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Lost in France: Visit to the Sivanada Ashram of Orleans

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All in all a wonderful trip. Navigating an unfamiliar country without knowing the local language offered a small challange. On my way to the ashram I got lost both on the Parisian subway system (poor planning) and in the town of Orleans (inability to speak French, though I seemed to manage quite well).

Upon arrival I was excited for a new experience. Also a bit worried about how well I would be experience the trip. I had injured my rotator cuff a couple weeks earlier and there was the idea in the back of my head that a trip that involved four hours of daily yoga when you can't even do downward facing dog seemed a little foolish.

Too many details to list them all but overall here's the condensed view of things. The ashram life was a bit of an adjustment. The 5 30 wake up, only two meals a day, the peacefulness of it all. I gave myself a bit of flexibility on the wake up, in the week I was there I missed two morning sastangs because I couldn't drag myself out of bed. The body adjusted to the meals on its own but the first few days were a bit stressful with hunger and over eating. The weather was less than optimal. The morning were very cool making morning yoga outdoors a little stiff and uncomfortable, plus I was sleeping in a tent and did not come prepared for the cooler than usual nights, a couple of which dipped below ten degrees. The lack of things to do at the ashram created an inital restlessness. Overall it was great to get away from everything and disconnect. I left the ashram feeling a little exhausted but at the same time refreshed and my head cleared.

Yoga Highlights: Being able to do downward facing dog again after three weeks of not being able to
Holding crow pose for the first time even if was for only few seconds (I've held for longer since
but I'm still holding back a bit since my shoulder is still feeling sore and weak)

Personal Highlight: Making it to the ashram speaking no more French than "parlez anglais" (unfortunately outside
of Paris and the ashram the answer was no) and "checher l'autobus au Neuville aux bois" (mind
you when I did finally find the right bus station the office was closed, I later found out that I
could buy a ticket on the bus but I ended up taking a taxi to the ashram from Orleans)

After the visit the ashram a took a couple days to explore Paris. A beautiful city I'll have to return there some day.

I'm not too big on sharing pics but here's a couple. The first one because I feel it suits the website, the second because find it to be a good expression of who I am.

My final night at the ashram, instead of the typical sastang we went on a silent meditation walk followed by sitting meditation in the middle of a field.

Me walking in the French country side, returning to the ashram after a visit to the small village of Neuville aux bois. I don't know it at the moment of the picture but I just missed my turn about ten minutes ago and would end up lost for about an hour and a half because I became absorbed by the beauty of the French forest and stopped paying attention to where I was going.

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Comment by Peter Stodolak on August 26, 2008 at 10:53am
Thanks Marina,

I think my experience and that of some of the other guests was a clicking in and out of the ashram life depending on the weather. Some days were certainly easier than others. Also, for myself I think the combined impacts of jet lag, the weather and the change in lifestyle was a bit much for me to overcome in a week.

Perhaps, I should have gone to the Bahamas instead. I much prefer hot yoga to cold yoga :). Still I wouldn't rule out another visit to the ashram in France. I think better preparation and stronger body would be needed though.
Comment by Marina on August 24, 2008 at 8:27pm
hi peter,

thanks for giving us the highlights of your trip. i too didn't easily adjust to the early morning satsangs and the two meals a day (at the nassau ashram) but after a few days something just clicked and found myself looking forward to them (oddly enough). i'm glad though that you were able to take away some positive things from your trip. the photos are great btw.

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