Posted by: Anna | April 11, 2011

Ashram Life

I spent one week in an ashram outside Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. I started out with only a vague idea of what an ashram is or what to expect. Ashram, according to wikipedia, technically means spiritual hermitage.

I spent my time at Phool Chatti Ashram. They are traditionally located in beautiful natural surroundings, and Phool Chatti is no exception. It is situated on the banks of the Ganges River, next to a national park. It’s absolutely beautiful (no pictures because Tommy has the camera). Here is how ashram life worked there (our daily schedule):

5:15 AM wake up gong

6:00 AM silent seated meditation

6:30 AM chanting

6:45 AM neti pot cleansing

7:00 AM pranayama (yoga breathing exercises)

7:15 AM hatha yoga class

9:00 AM breakfast

10:00 AM karma yoga (we each helped with a task around the ashram, from picking lettuce from the garden for lunch to cleaning the bathrooms)

10:30 AM meditative walk (we went to a different destination each day, including a stunningly beautiful waterfall, to bathe in the holy Ganges River, etc)

12:30 PM lunch

1:00 PM free time

3:00 PM lecture, questions, and discussion

4:00 PM ashtanga yoga

5:30 PM free time

6:30 PM puja at the temple at the ashram (every night, there is a puja – worship ceremony where they ring bells, sing, and turn on all the Christmas lights that decorate the temple. I asked why they ring bells – it’s to wake up the Gods. At first I thought that was superstitious and silly, but then I realized that maybe it’s really to wake us up to the Gods, and we all need that….)

7:00 PM singing of hindu songs around a fire, accompanied by a table drum. Everyone can have small tambourines to play along if they want.

7:30 PM dinner

8:30 PM meditation (we had a different meditation each night, from yoga nidra, to music, to chanting, and so on)

9:00 PM bed

You can see our days were quite full. I didn’t mention the rules, but here they are:

1. Shoulders and knees covered at all times.

2. Silence (literally, no talking) from dinner until lunch the next day. That’s right, so the only time you CAN talk is from after lunch until the beginning of dinner.

3. No entering the meditation hall after meditation has started.

4. No talking during meals.

5. No sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you (it’s considered rude).

6. You are given a plate, spoon, and cup on your first day. You wash your own dishes after each meal.

7. Meals are what they are. You eat what’s served. Thankfully, the food is really good – rice, chappati, dal, vegetable, salad, yogurt, sweets, oatmeal, fruit, etc).

I’ll tell you in my next post what I thought about ashram life. I wanted to share the facts with you first so you could imagine what your reaction would be….


  1. Sounds way too structured to be a retreat. But relaxing to me because of the structure. I am not sure what I would think about but it would be a lot of busy thoughts in my head.

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