Show me your Dolphin

Trip Start Nov 17, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Sivananda Ashram

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Following the strike on the Alleppey backwaters and our subsequent marooning on the lake we made our way down to Trivandrum to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram for a two week stay. We had been advised to arrive at 2 o'clock on the 29th but Femmy had had a little administration nightmare in the morning and had sat on the internet trying to resolve it until 13:20. Whoops! We then decided to be kind to ourselves and get a taxi for the two hour journey. Of course, being India, it took us a lot longer than that and we arrived at 19:30 that evening.

Having read the ashram information online, we knew that there was no drinking or smoking allowed at the ashram. This alarmed Femmy somewhat and she proceeded to smoke the best part of a pack of 20 out the window of the taxi.

Our first impressions of the Ashram were really good. The reception was really clean and everyone seemed really friendly. We were slightly apprehensive of the girl who was singing along word for word to the Sanskrit chanting emitting from the hall but put it out of our minds. We were then taken by Joseph to show us our simple room and feed us some tasty vegan food before bed. We were given a metal plate each and a metal cup with some water and shown to the dining table…the floor. For cutlery we had our hands. We then retired to bed in time for lights out at 10:30.

The next day our schedule began. We thought we would just write out our timetable out to give you an idea:

05:20: Rising bell

06:00: Satsang (meditation and chanting)

07:30: Tea

08:00: Yoga asana

10:00: Brunch

11:00:Karma yoga

13:30: Herbal tea and fruit

14:00: Lecture

15:30: Yoga asana

18:00: Dinner

20:00: Satsang

22:30: Lights out

The ashram had an 'outpass’ system which operated between Karma yoga and herbal tea but there wasn’t really anywhere to go! On Fridays, yoga was optional and you were allowed out for the day. We had a lovely day out to the seaside, but had to be back by 6 sharp.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings we were allowed out to have a silent walk to a nearby lake and chant there…lucky us!

So as you can see we were busy bees. The first couple of days went well, with us getting the hang of things, but Femmy was a bit grouchy as she decided that she wasn’t going to sneak around boarding school-style to the bushes to smoke every five minutes and was going to abide by the rules! She then downloaded Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking and became a happy non-smoker. Hurrah!

While we were there, we really got into the spirit of things. We loved the yoga and became the most bendy we will ever be in our lives. Karma yoga (selfless service) was interesting too. Ruth was assigned food serving and cleaning up in the dining hall and Femmy had toilet cleaning. Femmy discovered that toilet cleaning distracted her from nicotine withdrawal and boy did those toilets shine!

One mystery of the ashram that alarmed us at first was the VERY loud noises that always seemed to occur during Satsang and yoga. Theses could only be described as noises of the act of procreation. We were slightly worried that there was a sex cult nearby. It may well have been, but not of the human variety. There was a lion safari park opposite and it transpired to be some very vocal lion’s! Trying to keep a straight face whilst meditating is very hard when it sounds like there is a loud adult movie playing in the background!

A nice surprise about the ashram was the standard of the food, which Femmy was very dubious about. The foods not allowed included meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, garlic, onion and most dairy products (except curd). Despite the lack of all the above, they magically made AMAZING food. We have put some pictures below of the kitchen.

Entertainment was scarce in the ashram but there was a talent show every Saturday night which was ample for the week. It was a bit like the first rounds of Britain’s Got Talent with modern interpretative dance, miming and acrobatics thrown into the mix.

We were also treated to two videos whilst we were in the ashram. One was entitled ‘The New Diet for America’. ‘New’ was a distinct overstatement as it was from the 1970’s. The second was to illustrate the lack of exercise we get in modern life and featured an interview with Swami Vishnu Devananda. This was also slightly dated. If you have time please watch it on YouTube. You will wet yourself laughing. It's called 'I was a 90 pound weakling'.

Although we got on with everyone and the teachers were lovely we did have one nemesis. He was a yoga teacher but I think he had dreams of being in the Army. We named him Rambo. Whilst doing ‘the dolphin’ which is a bit like a push-up but for shoulder strength, he would mercilessly shout "Om 1, om 2, om 3….only 8 more rounds!" Eight rounds is a lot! He also asked Ruth to show him her dolphin at the coaching class which she did but he declared it to be too weak!

At the end of two weeks we were chanting along with the best of them and even cracked out a tambourine! It was a great two weeks and we’ll definitely be going back some day.

We have attached some pictures of us doing the twelve yoga asanas because we know we will never be this bendy again. Plus Ruth is proud of her headstand and Femmy is proud of her sitting forward bend and we want to show off!

And below is just a little sample of our chanting so we never forget!

Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare Hare,
Hare Krisna, Hare Krisna, Krisna, Krisna, Hare Hare.

Shree ram, jaya ram, jaya, jaya ram Om
shree ram, jaya ram, jaya, jaya ram Om.

Om namoh bhagavade, Visnu Devananda
Om Namoh bhagavade, agasta munuye namah.
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Gill on

Ladies!so happy to hear from u guys as u hadn't posted anything in a while!so yoga for 2 weeks looked like u had a great time ad ur pictures are lovely!so happy for u fem that you have given up fags...are u becoming all healthy?can't wait to see u on the 8th!the blog is still making me laugh... can't believe about the captain of the boat...well it's strike maybe tell us this before we book u!

So yesterday was paddys day and I'm at home so it was lovely to see everyone and I've only just recovered really!don't think I have any other news for u...emm me and Christian are moving into a house to rent that's just off Shirley high street so can't wait for that get the keys in 4 weeks time also uni have let me finish my due November so Ive been given 9months to do it...must start that really!

Miss u girls loads...see u very soon...well actually see u in couple of months..must arrange a skype soon


adrian and Anne on

Well done Emily ( the smoking thing) & Ruth how can you put up with her!!
That is quite some bowl of soup,but does look good,in fact most of the food looks good ,better than the menus sound.
Look forward to the next episode. Our love to you A & A

Amanda Blanden on

Love the yoga photo's, it's amazing how bendy you can become in 2 weeks (with loads of hard work!). Congratulations on giving up smoking Emily, does India have any diazepam left?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On a different note, I am in awe of you both for being able to overcome your initial experience when you arrived in India. You have both shown a great deal of strength of character during your trip. Lovely girls! x

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