Eat Pray Love: Inside an Ashram

After swilling our coffee, we chose the advanced yoga class over the beginner's course for the first of two daily yoga sessions. Throughout our retreat we went back and forth between the two levels, appreciating the focus on fundamentals and precision in the basic class while enjoying the more intense positions during the advanced session.

After class, we headed to the dining room where we sat crossed-legged on the floor, eating "brunch" at 10 a.m. The meals varied but were always a combination of rice and vegetables which we ate with our hands. Mindful of my seven-pound goal, I avoided the rice, then returned to my room only to refuel on our chocolate supplies. Between bites of the enormous chocolate bar Beatrice announced "I need to lose ten pounds and tone my body."

I've often wondered what types of people are drawn to meditate, pray and do yoga from morning until night. More than that, who can afford to drop out of society for extended periods of time to live in an ashram?

Short Visit is not Enough

It turns out that aside from the airfare, it's actually not too expensive. But the mental and emotional commitment can be huge. The early mornings of prayer, followed by lectures and then yoga classes are exhausting and far less about letting go than staying focused.

I wasn't sure how much benefit I could receive from the short retreat. But somehow, the quick experience unlocked something in my body that allowed me the freedom to think and daydream.

During yoga sessions, I fell hard asleep and experienced intense dreams in short 60-second rest periods between positions. Throughout classes, I recalled the images of places I hadn't visited in years. I had visions of a friend who I had not heard from in months; he emailed me several hours later.

By the third morning I knew I should stay at the ashram for another month. My body was beginning to crave the deep stretching during yoga and the intense schedule became a source of comfort. If I could carve out the time, I would like to return or explore another ashram for a longer period of time.

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