In  India,  Rishikesh,  Travel,  Yoga

Have You Really Experienced Bliss?

By Vitina | Comments: 0 | February 27, 2017

Sometimes the winks from the Universe will lead you to magical places:

While at the Airport in New Delhi, my layover from Goa up to Rishikesh, an older Indian gentleman notices my yoga mat and comes up to me.

“Do you practice Yoga?” he asks.

This one question led me to telling him about my journey in India and my business, WanderfulSoul.

The last thing he asks me before I leave, “Are you going to visit Ananda while you’re in Rishikesh?”

I had no plans to visit this place he mentioned. Thinking nothing of it, I grabbed my backpack and headed for my next flight.

I arrived to Rishikesh, the Yoga capital of the world. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas with the Ganga flowing through it… My souls home.

The taxi dropped me off in the heart of Lakshman Jhula late at night. I grabbed my backpack and wandered around looking for a guesthouse to stay in. I kept getting turned away because they were all full. I asked why the city was so busy, “The International Yoga Festival is going on,” the guesthouse owner told me.

OF COURSE I would happen to be here at the exact same time as the yoga festival.

I finally found a decent place to stay… only for the night until I could find something the next day.

After settling in, I found a cute café to eat and connect to Wi-Fi. Being an instagram junkie, I was quick to look at what was happening on my feed.

The first image that popped up was from one of my favourite travel bloggers, Wild Wellness Travel. And the image was from Ananda. NO FREAKIN’ WAY. I commented on the photo saying I was in Rishikesh and that I should come visit. They responded and said, “Come join us!”.

I took this as a little wink from the universe. I researched Ananda and reached out to their team.

24 hours with citywide Wi-Fi loss, and a day at the yoga festival later – I got the email from Ananda. I was going in!

Experience at Ananda:

Pinch me. Please. Pinch me. I was thinking as my driver kept driving round and round the windy roads, higher into the Himalayan foothills. Graceful Sal forests surrounded me and I could see the peaceful Ganga in the distance.

Entering the golden gates, I felt like I arrived in heaven. I felt like an angel. Seriously… the guests at the hotel were wearing all white.

The staff greeted me at the entrance of the palace when I arrived with a traditional ‘aarti’ welcome, giving me mala beads made from the seeds of the rudraksha tree.

I arrived to my room and slipped into the all white outfit that everyone was wearing, called Kurta Pajamas. They are provided to the guests during their stay. It’s a traditional item of clothing worn in India, a loose shirt falling somewhere below the knees. Not having to think about what to wear allowed me to stay more present. One less thing I had to worry about!

During my stay, I got to experience some divine guided meditations and Hatha Yoga classes. As a beginner, you are in very good hands. As someone who has been practicing for many years, it was a nice reminder that not all practices need to be intense. There is beauty in slowing down, paying attention to your body and honing into what your body needs.

What really made this experience unique was the wellness program. On the first day of my stay, I visited
the Ayurvedic Doctor for an assessment. Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. After the assessment, the Doctor told me which Dosha I was highly associated with… I am VERY Vata (Take your Dosha quiz here). Beyond this consultation, they will suggest which spa treatments are best for your Dosha. Depending on the package you get, you may have a spa treatment or two everyday (Can I get an AMEN!). AND when you go into the restaurant they have a special menu for you, again, based on your Dosha.

Each month, Ananda brings in a “Visiting Master” that the guests can work with. I had the greatest pleasure to work with Richard Currall, a man of great healing gifts.

All in all, my experience at Ananda was beyond magical. It is not just a retreat that will leave you breathless with the enchantment of its surroundings, but assists in redefining lifestyles, from when you arrive carrying it into your daily lives. Well, it’s up to you to keep up with it, but it definitely plants some seeds.

Ananda means full bliss. Every part of the experience stays true to it’s name.

Interesting Facts About Ananda:

The Royal Palace was built around 1800, popularly known as the Viceregal Palace. It has played host to some of India’s most renowned heads of state, during the Maharaja’s reign.

Ma Anandamayi, a well known spiritual guide, whose wise teachings, gentle ways and immensely charismatic presence attracted a very large following from all parts of the world, often visited the Maharaja’s family. The Maharaja family wanted her to move into the palace but she refused because she didn’t want to live in a life of luxury. It wasn’t until her home was flooded that they offered her to move onto the property and promised to build her a simple, quaint room. Her room is tucked away in a quiet corner of the Viceregal terrace, overlooking the valley and the grounds and stands testimonial to the old Maharaja’s close links with the history of spiritual India. I got to visit Ma Anandamayi’s room, it still remains the same way as she left it and it holds much of her spiritual energy.

Oh, and I forgot to mention…

As I was leaving a yoga class on my first morning at the palace, two beautiful goddesses stopped me to take a photo of them. I asked them where they were from. Low and behold, one of them was behind the Wild Wellness Travel instagram and I told her she was the reason why I ended up here. Needless to say, we became quick friends!

Thank you Universe for blowing my mind.

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