Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Find Your Purpose in Life: 5 Key Questions

How to Find Your Purpose in Life

In my previous post "Karma Yoga Lessons from Steve Jobs" I mentioned that the way to find out what our purpose or duty in life is, is to search within and listen to our heart. But, how can we actually do this? A good start is to get to know ourselves better by answering these "5 Key Questions to Find Your Purpose in Life" that I have included below. These questions have helped me to find some direction in my life, specially after I quit my corporate job in Europe.
Monday, September 12, 2011

Karma Yoga Lessons from Steve Jobs

Karma Yoga Lessons from Steve Jobs

We all know Steve Jobs as a very successful and inspiring entrepreneur but how many of us know him as a Buddhist or a Yogi? I really admire him for everything that he has been able to achieve as an entrepreneur and CEO of Apple, but I never thought that he was involved with any eastern philosophy like Buddhism or Yoga until I read a couple of quotes published by the New York Times blog following the announcement of his resignation from Apple. While I was reading the quotes some of them reminded me of the Karma Yoga philosophy. I shared the quotes on my FB and a friend commented "he was in India before". "I knew it!" I thought right away.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The 10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat (My Comic Experience)

The 10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat

Think about this. Ten days of silence: no books, no writing, no music, no talking. Ten days of doing nothing but meditation, meditation, and meditation for about TEN hours per day. Isn't that awesome? That's the Vipassana Meditation retreat, a life-changing experience (but it can also be a comic experience. lol).

How Vipassana Meditation Purifies the Mind (Based on Yoga Philosophy)

Vipassana Meditation Technique

The Vipassana meditation technique taught by Goenka during the 10-day Vipassana retreat is a simple but powerful technique.  In my opinion, comparing this technique to the teachings of Yoga, and the experiences of the Indian yogis, can help us understand its benefits even better, such as the mental purification. 

My Vipassana Meditation Experience (Observing the Mind's Reactions)

Vipassana Meditation Experience

One thing that I love about my experience with the 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course was the opportunity to observe the mind.  I had several different experiences. Some were pleasant, others not so pleasant, but the best was a mental clarity that I'd never experienced before.

My Issue with Goenka's Vipassana Meditation Course

Although I learned a lot from the Vipassana meditation course I had some internal conflicts during the first days. I came to this retreat not because I wanted to learn a new technique. I simply wanted to have the opportunity to practice meditation 10 hours a day for 10 days. However, I encountered several things that I disagreed with.
Friday, August 26, 2011

The iPhone 4: Best Travel Gadget Ever

I'm not a geek and this is certainly not a technology blog but traveling in India with an iPhone 4 has made such a big difference on my trip. It is really such a cool thing that I feel the need to share it with others. I'm sure any other smartphone would work just fine as a travel gadget, they should all perform more or less the same functions, but I've only used the iPhone 4 and I love it! And honestly, all other smartphones that I've seen looks like cheap copies of the iPhone. I prefer to go for the REAL thing.
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forever young: Swami Yogananda, the 103 years old yogi in Rishikesh

103 years old yogi: Swami Yogananda
One day my friends at the Parmarth Niketan ashram told me "Hey, we met an amazing 103 years old yogi called Swami Yogananda and he is going to give us a class tomorrow at 6am, do you wanna join?". "Yeah, absolutely!" I replied. Imagine that, a yoga class with this 103 years old yogi in front of the Holy Ganga River in Rishikesh! Amazing, and for sure, if somebody knows the secret to health and longevity it is him.

A Good Yoga Teacher in Rishikesh? Try Surinder Singh's Class

Surinder Singh Yoga Teacher in Rishikesh

I gotta be honest, I have a big ego problem. Every time that I go to a yoga class I'm always judging the teacher and his/her class. I find myself with my cup completely full (full of preconceived ideas and judgments). I try to empty it but it is quite hard for me. Luckily from time to time, I meet a good teacher with whom I can naturally become very humble and just break my cup. This was my experience with Surinder Singh. From my point of view a really good Hatha Yoga teacher in Rishikesh.

The Parmarth Niketan Intensive Yoga Course in Rishikesh

Parmarth Niketan Yoga Course Rishikesh

I came back to Rishikesh looking for an intensive yoga course but unfortunately, July is not the best month to visit India. Most yoga schools close their doors during the monsoon season.  What could I do then?

Where to Stay in Rishikesh? Try the Parmarth Niketan Ashram

Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

After over 20 days of solitude in Kukuchina, I felt I wanted to come back to Rishikesh, to "civilization" again. I didn't want to spend any time looking for a good place where to stay, but as usual, I wanted to find something comfortable and clean.

I found my answer in "Whereiscallie's" blog, the Parmarth Niketan Ashram.  This is one of the main ashrams in Rishikesh, famous for its Ganga Arati

Samatvam is Yoga, Equanimity is Yoga: Swami Sivananda's Teachings

Samatvam (Equanimity) is Yoga

What is Yoga? “Samatvam is the yoga that Lord Krishna talks about at length in the Bhagavad Gita. He defines yoga as: Samatvam Yoga Uchyate (2:48): Samatvam is Yoga; equanimity is yoga... He [Lord Krishna] explains that samatvam is being able to maintain one's balance of mind in success and failure, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, and that is the aptitude of a perfect master who remains equipoised in all circumstances. That is samatvam, the yoga of equanimity ” Swami Sivananda.
Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Solo Meditation Retreat Near Babaji's Cave in Kukuchina

Solo Meditation Retreat Near Babaji's Cave

After three days of austerity at the Pandavkholi Dharamshala, at the top of the hill where Babaji's cave is located, I decided that I needed a bit more comfort.

So I made my way back down to Kukuchina and stayed for more than twenty days, from the 1st of June until the 23rd, in a small cozy cottage at Joshi Guest House.

If you are visiting Babaji's cave, then Joshi Guest House is the perfect place to spend a few nights and do your own meditation retreat in the Himalayas
Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Stay at the Pandavkholi Dharamsala in Dunagiri, Dwarahat

View from the dharamshala in Pandavkholi

If you are visiting Babaji's cave in Dunagiri, after reaching the cave you should definitely climb up a bit higher and visit Pandavkholi and the mandir (Hindu temple).  Maybe even consider staying at the dharamshala (pilgrims shelter) for at least one night.

Staying at the dharamshala has been one of the most authentic Indian experiences that I've had so far.
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visiting Mahavatar Babaji's Cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, India

Visiting Mahavatar Babaji Cave Kukuchina

This was my first visit to Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, north of India, not so far away from Dwarahat. What a privilege to sit in meditation inside Babaji's cave. After reading all those stories in Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography this pilgrimage was truly a dream come true.

If you are a Kriyaban (a kriya yoga practitioner) you should definitively visit Babaji's cave.  Perhaps you could also visit Yogananda's ashram in Dwarahat, and maybe you could also do your own meditation retreat in Kukuchina.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Yogoda Satsanga Sakha (YSS) Ashram in Dwarahat

Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram Dwarahat

After a 14 hours journey from Rishikesh, starting at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram, I reached the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram in Dwarahat, India.  I stayed at the ashram for ten amazing days, from the 19 of May until the 29, doing my own individual retreat.

This small and beautiful ashram is dedicated to Paramahansa Yogananda's devotees and followers of the Kriya Yoga path.  From the ashram, you can even visit Mahavatar Babaji's cave, which is about 50 minutes drive.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Photos from Rishikesh

Rishikesh, one of the landmarks of spiritual India. A yoga market place with yoga ashrams everywhere you go and even an adventure sports destination. Yeah, many people come for rafting in the holy river Ganga.
Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Have a Conversation with God Like Neale Donald Walsch

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

“You've got to read this book!” A couple of friends insisted while we were hanging out at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai, India. They were talking about Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch.

I had seen that book many times before but it never really called my attention. That title “Conversations with God,” because of its religious connotation, was not very appealing to me.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meeting with a Himalayan Yoga Master: Swami Veda Bharati

Swami Veda Bharati

Before arriving at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, a Himalayan Yoga Tradition ashram in Rishikesh, I wrote down all the questions that I wanted to ask Swami Veda Bharati, the founder of the ashram and disciple of Swami Rama.

I'd heard stories of people forgetting all their questions when meeting a master like him so I put them on paper to make sure I wouldn't forget them.

The Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram (SRSG), Rishikesh

Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Rishikesh

In my opinion, the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) is the best ashram for meditation that you can find in Rishikesh or even all over India. Throughout all my travels around India, and even after consulting with other seekers, I have not been able to find any other ashram that focuses on meditation like at SRSG.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Stay Connected with Mobile Internet While Traveling in India

Updated Feb 2015 There is nothing like traveling all around India, visiting temples, practicing yoga and meditation while at the same time staying connected with my family and friends using the mobile internet on my iPhone (with Indian Sim Card). I can check my e-mails, Facebook, browse the web, book flights and trains and a lot more. Do you want to know how to do this with your own smartphone?
Thursday, May 5, 2011

Which Beach to Visit in Goa? Top 3 Beaches in Goa You'll Love

Top 3 Beaches in Goa

After three months of intense yoga practice at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai, a nice break to enjoy some of the best beaches in Goa was not a bad idea at all.  If you would like some recommendations here you'll find my Top 3 Beaches in Goa.

Contrary to what I expected April was a great month to visit Goa. Fewer tourists, more accommodation available at a better price, and perfect weather.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where to Practice Ashtanga Yoga in Goa, India

Where to Practice Ashtanga Yoga in Goa

While traveling around Goa, after my three-month stay at the Sivananda Ashram, I contacted Carol, a dear friend of mine that I met in Mysore at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute. She is a very dedicated ashtanga practitioner so I asked her for some suggestions about ashtanga yoga teachers in Goa. 

Carol always has some good tips for me.  She immediately replied to my e-mail recommending me a place in Candolim, where her own teacher practices ashtanga yoga.  It is called Yoga Bones and it is run by two famous ashtanga yogis, Rolf and Marci.
Friday, April 1, 2011

Steps to Yoga: Inspiring Book by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

"Steps to Yoga and Yoga Initiation Papers" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati is an extraordinary book. It's a collection of inspiring letters written by Swami Satyananda to two of his disciples, with detailed instructions on yoga. These letters give us a rare opportunity to witness how a real guru guides and instructs his disciples in the deepest aspects of the yoga path and spiritual life.
Sunday, March 27, 2011

What are Puja and Arati: Rituals at the Sivananda Ashram

What are Puja and Arati - Rituals in India

If you've ever visited any ashrams or temples in India you most likely have witnessed different forms of rituals. These rituals are usually called "puja." Puja is basically an act of worship. The waving of lights before a deity, which is part of a puja, is called "arati." But there is a lot more to it.

Concluding Three Months at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai

I can barely believe that I just spend three months in one single yoga ashram, the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai. Time went so quick.  It feels like I just arrived yesterday and now I'm already preparing to leave.  Just a few more days. I had such an amazing time and so many different experiences.
Friday, March 4, 2011

The Sivananda Yoga Advanced Teachers Training Course Madurai

Sivananda Yoga Advanced Teachers Training Course Madurai

This is how I ended two months and a half of yoga training at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai, with the one-month Advanced Yoga Teachers Training Course (ATTC). I loved it! The content of the course was exactly what I like, the ashram is absolutely beautiful, but one of the most important things is the wonderful people I met.
Friday, February 4, 2011

Sivananda Yoga Sadhana Intensive: A Pranayama Retreat

Sivananda Yoga Sadhana Intensive

I completed two weeks of intensive pranayama practice at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai. It was tough and intense, just the way I like it. This was the Sivananda Yoga Sadhana Intensive Course. In my opinion, the best pranayama retreat ever.
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Things I Did Before Visiting the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai

Ok, it was about time to update my blog. So what have I been doing since my last update two months ago? After Mamallapuram, I went straight to Kovalam Beach and spend a whole month there. "A whole month??!!!"

A visit to Amma's ashram, the Hugging Saint, in Amritapuri

Four years ago, during my first trip to India, I heard about the "hugging saint" a lovely Indian lady guru called by her followers "Amma" (Mother).  She just sits down and gives hugs to hundreds of people each day, a hug that according to her disciples can open your heart and awaken the spiritual energy dormant within ourselves.

This is called Amma's Darshan and believe it or not she has been given it for about 30 years already embracing about 26 million people!

The Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course in India [Review]

Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course Kerala

My stay at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, for their Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course, started with an early visit to the nearest hospital.  I got so sick I had to see the Ayurvedic doctor of the ashram.

I was a bit worried, I thought he would just recommend me an Ayurvedic massage or tea but he actually gave me very good advise.

Kovalam Beach

From Mamallapuram to Kovalam Beach...... that was a looong journey! I took a local packed bus from Mamallapuram to Pondicherry, then an overnight bus from Pondicherry to Bangalore, from Bangalore an overnight train to Trivandrum and from Trivandrum a local bus to Kovalam Beach.