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Ashram Lifestyle

A glimpse into the life of a yoga ashram in Goa, India


yoga ashram goa india, retreat participants engaged in karma yoga.

Before we start looking into the area of “Ashram Lifestyle” it is important to understand what Ashram means. Ashram is a Sanskrit word which can be literally translated as “ to come and work”.  This word is a combination of two words “A” and “Shram”. Shram means to work, to make an effort, perseverance. And in this context the work is in the inner world.

When one comes to an Ashram one gets the opportunity to work on ones inner being, inner self. Ashram also means a stage or a period of life in the context of the hindu philosophy of dividing the life into four Ashrams or stages through the life goes viz. Brhamchraya Ashram, Grihasta Ashram, Vanaprashta Ashram and Sannyasa Ashram. These are the different stages of life through which all individuals must go.

The ashram lifestyle is based on yogic principles designed to bring about changes in the cognitive, affective and volitional aspects of an individual. Many emotional problems today are generated due to faulty lifestyle, negative thinking and undisciplined behaviour. Ashram lifestyle means an individual must bring in elements like disciplined lifestyle, positive thinking and self-restraint, which has been proved to influence emotional states.

Today man faces many problems which have gone beyond the bounds of scientific thinking. In his conscious thinking he has become more rational and scientific, but in his unconscious he remains an unscientific creature. Due to the inability to adjust, his inner life is full of tension, frustration and insecurity, termed anxiety complex in psychology.

The modern technological age is an age of anxiety, and there is a great need for emotional stability. Lack of harmony in lifestyle and interpersonal relationships leads to stress and anxiety. A lifestyle based on yogic principles helps to harmonize the emotional structure of the mind. Ashram life has been proved to help out in all theses areas.

Most of the Ashram are run by making one of the Yogas viz. Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Raja Yoga as their main working philosophy, and people may choose to go to the one which suits their liking. But the most popular ashrams are the ones who have incorporated the principals of all the yogas into one, and thus effecting each and every need of the modern man.

Many years back Swami Sivanand of Rishikesh influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda propagated the theory of “ Head – Heart- Hand “, where people were giving the opportunity to come and live in the ashram and work on themselves. The principals of Jnana Yoga dealt with the Head, the principals of Bhakti Yoga dealt with the Heart the principals of Karma Yoga dealt with the the Hand aspect.

This kind of modern approach towards life is the only solution for the modern man to provide him the tools with which a balanced life can be lived. One such Ashram is the Bihar School of Yoga which was established by Swami Satyananda, disciple of Swami Sivananda. After living for several years in his Gurus Ashram, Swami Satyananda travelled extensively within India and neighbouring countries before he settled in the state of Bihar, where he established his Ashram and carried forward his Gurus teachings.

We draw inspiration from the Bihar School of Yoga and thus try to bring forth the teachings of our Gurus in the running of our retreat centre. We run this retreat centre in Goa on the principals  of an ashram. There is a set routine which the participants are asked to follow. It is important to set up a certain kind of discipline in life so that the functions of the body and mind can be slowly put under a routine, and in result greater level of relaxation can be achieved by such a simple act.

In the ancient time the Ashrams were run by Gurus and each one of them had it’s own way of functioning, the common factor among all of them was the central theme, that was to make sure that the inner qualities of a person will be worked upon.

Taking inspiration from the age old principals we are providing the participants an opportunity to come and experience the ashram life, which has a lasting impact on building up a balance in the head,heart,hand combined, thereby bringing in a balance in the life where mind,emotions and the physical body are in harmony.

Article by Gyanmitra Saraswati

Copyright SWAN Yoga Retreat, Assagao, Goa, India