It’s an ashram, not a resort. An ashram is a spiritual community where people gather to practice discipline, meditation, yoga, selfless service, and good health. Accommodations are simple, there are no TV’s, and you will have to walk a good distance down the beach before you see a cocktail waiter.
It’s the perfect place to travel solo. Believe it or not, people at the ashram are going to love you exactly as you are. Traveling to the ashram by yourself is an amazing opportunity to make lifelong friends and to meet other solo travelers.
“Modest dress” means cover your shoulders and knees. For many places, “modest dress” just means keep your clothes on. But bear in mind, this is a place where monks live. You can flaunt your bikini on the beach, but pack lots of t-shirts for when you’re not working on your tan lines.
A wake-up bell will greet you at 5:30am. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (But never fear…you can nap on your beach towel later!)
“Ommm…” Prayer, chanting, and singing are all part of the ashram experience. Most of the words are in an ancient language, but don’t let that send you running—it’s all for peace, love, and good health.
You will detox. Even if you don’t have detox queen Grace Van Berkum at the ashram to help you cleanse that precious body of yours, just being in the ashram’s purifying atmosphere will initiate some level of detox. There are no meat, eggs, caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol allowed on the property. Don’t panic! The first day or two might test your will-power, but your rejuvenated body will thank you.
You will see lots of people wearing…yellow? Many of the staff (who are also volunteers) at the ashram wear yellow, because in the Sivananda tradition, yellow is the symbol of knowledge, and the ashram is all about learning. The Swamis (monks) wear all orange, symbolizing the fire that burns away their attachment to worldly things.
Tent life is the norm. Try it! It’s the least expensive form of accommodation, and you might be surprised by the joys of sleeping in nature. You won’t be alone…you’ll find yourself in a mini tent-city!
Bring a water bottle. Save the environment and skip the plastic bottles. The ashram lovingly bought a filtered water dispenser so you can fill your own bottle for free.
Your schedule is designed for you. Don’t let the mandatory full day daunt you…everything in the ashram’s schedule is arranged for your optimal health, happiness, and peace of mind. Take advantage of all the workshops and classes. And even when you do everything on the list, you’ll still have plenty of lounge time.
You will be exposed to many different religions. The ashram displays statues and paintings of many different gods, goddesses, saints, and sages. This does not mean you have entered a cult! These images are intended to represent qualities and ideas that we already know and love. Like Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, is a metaphor for removing obstacles and overcoming life’s challenges.
Your life will be changed forever. You may not notice the changes until you return home, but they will definitely be there. Whether it’s changing your diet, taking up meditation, or learning something new about yourself, your life will never be the same!
1. Be a one-month minimalist.
Pack underwear, a couple of T-shirts and a swimsuit. The rest of the time you will be living in your TTC uniform. I hope you like yellow!
2. Invest in a third uniform.
Two are included in your tuition, but when you have a third, you can spend more time at the beach and less time in the laundry room. And when you leave, you can donate it to the next unsuspecting TTC student (karma points!)
3. Leave your electronics at home.
Give yourself the invaluable gift of a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook-free 30 days. Let yourself experience the immersion as it was designed for you. Plus, your electronic valuables might rebel if you keep them in a hot and humid environment.
4. Give your brain a break.
Don’t try to memorize every little thing you learn in the course, or you will have to be carried from the ashram in a strait jacket. Keep a wide perspective, enjoy yourself, and through repetition alone, you will grasp the major concepts.
5. Set an intention, and return to it often.
Others in your TTC group will be going through a roller-coaster of emotions, feeling overwhelmed, homesick, tired, stressed, or resistant to the discipline and immersion-style of the program. This does not need to be you. The ashram is a small place, and it’s easy to be swept up in the energy of others. Set your intention, stay cucumber cool, and inspire those around you.
6. Let go of your expectations.
No matter how much you prepare yourself, you will find yourself surprised, tested, and completely loved by the universe. Stick with the program, let go of ideas of how things should be, and you will find yourself dancing down the aisle on your plane ride home (just wait until they turn off the seat-belt sign.)
7. Smile!! Because your world is about to be rocked!
12 TTC Packing Tips:
1. Especially if you are staying in a tent, bring the bare minimum. Space is precious!
2. There are literally zero occasions where you will need jeans
3. Or a hair straightener, blow dryer or curling iron.
4. Or heels.
5. Flip flops, towel, swimsuit, sunscreen.
6. Shawl & hoodie.
7. T-shirts. (No tanks…modest dress means keep those sexy shoulders to yourself!)
8. If you want to pack snacks, make sure they are WELL-WRAPPED!
9. A flash light will make getting dressed in the morning a lot easier. (Yes, I have put my pants on backward before.
10. Water bottle, water bottle, water bottle!
11. Let go of make-up for the month and let your beautiful face breathe! (If you see someone wearing make-up, they probably haven’t been at the ashram for very long.)
12. Bring a yoga mat if you don’t want to buy one. The ones sold in the boutique cost $39, and come in purple or blue.
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Katie Papo develops holistic wellness programs in the United States and Bahamas for adults, young adults, and children. Specializing in stress and weight management, Katie is a certified yoga instructor, sports nutrition specialist, holistic life coach, and personal trainer. Her passion is to help others let go of negative habits, cultivate self-awareness, and inspire new choices that promote an energized lifestyle, calm mind, and conscious living. You can find her on Facebook HERE.
You are what you eat. You are what you think. ~Gracious Living Lifestyle XO