Monday, April 4, 2016

THREE YEARS Living in an Ashram! [Interview with Lakshya Yoga]

Living in an Indian ashram

If you are interested in staying in an ashram permanently or long term then this article is for you. Several years ago my friend Lakshya completed a three years Vedanta course in India, and in this interview she shares her amazing experience with us.

Living in an ashram in India

Lakshya (Lakshya Yoga) lived for three years at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Swami Dayananda's ashram in Coimbatore.

She followed at this ashram a long term course to learn Vedanta, under the guidance of her guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

This is why Lakshya's personal experience is specially useful for those who are interested in staying in an ashram permanently, or long term.

Believe me, living in an ashram is not an easy thing. Ashram life is not a spiritual holiday but rather a challenging experience which requires some sacrifices.

Actually, I was planning to study in an Ashram in Rishikesh for three years, but at the end I stayed only five months.

So I really admire Lakshya for her dedication and commitment to follow through her three years Vedanta course in India. She is truly an inspiration for me.

Who is Lakshya?

I met Lakshya in 2010 while doing our first yoga teachers training course at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. We've been friends ever since.

Sivananda Yoga TTC
With Lakshya and another friend after completing the Sivananda Yoga TTC

Two years later I had the opportunity to visit her at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam while she was doing her three years course. You can read all about that visit in Visiting a friend at Swami Dayananda Ashram in Coimbatore.

Lakshya is now a successful hatha yoga teacher based between Mumbai and Dubai. She also teaches Sanskrit, Vedic chanting and vedanta, and she runs yoga retreats around the world.

Lakshya's bio on her website reads:

"Lakshya originally comes from Holland, but has spent her life living across the globe and found her home in India, where she has been living since 2010. She also regularly visits her other home, Dubai, for classes & workshops."

Lets now continue with the interview so that we can learn from Lakshya's spiritual journey.

What is it Like Living in an Indian Ashram for Three Years?

What made you decide to study for three years in an Indian ashram?

It was the meeting with my Guru, Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji, which changed the course of my life. I heard Swamiji speak at a public talk and that was enough for me to know that I wanted to learn more.

I initially joined the Vedanta camps in Rishikesh for a couple of weeks, after which my eagerness to learn grew even more. I spoke to Swamiji and expressed my desire to learn Vedanta and Sanskrit, and he then mentioned to me about the three year course in Coimbatore.

Thus, I went there with the idea to see how it goes, and ended up staying for the entire course!

Why did you choose to study at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam?

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (Swami Dayananda's ashram in Coimbatore) is one of the only traditional gurukulams left in the world, where they teach Vedanta and Sanskrit as per the original texts.

All the teachers there have been taught in the same parampara (teacher student lineage) and have been committed for many years. It is rare to find such a thing in today's world anymore!

What did you study at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam?

We studied Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras, Sanskrit and Vedic Chanting.

Along with this we also learned about the Vedic culture, the importance of temples and what they symbolise, the rituals they do there, and ultimately how to apply all to one's own life.

What was your regular daily schedule?

Our schedule was quite full on. I would wake up around 5am, visit the temple at 5:30 till 6:30am. Then from 7-7:30 we had guided meditation followed by breakfast.

Our first vedanta class was from 8:30-9:30, then sanskrit from 10-11, and finally chanting from 11:30-12:30.

We then had lunch and some free time to rest and go over what we learned.

Studies continued from 4-5pm with Bhagavad Gita class, and then Dinner at 7, and Satsang from 8-9pm.

What was the most challenging experience that you had at the ashram during these three years?

The most challenging experience for me was overcoming some health issues.

The first year my body went through a lot of adjustments and I got sick many times. I also broke out into terrible acne for about a year and combined with upset stomachs, fevers and infections it was quite a challenge not to run away and go back home!

Thankfully my immunity thereafter became very strong and i pulled through.

What was the most rewarding experience that you had at the ashram during these three years?

This is very clear; spending the time with Pujya Swamiji. This was absolutely the most precious experience for me.

Lakshya with swami Dayananda Saraswati
Lakshya with Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Every moment spent with Swamiji was special and simply being around him would dissolve so many doubts or fears.

It is said that being around a sage one can pick up on the energy, and i can definitely confirm this. Swamiji was everything for us, a teacher, a father, a mother, a friend, a guide and mentor.

Getting the chance to be with Swamiji during the last years of his life was the most valuable time for me (Swami Dayananda Saraswati left his physical body on September 23, 2015).

How much free time did you have for yourself on a daily basis and what did you usually do in your free time?

We had around 3-4 hours of free time on a daily basis. I would usually review some of the morning lectures, take a small nap, have some chai and do a bit of exercise -either some yoga or go for a walk in the beautiful hills around us.

How many days of holidays did you have per year and what did you usually do during your holidays?

Officially we had around 2 weeks of holiday per year, but in addition to that we used to get some last-minute long weekends too!

During the big break I would go back to Dubai and during the smaller breaks I would do some local travels. I got the chance to visit many beautiful places in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and truly experience authentic South India.

How was the food at the ashram? Where you able to cook your own food?

The food was prepared saatvikly and of course vegetarian. We had quite a variety of vegetables, pulses and brown rice. I usually did cook something extra for myself as well, sometimes a salad or a soup.

What kind of accommodation where you provided?

We each had a private room with attached bathroom.

Half way through the course the girls moved into a new hostel which was beautiful.  It had a big courtyard in the middle where I used to grow tomatoes. I loved my room there, it was breezy, quiet and with lots of natural light.

How has this experience of living three years in an Indian ashram impacted your life?

It has impacted my life in many ways. Firstly the great ocean of knowledge which was passed along has been a jewel in my life. I bring it with me everyday, and not a day goes by where I don't chant some of the mantras that I learned at the ashram, or use some of the Sanskrit.

It also taught me about discipline and having the strength and courage to follow what you truly believe in or stand for. It taught me that one really doesn't need a lot of things to be happy and can live with the bare minimum.

It also taught me that living with nature is so important and we can learn so much from it!

What recommendations would you give to people who want to live in an Indian ashram?

One needs to be fully committed and ready for such an experience. It is not going to be a vacation or an easy-ride!

It is a great experience which will certainly poke all your buttons, bring out all forgotten hurts and guilts, and give you an opportunity to face yourself.

If you are ready for this, then go for it! it will be a beautiful and life changing experience.

Ashrams in India

A sister ashram of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam is Swami Dayanada Ashram in Rishikesh. You can also study vedanta at this ashram, either short term or long term.

If you are interested in other ashrams in India then you can visit my Guide to the Best Ashrams in India: My Personal Experience (UPDATED 2019).

This is a summary of all the ashrams that I have personally visited in India.

Also don't forget to visit my detailed India Packing List. It is specially useful for those who want to visit India to practice yoga, or to follow a program at any Indian ashram.

Do you have any questions about ashram life?

Lakshya YogaI hope this interview with Lakshya has giving you an idea of how it is to live in an Indian ashram, specially if you've been interested in staying in an ashram for a long time.

I also hope you've been able to find some inspiration in Lakshya's personal journey. Perhaps you now feel even more motivated to visit an ashram in India for serious and dedicated spiritual studies.

If you have any questions for Lakshya about the Vedanta course, or the ashram lifestyle, please don't hesitate to use the comment section below.

Stay connected

Make sure you subscribe to Lakshya's newsletter to stay updated on Lakshya's teaching schedule and future yoga retreats.

You can also like Lakshya's Facebook page Lakshya Yoga and Instagram profile to stay connected with her.

Also don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list so you never miss any future blog updates. Once you subscribe you'll be able to download my free meditation ebook.

By the way, do you know anybody interested in a long term Vedanta course in India? Or perhaps anybody interested in living in an Indian ashram?

Please feel free to share this interview with them. I'm sure they'll find it very helpful. Thanks for your support.


  1. Well put together. The right questions and insightful experience.

    1. Thank you Sarang and thanks to Lakshya for be willing to share her invaluable experience.

  2. Interesting and inspiring to know the interest and dedication of Madam Lakshya regarding Vedanta and Sanskrit. Indeed she has been gifted to be guided by Swami Dayananda Sarswati.

    1. Yes, she is an inspiration and very fortunate at the same time. Thanks for your comment Balulama

  3. Thank you Marcoji for sharing this interview! I am so happy that we continue to stay connected and can share our experiences with each other. Lots of love

    1. Thanks to you my dear friend! It is an honor for me to continue staying connected with you. 😊❤️🙏

  4. Very beautifully put. Lakshya seems to be an inspiration.... Thank you

    1. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read this interview 🙏🙏🙏

  5. One if want to understand and face life as it is, this is the way to go about. She's really an inspiration to everyone and what she's done is commendable. Can you please explain what is the process for joining long term in the ashram? Thanks for your dedication.

  6. Can i live at ashram permanantly?can i take education from there for free and for living life can i get any job for living life?

  7. What is the cost of living in asharam and fee of 3 years course? Please tell. And is there any age bound for admission iam 27 can I join ?

  8. I read that the ages of man are business family and search for God. I have done that now at 70 turned to God I had found at 64 who sent to me my own dead father to tell me. Therefore all i need is meditation .India I love and Indian cooking. Ashram would be a great help and so glad that you found it benefited you. I am no sunnyassi monk but can pray easily I I ask for nothing but Gods love . I thank him for every morning I wake .We prepare mind for the journey across time to an open door and another room behind the curtain of life. We will all reach this point Im sure .Beyond this I have no answers; only love that travels with me

  9. I really want to become sanyasi kindly suggest me any free ashram or some person who knows about Rishikesh ashram