Rishikesh, the International Capital of Yoga
After the Rajasthan we went up north to Rishikesh, which is a small village by the sides of the Ganga River. This is a very relaxed place, full of ashrams and where most westerners come for Yoga and meditation, Reiki and massages. We tried all of them, of course!
We started by going straight to the famous Beatles Ashram. Even thought it is now an abandoned creepy place, completely wrecked and full of spider webs everywhere, it is also a pretty cool place to visit. Here is where the Beatles spent 3 months isolated from the world, writing their White Album. All my friends are huge fans of the Beatles and although I don’t like them as much, it was still great to visit the ashram. I don’t really know why, but despite having its walls falling apart and being full of all sorts of weird insects, there is still something strong about the place that makes you feel good inside. The walls are written all over by people who probably felt the same way when they were there, and even for the ones who are not big fans of the Beatles like me, everyone should walk the 3 kms to get there, it is worth it!
Rishikesh is divided in three different parts, all of them set on the margins of the Ganga (the holy river), and all of them nice to walk around. There are several little restaurants and shops, the roads are not as chaotic as everywhere else in India and the atmosphere is very relaxing. Everyone around here practices either meditation, laughing therapy or yoga, therefore the vibe is very “zen”. You see westerners everywhere that shouldn’t be considered as westerners anymore, they gave in to the Rishikesh spirit and adopted the local style. It’s funny to see how they came here and ended up staying for good, I guess that’s what real meditation does to people. But at the same time is strange to see how slow and weird they become when they talk and think, but I guess they’re in such a relaxing state of mind that someone like me cannot understand what it is like!
I tried meditation with Mary at 6 in the morning, which was nice bit very difficult. We had to sit with our legs crossed and our back straight for an hour. It might sound simple, but it’s not! After a while the legs start feeling numb, which makes it impossible to concentrate. Plus, we’re supposed to not think about anything during meditation, but what happens is that we start thinking about the most stupid things, like the laundry we have to pick up or the breakfast you will have later on.
All 4 of us also tried Reiki and we liked the experience a lot. Well most of us liked it anyway! If you think about it it’s just a man moving his hands over your body without ever touching, however there’s a lot more to it that I cannot explain or understand. It is extremely relaxing and it makes you dream awake. It’s very weird and hard to believe, but you can actually feel some kind of energy going in your body and sometimes you have small spasms that must mean something. The truth is, without feeling anything touching me, I felt as relaxed as never before. In the end all of us had positive energies, some weaker than others, I had my Heart chacra weak ( he didn’t say why) and Sophia had enough positive energies to give to all her friends!
Also, we did some hiking to a couple of waterfalls dreaming to have a swim in a cold refreshing water. It is very very hot here, which makes it hard to do everything, especially walking. But it was worth it because both waterfalls were amazing, one of them was good for bathing and easy to find, the other one was farther away and well hidden in the mountains, but very worth going all the way up there just to see the water falling from high above us.
Moreover, we tried Yoga for the first time as well, and that was my favourite thing! It is tiring and very hard on the muscles, but at the same time is deeply relaxing and feels really good to stretch the body so much. We did it twice so far, and maybe one more time tomorrow morning before we catch the train to the next place.
I know I keep saying this about every place we visited, but Rishikesh was definitely my favourite one in India so far. We had a very nice and relaxing time, we tried a lot of new things and met some cool people, mostly from Israel – I don’t know why but this place has been invaded by Israelis! Plus, here the locals are very cool and not annoying at all, like in some other places where they follow the tourists and beg incessantly.
We went by the holy Ganga a few times, once we saw a ceremony with all the men washing themselves in the holy water and all the women were colourfully dressed, observing the men in the water. Also we tried the beach on the side of the river but we couldn’t really swim because the current is very strong and there were signs everywhere saying “NO BIKINI”!!