtherance. The world is adapting to the yogic way of life and if we become the custodians of this science, we have the potential to help the human race at large.

If you are looking forward to traveling or making similar plans, I would recommend you to take up a health cation in a yoga retreat. Including a Yoga Routine in your daily life will help you tackle environmental stress and develop a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Hrishikesh has been an experience of Spiritual Euphoria steeped in beautiful memories. The kindness and hospitality of friends shall be missed. The evening of mists, the night of talks and walks of silence shall dwell deep in the heart…

“Out of the many journeys we would take up in our lifetime, a journey inward should be taken too. While we would get to know many people in our lives, an attempt to know oneself should be made too”

P.S – My grandmother watched me delightedly upon return as I sat with a straightened back, undisturbed for more than an hour while we hummed the evening Aarti!

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