It was meant to be a two day retreat experience and it was indeed a different one of being a spiritual that was relaxing, combined with a bit of exercise for the body and mind.
We reached at Isha Foundation as part of a group early in the morning. I wasn’t sure what to really expect from a spiritual centre as it could get heavy on philosophy but the space ensures it draws visitors to take time and embrace the life and certain habits that could change your life for good.
(Early morning misty weather at the ashram)
In many places within the ashram at Isha Foundation, one is not supposed to use a mobile phone or camera for taking pictures or talking. In fact you are largely encouraged to use your phone only in your room.
The space can be done as a destination point in a day’s trip from Coimbatore or by choosing to stay at the ashram.
(Isha Foundation Ashram) (Photograph by Mums and Stories)
Early mornings are for Yoga and we had this session where we got to do some of the asanas ranging from easy to moderate level of difficulty along with a projector slide presentation to guide us and an instructor, guru who guided us who were amateurs to a few who could do the asanas easily.
Isha ashram has a positive vibe that does impact people who visit the space. Situated at approximately 30 kms from the city of Coimbatore, Isha foundation is nestled at the foothills of Vellangiri mountains and blessed with incredible forest views. The mornings are misty and one can continuously listen to various birds chirping.
As part of our schedule, we were taken to one of the schools run by the foundation and it was impressive to see children from nearby villages having an access to a school that had many facilities that urban schools have. Apart from speaking fluent English the children eagerly showed the visitors the school around that had Science labs, recreational facilities and equipment’s and learning materials that were as good as those used in urban schools.
(Teaching curriculum followed at one of the schools run by Isha foundation)
(Enthusiastic students showing visitors the school)
We later headed to Chandrakant, a space that particularly caught my interest – a water body for women. Chandrakund is believed to be 30 feet below ground level and can be accessed through giant steps. The waters are believed to have certain healing powers and it was great to take a dip even though it was freezing cold.
(Photograph of Chandrakund, a water body at Isha Foundation. Photograph courtesy-Isha website)
Like many other restrictions taking a dip too wasn’t the usual process. One is supposed to shower, wear the robes present over there and get inside the covered water body. Though it may seem awkward, surprisingly everything is quite clean and many women were enthusiastic on taking a dip. The space has the accompanying sounds of waters gushing down to the water body from a height and one is expected to maintain silence. In the chilling waters, I noticed a spectacular painting adorning the ceiling which is a spectacular mural and is supposed to be the depiction of Mahakumbh mela. In the centre of the water body is the mercury lingam. I really did not experience any energy but I have to admit it felt refreshing and surreal being in the waters.
Men have a separate water body Suryakund . One cannot take mobiles, cameras, wallets and everything can be deposited at the lockers provided or you have the option of leaving them in the room, if you are staying in the ashram.
(Photograph of Suryakund. Photograph courtesy-Isha website)
Another space that seemed magical was Dhayanalinga meditative space where one can experience the vibrations of silence and even chants that have an aura to them. The entrance has a pillar with symbols welcoming all religions of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.
Again you are expected to maintain pin drop silence in the meditative space. We happened to go twice and once during the nada aradhana where one can listen to non-lyrical chants from various singers from the ashram, coming from various countries. This was extremely peaceful and it did create the positive vibes for me and I believe for others who had accompanied me to the meditative space.
There’s also the Bhairavi temple dedicated to the goddess and it was impressive to have women priests and women running the temple.
Isha Foundation is not the regular holiday destination and neither do they proclaim it to be one. It is a spiritual place where yoga, meditation, silence, exercise for the body and mind is stressed upon. There are strict rules on mobile phone usage, food offered at the ashram like twice during the day. There’s a canteen/restaurant with minimum food items on its menu list if one wants more than the simple food offered. Regardless of which strata of society you belong to you are expected to be humble, be silent to reflect on yourself, wash your plates and can opt for volunteering work too. The space has lots of volunteers and dedicated staff who ensure visitors get the right values prescribed by the space.
(Rooms at Isha Foundation, Coimbatore)(Photograph by Mums and Stories)
The rooms are basic but clean and are on twin sharing basis. The space has visitors from across the country and the world. Visitors can walk or use bicycles that are available on rent or electric scooters to move around. There are enough scenic spaces for one to sit, reflect and meditate. Beautiful lotus ponds, rows of tall trees, huge open spaces and Dhayanalinga as the centre offers ample opportunity to unwind and declutter the mind.
Of course one cannot miss the massive Adi Yogi statue outside the ashram and it is here the restrictions are relaxed. One is allowed to take pictures and one can even hop on to a bullock cart ride to reach the statue that looks mighty and spiritual.
(Photograph by Mums and Stories)
Isha Foundation is meant for visitors to go solo, with friends or like-minded people and children who can understand restrictions, like above twelve years of age. There are however programs for younger children from nine onwards at the ashram.
Mums can definitely visit the space to take a break from the mundane world and utilize the time to reflect on their priorities in life.
(Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and Stories was invited to Isha Foundation Ashram as part of media tour and travelled in January 2019).
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