Ditched By Friends, I Travelled To A Yoga Retreat In Rishikesh Solo And It Was The Best Decision Ever!

by Suchismita Pal
Ditched By Friends, I Travelled To A Yoga Retreat In Rishikesh Solo And It Was The Best Decision Ever!

If there is one place that you would like to travel with your friends for river rafting, trekking and some adventure, is Rishikesh. But what happens when your friends ditch you? Do you cancel or do you decide to embark on the journey all by yourself? Well, the same thing happened with Rahul Kundnani; but he chose the latter and landed at a yoga retreat, nestled in the lap of the mountains. What was going to be a fun time with friends, turned out to be a rejuvenating experience for Rahul. Here’s his story. 

Making The Decision Of Going To Rishikesh For Yoga

Every year I take an annual holiday and travel in order to utilize my innumerable pending leaves and of course to rejuvenate and live a little more. This year was a bit different. After multiple plans getting cancelled, I ended up going to the beautiful Rishikesh YogPeeth, a traditional yoga ashram in Rishikesh for three weeks where I did a teacher’s training course. I wasn’t really sure about this trip as I was never very serious about yoga nor did I practice it much. Surprisingly it turned out to be one of the best things; rather the best gift I could give myself. And I came back healthier and wiser.

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh
Picture Credits: BalanveBoat

Honestly, I had no choice but to take a solo trip after my friends backed out and opted for a family holiday without me. Initially, I was a bit sad as I have always been a plan follower, not a plan maker. But who would have thought that this unplanned holiday could turn out to be a blessing in disguise?

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

Back at home, I am fairly careful about my health and fitness routine, but over a period of time, I had realised that my body was getting rigid. Along with that, I had aches, allergies and sinus issues due to which my gym trainer had instructed me to practise some stretches and yoga exercises. This year, since I was planning to explore a new destination in north India, I combined both Uttarakhand and Yoga and ended up landing in Rishikesh Yog Peeth Ashram. 

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

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Daily Schedule And Initial Apprehension

To begin with, I did not have much expectation. In fact, I was planning to leave the place in a few days. There was a fixed schedule in the ashram. I had to wake up every day at 6 AM in the morning. This wasn’t an easy task for me but I had managed somehow. The yoga sessions would begin an hour later, at 7 AM. This was followed by philosophy lessons. The days used to end with meditation sessions, in which we were taught various techniques of meditation. These techniques were highly effective in pacifying the body and soul after the day’s activities.

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

Although, on the first day, I was unsure about the effectiveness of the sessions. But, soon I started enjoying them and made up my mind to extend my stay in the ashram till the end of the training period.

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

Also Read: Experience Yoga At This Underwater Restaurant In The Maldives

Highlights Of The Trip – People I Have Met

One of the best things about any journey is meeting different kinds of people. I had some amazing teachers at the ashram. All of them were very young, but they were profoundly knowledgeable. Also, there were people from all across the globe who had come to attend the sessions. The common thing that brought everyone together was Yoga.

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

I loved listening to the experiences of the people. They narrated heartfelt stories about the ups and downs of their journeys, which had driven them to take up yoga. Most of the people in our group were from western countries. They had travelled all the way to India to attend this program. What took me by surprise is that they had diverse knowledge of India and yoga. Also, they were enthusiastic to learn more about it. 

Getting Accustomed To The New Routines And Lifestyle

It took me a few days to get accustomed to the daily routine. In the ashram premises, I used to practise asanas for more than four hours a day. Also, I had never expected that lectures on philosophy and anatomy would ever interest me. Surprisingly, I started getting inclined to them with time. Yoga philosophy gives a beautiful insight into the ancient Indian Yogic philosophy on what to eat, how to conduct oneself and the principles to be followed to live a more balanced and healthy life. 

During the training, we followed a sattvic diet, which included pulses, grains, cereals, nuts, vegetables, fruits and lots of ginger water with lemon and honey. In a few days, I had picked up the asanas and my breathing had also become smoother. There were vibes of positivity and inspiration all around the place.

Also Read: Darjeeling Homestay With A Yoga Studio Overlooking Himalayas

Rishikesh-The Place

One of the best things about the trip was the place itself, Rishikesh. Sitting by the Ganges, visiting ashrams like Parmarth Niketan and Beatles Ashram, going for treks, listening to the spiritual gurus and attending the magnificent Ganga Aarti by the Ganges gives you a different kind of joy & peace altogether. And if you are an adventure freak, do not miss out on the river rafting experience, one of the best in India.

What I Gained – An Experience Of A Lifetime

Towards the end of the program, I developed the ability to perform many challenging asanas on my own. I could do a headstand, and it was one of my biggest achievements after the training.  I realized that the various yogic postures like the balasana, chakrasana and sirsasana, have their own benefits and they can be useful to the body in myriad ways. Today after incorporating yoga in my life, I feel that my overall health has improved. What started as a small yoga course ended up opening a whole new world for me. My spiritual journey with so many new friends that I made at the ashram, was indeed something that I will cherish for a lifetime. One of the most important lessons this trip taught me was to look inward. The world resides inside you not outside. 

Yoga Retreat Rishikesh

Also, the timing of the course was perfect. It happened in February, just before the lockdown and it is helping me today. Now, I’m not taking any anti-allergic medicines as my sinus problem has subsided dramatically. 

Also Read: A Trip To Mysore’s Yoga Institute In 2015 Turned Me Into An Ashtanga Yoga Teacher

My Recommendation – Just Go For It

I truly believe that we are sitting on a goldmine in our country with so many amazing traditional yoga and Vedic schools. I feel that a trip like this not only teaches new things but also validates one’s belief in life, ultimately becoming a way of life. I would strongly recommend everyone to take up a spiritual tour, as it is a life-changing experience in making one fit and fearless, nourishing the soul and above all raising the consciousness.

As told to Suchismita Pal