Category Archives: yoga

Amritapuri Ashram

I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking a sea of palm trees and a wide, winding canal at the amritapuri ashram. I’m second in a row of chairs outside the doctor’s office. There’s a middle-aged American lady on my left telling us she’s been feeling exhausted lately and wants to know what’s wrong. To my right is a quiet Dutchman who says very little but nods a lot.

Where is amritapuri Ashram?

The amritapuri ashram is in the south of India in the province of Kerala, also known as the Venice of India (though I don’t think I’ve seen so much rubbish in the canals in Venice). I was a resident in this ashram during my visit to India in 2012.

What can you do at amritapuri ashram?

At the Ashram, there’s an Ayurvedic practitioner at the ashram that we are waiting to see. The American lady gets called in, and I move up to being “on deck”. The Dutchman and I sit in silence now. I’ve been reading about Ayurveda at the Amritpuri ashram (there’s an excellent library), and I'm intrigued by a lot of what I am learning. My visit to the ashram took place about two years after I completed my first mindful yoga course and the mindfulness-based stress reduction course. I was grateful for those courses in bringing yoga and mindfulness to a western, research-based practice, but I wanted to learn more about the roots of the practices that had brought me so much relief from my symptoms.

The ashram is open to both short term and long term visitors from around the world. For a small fee, you'll get a bed in a dorm room, three meals a day, and access to yoga and meditation classes. You're also expected to participate in karma yoga for a couple of hours a day by volunteering around the ashram (can include anything from cleaning to teaching yoga or helping in the kitchen).

On-site, there is a cafe, ayurvedic pharmacy, and ayurvedic practitioner. I want to find out what my Dosha is to see if it provides any insight into my chronic fatigue syndrome, thus, my waiting in line to see the practitioner.

My experience at amritapuri ashram

After another 20 minutes, I’m called into the office. An old Indian lady is sitting there with a notebook. She tells me to sit down but then doesn’t say anything as she takes my pulse and feels my skin. In the 40-degree heat, I’ve somehow managed to acquire a cold, and she asks me if my nose is always stuffy. It is. She scribbles a few things down on a paper to bring to the pharmacy and tells me to avoid showering (or at least avoid getting my hair wet). She also tells me to try not to eat more than one meal a day (an instruction at which I fail).

Views from Amritpuri Ashram

It's hard not to feel peaceful when you wake up to these views every morning.

I’m a Kapha-Vata which means I’m prone to phlegm and fluid build-up. I’m not sure what concoctions the pharmacy gives me, but they all taste terrible. However, within a day, my sinuses have cleared. I still have a scratchy throat and feel a bit off, but I’m amazed at the clearing of my sinuses. Usually, when I get a cold, my nose will continue running for weeks after the rest of my symptoms are gone. I didn’t gain as much insight as I had hoped into my chronic fatigue syndrome, but I’m starting to think there’s something to this Ayurvedic medicine.

During my time at the ashram, I meet a French lady who is there receiving cancer treatments, a Canadian who is ashram hopping around India, and an Indian woman who has studied with the guru from a young age.

Amritapuri ashram is the ashram of Amma, also known as the hugging saint. The ashram is described as "The living example of the ancient Indian ideal “the whole world is one family” (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). Here you will find people from all parts of the world — speaking different languages and having different customs and religions — all living under one roof. In their quest for the meaning of life, each has forgotten their differences and become a child of Amma." – read more about Amma here.

After my two weeks stay at the ashram, participating in chatting, yoga, and meditation, and talking to the students of Amma who are staying at the ashram with me, I can't help but feel a loving-kindness for all of them. I feel like during my time here I deepened my yoga and meditation practice, learnt the basics of Ayurveda which would later help me form my yogic teaching methods, and met beautiful souls from around the world.

Amritapuri Ashram

5 Calming Yoga Poses to Help You Fall Asleep

You don’t have to suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia to be concerned about the quality of your sleep. Many of us struggle to fall asleep on a fairly regular basis or suffer from disturbed sleep because of our hyperactive lifestyles. We’re constantly bombarded with information and exposed to digital screens through much of our…
Read more

What I learnt from mindfulness in 2019

Happy New Year! I can't wait to share what I learnt from mindfulness in 2019 It feels like just a few months ago that I was sitting on a deserted beach in Ecuador writing this post for 2018, yet here we are again! 2019 has been a transformational year for me in many ways, and…
Read more

6 Yoga Poses To Reduce Fatigue

When you’re living with a chronic illness,  you know what it’s like to feel depleted with no energy left. If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you deal with this fatigue on a daily basis. Yet other conditions, such as Fibromyalgia or Lyme can also leave you feeling less energized on a regular basis. Researchers…
Read more

How to Keep Your Pelvic Floor Healthy

The pelvic floor muscles help us control our posture and urinary and bowel movements. As we age, our pelvic floor naturally weakens, and this is compounded by pregnancy and childbirth. A strong pelvic floor can help counteract issues like incontinence (involuntary peeing, like when you have a powerful sneeze). How to keep your pelvic floor healthy isn't…
Read more

Does yoga help fibromyalgia pain?

"Have you tried yoga?" is a running joke in the chronic illness community. I've been writing about (and doing!) yoga for so long now that it's hard to remember that there was a time when I was very sceptical about the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia pain. Does yoga help fibromyalgia pain? In this article,…
Read more

Yoga For Deep Sleep And Relaxation

Bedtime yoga for deep sleep “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. “ - Thomas Dekker When I was younger my family used to joke that I could sleep through a fire alarm. Yet when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, those blissful nights of sleep were traded in for nights…
Read more

The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

For many, getting older means aching bones and creaky joints. By moving the body in different ways we can combat some of the effects of ageing and keep healthier as we get older.  One simple way to keep your body and mind in good health is through yoga for seniors.   A Place for Mom has…
Read more