My room (bottom right)

My room (bottom right)

I recently had a week off work, and Matt didn’t. I’d been working hard, so was keen to make the most of the time, but wanted to be a bit considerate and do something Matt wouldn’t be massively jealous of.

After some thinking I decided to go to Mangrove Ashram. An Ashram is a center of learning for Yoga. It is the largest one in the Southern Hemisphere, and just under 2 hours north of Sydney out in the bush. I booked in for 3 nights. I had a recommendation from a friend that it was good, so decided to be brave and get over my fears that it might be full of hippies! (Not that there is anything bad about hippies, I do have hippy tendencies…)

There is a daily program, with some variations each day. There is a fair bit of free time which I mainly spent reading an talking with other people. I also went on a bush walk up to the cliffs at the top of the Ashram which was good – nice and peaceful.  I arrived just before lunch on the first day and settled in. I soon got talking to people and met a lot of people to speak too on the second morning at the visitors meeting.

Two of the three mornings I managed to make it up for the 5.30am yoga class. I’m not a morning person so it was a big challenge for me, but it set me up really well for the day. You end up feeling very awake and refreshed. There was silence each night from 8.30/9pm when the evening activity finished until 7.30am after breakfast. I even managed that too!

One of the daily classes was Yoga Nidra which is Yoga for ultimate relaxation, and it is totally relaxing. So much so I had an embarrassing moment on the second day (after the 5.15am start). You do the class lying on the floor, covered with a blanked for warmth. I was listening, I was relaxing, it was going well. Then the teacher said ‘and now we’ll end with three Ohmmms together’. I thought, ‘Its a bit off doing Ohmms on the floor, but OK.’ We did them, I opened by eyes and then realized everyone else was sat up. I had fallen asleep! Oooops! I manged top stay awake the next day!

I did some volunteering slots in the kitchen to help out, and discussed some book readings at the morning meetings. We also watched a film called The Way about the Pilgrims Way in Spain/France which was good and another film all about Yoga.

The other bit I really enjoyed which surprised me a lot was the Kirtan and chanting. I’d never heard of Kirtan before – its basically singing hymns or mantras with a harmonium playing. Some of the teachers played and sang really really well. We did quite a few sessions of it and I really liked it. The first time I actually found it quite emotional and I don’t know why – allegedly because my heart was touched or opened according to the Yogis. Quite a few other people I spoke to said they were also reluctant initially but then really liked it.

The classes were all quite gentle and relaxing, nothing very strenuous. I did get some help to practice my head stands which was much appreciated. The food was very tasty – all vegetarian and mainly vegan too. One day we got chocolate cake for a birthday – yum! The whole place was just really relaxing. It did take me a little while to wind down after my hectic work and life, but after the first afternoon I was totally in the tempo of the place. The people were all really lovely and just the whole place had a really positive, caring amazing vibe. I came back feeling great!

I would definitely  go back, although with a limited amount of holiday and loads of places I want to explore then probably not for a while! It definitely made me want to do more yoga which I’m doing.

I was really pleased I tried something that I was initially a reluctant about. I had a really good time, ended up feeling great and learnt some more about myself – including finding out I like things which I hadn’t expected. Why don’t you try something new this month? You don’t know, you might like it!

Any questions or thoughts?

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