After a long day of travel by bus, rickshaw, and taxi we arrive at Sivananda Ashram at dusk.The setting is beautiful: on a leafy hill in front of a lake with manicured gardens and lawns. It's high season, there are a full Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga Vacation Programs going on, the regular dorms are full and we end up sleeping on thin mattresses on the floor of what used to be roofs and now are dorms, but we expected something like that. $10 per day all included.
At Sivananda there are a lot of rules, for instance:
- 2 mandatory Satsangs, one at 6am and one at 8pm
- 2 mandatory Yoga classes, one at 8am and one at 4pm
- You cannot leave the ashram
- Meals are silent, sitting on the floor of the dining room, you are supposed to eat with your hands
- Silence and lights off from 10:30pm to 7:30am
- Dress code: legs covered, no sleeveless shirts, no tight/transparent clothes, also during yoga
- Celibacy, no open signs of affection, separate dorms for men and women.
I guess we are too free spirited people to deal with all this for too long, and we ended up staying just the min 3 nights. Even if I love practicing yoga, and the yoga here is excellent - still very different from Vinyasa - I don't like the idea to be forced to do it. The Satsangs - big communal meetings for meditation, chanting of mantras, and lectures from the swami - were way too loud: they started with what sounded to me like a Kapalabhati boot camp - "one! two! one! two!" - and then after 30min meditation there was a mantra aggression, the speakers were so loud that we had to close our ears and few times we had to walk out of it, no matter the rules! One morning we went for meditation by the lake - we are such rebels! - which was so peaceful despite the loudness still in the background.
The food was very tasty, I brought my own spoon because I just don't like to eat rice and soups (?) with my hands. We met nice people, but with all these silence restrictions I didn't have the chance to know them better.