Friday, January 16, 2004

A Tale of Two Ashrams

So, if not Mysore, than where? Well, I had been thinking of doing yoga teacher training at some point this year and suddenly noticed that the YTTC were holding this course in Scotland. However, I would miss the last 3 months of that course, and resitting the missed classes would cost far too much as I'd have to go to Ireland. A big shame, I think I would really have enjoyed that course - everyone I've asked about the YTTC have spoken good of them.

So then I noticed that the Sivananda people have a Teacher Training Course at their Ashram at Neyyar Dam in January. Coincidence? Probably, but also an excellent opportunity for me to mix pleasure with, em, well, pleasure I guess. The ashram experience looks intense - long days, restricted food, no sex, no drink, no smoking, no garlic, no onions, no eggs - no anything by the looks of things! And on top of that you get to pay for it all! Joking aside, I think it will offer a great opportunity to focus my practice and to truly learn a lot.

That's four weeks, and should see the warmer weather come in big-style (not that it will be cold). Then, perhaps after a couple of days rest at Kovalam and on to Chennai by plane.

A couple of things of interest in Chennai (formerly Madras). First, a friend from the MIS site lives there - he recommended an Indian wedding as an experience not to be missed, so hopefully we'll find one to gatecrash in the time I spend there. That aside, Chennai is also home to TKV Desikachar, son of the great yoga legend T Krishnamacharya (who trained, amongst others, yoga greats like Sri K Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar). I am hoping that maybe I can take in some classes there, perhaps even with Mr. Desikachar himself, but who knows - there certainly seems a lack of info on that site about ordinary classes and the like.

Chennai is also the home of the Theosophical Society, which might be interesting to visit, although I am not too knowledgeable about exactly what they are all about.
Near to Chennai there are a few other places of interest, such as the Auroville community and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, but with so much that I actually want to do, I doubt I'll make it to either.

Well, if I'm not that interested in those places, where do I want to go? Easy one there - Sri Ramanashramam in Tiruvannamalai. That website can tell you much more about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great saint/sage/guru who once lived there, than I would try to, but this is one definite necessity for me. David Godman's book, Be As You Are, on the teachings of Sri Ramana just spoke volumes to me, as did The Secret Path by Paul Brunton, a British spiritual explorer and eventual follower of Bhagavan's path of self-enquiry. Any serious spiritual explorer should read those books and make up their own minds.

There's some good info on Ramanashramam on the web, particularly Michael Langford's site and another one of walking around the sacred Mount Arunachala (or Annamalai). I think a couple of weeks there, spending some time around the Ashram and Arunachala (believed by Hindus to be Siva himself) will be very interesting.

After that, it's time for me to make my way to Mumbai and meet up with my girlfriend, before heading down for a fortnight in Goa. It will be a leisurely trip across the country, and I hope to experience the Indian railroads at their best. Also hoping for some interesting historical sites, such as Hampi, Ellora or Sriringapatam. Or maybe temple experiences , encounters with elephants or tigers or a trip round more palatial settings.

And when in Mumbai, perhaps there'll be time for me to hunt down stardom in Bollywood before heading off to the (comparative) hedonism of Goa.

Haven't really thought much about where in Goa we will be sunning ourselves, but I had been going to drop a link to Purple Valley Yoga there, however I cannot seem to access their website. Is there trouble at t'mill or is it simply a case of routine web maintenance? Tune in later to find out for sure!