Gentle Warning: This is a long post as it covers both Day 3 & 4 🙂
Day 3 , May 02nd 2014
This was my most awaited moment of the itinerary – Yoga by the Ganges.I have to say that the holistic nature of Yoga can truly be imbibed best in the outdoors, surrounded by natural beauty.And,when you do ‘Surya Namaskars’ with the dawn breaking over the mountain tops, its rays reflected as golden ripples across the holy Ganga as it flows pure and pristine and a cool breeze caressing your skin – it takes the experience to another level all together.
We began our Day 3 with an early morning 90 minute session of Yoga Asanas & Prananyama on the sandy banks of the river, flowing right next to the Rainforest House, where we were based. Of course, we were already warmed up clambering over boulders and jumping over rivulets to reach the tempting banks.:) Refreshed, we headed back for a light breakfast and to ready-up for our next activity.
The next part of the itinerary was in stark contrast to our early morning sublime session. It had many facing their fear the unknown,channelling their inner adventurer and experience the thrill of Rafting through Grade 2 & 3 Rapids of the Ganges. While this was my third experience , having rafted on rivers Teesta and Yamuna earlier, it had a few firsts in store for me too.
First was Body Surfing, where you cross the rapid lying on your back in the waters (all securely attired with a life jacket & helmet) and going along with the flow! Of course, the rafts and a rescue Kayak was at hand if you wanted out! Second,was an optional Cliff Jump, where one jumped off a 20 ft cliff straight into the flowing river! That was a super yoo-hoo moment for me as I scrambled to try it out with some others. Third, was an unplanned activity , where our raft tilted in one of the Grade 3 rapids throwing us all into the frothing waters.That was both scary and thrilling as we went underwater, got swirled around but managed to hold the raft’s lifeline and get hauled up.:D
After the adrenaline charged water adventure, I think each of us could have eaten a horse.But, of course we stuck to the yogic , healthy meal planned at the resort.Well.:)
Towards evening, we went for a visit to the famed ‘Sivananda Ashram’ at Rishikesh where students of Sivananda Yoga from across the world come to learn the nuances of the Sivananda style of Yoga. This was my first introduction to Swami Sivananda’s yogic approach and philosophies and has me interested in learning more about the gentle , yet larger than life personality. They have a nice little book store where one can pick up books , videos and music based on the Ashram’s teachings.
From the Ashram, we meandered through the colorful bazaar of Rishikesh, poring over trinkets and kitschy delights, with the beautiful view of ferries on the river filled with singing devotees. Walking over the lightly swaying ‘Laxman Jhoola’ to take part in the ethereal ‘Ganga Arti’, I marveled at the mesmerizing power of the mighty Ganges flowing , seemingly gently, below.
The Arti is a memorable experience – with divine chants reverberating in the air, throngs of devotees joining in the prayers and the beautifully lit up prayer lamps lending a holy glow to the proceedings. The Ganges flowing in all its magnificent glory, seemed to be graciously accepting the heart-ful prayers.
The divine gave way to some material indulgences as I shopped for ‘Om’ branded yoga mat covers , organic beauty oils and some ice-cream to beat the heat! 🙂 Back at our property , dinner led into soulful discussions on the correct techniques of some Pranayamas, imbibing a Yogic Diet and similar. And, the day ended with some quiet and calm, sipping Chamomile Tea under the starlit sky.Bliss 🙂
Day 04, May 03rd 2014
Today early morning , we participated in Meditation and Mantra Chanting on the banks of the Ganga. With eyes closed, focusing on the gurgling sound of the Ganges flowing, temple bells ringing at a distance and the sensations of a light breeze, I could feel the chaos in the mind quieting down , giving way to a steady calm. I sensed a deep, spiritual connect with the holy river. I absorbed the power of thousands of years of devotion, faith and belief of a country and its people.The realization that this wasn’t just any river – it was a part of our history, of myth & legend, was overwhelming.
The meditation closed with a prayer offering to the Ganges , post which we headed back for breakfast and planning the last leg of our journey.
The final part of Synthesis 2014 was a test of my personal fears and the ability to face them. Ok, I can’t tip-toe around this one , so , hey I Bungee-Jumped! 83 metres over the Ganges , with the swooping mountains around me! At the Jumping Heights Extreme Adventure Zone ,Mohan-chatti – some 30 minutes drive from our property. For those who aren’t keen on being thrown off a mountain upside down, hanging by a rubber band cord, there are the options of Zip Line, Flying Fox and the Giant Swing .
Once I decided to jump, fear gave way to the thrill of a new experience. Standing at the edge, all harnessed and with my arms open wide I think I had my most spiritual connect with nature. The only thought was that of the Himalayas around and the Ganges below welcoming me….with that on my mind, I leapt towards them . The adrenaline rush was like none other, the sense of achievement, oh boy!I haven’t stopped telling about it to everyone I meet. 😀
Synthesis 2014, thus, came to its close – a heady mix of the spiritual and the physical, of the mind , body & the soul. Of friendships and self -discovery.
So, we reach the end of our journey and I am so glad to have you with me, through these words. And , dearest reader, deeply from within my heart – thank you for reading , stay well & have a lovely day ahead. 🙂