Week 2 – Tapasyalam Ashram, Uttarkashi

Our second week started with a trek up the mountain near our ashram.It was a 6km up and down hike, giving us breathtaking views of Ganga flowing in the valley. By now, we have quite settled with the the routine at the ashram. We are living the vegan experience – this week, we explored interesting snacks – oil free Batata Vada, Chappatti Ladoos, Apple Jam olls, Chickpea Hummus, tea with cashew milk, fresh sandroasted popcorn and what not! It is very interesting to see how apples are used in everyday cooking here including chutney, given the abundance in which they are grown here

Many of the participants have started losing weight and feeling more energetic and no complains as such of tea withdrawl symptoms from those who couldn’t start their day with a cup of regular milk chai! Our taste buds seem to have adjusted to oil-free, sugar-free food and we have started enjoying the actual taste of veggies and fruits.

Yoga Anatomy and Philosophy lectures have started on in full swing. Participants have started practising to learn and instruct. Suryanamaskars and Vinyasa flow sequences. Philosophy sessions are as usual open ended, we quickly seem to flow from one debate to another.

TRATAKA – A quiet evening was spent on yogic visual concentration practice of Trataka and gazing at a candle flame. Try it and be blown away!

YIN YOGA – A Yin Yoga practice led with soft music playing in the background was a perfect way to end our day – a perfect compliment to the vinyasa session we usually have. A round of claps for the teacher just proved how much we loved just sitting within ourselves, being still and feeling the sense of calmness.

SHATKARMA DAY – It was a day of full detoxification with three-fold
cleansing as we practiced laghushankhaprakshalan (deep colon cleanse), kunjal (forcefully vomitting out salt water to clean stomach and upper digestive track) and jala neti (nasal cleansing with salt water) practices. A light day (literally!) as we were feeling light within and the constant banter of lighthearted jokes about how each ones’s kunjal and toilet experience was!

MAHA MRITYUNJAY MANTRA CHANTING – Maha Mrityunjay Mantra is a life giving mantra. We had an evening of chanting the mantra 108 times in a constant fixed rhythm. Chanting it with sincerity and faith sure did leave us with a positive and energised state of mind. It was also a pranayama practice with the mantra being chanted in 2 parts with a breath in between for ease of chanting. With the blessings of Lord Shiva, may the mantra uplift our life and help us to overcome difficulties that lie ahead in our journey of becoming good yoga teachers!

One of the evenings was an impromptu session of songs sung by the local ashram boys. It was such a joy to hear their rustic voices singing local Garhwali songs, Bhajans and Bollywood numbers as well. We have many talented participants who sportingly came forward to sing too. Adding charm to the whole musical evening was a Bharatnatyam piece on Shiva performed by one of the participants who is a trained dancer and of course, a few rounds of Antakshri to close it all!

Some of us not keeping well has been a slight bummer with energy levels taking a dip. Walks up the hill slopes to explore the small shops near our ashram at the end of our day is a welcome change. They are no less than a mini supermarket considering how small this village is! Walks along the stony banks of the river flowing next, star gazing at the clear skies with the silvery moonlight on the flowing waters of Ganga. Many jokes and light moments shared, with some of us constantly locking in our room mates. With course midway, participants have started putting in self study sessions late into the  night.

As the week draws to a close, thoughts of getting back to our homes and usual lives are making us look forward to it, at the same time a bit low that this programme and experience is shortly going to come to an end. And as they say…life goes on, but memories last forever – what we take back from this programme will last forever.

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Week 3 Of TTC At Uttarkashi – Final thoughts

The course was not only about learning to be a yoga teacher and transform health through a whole food plant based diet, but also about forming bonds and being a part of the ever growing ‘yoga family’. For every intense discussion there were more funny and happy moments. The list of memorable moments that almost had us in splits is a mile long!

The last week was marked with wrapping off the last few sessions of anatomy, philosophy, adjusting and alignment during asana practice, yoga nidra and meditation. With theory exams and practicals around the corner, a frenzy of late night revisions, discussion and studies seemed to be the order of the night! It was heartening to see the participants becoming clear with their instructions and watch them grow as teachers. The glow of happiness and confidence as they mastered instructing SuryaNamaskars and Vinyasa flows was quite visible, despite the challenge of keeping the rights and lefts straight!

We are through with our residential 200 Hr TTC at Uttarkashi and the back-to-reality feeling is sinking in slow and deep.

The last week started off with a trip to the Himalayan temple town of Gangotri – home to the holy Ganga – on our off day. It was truly a humbling experience. The highlight of the trip was seeing apple laden tree orchards en route and the natural hot water spring baths at Gangnani. We also got an opportunity to visit Swami Sundaranandji at his beautiful cottage decorated lovingly with driftwood and stones collected over the years. Popularly know was ‘Photo Baba’ or ‘Clicking Swami’, it was a visual treat browsing through the pictures of Ganga and the Himalayan region captured through the lens of this mountaineer sadhu.

The official culmination of our yoga teacher training experience was a memorable evening with soft lights, sharing experiences, certificate distribution and group exchange of views about each other. As the journey of being a student drew to a close, another journey of being a yoga teacher commenced. There was a day detour to Rishikesh on our way back to Bangalore soaking in the world famous Ganga Aarti and wandering through the lanes of the yoga capital of the world!

We celebrated the last week of our stay with mouth watering desserts and snacks! Banana Peanut Icecream, Coconut Lemon Cake, Cold Coffee, Pumpkin Cashew-Cheese Pasta were savoured by one and all. The real surprise came on the last day when we took the measurements.

We have lost many Kgs and almost 40 inches together in the last 3 weeks. “One can lose weight by eating more food” was a revelation for many. A big round of applause to all the participants who could stick to this diet through determination and discipline. At the end of this course, the participants felt more equipped with the tools and techniques of ‘clean’ eating. Its heartening to see them figuring out their meal plans once they got back to their usual routine and some of them already trying and cooking out recipes they tasted during their ashram stay. All in all – Mission Accomplished!

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