Western Yoga in India: Are Sacred Places Selling Out? ~ Sarah Walsh

Via Sarah Walsh
on Jul 19, 2013
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Photo courtesy Sarah Walsh
Photo courtesy Sarah Walsh

Was it the sheer power of all the pure energy generated at Rishikesh throughout time, or just nostalgia for the Beatles’ pilgrimage there that made this abandoned spiritual place so special?

A letter to Rishikesh:

In my daydreams you were a river flowing from the source into my heart, a mystical yoga town hiding in the Valley of the Himalayas. Just as you pour yourself into the faithful towns along your riverbed and direct your current downstream, I myself came to you for some inspiration and direction. I came looking for some answers but, alas, came up short.

Your mecca of Yoga ashrams left me feeling withdrawn from the fact that you parade your sacredness like the street vendors hawk their shawls and jewels in Goan tourist towns.

Did the West do this to you? Has yoga become a money-making opportunity here in India like it has back home?

Maharishi’s abandoned Ashram told the story of what Rishikesh once was: a village of meditation caves built into the mountain providing a sanctuary for real inner reflection. My soul shook with excitement as I chanted the Gayatri mantra in the chakra mural dome. The blue painted walls reflected back those powerful vibrations to give me a taste of what Ashram life would have been here back then.

Was it the sheer power of all the pure energy generated at Rishikesh throughout time or just nostalgia for the Beatles’ pilgrimage here that made this abandoned spiritual place so special? Perhaps that was a rhetorical question which filled my imagination with a picture of what I envisioned this ancient spiritual town to be like.

As I sat in a juice bar along the Ganga after the Ashram visit, I heard foreigners around me buzzing about their Yoga teachers and what they knew of this style and of that tradition. It felt like an outward display of people proving how much they were involved in this Yoga trend. Rishikesh seemed to me to have become a place you had to visit to check of your “Tour of Yoga in India trip” to gain street cred back home.

I came looking for answers to help me along my spiritual quest and was quickly reminded that no place or external environment can do the work.

The journey to the self and a higher consciousness may not depend on where you do it. Ideally we can tap into the same peace while meditating in the middle of Times Square as in the middle of a blessed Ashram. While I may not totally be there yet, I am reminded by experiences like these to trust that what I already have is enough to stay the course on my spiritual journey. I also trust that the specific meditation technique I have been practicing will take me to deeper levels if I stay constant and steady.

Perhaps this is the lesson you gave me after all, Rishikesh: no matter where we are in the world, Sadhana (spiritual practice) is the key to enlightenment.

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Assistant Ed: Renee Picard/Ed: Bryonie Wise



About Sarah Walsh

Based out of New York City, Sarah teaches Vinyasa Yoga at Sangha Yoga Shala NYC. She trains Yoga Teachers around the Globe with her school Drishti Yoga International Teacher Training to places like India, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bali, Thailand and New York City. Sarah is a Holistic Health Councilor, a travel lover, spiritual gangster and health nerd who loves sharing her passions with other seekers of healthy and adventurous living!


3 Responses to “Western Yoga in India: Are Sacred Places Selling Out? ~ Sarah Walsh”

  1. gregorylent says:

    grace seems to be important, sadhana maybe opens the door to it

  2. Tai ola says:

    I dream to go india one day

  3. forskolin says:

    Tantrism is a practice that is supposed to alter the relation of its practitioners to the ordinary social, religious, and logical reality in which they live. Through Tantric practice, an individual perceives reality as maya, illusion, and the individual achieves liberation from it.